Best Digital Camera Nature Photography

Best Digital Camera Nature Photography

So, you’re interested in getting serious about taking landscape photos. Is your current digital camera up to the task? Landscape photographs require a digital camera that is capable of capturing lots of detail and working in less than ideal lighting conditions. A full frame DSLR is probably your best camera for landscape photography, but there are several alternatives worth considering that might appeal to you more because of budget or weight concerns. I used a full frame camera for the image below taken in the Nevada desert.
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Best Digital Camera Nature Photography

Nature photography encompasses a wide range of subject matter, from landscape vistas to birds in flight. Naturally, some cameras are better for some types of photography than others. For example, most would prefer a pro DSLR over a “flat”-style mirrorless camera for birds in flight. But today’s DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are quite good across the board, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a highly capable nature photography camera. In this article, we’ve selected the best cameras under $1,000 with interchangeable-lens models from the major manufacturers.
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Best Digital Camera Nature Photography

Full Frame or APS? Telephoto reach is the most important requirement for wildlife photography, bringing you close to subjects without disturbing them. While full-frame cameras are in some respects superior to APS-C models, for wildlife photography, the magnification factor of a smaller sensor enhances telephoto reach. For example, comparing a 20-megapixel full-frame camera with a 20-megapixel APS-C camera, the APS-C model will give you approximately 1.5x magnification of your lens’ focal length, making a 400mm lens equivalent to a 600mm lens. Keep in mind that this is only true if you’re comparing two cameras with the same resolution, as a full-frame image from a higher-resolution camera can be cropped for a similar result. Learn more about working with extreme telephoto lenses for wildlife photography.
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Best Digital Camera Nature Photography

As cameras continue to evolve and impress, their newest features often play to the fast-paced multimedia world. For landscape photographers, the ability to minimize or eliminate the time it takes to print an image or display it online can have limited use, and tends to overshadow a range of core camera functions that appeal to our genre of photography. Landscape photography can arguably be one of the slowest-paced schools of image-making. As such, it does not have the same subset of requirements as many other categories of photography. Ranging from the most basic features to some of the most advanced technologies, this article strives to highlight a range of specs to look for when shopping for a new camera with the intention of making landscape photographs.
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Best Digital Camera Nature Photography

When looking for a camera suitable for landscape photography, a number of factors come into play that might not be considered when browsing cameras for other applications. Speed is not nearly as important a feature as image quality, for instance, and exposure control is paramount among most other concerns. High-resolution sensors tend to be most highly favored due to the immense detail they can garner, as well as the larger print sizes made possible by the files they produce. Unlike sports, wildlife, or street photography, landscape shooting tends to be slow and methodical; lower ISOs, slower shutter speeds, smaller apertures, and working from a tripod are essentially obligatory, whereas with other genres of photography, high ISO sensitivities, fast continuous shooting rates, and quick autofocus systems tend to be the most prized elements of a camera system. This isn’t to say that those features should be overlooked—they are often welcomed—but they are not nearly as crucial to landscape work as they are to faster-paced shooting applications. Fewer frames will also be recorded during a day of shooting in the wilds of Yosemite versus shooting the Formula 1 Grand Prix du Montreal, so file size, buffer capacity, and card speeds do not stand as much of a limitation for the work you can do.
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Best Digital Camera Nature Photography

There are only a handful of full-frame camera models to choose from, but a new release stands out from the pack: the Canon EOS 5DS R. With a whopping 50.6 megapixels of resolution, the 5DS R offers a whopping 20.1 more megapixels than the Canon 5D Mark IV and a healthy 14.3 more than the Nikon D810. This camera is built for still photography with fewer video options than the competition, but we appreciate the split from the hybrid model at this end of the spectrum. The cameras above not named the Canon EOS 5DS R certainly aren’t slouches, and you can even explore some budget full-frame options like the Canon EOS 6D and Nikon D750. All offer impressive resolutions for landscape photography and are among the best cameras out there.
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Best Digital Camera Nature Photography

Beyond film choices alone, film cameras also present a unique set of features that are typically well-suited to landscape imaging, specifically in regard to large format view cameras. Nearly peerless in relation to digital, the ability to work with a view camera affords the photographer immense control over perspective, depth of field, and composition, as well as the benefit of working with sheet film formats that typically begin at 4 x 5″, for unsurpassed image quality and detail. Working with a view camera also reinforces a number of the desired working methods for landscape shooting, most notably the necessity to work at a slow and methodical pace. Use of a tripod is essentially mandatory; each exposure must be manually loaded and removed before and after shooting; and simply composing an image requires viewing an upside-down and laterally reversed image on a ground glass, from beneath a dark focusing cloth. The other key point to aspiring landscape photographers interested in using film is the availability and affordability to top quality used gear. If, however, you’re in the market for a new view camera, a range of options is still available, including those that are more readily compatible with medium format digital backs.
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Best Digital Camera Nature Photography

Full frame DSLR (“digital single lens reflex”) cameras have a sensor that is the same size as traditional 35mm film (36mm x 24mm). Full frame cameras are typically more expensive than digital cameras with smaller sensors, but offer higher resolution, better noise control, and superior dynamic range performance, making them perfect for capturing fine detail in landscape images. Full frame camera systems also have a wider variety of lenses available for use than any other system. Full frame digital cameras represent an almost ideal compromise between image quality, flexibility of use, and weight, making them the preferred option for most landscape photographers. My primary landscape camera is a full frame DSLR, as it gives me an unparalleled combination of quality and lens variety.
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Mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras are a relatively new addition to our list of the best cameras for landscape photography. Built entirely for digital, this modern breed of compact camera foregoes the internal mirror system of a DSLR; instead, light passes through the lens directly to the image sensor like a point-and-shoot. This build allows for a large image sensor in a relatively small camera body.
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Frames Per Second and Max Burst While fast continuous capture rates aren’t absolutely critical for most wildlife photography, they’re certainly beneficial. More frames per second increase your chances of recording the perfect expression, gesture or wing position for moving wildlife. In addition to frames per second, the number of frames that can be stored in a single burst is also important. The larger the file, the faster your camera’s buffer will fill, so if large bursts of images are desired, shoot JPEG instead of RAW, as you’ll be able to capture significantly more images per burst. Regardless of your selected file type, to take full advantage of your camera’s speed, use the fastest-rated memory cards that your camera supports.
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Completing our brief look at view camera options is a pair of wooden field cameras, which embody the true stereotypical image of large format landscape photography. The Wista Field-45DX is certainly one of the most handsome cameras in this list, which is not to say it isn’t also a quite capable camera for shooting. Full front and rear camera movements are available, along with a 12″ bellows draw to support working with a wide range of focal lengths. This model is the lightest among view cameras, at just 3.25 lb, and folds down into a 7.3 x 8.3 x 3.8″ package. Similar but larger, the Field-810DX takes the same outward appearance and feature set, but maximizes it for 8 x 10″ shooting. A bellows draw up to 21.7″ is possible due to a double-extension bed and both front and rear tilt and swing movements are possible, along with front rise and fall.
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These cameras have sensors that are smaller than the traditional 35mm full frame cameras, and therefore are cheaper and lighter than their full frame cousins. When lenses are used on a crop sensor camera, their angle of view is altered and the apparent focal length changes. The most common crop factors are 1.5x or 1.6x (these sensors are known as APS-C size). For example, a camera with a 1.5x crop factor and a 24mm lens has the same angle of view as a 36mm lens on a full frame body (24 x 1.5 = 36). Although crop sensor cameras are typically adequate for landscape work, they won’t deliver quite the same quality as full frame cameras; image quality, noise control, and dynamic range are typically less than with full frame cameras. As for me, I often carry a crop sensor camera with me, but tend to use it mostly for wildlife photography, where the crop factor is a huge advantage.

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