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Setup for Wildlife Photography

Hirta Avatar
Hirta 1 22 England
20 Jul 2022 8:56AM
Hi All

Firstly I'm new to the ePHOTOzine site, I'm a "returning" photographer from a 5/6 year absence & I've upgraded my camera to a Nikon D6 ~ wanted a Z9 but availability is 0 & no delivery expectations along with long waiting lists. Why a D6, I wanted a really good auto focus and a camera which if anything I'd "grow into" - likely my last major purchase [ age Sad ]

It's the 1st time I've owned a top of the range camera so many features are strange to me. I want to go and try to photo some buzzards & red kite during the daytime from a hide and to photo some barn owls later in the day from the car. I'm OK with tripod & bean-bags camo etc but would appreciate any tips D6 / wildlife photographers may be able to offer, please. As I say, layout of controls and particularly the auto focus system[s] seem to be different with several more options available. Perhaps I should mention that the hide is purpose made and has a glass screen [hoping weather cools a little!!] but presents no issues to the actual shoot unless it mists up, maybe?

I have a 300mm F2.8 mk2 & a 1.7 tele-converter [1.4 not available at time of purchase] + a range of other glass from my previous years in photography.

Any tips on camera setup and any other relevant info would be most appreciated, thanks.

Thanks & Regards
South Lincolnshire.
sherlob Avatar
sherlob Plus
17 3.3k 133 United Kingdom
20 Jul 2022 10:16AM
Can't speak for the Nikon, but general tips would include setting rear button focusing and getting used to whatever AI focusing features the D6 has (keeping things in focus whilst moving). A glass screen in a hide isn't ideal in my humble opinion. Think of this as a really low optical grade filter that you are applying to the from of the lens - one that risks reflections. Scree netting in several layers with apertures to pass the from of the lens through are likely to be better imho. It's certainly the set up I've seen in the few professional hides I have used.
Hirta Avatar
Hirta 1 22 England
20 Jul 2022 12:03PM

Thanks for your advice, it's appreciated.
I'm led to believe that the glass is "special", non reflective and even set at an angle [similar to an airport control tower, maybe] and generally isn't an issue, it's just the possibility of fogging up that concerns me, possibly up to 3/4 in the hide. The hide is situated in an small opening in a forest. TBH I was hoping that I may get a chance to check white balance before the shoot starts as a reference point in case of any tint in the glass. There will be a scrim / camo netting in use, in the evening, around the car for photo-ing the barn owls.
I've used back button focus for many years but the auto focus, particularly the combinations available leave me quite uncertain of which to use. As you can see from the link below, Nikon list many different settings for the different disciplines in athletics, it just makes me wonder about the auto focus which is why I asked here and thanks again for your help.
From Nikon D6 Tips [NPS]
I also have no experience of the small screen / layout etc of the bottom portion of the camera where the battery is housed.

Thanks again
Stevetheroofer Avatar
20 Jul 2022 6:27PM
Don't worry about white balance, just shoot in RAW.
Patience is the best advice and enjoy the wildlife as much as the photography.
Animals first, photos second.

Hirta Avatar
Hirta 1 22 England
20 Jul 2022 6:38PM
Hi Steve
Thanks for your advice, all noted!
I love my wildlife too and the older I get, the more I enjoy it. Nice to record some for reflecting upon later. Raptors are my favourites as you might guess from the shoots planned.
Cheers for now
Maff2008 Avatar
Maff2008 15 125 4 United Kingdom
21 Jul 2022 7:46PM
Hi, I've just ventured into wildlife again after realising you don't need to break the bank. I'm putting a Nikon 70-300AFS on a D90 I picked up cheap (camera body cost was £30 after I offloaded what came with it). The 70-300 AFS is £120 so I'm sorted with a 12mp set up for £150. I'm looking forward to it too just like you are and again like yourself I'm injoying wildlife as I mature towards 60 more and more. It will be interesting to compare results with that stonking camera you have, see what the main advantages are in your D6 besides the 24mp you have. I also picked up a Canon EOS300D for the price of a couple of pints a couple of month ago. That's my river camera for kayaking.
Good luck with your ventures.
Hirta Avatar
Hirta 1 22 England
22 Jul 2022 6:13AM
Hi and Good Morning

Thanks for your kind comments.

I bought my wife a Nikon Z7 Mk2 and then she insisted on me having a new camera too, so I ended up with the D6 ~ It's used but I think I probably struck lucky, I got a very good used price, the camera has one very small mark on it, if you can find it, it certainly doesn't jump out at you! As for the previous users treatment of the camera - I bought it with around 3k shutter count! I'm guessing that it was likely the shop's display stock. I wanted the best auto focus in the Nikon range and I couldn't get hold of a Z9 - Dealers had no stock - no idea of availability and very long waiting lists.

I'm the wrong side of 3 score years and ten so almost certainly this will be my last camera body, though I may invest more in prime glass, the difference with the Nikon 300mm f2.8 is stunning when compared to the Sigma 150-500mm I used to use. I've posted a few images from the D6 & a couple from my old D800 [that has a file size in excess of 70Mb, I can't remember the exact figure - when it gets that big it rarely matters on the last bit of size!!] Other than file detail for landscaping, it allows you to crop into a file and still have a lot of file size if you are unable to correctly frame your shot at the time.

On my profile, the Badger & Fox were an organised shoot with the D800 on the Fox & D6 on the Badgers - [as the Buzzards & Barn Owls will be] the bees and butterfly are me playing with the auto focus.

I hope that you enjoy looking at the images and please do feel free to criticise where appropriate, all are appreciated.

LenShepherd Avatar
LenShepherd 15 4.7k United Kingdom
22 Jul 2022 10:12AM


I'm led to believe that the glass is "special", non reflective and even set at an angle [similar to an airport control tower, maybe] and generally isn't an issue,

On the detail of the glass, this type of glass in a hide is not common because it is very expensive.

It usually has a disadvantage similar to a polariser in reducing the brightness of the scene by about two stops.
Hirta Avatar
Hirta 1 22 England
22 Jul 2022 11:12AM
Hi Len

That's great info, thanks. It should give me a head start, I'm not absolutely sure but think the hide may be built into a shipping container and there was a comment about a lot of research having gone into the glass before it was purchased & installed. It makes the hide sound "cosy" Smile but I hope there's good ventilation - it's a commercial hide so I guess it's all been thought out.
Thanks again, Len


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