Gadget Bag: Gear For Wildlife Photography

Accessories to improve your success photographing wild animals
Gadget Bag: Gear For Wildlife Photography

Wildlife photography presents unique challenges. Extreme patience is often needed, so you’ll want protection from the elements for you and your gear, as you may be waiting for long periods. Most wildlife is also wary of human presence, making it necessary for us to conceal ourselves and to photograph from long distances, requiring big lenses that need extra protection and support. We asked pro wildlife photographers to share some of their favorite accessories to make wildlife photography more enjoyable and successful. Here are some key items to consider.

Gadget Bag: Gear For Wildlife Photography

Gimbal Head
The significant weight of telephoto lenses makes them difficult to support with a standard tripod head—tilting them up or down changes the center of gravity and can cause your tripod to tip. The design of a gimbal head like the Wimberley Gimbal Head WH-200 II keeps the center of gravity balanced, allowing you to easily position heavy telephotos and smoothly track moving subjects without compromising stability. The Wimberley head is expensive, but it’s widely recognized by professionals as the best. List Price: $595.

Long-Lens Camera Bag
Protection for your expensive telephoto lens and camera is a primary concern. A bag like the Lowepro Lens Trekker 600 AW III allows you to carry a 600mm super-tele with your camera attached or an 800mm lens detached from the camera. The customizable padded interior includes a lens collar to support and secure your lens. To shield your system from wet conditions, the bag includes a built-in All Weather (AW) cover. List Price: $299.

Lightweight, Sturdy Tripod
Adequate support for your camera and heavy telephoto lenses is essential for sharp wildlife photos. The Really Right Stuff TVC-33 (Series 3) tripod can get low to the ground—just 4.1 inches—or extend to a maximum height of 58.6 inches. It can support up to 50 pounds of equipment, ample for even the heaviest pro DSLR and telephoto combinations. This carbon-fiber tripod weighs just 4.3 pounds and collapses to 25.6 inches in length when folded. List Price: $925.

Photo Blind
A popular way to hide yourself from wary wildlife is to use a blind. There are a wide variety of options available, from small, solo solutions to more spacious, sophisticated models like the L.L. Rue Ultimate Photo Blind, which can accommodate two photographers working side by side or one photographer with dual camera setups. The cotton/polyester and stainless-steel blind takes only a few minutes to set up and features two large snouts through which to shoot, six screened windows for wildlife spotting and three additional slits to allow photography from five sides of the hexagonal blind. List Price: $339.

Camera Trap
One way to photograph animals that typically avoid humans is to use a camera trap. Hähnel’s Captur Module – Pro is a versatile solution for wildlife photography that can be used as a wireless remote shutter release from up to 100 meters, has built-in light, sound and motion sensors, and includes the Module – IR, which can be mounted to a tree, creating an invisible beam, and, when crossed, will trigger your camera’s shutter. Estimated Street Price: $119.

Trying to spot wildlife through your telephoto lens can be difficult due to its narrow field of view. An 8×42 binocular like the Nikon PROSTAFF 7S 8×42 is an ideal balance between magnification and light gathering for wildlife spotting, providing a bright image even in lower-light conditions. They’re waterproof and fog-proof, rubber-coated for enhanced durability, and offer a 6.8º field of view, translating to 357 linear feet at 1,000 yards. List Price: $189.

Gear Camo
Many wildlife photographers wear camouflage clothing or even military-style ghillie suits. If you also want to conceal your camera and lens, LensCoat offers a wide variety of camo covers like the RainCoat 2 Pro, which provides protection for your camera and lens from wet conditions without obstructing access to your camera and lens controls. It comes with an included hood extension sleeve for super-telephoto lenses. List Price: $124.

Camera Holster
When you’re tracking wildlife on foot and want to move nimbly by shooting handheld, a waist-mounted camera holster takes the weight of your heavy telephoto lenses off of your neck and shoulders and places it more comfortably around your waist. The SpiderPro camera holster can carry up to two pro DSLRs with lenses attached, using a unique ball-joint system that attaches to your camera’s tripod socket to secure your camera to the belt, without compromising your ability to quickly draw it and compose your shot. SpiderPro is available in single- or dual-camera designs. List Price: From $135.

Vehicle Support
Your car can serve as a convenient, mobile blind for wildlife photography, and even can be more effective with the right camera support. The Kirk Window Mount clamps inside your window to provide a stable platform from which to photograph in the comfort of your vehicle. Add your own tripod head, and the solid aluminum Window Mount can support extreme telephoto lenses. Retractable front legs allow it to be used as a low-height support on flat surfaces, as well. List Price: $249.

Wildlife photography often means being in the field to scout your location before dawn. A headlamp like the Petzl TIKKA XP provides hands-free illumination for enhanced safety and visibility. This multi-beam model features both wide and focused beams that can be used together or independently, plus a red beam for close-up illumination that preserves your night vision. List Price: $49.

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