If you want to take decent dragonfly photos a point and shoot camera, even the top end ones, simply isn’t good enough. Sure, you may be able to get a few snaps of dragonflies however they are more than likely to comprise a tiny dot in the middle of the frame, which is not good. The bottom line is point and shoot cameras have no place in dragonfly photography.
Mirrorless cameras have come a long way over the last few years, and they are very capable cameras but they are still not quite there for dragonfly photography as they aren’t quick enough to capture frame filling shots of these fast little critters. Mirrorless cameras are great for portrait photography and landscape photography, but not for dragonfly photography.
If you want to take photos of dragonflies there is only one camera to use and that is a dslr camera. Arguably, you can use a full frame or crop sensor dslr camera to take pictures of dragonflies although I would always recommend using a crop sensor camera.
The focal length of the lens you use on a crop sensor camera automatically “increases” which means you get closer to the subject. Using a 100mm lens on a Canon with a crop sensor gives an effective focal length of 160mm, and when it comes to taking photos of subjects that are likely to fly off if you get too close you need every millimetre possible to get a fame filling shot.
Affordable full frame cameras typically have slower processors and lower burst rates. To put this in to perspective my Canon 6d full frame camera has a burst rate of four frames per second, whereas my Canon 7d has a burst rate of 8 frames per second. The higher the burst rate and faster the camera the greater the hit rate. There are full frame cameras that are as fast (and even faster) than my 7d, like the Canon 1DX, but these cost several times more and are several thousand pounds (i.e. not within the budget of most people).
Affordable full frame cameras typically have few auto focus points and less sensitive auto focus points. To put this in to perspective my Canon 6d has 11 auto focus points whereas my 7d has 19 auto focus points. The 7d is a lot quicker to find the subject and lock on than the 6d too. The auto focus points on the 6d are less sensitive than that of the 7d. When shooting small subjects, like dragonflies the more auto focus points the better, and the more sensitive the auto focus points the better too. Once again the really expensive professional grade full frame cameras have numerous (and sensitive) auto focus points, but you do pay for these.
The image quality of full frame cameras is superior to crop frame cameras but this doesn’t mean the image quality of crop sensor cameras is poor or unacceptable. The image quality of crop sensor cameras is exceptionally good and not that far off more expensive full frames. If you compare normal size prints the difference is barely noticeable. If you compare large prints (think poster size and bigger here) and the difference is a little more apparent. If you go pixel peeping on the computer (which is something only anal photographers do – and not the paying customer) you will see a difference in image quality between a crop sensor camera and a full frame camera.
If you want to take pictures of dragonflies you need a camera that is fast, has a high burst rate, has the most number of auto focus points possible and has the most sensitive auto focus points as well. Unless you have loads of money available to spend (and I mean thousands of pounds to available to spend) the crop sensor camera is the way forward for dragonfly photography. In addition to this you also need to get as close to the dragonfly as you can without spooking it, so the crop factor effect is very useful.
THE CAMERA I USE FOR DRAGONFLY PHOTOGRAPHY
"My dragonfly photography camera of choice - The Canon 7d"
The camera I use for taking photos of dragonfly is the Canon 7d, and I have to say it is the perfect tool for this type of photography. The canon 7d is “built” for taking photos of moving subjects. It has fast processors so it has a high burst rate (8 frames per second). It has numerous auto focus points (which makes it quick to focus on the subject). It has sensitive auto focus points (which means it stays locked on).
The Canon 7d has a magnesium alloy body and it a rugged camera that is tough and durable, which is essential for being out in the wilderness taking photos of dragonflies. The 7d is a proper sturdy camera that I can only describe as bomb proof, and whilst it is a weighty bit of kit it isn’t so heavy it becomes uncomfortable or painful to use after a few hours.
The 7d is a user friendly camera with a logical and intuitive menu system, but this is the same with all Canon dslr cameras. The setting buttons are logically laid out, all the settings I need are close to hand and I can quickly change the required setting whist looking through the view finder. The point I am trying to make is that it is a nice camera to use.
The image quality of the 7d is superb, and whilst it may not have as many pixels as my full frame 6d the difference in image quality is barely noticeable. If I go pixel peeping on the computer I can notice the difference, but when comparing normal size prints the difference is so slight it is barely noticeable. In the real world no-one goes pixel peeping, and since I have sold many prints taken with my canon 7d (and had many repeat customers) I can only assume the paying public can’t tell the difference either. I have no complaints about the image quality of the 7d.
The Canon 7d really is an awesome camera and, still now, I struggle to see how Canon can charge such little for such a great camera especially when you consider the build quality and the image quality of it.
Buy the Canon 7d from Amazon.com (US citizens) or buy from Amazon.co.uk (UK citizens)
Since the Canon 7d MK2 was released the Mk1 has been discontinued, and as such the price of used and second hand 7d MK1s have gone through the floor. If you want to get the biggest bang for the buck you need to consider buying a used 7d MK1. When buying used cameras there is only one website to go to and that is eBay, where there is always a lot to choose from. If you want to see the current range of used MK1 7d cameras currently going on eBay use the search box below.
What are you waiting for? Go and grab yourself a bargain.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.