In this article, I will explain you why I picked this equipment and what makes it a perfect kit to start with. Keep in mind, that cameras and lenses are just tools to achieve creating certain images.
The body is the major piece of equipment, in other words it's the brain of your entire camera system. If you want to dive into wildlife photography seriously and you have a little bit of financial resources, I would suggest to have two camera bodies. Both don't have to be the top of the line, but ideally they should be very complimentary.
Why do you need two bodies, first it offers you more flexibility to create the perfect shot but I also think that having a backup body is essential. Indeed, as wildlife photographers we spend hours and hours on hike, sometime camping overnight, and relying on only one body is pretty risky to me. Because one day, no matter how much care and love you give to your equipment, it will fail on you!
So here is the two camera bodies that I'm currently using:
Canon 5D Mark IV. Image from Adorama.
I first got this DSLR body because of its full frame 30.2 megapixel sensor! Having a full frame sensor allows much better performance in low light which is key in wildlife photography. Having my hands on it for over 5 years now, I'm still amazed by the build quality of this body. The grip and weather sealed you have on it are simply outstanding! In fact, one day on the Pacific Coast, I was swiped away by a huge wave and my camera was completely submerged probably for a good 30 seconds. Pack to safety on the shore, I put it in a bag of rice overnight and it was working just fine the next day!
But like any camera the Canon 5D Mark IV as some weak spots. For wildlife photography, the major drawback would be slow burst. In fact, it shoots realistically only 7-8 frames per seconds which is a little bit slow for wildlife actions.
Canon R6. Image from Adorama.
After using my Canon 5D Mark IV for a while, I pretty much knew what I was looking for in my second camera body. Ideally it would be a blasting continuous shooting speed, with a super accurate autofocus and why not better ISO performance.
The perfect candidate for that was the mirrorless camera Canon R6! In fact, it shoots 12 frames per seconds with an amazing wildlife-eye tracking autofocus and has probably one of the best low light capability on the market! I can shoot way over 6400 ISO and still have a good image quality, especially after using a denoiser software. Plus, being a mirrorless camera means it has an electronic view finder, allowing me to check my exposure in realtime which is a game changer when you only have one chance to get the shot!
The only drawback to this camera? Honestly, I don't see a single one. It's simply an amazing body for wildlife photography!
In my mind, I see the lens you put your camera body as its weapon. No matter how good you are at boxing, if you are blindfolded chances are you will miss. Well, it's pretty much the same with lenses.
Having a set of lenses that cover a wide range is the priority here! In fact with only two lenses I can technically cover from 24mm all the way to 600mm !
For this reason, here are my main lenses:
Very sharp and super versatile. I use this lens for landscape or street photography. But I think this lens truly shine when shooting wildlife with a wide angle from a safari vehicle. In fact, combine to the Canon R6 with the tilted screen and the eye tracking autofocus, it's super easy to get these cool low angle shots with the subject crispy sharp.
This is my everyday lens! The build quality is great and it's still 'light' enough to take it with me on hikes. Once you know how to get the best of this lens, you will get striking sharp images with a nice blurry background, if you paid attention to it prior taking your picture (cf. my Ebook).
Quality/Price ratio for this lens is simply unbeatable!
I love the render of a 35mm lens! It brings something timeless to your images, especially shooting in black and white. I used this lens for my camera trapping project but also for portrait with the incredible f1.8 aperture that gives you incredible blurry background and insane bokkeh !
Tamron 150-600mm G2. Image from Adorama.
This is a non-exhaustive list of the gear I use everyday to come out with creative and unique images.There is so much to say about gear and why do you use it for that I couldn't cover it in one post. In the end, there is no 'perfect gear' it's relative to what image you are trying to create. Let me know if this post was useful to you and good luck out there.