Good cameras for nature shots

Bringing only my macro lens will guarantee I come across a cool bird, and vice versa. ;-)

Which always reminds me that just being outside in nature and being open to what’s there is the goal I shouldn’t forget.


I don’t make a very good photographer in that my first reaction to seeing something interesting eg a falcon diving on prey, a stoat streaking past, is to stop an watch the spectacle, then when its disappearing over the horizon, I think I’d better get a shot of this …


BTW, the Olympus Tough TG-5 also has GPS, and geotags a photo’s coordinates in the metadata (exif ). This data is seen and used by iNaturalist for the location. It can sometimes take a half a minute to lock on, and it helps if you download the GPS Assist Data to the camera beforehand.


I’ve been loving my Nikon P900 a lot. Massive 83x optical zoom and GPS are great. I also picked up a UV filter, stepdown ring, and Canon macro filter which helps cut down the working distance on closeups. That plus the zoom gives a lot of leeway finding the sweet spot for even very small flowers. And the depth of field and room for light is more forgiving than the phone + clipon macro I had always relied on. The color is far truer than my last superzoom (Canon sx50), although the flash is pretty warm

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Perhaps it would be helpful to look at the title as “Good Nature Shots for Cameras” because most any camera will take a good picture, good enough for an iNaturalist observation submission. The trick is taking a good picture. I see some not-so-good pictures submitted that make it darn near impossible to ID. And these were probably shot with good enough cameras.

I use often use my phone, a Samsung Galaxy 8, since it’s always with me. I have a Nikon D3200 DSLR and the lens most often used is a Tamron 16-300mm DiII VC PZD Macro. It’s macro is sufficiently sharp, full zoom to 300mm is okay sharp. It’s hard to beat the versatility of this lens. I use a lot of tags on my observation submissions, including the camera used.

With my DSLR, I shoot in RAW. I post-process the majority of my submissions using the pre-loaded computer software or Lightroom. I crop and enhance to make identification easier. It’s good to lighten up those shadows.

It was really helpful to read through all these replies and see all the options (GPS, focus-stacking, clip-on lenses, etc.). The most important feature of the camera is the photographer.


Here’s some mildly satisfying data on this topic:

These are numbers from the most recently-added ~100,000 photos (as of a week ago and change, when I exported them), so they might be wildly distorted by the Penang Incident, which might explain the somewhat extraordinary number of bird photos added with phones. Sort of interesting to see that a lot of bird photos come from bridge cameras.

Might be fun to make something more like Flickr’s camera tool at some point. The temporal aspect is definitely interesting.


1363 distinct camera models in one sample - yikes.


imagine if we could rate each photo in iNat, we could literally review camera models based on real-world performance!


I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken some really terrible photos with some really great cameras.


“Wisdom of the crowd” would surely cancel a lot of that out? But yeah… I got some crappy photos on my reasonable camera, and some good ones on my old crappy phone. It would depend too, if people were judging the composition or the content

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I’ve been very happy with my Canon Powershot SX50 for macro shots and bird photography. Unfortunately, I have to replace it, and it seems that the new Canon Powrshot SX70 takes inferior images, especially on the zoom end.
Does anyone own that camera and can give me some feedback on the camera’s performance?

I have the SX70 HS and I’m happy so far. Auto focus can be an issue but I’ve never met a camera that always chooses the subject.

From a recent outing, all were SX70 except the Saxifrage. The Black Racer was max zoom on the headshot. Most of the insects were taken from 20-40cm and used the most zoom that would focus at that range. All hand held. I carry a small tripod but the light was good so…

I would say that the quality of any photos is based on three factors only one of which being the camera. Quality of equipment, photographers skill with that equipment (and photography concepts in general), and the difficulty of the shot (ambient lighting, distance, compliance of subject, etc.) I’m not surprised at the popularity of the bridge cameras. I think iNat makes people more interested in branching out with their observations. A bridge camera with an ample zoom can handle both a tiny insect on your hand and a far off bird in flight without having to fiddle with changing lenses. Getting a good photo of a wild bird with a cell phone would require a lot of luck I would think, unless it’s a dead bird.

I’m currently using a Panasonic FZ200 which I like pretty well, especially having the 2.8 aperture at full zoom. When it’s time to replace it I’ll likely look for something with 4k video, better focusing, and a better sensor though. I’m not really comfortable walking around with over a thousand dollars worth of equipment though, so that limits the choices a bit. When I picked out the FZ200 which has 24x zoom, I was also looking at the Canons with the 50x zoom. Some reviews said that having that level of zoom was too difficult to use hand held on cameras like these, as far as getting the framing right and not losing the subject. Do those of you with those cameras find that to be true?


My problem is that the photos come out “bleached” if I use the macro with the Olympu TG5. Any remedy?

It sounds like either something about the settings you’re using is causing the flash or closeup LEDs to overexpose (for example does the camera think the optional diffuser for the LEDs is attached?) OR something about the scenes and subjects you’re shooting is tricking the camera’s metering into overexposing or using too much LED. Less likely culprits could include a defective aperture mechanism. You may have better luck troubleshooting this on a dedicated camera gear site like, which has very active user forums.

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Ta. I will look a that and see what I can do.

I read it doesn’t have a hotshoe like its predecessors :(

so the SX70 struggles to focus when the insects are closer than 20 cm? Also can you confirm it doens’t has a hotshoe like the SX60?

Which camera you got?

I got a Lumix (Panasonic) DC-FZ80. with 60x optical zoom. Mixed results so far. It is physically bigger than I was expecting, but is surprisingly lightweight, which matters when you’re wearing both binos and camera. I am getting the hang of the zoom for birds, and some of my photos meet my (not very high) standard (able to ID for iNat) in good light conditions. I think I will eventually master close subjects and macro, but it’s going to take a while. The controls are insanely complicated, probably reflecting an evolution of layers on layers of “improvements” so that there are multiple ways to do anything through a profusion of buttons, joystick, knobs and touch-screen controls (oh for a manual focus!)
. The 300 page instruction manual, several YouTube videos, and advice from others have mostly just confused me. No spider at half a meter yet. But I will prevail, and the cost wasn’t killer (under $350).