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Choosing a camera based on capture techniques

Choosing a camera based on capture techniques

I would advise amateurs starting out, or anyone wishing to upgrade based on new activities,  to assess their capture techniques before making make and model camera choices.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 11.43.51 AM (2)CAPTURE TECHNIQUE 1
HAND-HELD STILL or ACTION
DETAIL PHOTOGRAPHY:
A
ny macro or close focus lens with or without artificial light

When careful composition and background and focus management matter, even when the subject may be moving.

The principal objective of making photographs that are within close proximity to the photographer is to record detail in the content: the detail in the scales of a snake; the detail of the texture of leaf litter; the bubbling foam on the shoreline. So, whether using a macro and or any lens that can either zoom in on the detail, a DSLR camera is needed—with cropped sensor or not—that enables the photographer to work intuitively changing shutter speed, ISO, exposure, focus and focus modes and composition to suit the aesthetic appeal required. Most brands and models of quality DSLRs, especially those with a wide range of lens choices, will create excellent photographs.

My choice for technique 1  is a camera of around 18 to 20 megapixels and a motor drive with a frame rate of at least 12 to 14 per second. The Canon and Nikon DSLRs are the most popular for this work worldwide among serious nature photographers. I prefer the lower MP because I am better able to push ISOs noiselessly and retain better control of my depth of field (area of focus).  Nonetheless, higher megapixel cameras are also fine for this technique.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 11.49.36 AM (2)CAPTURE TECHNIQUE 2
TRIPOD BASED
STILL DETAIL PHOTOGRAPHY:
Any macro or close focus lens with or without artificial light

This technique enables the use of tripods which, in turn, enable greater flexibility of shutter speed and ISO, therefore enabling far greater flexibility with the depth of field.

Focus and angle of view are the two primary issues when photographing native flowering plants, or any stationary small subject. This is an area that I like to work in slow time, it is what I call ‘considered photography’, and it is more about considering than snapping! Running around snapping images produces worse than poor results.

The other challenge is balancing the aesthetics of the background with the focus depth and sharpness around the centre of interest.   Of course, any subject material, not just flowers, applies to this technique.

Frame rates in this category are unimportant, however, because this technique can be applied to art and also to a higher level of commercial applications, I tend to choose to use camera bodies with a full frame and higher megapixel capacity i.e. 24MP to 38MP, nonetheless 18 to 20 would be fine if that is what you have.  I also use medium format film and digital cameras with even higher megapixel ratings for capture technique 2.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 11.52.05 AM (2)

CAPTURE TECHNIQUE 3
TRIPOD or HAND-HELD
ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY
Medium to long focal length lenses with natural light or flash fill in light

When a make or model can matter, especially when the subject is moving rapidly.

My experience in this space has been with Nikon D3, D3s and of course now the D5 as a rival to Canons EOS IDX; I use the latter extensively for action distant images and the D3S for closer action work.  My choice is a camera of around 18 to 20 megapixels, and a motor drive with a frame rate of at least 12 to 14 per second. The Canon and Nikon DSLRs are the most popular for this work worldwide among serious nature photographers. I prefer the lower MP because I am better able to push ISOs noiselessly and retain better control of my depth of field (area of focus).  The lower megapixel also enables the buffer to maintain faster frame rates.

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 12.04.23 PM (2)

Albatross running on water – Nikon D3s frame rate 12 frames per second

When frame capture rates matter

Capturing a running kangaroo or a flying bird, or sea lions fighting in a rock pool and more, is the primary objective of this capture technique and may require high frame rates.  Fortunately for us, the sports industry has long supported an ongoing market to induce camera manufacturers to pursue customers through the development of highly developed variable focusing systems. Canon leads and Nikon follows pretty close behind with their new D5. Both deliver 12 to 14 frames per second with megapixel ratings able to maintain these fast frame rates. The results? Outstanding!Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 12.06.00 PM (2)

CAPTURE TECHNIQUE 4
TRIPOD or HAND-HELD LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
Any lens plus available light

When a make or model can be less important, especially when the subject is not moving and a tripod is used.

This is the most popular camera capture technique applied to landscape photography. Contemplative, slow time compositions developed with thought and care, often performed on a tripod for maximum stability.  Even the cheaper DSLRs, when managed carefully—especially when it comes to the care of focus and camera shudder—can produce astounding results.

Frame rates in this category are unimportant, however, because this technique can be applied to art and also a higher level of commercial applications.  I tend to choose to use camera bodies with a full frame and higher megapixel capacity i.e. 24MP to 38MP, nonetheless, 18 to 20 would be fine if that is what you have and you are not planning excessive enlargement.  I also use medium format film and digital cameras with even higher megapixel ratings.

I deal with  Lenses for Nature  Photography  here and would stress that the quality of a lens can be far more important than either the make, model or number of sensor megapixels.

Feedback very welcome.

Photography and text ©  Steve Parish Nature Connect

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