Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital Camera for Wildlife Photos Under $1300
Expert (4 Recommendations)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
September 26, 2008
Overview

The Nikon D90 takes a good idea and makes it great! Wildlife photography or otherwise, this camera is the pick of the litter for DSLR’s this season. With a 12.3 Mega-pixel sensor and the ability to record at 4.5 fps, this camera does just about every type of photography that you could possibly want and a few things that are a first in the DSLR line, and at an affordable price point. Only $999.99 for the body only and $1,299.99 with a 18-105mm VR lens.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon D90 (with 18-105mm VR Lens)

The newest feature for the DSLR is the live view option. This allows you to use the LCD or liquid crystal display, to actually view the image rather than the view finder. Canon came out with the Rebel XS earlier this year which has the same option but can only be accessed through the menu options and unfortunately you can’t auto-focus while in that mode. The Nikon D90 gives you the live view with the press of a button, and you can auto focus. Not really sure how useful this will be for capturing wildlife pictures, but keep in mind that when you use the live view mode it really slows down the auto-focus.

A first for a DSLR is Nikon’s D-Movie Mode which plays a High Definition (1280 x 720 pixels) movie at 24fps, or frames per second, with sound. This is really a neat feature because it allows you to effortless switch from live view to capturing videos with a press of a button. A few other DSLR’s have attempted this but Nikon is the first do it with a full-size sensor.

The D90 also has low noise ISO settings from 200 - 3200 which gives you exceptional resolution even if you are using the high ISO settings. And an 11 point focusing control which allows you to select which area you want to focus on or you can focus on all 11 points. Those two features will allow you to capture those more difficult wildlife shots and give you excellent quality. As an added bonus, the D90 has added the self-cleaning CCD so that you don’t have to send in your camera for cleaning nearly as often.

A interesting new feature for the D90 is a 3D Color Matrix Metering which will match your current picture to a 30,000 scene database. This enables you to get accurate aperture & shutter speed settings when you are shooting in the automatic modes.

Finally the D90 has a library of in-camera editing controls allowing you to remove red eye, image overlay (double exposure), and add all sorts of monochrome effects like black and white or sepia. And the D90 also can add a GPS Geo-tag to your image with an option attachment from Nikon. So once you’ve found a great spot in the forest for photos, you can get back there just by using a GPS.

Pros
  • +
    Live View
  • +
    HD Movie Mode
  • +
    4.5 Frames Per Second
Cons
  • -
    None
Nikon D90 (with 18-105mm VR Lens) is the Best Digital Camera for Wildlife Photos Under $1300
Where to buy
Nikon D90 (with 18-105mm VR Lens)
  • Best Price: $1199
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 5.9x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.3MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com
2
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)

In comparison the Rebel XSi, while a little bit less expensive can still take excellent pictures but only does 3fps and is only a 10 mega-pixel camera. The live-view option is difficult to get to and you can’t auto-focus while using it. For the difference in price, the D90 has the leg up.

The Rebel XS has a ton of great features and at $899.99 it’s great price for someone looking to get started in Digital photography. It still has a very respectable 10.1 mega-pixel sensor and includes a 18-55mm IS lens. All in all, it’s still a camera that one would be happy to take home.

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens) is one of the Best Digital Cameras for Wildlife Photos Under $1300
Where to buy
Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (with 18-55mm IS Lens)
  • Best Price: $689
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.0x
  • Image Stabilization: Yes
  • Resolution: 12.2MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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