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…
First in a new series of features on bird photography
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.
A selection of DSLR Nikon camera bodies: from left to right, D5, D810 and D500