Pic­ture per­fect

In the first of a 13-part se­ries of ar­ti­cles on how to get the most out of bird pho­tog­ra­phy, Paul Sterry of Na­ture Pho­tog­ra­phers looks at the ba­sic cam­era equip­ment ev­ery kit bag should have…

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

First in a new se­ries of fea­tures on bird pho­tog­ra­phy

Ba­sic equip­ment

Cen­tral to any bird pho­tog­ra­pher’s kit are a cam­era body and lens and in this ar­ti­cle DSLR (Dig­i­tal Sin­gle Lens Re­flex) mod­els are con­sid­ered. They use a mir­ror sys­tem, so that what you see through the lens is what is cap­tured on the sen­sor; lenses are in­ter­change­able. The range of man­u­fac­tur­ers and mod­els is vast, and choices can be be­wil­der­ing. To fol­low are some guide­lines to help nav­i­gate this mine­field.

Cam­era body file size

The heart of a dig­i­tal cam­era is its sen­sor: a grid of dots (pix­els) each of which records colours and their in­ten­si­ties when ex­posed to light. More pix­els means more de­tail can be cap­tured by the sen­sor; and mod­ern cam­eras boast sen­sors with tens of megapix­els (MP), a megapixel be­ing a mil­lion pix­els. Re­sult­ing im­age qual­ity is also in­flu­enced by in­ter­nal cam­era soft­ware. Nowa­days, cam­eras in the 20-40MP range are typ­i­cal and re­sult­ing file sizes are enor­mous. But im­age size is not all-im­por­tant. Take an iden­ti­cal im­age with 20MP and 40MP cam­eras, print both at A4 at the same res­o­lu­tion and you will be hard pushed to tell the dif­fer­ence. Im­ages from a 36MP cam­era will print to more than 60cm max­i­mum di­men­sion, an ex­ces­sively large size in most cir­cum­stances. Large file sizes do, how­ever, al­low for sig­nif­i­cant crop­ping to be made but oth­er­wise, beyond 20MP, size is ar­guably not the most im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for most pho­tog­ra­phers.

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A se­lec­tion of DSLR Nikon cam­era bod­ies: from left to right, D5, D810 and D500

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