It’s obvious.   It’s whichever camera you have in your hands.

Well that might have been the shortest blog post in history.  But let’s think about it.  To take photographs at the zoo, you need a camera.   It can be the camera in your phone or the huge camera that professional is lugging around on that monster tripod.  Whichever one is in your hands is the one you are getting images from today.   We can always pine for a bigger better camera in the future, but we can all make wonderful images with what we have today.

I won’t lie and say that all cameras are equal.  They aren’t and we all know that.  Can we work with the equipment that we have to take great photos?  Yes, we can.

The key to getting the best photos you can with your current equipment is to learn your equipment thoroughly.   Know it’s limitations and your own.   No matter what camera you have you must:

  • Have enough light
  • Hold the camera steady
  • Choose your subject wisely
  • Be patient and capture the right moment

Have enough light

The smaller the camera lens, the more light you need.   Understand that you have to have enough light to take great pictures.   Different types of cameras require more light than others.   Practice with your camera in different lighting conditions to know what it is capable of before going to the zoo.

Hold the camera steady

Camera shake is a common reason that pictures appear soft or blurry.   Yes, it can just be out of focus, but most of today’s cameras have very good autofocus systems that will focus the lens on the subject.  Many cameras now have anti-vibration systems to counter camera movement.  And the latest versions of Photoshop have a filter that will compensate for camera movement like it is magic.   But the best way to get sharp images is to make sure that camera is still when you take the photo.

Choose your subject wisely

There are so many good subjects at the zoo.   Animals of all sizes, shapes and colors.   I mean to take your camera’s limitations into account when choosing what animals to photograph.   If you are using a small camera with a standard lens, choose an animal that is close to you in nice sunlight.   Attempting to shoot that giraffe that is all the way across his enclosure will result in a very small giraffe in your image.   We must be realistic in our expectations of our camera’s abilities.   Explore the zoo and find the right situation for your equipment and skills.

Be patient and capture the right moment

So it all comes down to this.   We have arrived at the correct time to have an abundance of light, and have found the right animal to photograph taking into account the limitations of our equipment.   We are secure in the ability to keep the camera steady while shooting.  Now it’s time to take some pictures.   After all this work don’t just snap a photo and walk on to the next animal.

Slow down and take your time.  Learn a bit about this animal and watch it’s movements.   Take a number of shots to get just the right one.   Be patient and allow the image to take shape.   Maybe it will be the interaction between animals or something specific the animal is doing that you capture.   But pause, relax and enjoy the beauty that you are there to capture.