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Choosing the Right Digital SLR for Your Nature Photography

It is very true that it doesn’t matter what equipment you use — it’s what you do with the camera that matters. However, there is no question that when you’re hiking through a thick jungle in the middle of central america you want to pack light.Using Nikon Equipment For Wildlife And Nature Photography¬† Even though the Nikon D2x has the prestige of being Nikon’s premier “PRO” camera, you may not find it’s the best fit for your nature work.

One of the first things you need to consider is how you’re going to use the pictures. Look up the magazines you want to publish your work. Send in for “submission guidelines” and find out their minimum mega pixel count. The same is true for stock agencies — browse around and decide which place you’d ultimately like to sell your work. Many organizations have their submission guideliens published on their websites. If you’re more interested in learning and doing nature photography for your own pleasure then by all means buy the less expensive models. There’s nothing wrong with a camera that takes a 5 or 6 megapixel image. You’ll still be able to blow it up to poster size if you want a special print made.

Choosing the Right Digital SLR for Your Nature Photography

It is very true that it doesn’t matter what equipment you use — it’s what you do with the camera that matters. However, there is no question that when you’re hiking through a thick jungle in the middle of central america you want to pack light. Even though the Nikon D2x has the prestige of being Nikon’s premier “PRO” camera, you may not find it’s the best fit for your nature work.

One of the first things you need to consider is how you’re going to use the pictures. Look up the magazines you want to publish your work. Send in for “submission guidelines” and find out their minimum mega pixel count. The same is true for stock agencies — browse around and decide which place you’d ultimately like to sell your work. Many organizations have their submission guideliens published on their websites. If you’re more interested in learning and doing nature photography for your own pleasure then by all means buy the less expensive models. There’s nothing wrong with a camera that takes a 5 or 6 megapixel image. You’ll still be able to blow it up to poster size if you want a special print made.


Magnification – Use it to your Advantage

For wildlife photographers in particular, the one advantage of shooting with any Nikon digital camera these days is the magnification factor. Rather than create a sensor the same size as one frame of 35mm film, Nikon and most other digital SLR camera manufacturers decided to create a sensor that is smaller than the 24x36mm standard frame of the older film models. Having a smaller sensor means you aren’t going to capture all the information on the left and right and top and bottom of the frame. This may sound really bad… but there is no need to worry about what you haven’t captured because the viewfinder has been adjusted so that what you see optically is what is captured in the digital file.

The result is that the camera multiplies the magnification of all the lenses. Nikon’s magnification (depending on the camera you use) is around 1.5x. That means a 300mm lens is now magnified to 450mm. This is great news for wildlife photographers. The only drawback is that wider angle lenses (like a 17mm wide angle becomes a 25.5mm not-as-wide-angle lens. However, landscape photographers still have some options. I’ll get to those in a bit.

 

Choosing the Right Lenses

Unfortunately, no one can tell you which lenses to buy or “how to build the perfect SLR system for nature photography.” Again, it depends on the kinds of photos you like to take, your personal preference and the market where you want to sell your image.

The great advantage of Nikon cameras is that you can use older lenses on your body. This allows a lot more freedom of choice and means you can get really amazing older lenses at shockingly affordable prices.

I’ll give you an example. One of my favorite lenses is a 300mm f4 manual focus prime lens from the 1970s. It cost only $350 CAD (meaning it would be much less expensive in American dollars) and the glass is still ED! Nikon especially developed ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass to provide pricise optical colour correction. This special glass (not available in all Nikon lenses) provides the sharp, clear resolution required for superb photographs. The other advantage (at least for me since I generally hike to find wildlife) is that it weighs less and packs small.

Another example — the 50mm 1.4 auto focus lens (that’s right f1.4!) sells for only $166 CAD (again, much less in American dollars). It’s actually an 80mm on your body.Using Nikon Equipment For Wildlife And Nature Photography¬† That means you have a prime lens at 80mm that can take pictures in the darkest settings. And, because Nikon has been perfecting its 50mm lenses since its inception as a company (Nikon used to include a 50mm on all its bodies until well into the late 1980s), it’s one of Nikon’s very best lenses. It’s cheap because 50mm on a 35mm camera is kind of pooey. But 80mm on a digial camera is marvelous.

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