nature photography equipment

What kind of nature photography equipment do you need to take good quality nature photos? Some minimalists might argue that all you need is a cell phone camera.  I'm not so sure.

I'd argue that there are two must-have accessories if you want to take good nature photos. Besides a camera with a decent sized sensor, you need a good wide angle lens and you need a stable tripod.


Nature photography actually covers a broad spectrum of photography. Landscapes, seascapes, macro photos, wildlife photography, and bird photography are all specific categories of nature photography. Some of them require more than just a simple camera, a cheap tripod, and a basic lens.

Simple nature photo of flowersWide angle lenses are not always needed for nature photos.

There are a few basic pieces of nature photography gear that are a big help in getting some great shots of your favorite nature spots. Cameras, lenses, and tripods are the obvious general ones.

Specialized equipment for nature photography depends on the specific category of nature photography you are doing. Landscape, macro, underwater, and wildlife all have specific needs with regards to the equipment you may want to have on hand.

choosing the best nature photography equipment for you

Follow the 3-step recipe below.

1.  Grab some general information from this Digital Photography Tips web site.

2. Figure out your specific needs based on the type of nature photos you want to shoot.

3. Go to a big online retailer that has a lot of consumer reviews. Read at least 5 positive reviews and 5 critical reviews. That will give you a great feel for the experiences of other photographers about a specific piece of nature photography gear. I use Amazon all the time to read the different perspectives that other photographers have on cameras, accessories, and a whole lot more.

Nature photography gear recipeThe Recipe for Choosing the right nature photography gear.
I made this goofy illustration to help you remember the recipe.

Do a preliminary search on Amazon and read the reviews to get some ideas.

Blended together, these three ingredients will help you make the right choice. Your preference for taste is the most important ingredient of all, but you can gain a lot of information by reading what other photographers have found out ahead of you.

basic equipment for nature photography

A lens with a big zoom range is good choices for nature photography gear to have

Outside of the camera, the two most essential pieces of equipment for nature photography are a good lens and a tripod.  

Although you can shoot without a tripod in some situations when there is an abundance of light, I consider this to be a vital piece of equipment to have. You'll get sharper photos when you use a decent tripod combined with the self-timer or a cable release.

Most nature photographers are going to shoot wide-angle views and closely cropped compositions and a wide-angle zoom lens is the most versatile way to go.  You may have limited ability to move around and the versatility of a zoom lens with a good range just makes sense.

best camera for nature photography

Nature photographers need a camera that allows them to control its settings.  There are many occasions when control over focus and exposure should not be done with the cameras set on automatic modes.

I really like the inclusion of a histogram to determine the best exposure in the wide variety of lighting situations you encounter with nature photography

The camera should either be equipped with a lens that has a nice broad zoom range or be able to take interchangeable lenses from wide-angle to telephoto and perhaps one of the dedicated macro photography lenses.  

DSLR camera good for taking macro photography

With this specific genre of photography detail is extremely important so a camera with a big sensor is a preferred choice.  The Canon APS-C for Canon and Nikon DX, the Foveon (Sigma) and 4/3 formats are all really good sizes for many photographers.  The full-sized sensor cameras from any manufacturer will give you excellent image quality and plenty of useful features and settings.

Cameras with interchangeable lenses are much better suited for nature photography because of their versatility in choosing the best lens for the situation. For general nature shots, you can get away

best lenses for nature photography

Bird lens for long distance nature photosWildlife Lens

Zoom lenses that have a wide range with the ability to handle both wide-angle landscapes as well as zooming in to capture a detail shot or wildlife is the best way to go if you want a safe way to handle a variety of situations.

Lenses that have macro focusing ability give you a whole new category of nature photography to have fun with. Specialty lenses more extreme close-ups are dedicated macro lenses and extreme telephoto lenses are needed for serious for wildlife photography.  

Super telephotos are really the best choice to use as bird lenses such as the 600mm lens picture here on the left.  Break out your credit card for one of these babies!

nature photography lighting equipment

Lighting for nature photography is often what you find based on the time of year, time of day, and weather conditions.  With landscapes and seascapes you rarely can change the lighting that exists and may have to adjust with some simple or sophisticated photo retouching afterwards. 

I am not a big fan of using strobes in these situations, but many photographers do like to use flash guns to provide fill light as well as for macro photography.

Sometimes there may be instances when you are going to add some fill light with electronic flash or bounce lighting when you are creating a nature photograph within a small area such as macro photography.

Here some thoughts and several examples of natural macro photography lighting 

backpacks for nature photography

Camera backpack to store nature photography equipment

There are so many designs and features to consider with an appropriate backpack for nature photography it can be confusing.  

I've used many backpacks and camera bags over the years and have shared my personal thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of several different designs.

It's one of those cases where you must take a realistic look at the exact nature of your photography and combine that with some real world experience to get the best backpack for your nature photography.

Here are my thoughts on Best camera backpacks.  If you are somewhat serious about your nature photography, you're going to do some hiking or traveling with your camera gear in tow. The right combination of size and ease of use should determine what backpack you want to use for your nature photography equipment.

Here are some more thoughts on advantages and disadvantages of backpacks on the camera backpack reviews page. These thoughts might help you figure what kind of nag you want ot use to hold all of your nature photography equipment.

One of the magazines I really enjoy is Outdoor Photographer. There are many inspirational articles written by some very talented nature photographers.  Here is a link to some articles on their online magazine:  OutdoorMagazine/Gear. (This link will open in a new window)

Enjoy using your nature photography equipment.

It is such a great time to be interested in photography.

Have a blast!!


Happy face from doing nature photography

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