Other Content


Wildlife Viewing

Photography Tips

Distance Chart

Useful Links

Photo Sales


About Me

Quick links:

All images and site content are copyrighted to Philip Raggett unless stated otherwise; No form of reproduction or manipulation of these images is authorised.

Home  |  Accommodation  |  Car Hire  |  Restaurants  |  Safari Companies |  Books |  Photo Galleries |  Charities |  Reviews  |  Advertising  |  Contact   

Featured Charity

Map of Botswana

Safari News

Cheetah Conservation Botswana Botswana Map General Info Photos Reviews
Accommodation Giraffe - Tuli Block Giraffe - Tuli Block

What to Buy
The photography market is huge and can be daunting to anyone just starting out so thought I should put together a few tips that will hopefully be of use to anyone thinking of taking up wildlife photography, based on what little experience I have gained taking wildlife photographs. Although camera equipment is expensive its not neccessary to break the bank to take decent photographs, however as a rule it is always worth getting the best equipment you can afford.

Camera DSLR v Point-and-shoot
- Although there are a number of top of the range point-and-shoot cameras available with decent optics and zoom these are in my opinion inadequate for anyone serious about wildlife photography. The image quality of an SLR far exceeds anything produced on a point-and-shoot.
- Another factor is the overwhelming array of lenses and accessories that can be combined with an SLR, giving you endless options to expand your photographic abilities.  
Now that we have narrowed it down to a Digital SLR the options are less daunting however there are still a few things to be considered. The availability of accessories (lenses, flashes, filters etc) for your camera should be a key consideration with Nikon and Canon being the leaders in the market with a greater range of accessories compatible with these bodies. The recent advances seen, for instance, in the Pentax and Sony DSLRs makes these a very attractive alternative which should also be considered.
Most manufacturers have a range of DSLRs for serious-amateurs to professionals with vast differences in price. Generally it is better to get an expensive lens than an expensive body, however a the following should be considered:
Megapixels - minimum of 10mp recommended
Size/weight - very much a matter of personal opinion
FOV Crop factor? - smaller sensors on some DSLRs results in a 1.5x increase in focal length
Autofocus points and metering modes - Most SLRs are perfectly adequate in both these areas

It is commonly acknowledged that the lens dictates the quality of image to a far greater extent than the camera body. An expensive body with a poor quality lens is unlikely to produce decent results so it is always advisable to combine a cheaper body with the most expensive lens you can afford.
It is usually recommended to use the same manufacturer for both camera and lens, however I have found that lenses from third party lens manufacturers, such as Sigma, are more affordable whilst still maintaining decent optics.

Focal Length - From wide angle to telephoto, the options available when considering what lenses to buy are innumberable. The photos below give an idea of the difference between various focal lengths. The value in the brackets is the approximate focal length after the FOV crop factor has been taken into account.

- For general wildlife photography I would recommend a 300mm lens, however should you wish to photograph birds then a 500mm is essential.

- A combination of a zoom/telephoto lens plus a wide-angle lens, for scene shots, is essential. The wide-angle however need not be any wider than 18mm - the standard kit lens minimum focal length - as this is perfectly adequate for most situations. Should you wish to be more creative and take more scene shots then a dedicated wide-angle lens is worth getting.

- Whilst the FOV crop factor is a major benefit for zoom lenses it has a negative impact on wide-angle lenses and this must be taken into consideration.

Prime versus Zoom lens
- When considering which zoom/telephoto lens to buy the main question is whether to go for a fixed focal length (prime) lens e.g 300mm or a zoom lens e.g 50-500mm. Generally speaking the prime lenses will give (slightly) sharper photos, however I have found that the flexibility of a zoom lens outweighs this slight disadvantage. Unless you are going to use a number of camera bodies each with a different lens I would recommend a zoom.

Lens performance
- The speed of a lens is determined by the aperture or f-number. For instance an f4 lens would be faster and usually sharper than an f5.6 lens and this is reflected in the respective prices. In Botswana, however, where sunlight is not a problem slower lenses such as the Sigma f5.6-6.3 50-500mm lens still yield perfectly acceptable results.

Home -> Reviews & Tips -> Camera Buying Guide