Expert Tips on Wildlife & Nature Photography
Court is an avid nature and wildlife photographer and naturalist Expedition Leader for Natural Habitat Adventures. His background in wildlife and conservation biology led him to pursue a joint Ph.D. in ecotourism and entomology. As Editor in Chief of The Natural Photographer, he is eager to share his photography knowledge and creative guidance with readers through comprehensive tutorials and blog posts. You may view more of his photography at www.courtwhelan.com
January 17, 2023 at 6:57 am
Court Whelan, Ph.D.
January 22, 2023 at 2:08 pm
This is a good guide, especially for newbies.
I’m a wildlife photographer myself and would like to add to this article a couple of pointers.
The debate about crop factor sensors vs full frame sensors has been dealt with for several decades now. I myself started out with a crop factor camera and still have it.
Unfortunately it’s become somewhat stated by almost everyone as a given that crop factor is good for wildlife, and the likes, for reach. That you will get closer to the subject with same lens as on a full frame. It very well appears so when you look into your camera, but the reality is that in most cases, most cameras, you will always get a better photo with a full frame camera (with the same lens) because of several factors. Most of the times the full frame camera will have more megapixels and that gives you the choice of either cropping the photo to the exact same closeup as the crop factor camera, AND you have a second option of photo with wider field area that you were not able to get with the crop factor camera.
But the most important issue is that a full frame sensor is much larger and therefore produces much higher quality photos because of the photosites being much larger on the full frame sensor, giving better quality in the highs and lows of light and less noise.
Another great benefit is getting a much nicer bokeh (DoF).
The quality of my work has increase many times over when moving from crop factor to full frame. I do a lot of bird photography but also other wildlife.
For a beginner a crop factor may of course be better, may give more and better results because it’s harder to get the perfect photos with a full frame as you have to learn to handle camera and lens more exact. It will be easier to get wildlife in focus with a crop factor camera.
I also want to add to the second camera body on a wildlife trip. One great benefit is, as explained in the article, to be able to quickly switch from shooting something at a far distance to closeup. Like when in a hideout and you are shooting a bear far away and suddenly another animal passes by much closer, too close for your large 500mm to capture the whole animal in the frame. But one major advantage is if your camera stops working, then you have an extra camera to work with. It would be a minor disaster if you are suddenly without a camera on you expensive and long time planned trip.
great tips here, Mats! I agree fully. I went full-frame about 10 years ago and never looked back :). While you sacrifice a bit of “zoom” the quality is just simply unmatched. Thanks for contributing here!!