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Photographic Gear

There is a wide variety of photograpic gear that is available to assist you in capturing the world around you. Let’s take a look at some of the essentials.

Once you have read through the below, we also suggest you go and do some homework and read some reviews on the items you are looking to buy. Alternatively you can drop us an email and we’ll help guide you as best we can.

When purchasing a camera, there are a number of important factors to consider. Lets take a look at a few of these.

1) Full Frame vs Crop Sensor
A camera sensor determines image size, resolution, low-light performance, depth of field, dynamic range, lenses, and even the camera’s physical size.

Sensor size is important when you’re trying to pick a camera because full frame sensors have distinct advantages and disadvantages in different situations.

Full Frame Sensors
In general, full frame sensors have better image quality across the board, but they really shine when it comes to high ISO performance. Full frame sensors also give photographers more options when it comes to wide-angle work.

The downside is that full frame sensors and lenses are bigger than their cropped counterparts. Full frame bodies are also more expensive.

Crop Sensor
A crop sensor refers to any sensor smaller than a full frame sensor or a 35mm film frame. The common types of crop sensor include APS-C and micro 4/3 systems.

Aside from the difference in physical size of the sensor, there are several other differences between a crop sensor and a full frame sensor.

The Difference
The most visible difference between full frame and crop sensor is their field of view. In fact the term “crop” implies just exactly that. Nikon has a 1.5x crop and Canon a 1.6x crop when compared to a full frame. This gives the advantage to the crop sensor if zoom is what you need. A 300mm Nikon lens on a crop sensor when applying the crop factor of 1.5x is equivalent to a 450mm lens.

However, photographers who enjoy shooting landscapes and architecture will definitely enjoy the better image quality and wide-angle options of the full frame sensor.

2) Focus Capabilities
Being able to get accurate focus on a subject is imperative for producing a quality image. This becomes even more critical when shooting in low light or when needing to get focus quickly while tracking fast moving subjects.

Make sure to find out more about the focus system the camera you want to own. How many focus points? What type of focus points? How how well does it focus in low light? etc.

3) ISO performance
ISO performance is extremely important for low light photography and if you want to sell your images. If these factors are important to you, you need a sensor with high ISO capability to produce high quality images with little grain min low light conditions.

4) Frame Rate
Having a high frame rate is essential for capturing fast moving subjects or if you are planning to shoot wildlife, birds or action. Having a high frame rate allows you capture more images within a short space of time. This gives you more of a chance of capturing that one special moment.

A frame rate of 7 frames per second (fps) upward should do a decent job to capture action. However, depending on what you are trying to capture and what your preferences are, you may want something much faster, around 10-14fps.

5) Video
SLR Video quality has advanced quickly in recent years allowing for incredible video quality in most SLR’s today. If you will be using your camera for both still photography as well as video, make sure to take a look at the video resolution, frame rates, stabalization and bit rates.

Most photographers need some sort of stabilisation when taking certain types of images, or in low light situations. Some of these situations might include:

  • Landscape photography
  • Astro photography / star trails
  • Low light situations / long exposures
  • Support for heavy lenses

Let’s take a look at some of the options:

Bean Bag
Bean bags are very useful for wildlife photographers to help support a big lens. The can be used to support your lens while shooting out your car window, on the back of a game viewing vehicle or from a hide.

Tripod
Tripods are almost a must for a photographer, especially if you are keen to explore landscape photography, astro photography and/or long exposures. They are great to have in many other situations too, and we reccomend having one of these in your travel bag. Try to ensure that you get a fairly sturdy and weighted tripod in order to make sure you don’t get unwanted movement, especially in windy conditions.

Monopod
Monopods can help with extra support for big lenses on the back of a game viewing vehicle whilst standing.

Gimbal Head
Gimbal heads are fantastic options for a heavy lens as they allow for flexibility and smooth movement while tracking your subject. We highly reccommend these.

Door mounts & claps
There are many options when it comes to door mounts and claps. These can help assist with attaching your Gimbal head, tripod head or support structure to a game viewing vehicle, car or hide.

When it comes to digital photography, storage of your images is an extremely important thing to consider.

Memory Card Types
Different cameras will require different storage/memory card types. The most common are SD, CF & XQD cards.  These cards all vary in price and speed (in terms of how fast the transfer an image from your camera to the card).

Size
The size or amount of storage space on the card is very important. The average file size of an image taken on your camera (this will vary from depending on the camera specs) as well as the size of the memory card will influence how many images you will be able to store on a single card.

Speed
You can purchase memory cards with different speeds. This is the speed that an image is tranferred from your camera to your card (write speed), as well as the speed your image will be transferred from your card to your laptop (read speed). For wildlife photographers, the write speed is extremely important, especially if you are wanting to take a lot of images during a short space of time during an action scene.

If you are taking many images within a few seconds you need your images to be transferred from your camera to your memory card quickly. If this does not happen, your camera buffer memory will become full, and you may have to wait before the camera allows you to more images. During this time you may miss a shot. This is also dependant on how large your camera buffer is.

When you are spending a fair amount of money on your photographic equipment, it is important to know to how protect it and keep it clean.

Bags/Cases
Make sure to get a good quality camera bag. It’s helpful to have something that can fit most of your equipment so that you don’t have to carry multiple bags. Buying something that has easy, quick access is something to consider as well.

We also suggest Pelican or hard bodied cases for big expensive lenses when traveling.

UV filters
UV filters are clear filters that fit onto the front of most lenses. These help protect your lens from the sun, dust, fingerprints, water and oil, as well as to protect your lens from scratches and bumps. You’d rather have your UV filter scratch then your lens.

Make sure to get the right mm size filter for your lens.

Lens & Image Sensor Cleaning

Lens Cleaning
When it comes to cleaning your lens there are a few items you can purchase from most well known photography stores. Lens pens, dust blower kits and microfiber cloths will help to keep your lens clean. When out in the field you may need to do this once or twice a day depending on the amount of dust etc. that your lens may collect.

Image Sensor Cleaning
We suggest having this cleaned before any trip just to make sure that there are no little dust spots that will end up on all your images. This can be done with a sensor cleaning kit or at a reputable camera store.

If you are cleaning your sensor yourself, make sure to research how to protect your image sensor while cleaning it.

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CONTINUE LEARNING

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY ESSENTIALS WORKSHOP

TAKE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Join us for 4 days in the Black Rhino Private Game Reserve with like minded people and grow your knowledge and understanding of the essential Wildlife Photography Techniques such as:

  • Wildlife portraits
  • Animals in their environment
  • Freezing motion
  • Blurring movement
  • Sunrises & sunsets
  • Spotlight photography
  • Astro-photography

Providing practical situations and experiences.

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