My Wildlife kit!
I am frequently asked about my wildlife kit, what I use, and why. So here you go! :)
Despite natural history being of life long interest to me, it was only after moving to India that wildlife photography developed into one of my main focus areas (pun unintended). I have since spent the subsequent years developing my kit to fit the job. Each lens has it's job and use. :)
The camera: 5D MK III
Any camera can be used for wildlife photography, and any camera is infinitely better than none! :) Saying that I use a 5D MKIII, a profession full-frame DSLR. Although not being specifically designed for wildlife, the 5D MKIII is a bit of jack-of-all trades in terms of its features, and is pretty darn good at most things. You can find many reviews of this camera, but I recommend this one at The Digital Picture. In addition to this, I like to take a back-up camera, just in case. For this I use my wifes 100D when I can, which despite having basic features, has great image quality at low ISO and the fact it is small means it is not cumbersome. A backup body is not essential, but can be useful especially when you have a lot of lenses. :)
WIDE ANGLE: 24MM F/1.4L II
A wide-angle lens for wildlife? Yes, this may sound like an odd choice, but it is in fact a very useful wildlife lens. This lens allows me to encompass the subject into the environmental landscape. Wildlife photography is not just a close up of the subject, but also it’s position in context to the environment. Don’t be afraid to go wide, get the bigger picture. It is also very useful for a different perspective when you can actually get close to your subject. I also use it for general landscapes, which adds context to a wildlife story. In short, this is my close-up-and-personal contextual environmental lens! :)
Telephoto: 70-200 f/2.8L IS II
Ok, now this one makes more sense… longer with a faster aperture. Although not being a super-telephoto, and is in fact quite short on a full-frame camera, this is a fantastic wildlife lens. The 70-200mm focal length can provide some great environmental shots and medium close-ups. The fast 2.8 aperture also means it is a low light monster, which is great for those dusk/dawn opportunities where every photon of light is essential! This lens also performs fantastically when coupled with the canon 1.4x III and 2x III teleconverters. The 70-200 f/2.8 can become a 98-280 f/4 and even a 140-400mm f/5.6, all of which have excellent image quality. If I could only take one lens I would take this one, with the teleconverters of course!
Super-telephoto: 500mm f/4L IS II
There is a standard, and not unfounded, association between wildlife photography and big ass lenses. It is true that having a longer focal length lens allows you get optically closer to your subject when it is not physically possible or advisable. However, starting out, this caliber of lenses can be out of financial reach, but it opens up a realm of photo-tunities, close-ups! This lens is a new addition to my kit and is phenominal. At 500mm it is tac sharp, and in combination with the teleconverts I get an amazingly sharp 700mm f/5.6 (akin to the monstrous 800mm f/5.6) and a very good 1000mm f/8.
For more information on camera gear and how to use it to create the best images you can, please check out my workshop page!