Wildlife Photography: Choosing The Right Camera

Piece by Emma Lawlor

So you like taking photos of your animals, and have decided you’d like to upgrade your camera and improve on your photography…but there’s so many cameras out there, which one do you choose?

COMPACT CAMERA

Photo of a compact camera – image courtesy of iJammin

These are the small, pocket-sized ‘point and shoot’ cameras you most likely have, that you carry everywhere with you – on nights out, days out and about, in home to snap your critters. They are cheap and cheerful, but sometimes, this shows. There’s little room for taking control as most use pre-made settings (Auto, Landscape, Portrait, etc). Images will look grainy, and not as sharp, when compared to photos from other types of cameras. They are great for ‘snaps’ but not for ‘photography’.

Photo from a compact camera – image courtesy of Emma Lawlor

BRIDGE CAMERA

Photo of a bridge camera – image courtesy of Miki Yoshihito

These ‘hybrid’ cameras are a cross between a compact camera and an SLR. They look like a mini SLR but are small enough to still carry around everywhere like a compact camera. These can cost a bit more than a regular compact camera, but still cheaper than an SLR. The image quality is better than that seen from compact cameras, especially if you have a bridge camera that can change lenses! When taking control of settings, bridge cameras have more room for that than compact cameras. This makes them great for stepping into photography, to learn with, or simply test whether photography is for you or not – without the cost of an SLR!

Photo from a bridge camera – image courtesy of Matt Sweeney

SLR

Photo of a SLR camera – image courtesy of yourimaginations

The pinnacle camera of photography! In terms of quality, images from an SLR are the clearest and sharpest. However, they are also the most expensive cameras. Luckily, these days, companies are making a range of SLR cameras for a range of prices – so you can start off with a cheaper SLR from their ‘starter’ range, or if you’ve been practising quite a bit with bridge cameras, maybe go for the ‘enthusiast’ range…or (if you have the money and are mad into photography) the ‘professional’ range. The starter and enthusiast range both have some pre-made ‘auto’ settings (as seen with compact cameras), and also custom settings that allow you to take full control of taking photographs. The pro range takes away these auto settings, so you have to take control of all your photos (as professionals do). Of course there are many other differences in terms of the image, it’s quality, etc, that adds to the cost of the various ranges of cameras.

Photo from an SLR – image courtesy of Emma Lawlor

SO WHICH ONE?

Just want to take snaps from time to time, not interested in the photography aspect of taking pictures? Go for a compact camera.

Know you want to develop your photography further, in terms of image quality and shaprness? Go for a bridge camera.

Know you want to develop your photography further, and want to determine everything including lighting, shutter speed, etc, yourself? Go for an SLR.

BRANDS

As for the brand, I’m not going to tell you which to use. Go with the brand you feel most comfortable with – whether it’s one you like the look of, a friend has recommended, or there’s a brand you’ve always used since a child so is tried and trusted! Don’t let anyone tell you one brand is better than another – all cameras are different, even within one brand you may find one worse than another. You will need to research and check out reviews reviews before buying to see what customers have said. If unsure, go for the tried and tested brands, which include Nikon and Canon (both particularly good for SLRs), Fuji and Olympic.

iJammin – Flickr
Emma Lawlor – Flickr
Miki Yoshihito – Flickr
Matt Sweeney – Flickr
yourimaginations – Flickr

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