How to pick the best lens for wildlife photography.
Want to capture amazing wildlife on film? Discover great tips to help you choose and use the right camera lens.
Wildlife photography is an art and a science. It requires knowing where to find your subjects and when. It also requires delicate attention and care. And an appreciation of seasons, environments, and living things. Plus, patience and the right equipment. Follow these top camera tips to learn how to capture those fleeting — and sometimes rare — wildlife moments.
Find your perfect lens and settings.
Wildlife is always on the move, flitting about in the sky, scurrying about on the forest floor, ducking behind trees and into holes. A survival instinct makes them hard to capture. That means you need to be ready and waiting with a speedy reflex (and a speedy camera) to capture the moment. Here are some top tips for your lens and camera settings.
- Use a long lens. A long lens will help you focus on your subject and minimize any background distraction to really make the animal pop. A 200-400mm focal length will work for most wildlife photographers. And it could be either a lens with a fixed focal length or a zoom lens. Zoom lenses are a popular option due to their flexibility to play with and change focal length, but they tend to be more expensive. To save money, you could try a teleconverter. These devices work like a magnifying glass to increase your lens's focal length.
- Shutter speed. A fast shutter speed will freeze your animal in motion. Try 1/250 or 1/500 (or even faster depending on the wildlife), to make the most of your glimpse.
- Aperture. Put your camera in aperture priority mode to ensure proper image exposure. Aperture priority mode allows you to manually set the aperture while your camera automatically determines the shutter speed. If you choose this option, skip tip #2.
- ISO. Set a mid-range ISO around 400-800. This range allows you to shoot with a fast enough shutter speed to capture moving wildlife while avoiding overexposure. However, if you'd prefer to focus on choosing the shutter speed and aperture, you can use the auto ISO setting. Experiment with shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to determine which functions you want to automate and which you’d rather adjust manually.
- Use a tripod. Keep steady with a tripod. It helps to minimize the risk of blurred shots, especially when you get so few opportunities.