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Wildlife Photography tips for beginners – I

For perfect photography of wildlife along with the skills we need to have the perfect equipment and the camera set. In this page you will get to know the best tools required for wildlife photography.

1. Best focal length for wildlife photography:

There is not a perfect answer to this question. Although the photographers across the globe prefers the 400 mm for many reasons.

NIKON D4 + 300mm f/4 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/100, f/8.0
NIKON D4 + 300mm f/4 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/100, f/8.0

The key component of the 400mm is its MFD. Minimum Focusing Distance often plays a huge role in Wildlife photography. You can do it with any focal length but for wildlife and especially in the beginning, the 400mm just takes away all the credit.

NIKON D3X + 200-400mm f/4 @ 340mm, ISO 100, 1/30, f/6.7
NIKON D3X + 200-400mm f/4 @ 340mm, ISO 100, 1/30, f/6.7

2. DX or FX for wildlife photography:

The debate of DX vs. FX for wildlife photography is a never ending one. DX shooters argue that they get more reach; setups are lighter due to smaller lenses and less expensive and have reduced optical issues.

On the other side the FX shooters argue that they get better image quality at pixel level, better viewfinder, less diffraction issues, better AF performance in low-light, etc.

The following points will draw a comparison between DX and FX-

  • Pixel size and resolution: Both Nikon D300 (DX) and D700 (FX) despite having sensors of completely different sizes, the two cameras produce images of similar size / resolution. However, the D300 has a lot more noise than the D700 due to smaller pixel size.

So despite having this magnification advantage, photographers had to constantly deal with cleaning up apparent noise even at relatively low ISO levels.

  • The impact of Diffraction: Smaller pixels magnify a lot of things and one of them is diffraction. DX sensors are typically impacted by diffraction at f/11 and smaller.

Take a look at the following chart:

Nikon DSLR D300S D7000 D7100 D600/D610 D800 D4
Effective Resolution 12.3 MP 16.2 MP 24.1 MP 24.3 MP 36.3 MP 16.2 MP
Image Resolution 4,288×2,848 4,928×3,264 6,000×4,000 6,016×4,016 7,360×4,912 4,928×3,280
Sensor Size 23.6×15.8mm 23.6×15.6mm 23.5×15.6mm 35.9×24.0mm 35.9×24.0mm 36.0×23.9mm
Diffraction Limit f/17.6 f/15.3 f/12.5 f/19.0 f/15.6 f/23.4
  • DX have lighter lenses: The DX lenses are lighter and cheaper. While that statement certainly holds true for wide and standard lenses, it is absolutely not true for telephoto and super telephoto lenses. DX shooters have no super telephoto DX lenses to choose from.
  • DX cost advantage: The only real advantage of DX over FX today, is cost. But with such offers as the D600 and the price of FX sensors continuously coming down, that huge cost difference is not there anymore. If in the past you had to spend 2-3x+ to move up to FX, today that difference is much smaller.

Summary:

In summary, FX is better than DX for wildlife photography.  The only reason why anyone should be shooting with DX is lower cost. If you can afford high-end FX, there is very little reason to stick with DX.

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