For a long time, wildlife photography was reserved for professionals working in the field. As children, we would all marvel at the NatGeo magazines and wonder if we’ll ever be able to capture a lion in his prime or a peacock dancing. Today, with the widespread availability of cameras, people have started to pick up wildlife photography as a hobby. In fact, one of the best and most popular cameras that people use is the Canon 80D.
Since wildlife photography often entails capturing fleeting moments or displaying exquisite detail, the Canon’s 24.2 MP CMOS sensor becomes really useful. It can capture, in detail, the many colors of a chameleon or the breezing hair of a racing stallion. With 3.1in depth and an APS-C (15.0 x 22.5 mm) optical sensor, the camera can do wonders outdoors. It can help you aptly capture the moment an eagle hunts or when a meerkat rises.
Wildlife seems to be the perfect terrain for the 80D. You can do all kinds of wonders with this camera. With its incredibly fast shutter speed of 1/8000 seconds, the 80D can capture every little moment – like the flapping of a humming bird’s wings or when a frog rolls out its tongue to catch a dragonfly. Such detail and accuracy can only be achieved by using a professional camera like the 80D.
In fact, this camera can help you redefine your images with the various built-in shooting modes including, backlight correction HDR, candle, close-up, food, handheld night shot, kids, landscape, night portrait, portrait mode, and sports mode.
Here are 5 tips on using the Canon 80D for wildlife photography.
Know Your Subject
Although wildlife photography is no longer an exclusive domain, you must still follow some ethics that come with it. The most crucial factor that helps you take better images is knowing your subject. This means when you go into the wild, you must plan out the animals, you will shoot and what kinds of behaviors those animals may exhibit. It is essential so that you can predict reactions and take better photos by being one step ahead of the subject.
You have to do the homework. There are many ways to know your subject. The easiest method is to watch a few YouTube videos or read up on the animal and look at a few images, which will give you a good idea of how to photograph it.
Another method is to consult a wildlife expert and take them as guides who will tell you what animal can be found where and how to get them in a position to be photographed. You can also immerse yourself in the jungle for a few days or weeks to understand the patterns and ways of life. This will also give you a good idea about lighting, location, and weather.
With the Canon 80D, you can focus better on your subject and capture a crisp image. It gives you 45 AF points with a TTL phase-detection system. Additionally, it also provides you with a DIGIC 6 image processor. All these features will help you capture your subject’s movements and maneuverings. The camera also comes with several AE/AF control systems including, FlexiZone, Predictive AI Servo AF, and Subject-tracking AF. These added functions will help you direct all the focal points towards your subject for an incredible shot.
The More Subjects, The Better
When you’re going into the wild, you can’t just expect to take pictures of solitary animals. The whole purpose of photographing the wild is to understand an alternative way of life and how behaviors and interactions occur between animals. So, it is recommended that you capture as many subjects as possible; the more, the merrier. This will give your images a real-time feel, which will enhance its aesthetics and make for an exciting story.
As mentioned above, immersing yourself into the jungle or getting a guide can help locate the subjects and shoot them. However, to find clusters of animals, you have to be ready to travel far and beyond, into the center of the jungle or the Savannah. Most animals can be found near water sources, so that may be a good lead to follow. You can also trace the trials of buffalos or elephants that graze on green patches of grass. It often happens that these big animals invite other smaller subjects to emerge as well. So, it will become easy for you to capture more animals in the same frame.
With the many AF points, the Canon 80D also offers you a viewfinder with a 1.6 view crop factor. This will help get more subjects into the camera and direct multiple focal points onto them for clarity. The camera has an operational temperature range of 32 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit, so moving from place to place will not be an issue either.
Paint With Light
Another important factor in wildlife photography is lighting. Whether you are capturing images in the dark or in the daylight, you have to be careful not to overexpose or overshadow the image. Since wildlife can take multiple forms, you have to think about how you will operate the lighting in each one of them. You can have sparse lighting in the jungles, full brightness in the open savannahs, or deep darkness in the thick leaf forests.
For example, if you are in a jungle with tall trees and sparse lighting, you can use an external flash to create better visuals. Alternatively, you can also just let the lighting be that way and focus on the features that have lighting falling on them. This way, you can play with the light that you already have and work on creating something beautiful by accentuating the subject’s features. You may also be confronted with high brightness in open savannahs, where you can reduce your ISO levels or add a lens-hood to protect your images from overexposure.
The Canon 80D offers you with an ISO range of 100-16000 and an extension of ISO 25600. Additionally, it comes with 63 exposure metering zones and exposure compensation of ±5 EV range, in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps. All these features, along with a built-in flash, will help you get the perfect shots regardless of lighting disruptions. The 80D also has a red-eye reduction function, which will help you get better photos in the dark or when using the flash.
Most wildlife photography that you may have seen in magazines or online may have sharp close-ups of animals. Some may just show a half-faced leopard or the eye of a snake. While these shots can be aesthetically pleasing, they have also become a little too common. You should experiment with wide-angle shooting modes. This way, you can capture a vast terrain within one shot. Think of it as landscape shooting or capturing a skyline of a city.
You can shoot wide through the various tools that are provided in your camera. One thing you can do is turn the dial to manual mode and select the wide-angle shooting mode, which will allow your camera to capture as much of the space as it can.
Alternatively, you can use fish-eye lenses or 13-20mm lenses to really fill your camera with light and capture the many things happening in the wild simultaneously. This adds character to your images and gives it a lively feel, almost as if you are physically present. These images are also perfect for stretching out and print on a large canvas to be hung on any wall in your home.
One of the most incredible functions of the Canon 80D is that it comes with a wide-angle viewfinder with a 7.55x optical zooming capability. With a fixed eye-level pentaprism, the viewfinder can capture much wider shots and create a fulfilled image. You will not have to worry about certain subjects getting blurred out with these AF points. The camera’s auto-detection function will take care of everything.
Enjoy The Moment
The last but not the least important factor is to enjoy yourself. Since you are presumably a wildlife enthusiast, you will not want to miss out on the many magical moments that the wild offers you. Make sure to be in the moment and be present with the air, the earth, and the animals that surround you. These are moments that may never come again. With your Canon 80D, you can be sure to relax and ease yourself as it is a lightweight camera that doesn’t cause much trouble.
To gain full confidence in enjoying the moment, you should make sure to go into the wild with the motive of pleasure, and not to produce images. If your sole intention is to take pictures, you will forget to enjoy it. You will start stressing about angles, lighting, and locations. Everything else comes second. The first thing is to marvel at the earth’s magnificence. This may be your chance to see a crocodile jumping out of a lake to grab a bite or look at a baby giraffe trying to take its first steps. So don’t forget to enjoy it.