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Capture the Wild

Two digital camera systems that will help you make better-quality images.

By Gibbs Milliken

Nature photography is one of the most popular and rewarding avocations. Each year, improved digital cameras and software programs continue to revolutionize electronic imaging. This advanced technology is now available in medium-price-range equipment for the outdoor enthusiast and pro alike.

Are you ready to move up to a professional level digital camera? The small point-n-shoot cameras have their place, but serious nature photographers should look to a new breed of DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras. The versatility of these systems is the key. When equipped with professional grade interchangeable zoom lenses, larger digital sensors, and specialized accessories, the additional expense is worth it if you want your electronic images to rival those from 35mm film. The following are two excellent digital camera outfits available at professional camera stores.

Canon Digital System

  • Canon EOS 30D Body, $1,399 (8.2 megapixels and a 1.6 “cropping” factor using standard 35mm lenses)
  • EF 16-35L f2.8 Lens, $1,559.95 (Professional quality results from wide angle to normal imaging ratios at all apertures)
  • EF100mm f/2.8 USM Macro Lens, $449.95 (Excellent acuity at all focusing distances}
  • EF 24-70L f2.8 Lens, $1,349.95 (One of the best zoom lenses made to date plus macro capabilities without attachments)
  • EF 70-200L IS f2.8 Lens, $1,899.95 (Heavy glass, but outstanding Image Stabilized performance and sharpness. It can be used with the Extender EF 2X II, $329.95 (Doubles the focal length to become a f5.6 long zoom-telephoto)
  • Canon 580 EX Auto Flash, $449.95 (Use with adjustable bracket and bounce-card for close-ups)
  • Off-camera Coiled Extension Cord, $69.95 (Connection of flash to hot shoe)
  • Fill-in Reflector, (Prices vary for the satin silver fold-up type)
  • Compact tripod, (Prices vary with size, brand, fast-release head and camera plates)
  • 1GB Delkin 75X Pro Compact Flash Memory Card, $99.95, (Fast reading disk. Make sure to use the largest file setting for best resolution)

Nikon Digital System

  • Nikon D200 Body, $1,697.95 (10.2 megapixels with a 1.5 “cropping” factor with standard 35mm lenses)
  • 17-55 f2.8 Zoom-Nikkor, $1,349.95 (Great for low light and has a very fast focus)
  • 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor, $729.95 (Sharp ultra close-up lens)
  • 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor, $1,759.95 (An excellent Vibration Reduction lens, then add a Nikon TC-20E II Teleconverter, $499.95 to multiply the 70-200 to become a f5.6 long telephoto)
  • Nikon SB800 Auto Flash Unit, $369.95 (Use with adjustable bracket and bounce-card)
  • Off-camera Coiled Extension Cord, $59.95 (Connects flash to hot shoe)
  • Fill-in reflector, (Prices vary for the satin silver fold-up type)
  • Compact tripod, (Prices vary with size, brand, fast-release head and camera plates)
  • 1GB Delkin 75X Pro Compact Flash Memory Card, $99.95, (Fast reading disk. Make sure to use the largest file setting for best resolution)

It is best to invest in one of the top camera systems and become so familiar with all the individual functions, buttons and knobs that, in use, it becomes like a part of your hand. The camera should always be readily accessible, lens pre-selected, mounted and adjusted to anticipate live action. In the field, this is essential where fleeting light on landscape, moving wildlife and changing weather demands speed with proficiency to record in a brief window of opportunity an event in nature that may seldom if ever be repeated.

Also essential is keeping your valuable equipment safe in a well-padded compartment case that is easy to transport and allows quick access. Since the application of in-line skateboard rollers on camera cases, traversing smooth trails and walkways is effortless. However, when the going gets rough, the same unit needs to quickly convert to a backpack. The Pelican Backpack/Roller Case does this and also has a removable daypack when only a limited amount of gear is needed. ($364.95, Backpack/Roller Case, Model: PCS182B, 800-802-8500, www.precision-camera.com)

Hunting with a camera is an exciting experience. At the essence of nature photography is the reward of capturing a special moment without harming the environment or its wildlife.

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