Wildlife photographers can earn up to $80,000 a year while traveling the world and enjoying a life of adventure. Whether you’re interested in becoming a photographer or simply want to photograph some amazing animals, finding the best camera for safari is a great place to start.
So book your flight and dive into our essential tips for finding the right camera for your safari.
What to Know Before Buying Your Camera
You have your safari booked and you’re ready to take some stunning photography of all the exotic animals and landscapes. You’re going to want to take a moment to plan before looking for the best camera for safari.
Taking the best photos on your trip will require considering a number of factors beyond the type of camera to use. Sit down and plan accordingly, do any extra research that may be needed, and keep the collected information in mind while shopping for your camera.
When all of the elements come together perfectly, you’ll be glad you did your homework.
Finding Your Inspiration
Photography is an art form, and there are countless ways to capture the same subject. Before shopping for your camera, you’ll want to know the type of photography you’ll want to create. If you’ve been doing photography for some time, there’s a good chance you’ve already established your own unique style.
In the event that you’re new to photography, it never hurts to find inspiration within the work of other photographers. Check out photos from acclaimed wildlife photographers like Michael Aw, Tomasz Gudzowaty, or Karen Lunney as a great starting point.
Know About Your Safari Destination
Being a great photographer means knowing how to manipulate your landscape to create stunning images. The more research you do about your safari destination the better. Take into account the important factors about your location.
For example, how many hours of direct sunlight does your location get?
Will the animals be out in the open, or are they more likely to be hidden behind other objects? Will there be an abundance of plants, trees and other items that create shade in the location?
These are all important areas to take into account. If you are travelling to various safari locations during your trip, you may need a camera that’s more versatile.
The Dos and Don’ts of Taking Photos While on Safari
Whether you’re new to photography or a professional, there are always new tips that can be integrated into your photo session. This is especially true when shooting wildlife. Here are some essential Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind during your trip.
Know how much liberty you’ll have during your safari tour. Will you be accompanied by a large group of people? How much time will you have during each stop to get the perfect shot?
Plan accordingly. Nothing interrupts a great wildlife shoot like being snacked on by mosquitos or not packing the right lenses. Be sure you have everything you need before your trip.
Get closer than you need to. If you’re not a trained wildlife photographer getting too close to the animals can put both you and those around you at risk.
Bring anything with you that can damage the area. This is their home, not yours. Try to interfere as little as possible, and leave the landscape exactly as you found it.
What to Consider When Finding the Best Camera for Safari
So you’ve done your homework and it’s time to start shopping. Safari landscapes tend to be very different than the atmosphere most photographers are used to shooting in, so it’s important to know if your existing camera is up to the job or if it’s time to add to your collection.
We recommend considering the following factors when comparing your camera options to find the best camera for safari.
Your budget is the first place to start when knowing which camera options are available to you.
The average professional camera lands in the price range of $3,000 to $10,000. If you’re dabbling with photography or are new to the game you can still get a fairly impressive camera for around $700.
It’s important to remember that you’ll be spending additional money on accessories such as lenses, carrying cases, and tripods. Try to account for each of these areas when determining your final camera budget.
Safari cameras typically come with their own share of special features. For example, the Sony A6000 Mirrorless camera includes wifi (so you don’t have to carry endless backup SIM Cards), a 16mm-55 mm lens and a Continous Shooting mode to capture the perfect action shot.
The features that are right for you will depend on your experience, price range, and how often you’ll be on the move. You also want to consider the primary animal you will be shooting to find a camera lens that can keep up!
While you may be tempted to go with cheaper camera models, it’s important to never sacrifice quality in the process. Safaris are unpredictable, so you’ll need a camera that is sturdy enough to survive multiple falls.
Going with a “bridge” camera that can easily adapt to different locations is also incredibly valuable. These cameras will save you the hassle of having to quickly change lenses before the animal gets away.
Finally, choosing a DSLR camera (Digitial Single Lens Reflex) camera is a great way to gain versatility with your shots. They are typically able to use any type of lens and come with readily available and interchangeable batteries.
Top Camera Choices
While there are a number of camera options to bring along on your safari, there are some cameras that stand head and shoulders above the rest. The following choices are ideal for multiple safari destinations and have been chosen for both their photo quality and convenience.
Here are our top picks for safari worthy cameras:
Canon EOS Rebel Series
The Canon Rebels are sturdy, reliable, and highly functional cameras that can be easily used by both amateurs and professionals. In fact, they are one of the best cameras for those who are new to the world of professional photography.
Canon Rebels typically come with a “starter pack” of lenses and accessories which provide quality for ultimately any budget. Their shutter speeds are impressive and the photo qualities deliver.
Since these cameras are considered a cornerstone of the photography world, they are also compatible with nearly every kind of lens, making it easy to add on to your collection in the future.
Canon EOS 80D
Looking to work your way up the photography food chain (no pun intended)?
Then it’s time to graduate to the Canon Rebels older brother the Canon EOS 80D. While this camera is slightly pricier than the rebel, it is designed with the photography professional in mind.
The camera’s functions are remarkably intuitive, which means you’ll spend less time changing out lenses. It’s also built sturdy, making it a great outdoor camera. You’ll find a better quality of photo than the rebel as well.
GoPro Action Cameras
Not all photography shots are taken with large professional cameras.
Sometimes great things come in tiny packages. This is definitely the case when it comes to the GoPro Action camera. Not only does the GoPro allow you to take HD pictures from a first-person perspective, but it also allows you to capture video as well.
Many wildlife photographers use the GoPro Action Camera in addition to their professional cameras since the GoPro can easily be attached to a hat or vehicle, leaving their hands free for larger cameras. This also reduced the chance that you’ll miss that “once in a lifetime shot”
Tamron 16-300 MM Lens
The Tamron 16-300 MM is actually a lens and not a camera, but it is still worthy of a spot on our list. That’s because this mirrorless lens offers crystal clear shots every time.
This lens can easily be considered a two-in-one as it’s ideal for both wide-angle shots and high powered zoom shots. This is perfect for safari as you’ll need to switch from landscapes to up-close photos in a moments notice.
It’s important to choose a DSLR camera to ensure you can use interchangeable lenses like the Tamron and other quality options.
Where to Buy Your Camera
While shopping for your camera, we suggest going straight to the companies website or a retailer that sells the camera. Purchasing a used camera from someone you don’t know can be a waste of money, as there is no way of knowing if any damage has occurred.
Always check reviews before purchasing (both online and in person), and see if the retailer offers any warranties. We also suggest purchasing and using your camera well before your safari, to spot any problems ahead of time.
Preparing for Your Safari
Finding the best camera for safari is just one of the many ways you can better prepare for your trip. If you’re looking to get the most out of your safari, we suggest checking out our collection of travel tips for all the advice you need for an amazing adventure!