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Camera Equipment for Wildlife Damage Photos

Improving your wildlife photographyWildlife and wildlife damage photos help create a visual record of your findings and/or help explain your problem or control technique. 

Improving Your Wildlife Photography

1. Choosing a camera

2. Shooting photos: tips and techniques



  1. 3-5 Megapixels. Select cameras that take pictures ranging in size from 3 to 5 megapixels.  Pictures taken between 3 to 5 megapixels are large enough to print 3x5 pictures of acceptable quality.  Sure it sounds great to take 8 to 10 megapixel pictures but the downside is the storage required to hold all those images. Who wants to buy a 250-gigabyte drive just to hold all the images?  If you get started in digital photography, you will soon discover how easy it is to fill harddrive space.  Additionally, for small cameras, extra megapixels rarely provide any advantage in picture quality.  Larger picture sizes, also requires you to buy larger flash disks to hold the images in your camera.
  2. Optical zoom beats digital zoom.  Optical zoom means that the magnification results from the lenses in the camera. Digital zoom magnification comes from a computer-generated algorithm to enlarge the size of the picture.  Digital zoom pictures are usually too pixilated to be of any use.  Even low-end cameras will have 4 times optical zoom.
  3. Macro function.  Choose a camera that allows you to take macro pictures. The macro function lets the camera focus on an object only an inch or two away, such as scat, tracks, or small holes that are otherwise hard to see.
  4. Superfine JPG, Tiff and Raw.  These terms refer to the kinds of file types the images will be saved as. Most of you are familiar with JPG’s, also written as JPEG. The problem with JPG’s is that the camera has to process (and thereby degrade) the image in order to convert it into a JPG format.  Tiff is a better format for saving images because it is lossless, (as in less data is lost from the picture. The best is Raw format. Raw format means that the camera just records exactly what the camera sensor sees. No processing of the image takes place.  The problem with Raw is that you need a program to process the image and convert it to a usable format like JPG or Tiff. However, Raw format is becoming the standard and provides lots of advantages over processed images. So if you can purchase a camera with this option then do so. In time, you will be glad you did.
  5. Batteries. I recommend choosing a camera with standard batteries rather than proprietary batteries. The advantage of standard batteries is that it allows you to buy batteries at the corner store if you happen to run out without having to schlep around a battery charger.   There are plenty of good rechargeable standard batteries out there. But if you run out, just buy some non-rechargeable ones.
  6. Size. Choose a camera that you will actually carry with you. I can’t emphasize this enough. A camera, no matter how good, is worthless if you don’t have it with you. Camera sizes have gotten pretty small in recent years so you have plenty to choose from. Choose a camera that you could carry while crawling into an attic. Just be sure the camera’s controls are not too small for your fingers to easily find and use.
  7. Self-contained camera lens cover. No one wants to be fussing with dangling items that can be lost on a roof or in a crawl space. I suggest selecting a camera that has its own lens cover.  When I turn the camera, the lens cover opens automatically. When I turn it off, the cover protects the lens automatically. I never have to worry about losing it or touching it. If a self-contained camera lens cover is not an option for your choice of camera, purchase a device that attaches the cover to the camera body to prevent the cover’s loss.

A digital camera is a worthwhile investment. The pictures you take can be used in advertising, websites, presentations, sales literature as well as providing visual proof to your clients.  Keeping these tips in mind will help you select a camera that you will actually use while providing you the quality sufficient for your business needs.

Elements of a Suitable Camera for Wildlife Control Operators

  • Canon PowershotSmall enough to fit in a standard shirt pocket.
  • 4.0 Megapixel digital camera enough for print quality 3x5 images
  • 4x Optical Zoom
  • Lightweight and compact body 
  • Large 1.8 inch LCD screen for easier image preview and review 
  • An ergonomic metallic grip with intuitive controls for easy handling
  • Variety of shooting settings from manual to fully automated.
  • Uses two AA batteries
  • Built in flash.
  • Can take videos with sound
  • Able to use additional lenses for even greater functionality.
  • All at a street price of approximately 200 dollars in 2007. Note more recent cameras are even better.

Stephen Vantassel
©  2007 Stephen Vantassel





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