While camera equipment alone
does not take pictures -- photographers do that -- working in a camera shop I am frequently asked as to
the equipment I use.
I've always used Nikon equipment but this does not mean that you should follow suit. If you already own a certain manufacturers lenses then an upgrade to a digital body from the same company is obvious. Most lenses designed to work with film cameras will also work on digital camera bodies , just as long as the mount is correct ( Nikon AF for Nikon AF and Canon EOS for Canon EOS etc) Lenses designed specifically for digital will always give the best results.
Ideally the wildlife photographer has a long , prime telephoto lens. This will enable you to practically frame a small bird or animal and retain the detail and quality of image. Ideally a wildlife photographer should own a lens of at least 500mm focal length. A cheap option is to use extension tubes to lengthen existing lenses.
As soon as you attach a lens to a DX format Nikon digital SLR it inceases its 35mm equivalent rating by 1.5X eg: a 100mm lens would become 150mm (the f-stop does not change) For nature photography this is a real bonus as it means you can add a teleconverter to a telephoto lens to create a very long lens and retain low aperture numbers. My 200-400mm f4 added to the D500 becomes 300-600mm super-zoom with no change in f-value , add a 1.7X converter and it becomes a 1020mm f6.7 super-telephoto lens that still has full AF control. At this magnification ( approx. 20x ) a tripod is a must to allow slower shutter speeds. All long lens photography benefits from the use of a tripod , enabling smaller apertures and better depth of field.
My favourite lens in the summer months has got to be the Sigma 180mm macro. An easy to use close-focus telephoto with sharp optics , this lens can give real macro images and still retain a good "working distance" that is great for alert flying insects but also flowers.
Here's what I currently use:
Nikon D800 Digital SLR body
Nikon D500 Digital SLR body
Tripods and Heads:
Manfrotto 443 carbon fibre tripod
Velbon Ultra Max i M
Manfrotto 128RC heads
Nikon AF-S 60mm micro f2.8G ED lens
Nikon 16-85mm VR f3.5-5.6 DX lens
Sigma 180mm f3.5 macro
Nikon 70-200mm f4 Telephoto lens
Nikon AF-S 200-400mm f4 VR
Nikon 2X Teleconverter
Nikon 1.7X Teleconverter
My Nikon creative lighting system