Wildlife photography is not only one of the most popular photography, but the most challenging regardless of whether you are a beginner or pro.
For a beginner, wildlife photography is not only exciting, it also offers a wide array of subjects to cover as well as exciting opportunities to grow your photography skills. Whether you’re into bird watching, plants & insects, or are looking to capture those big or small wild animals in the Maasai Mara or their respective natural home, an excellent camera can help bring the best out of you. Your subjects are very unpredictable and tend to keep one of their feet throughout the period. With the right skills, experience, and equipment, you are sure of exploiting your potential maximally and giving your audience exceptional. We look at the best cameras that are user-friendly and yet advanced to capture those excellent wildlife frames.
Best camera for wildlife photography – A Comparison table
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Canon EOS 7D SLR camera
Nikon D500 Digital SLR
Sony a7 III Mirrorless Camera
Fujifilm Mirrorless Digital Camera
Olympus Mark II Camera
Best camera for wildlife photography review
At a first glance, you might mistake the camera for a very expensive model given its high-end specifications.
- High-speed continuous shooting capacity of up to 10fps
- 20.2 MP CMOS sensor
- ISO of between 100 and 16000
- 7.5x optical zoom
- 65-point cross-type dual-pixel autofocus for camcorder-like shooting
- Manual focus
- Dual DIGIC 6 image processors for processing speed & excellent image quality
- Accurate subject tracking with EV-3
This mirrorless camera is designed for artistic photographers & videographers looking to share their wide array of art. The camera comes with a 3-inch screen and packs a 20.2MP CMOS sensor and optical sensor with 7.5x optical zoom. It uses a manual focus and lacks image stabilization capability. The autofocus system is a 65-point that comes in the form of a dual pixel and enables you to capture those priceless shots like a camcorder. Besides, for capturing stunning full HD videos, you get a customer movie servo AF that’s fast and sensitive. TO keep up with the action, you can use the high-speed continuous shooting capacity of up to 10fps. When it comes to lighting and noise reduction, the camera has an ISO ranging from 100 to 16,000 and can be expanded to between 25,600 and 51, 200. If you want to mount a lens, you can mount either the Canon EF or EF-S series lens.
- High-quality build material
- High-quality images
- Long lasting battery
- Accurate subject tracking in extreme low-light
- It comes with an inbuilt GPS
- The autofocus is fine-tuned
- Warranty issue depending on location
- Lacks a touchscreen
- Doesn’t support 4K video resolution
What makes this device ideal for wildlife photography is its stellar autofocus. With its AF system, the camera can effectively and realistically capture fast-moving subjects like animals in sharp focus and in low light.
When it comes down to simplicity for a beginner, this camera makes it possible without compromising on quality. I liked that it’s easy to use.
- 20.9 MP DX format CMOS sensor
- 3.2-inch touchscreen LCD screen
- 10 fps shooting capacity extendable up to 200 frames
- ISO range of 51, 200 to 1640000
- Inbuilt Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC
- 4KUHD video at 30 fps
- 180K fps sensor and group areas autofocus
The Nikon D500 is a smaller model compared to the D5 with the same features and packs some power to give you exceptional shots. It has a manual shooting mode and mounting compatibility with Nikon DX, F DX, and FX. The model features a 3.2-inch LCD touchscreen with 2359k-dot tilting that makes getting a shot from low and high angles seem easy and is user-friendly. The camera is made of carbon fibre and rugged magnesium and comes with water-drop & dust resistance giving it the durability to endure extreme climatic conditions as well as environmental. It also features an ISO range of between 100 and 51,200 that can be extended to 1640000 making the camera great for those shots at dawn or dusk. For focus, the camera comes with an auto focus and 10 frames per second rate of 10 making it user-friendly.
- Delivers great performance similar to a pro
- The auto focus fine-tuning feature makes it simple to focus
- The battery has a short lifespan
Imagine a camera that gives you a professional AF system together with weather sealing capabilities. For a beginner, this camera can offer you high-quality images.
This camera is specially designed for speed that the subjects have to offer.
- 24.3MP Exmor R CMOS sensor
- 79-point autofocus system with 15 cross-type
- ISO range of between 50 and 25600
- Up 14 fps in Burst Photo mode
- Full 2160p HD videos at 60fps
Sony a7 III camera is a DSLR camera from Sony’s Alpha line. The camera has an impressive and advanced 24.2 MP full frame sensor with a 1.8x readout speed and image processor making it one of the best wildlife photography cameras for a beginner. It comes with frames per second rate of up to 14 fps and up to 10 fps of silent shutter with an AF tracking. The ISO sensitivity range of between 50 and 204, 800 ensures that you can still capture great animal shots in low light.When it comes to the shooting mode, Sony a7 III has a continuous Hi+ AF-S shooting mode and is compatible with Sony E mount lenses giving you great shots from a good distance. With the Bluetooth capability, you can connect the camera with your Android or iOS smartphone.
- High-quality picture
- Improved battery life
- Excellent autofocus
- Poor when it comes to weather resistance compared to other cameras
This camera is great when keeping up with a fast-moving subject, whether at dawn or dusk. This makes it easier to track animal movement in even low light without compromising on quality.
Fujifilm mirrorless camera is one of the few mirrorless models that can sit next to DSLR cameras despite its compactness.
- 24.3 MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- 4K DCI videos at 30fps
- ISO range of between 100 and 51,200
- X-Processor pro image processing engine
- Flicker reduction and burst photo mode of up to 14 fps
- 325-point autofocus system
If you fancy sophisticated technology, the camera will suit you perfectly. Though more compact in size, this mirror can outdo some bigger DSLR cameras. The Fujifilm X-H1 model is made of thick magnesium alloy that increases surface hardness, scratch resistance, able to operate in extreme temperatures, and resistant to both dust and water particles. It comes with a 24.3 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and a high-speed image processing engine. The model features a one-of-a-kind 5.5 Stops in body images stabilization and a flicker reduction mode for quality enhancement. All XF and XC lenses are compatible with the camera which comes with an EVF magnification ratio of 0.75x and 3.69M dot resolution. The display is exceptionally smooth with a frame rate of 100 fps and a time lag of 0.005 seconds.
- Creates high-quality and sharp images
- Ergonomic design and easy to use
- The autofocus system is fast
- The size is quite large
I really liked its compactness and AF system which is compatible with apertures with sizes as small as f11.
This camera will make you look like a pro with its advanced features.
- 20.4 MP live MOS sensor
- Dual core image processor
- 121-point dual fast autofocus with cross type
- Up to 18 fps frame rate
- Powerful in-body image stabilization
What stands out the most about this camera is its 18 fps shooting capacity with autofocus tracking. Having been made of magnesium alloy weatherproof body, the camera is lightweight at 1.10 lbs. The camera has 121 phase detection AF points and 5.5 shutter speed steps with in-body image stabilization. In addition, there’s the 50MP high-resolution shot mode and Micro Four Thirds compatible mounting. Combined with the Olympus PRO lenses that possess superior resolution, this camera delivers exceptional images coveted even by pros. The ISO ranges between 200 and 25, 600 and 2160p full HD video quality. When it comes to the battery life, Olympus Mark II camera supports between 29 and 150 minutes of movie shooting depending on the battery used.
- High-quality build
- Great variety of lens options
- 18 fps frame rate
- The AF tracking is not that great
Despite the AF tracking being poor, it still brings the pro in you. At 18fps which can buffer up to 35 frames, the shutter allows you to capture high-quality images with autofocus tracking. This ensures that you capture breathtaking wildlife sceneries and fast-moving animals.
Buying a camera for sports photography beginner – What to look for
The image quality is always a priority. With the right camera sensor, you complement the lens. For this reason, when it comes to wildlife photography, the sensor size is more important than the lens as it influences the distance to the subject without actual movement. The most ideal sensor is an APS-C sensor with a smaller size. It offers you a higher magnification and bumps up the lens when it comes to the standard zoom range. Also, with a smaller sensor, you can use light and compact lenses.
When it comes to photographing wildlife, speed and precision are very important to put in mind. You want a camera that’s able to accurately focus at very fast speeds for your images to always come out sharp and crisp. Getting a camera with more autofocus points can be advantageous given that more information would be passed to the AF processor hence attaining further precise focus. However, even the latest more powerful AF systems featuring less AF points can outdo older models with more. Other things to look out for are phase detection and focus-tracking.
Frames per second
The frames per second is another factor to consider when purchasing a beginner camera for wildlife shooting purposes. Aside from just attaining a pixel-accurate focus in the least time possible, a camera with a fast continuous capture rate is better, especially when your subject is a fast-moving animal. For those split-second moments, the camera with a higher fps can be the difference between a perfect shot and an average one. Check how many JPEGs your camera’s memory space can capture per second as it will reduce your chances of missing an envious shot.
Build and design
One thing people mostly tend to overlook is the camera’s weight, size, and quality. A good camera should have a high-quality build to withstand most weather conditions and the outdoors. This applies to the lens too. Get lenses that are weather-sealed and robust. Another thing to watch out for is the camera’s weight if you are going to be carrying it around while shooting. A lightweight camera makes it easy to pack and carry it around without worry about the size or fatigue. Despite this, you need to put into consideration that most high-end cameras will most likely pack more hardware that will make them heavier.
As a wildlife photographer, you will sometimes be forced to shoot in low-lighting conditions like towards dusk or dawn when the animals are very active. Those perfect shots will be determined by your camera’s ISO range. For the best results, get a camera with a wide ISO range such as a large sensor camera with improved performance in low-light situations.
Wildlife photography is a tricky niche that requires speed and accuracy to keep up with the subjects and get those perfect shots. This mostly applies to fast-paced or moving animals, or the time of shooting especially when the animals are more active. So, what camera would I recommend? I found the Canon EOS SLR camera, it has a 65-point cross-type dual-pixel autofocus for camcorder-like shooting, 7.5x optical zoom, and precise subject tracking. In addition, the camera is very user-friendly making it a great beginner camera for wildlife. I would highly recommend it to a wildlife photographer starting out.
Is 400mm focal length enough for wildlife photography?
Cameras with a focal length of 400mm are great at zooming and getting the desired image size from a distance. This helps you to observe and learn your subject without startling them.
How many megapixels do I need for wildlife photography?
The number of megapixels for wildlife photography depends on your expertise and what you want to achieve. If you aren’t making large prints, then a camera with 12-18 pixels is sufficient. On average, the standard pixel is between 20 and 30 MP.