First things first, if you are serious about taking photos of insects a point and shoot camera is not good enough, even the top end point and shoot cameras. A point and shoot will capture a photo of an insect, but it is likely to be a tiny “dot” lost in a vast background which is not what we’re after here.
If want to capture good photos of insects you need an interchangeable lens camera, and whilst you may choose to use a mirrorless I would always use, and also always recommend, a dslr camera. You can use a full frame or crop sensor camera for insect photography, but I think the crop sensor camera is the best choice and it is the type of dslr camera I would recommend to anyone serious about taking great insect photos.
It may seem strange recommending a crop sensor camera over a full frame camera, however there is method in my madness and I do have my reasons:-
Using a crop sensor camera means whatever lens you use instantly has a longer (effective) focal length. This means if I use a 100mm on my crop sensor camera it is like using a lens with a 160mm focal length on a full frame sensor. Most of the time you need all the focal length you can get when insects are the target, so this is a good thing.
Crop sensor cameras usually have higher burst rates than full frame cameras. There is a lot of information/data to transfer using a full frame camera which slows the processors down which leads to a lower burst rate. To put it in perspective my crop sensor 7d has a burst rate of 8 frames per second whereas my full frame 6d has a burst rate of 4.5 frames per second. The higher the burst rate the more photos I can take per second. The more photos I can take in succession the higher the chance of a sharp shot and the higher my hit rate.
Most dslr cameras that are made with moving subjects in mind are crop sensor cameras, and since insects are live moving subjects it makes sense to use a camera designed with moving subjects in mind, i.e. a crop sensor camera.
THE CAMERA I USE FOR INSECT PHOTOGRAPHY
"My camera of chice for insect photogrphy is the Canon 7d"
I have crop sensor dslr cameras and a full frame dslr camera at my disposal and whenever I go out to specifically target insects my camera of choice is one of my crop sensor cameras and the one I choose is my Canon 7d.
The first thing to note about the Canon 7d is the build quality. The magnesium alloy body is tough, weatherproof and also weather sealed, The Canon 7d is one tough cookie, which makes it perfect for getting out and about in the field where the wilderness attacks the camera and Mother Nature throws the elements at it too.
The image quality of the Canon 7d isn’t as good as that of my full frame camera, which is to be expected, but it is exceptionally good. I have never had any complaints over the image quality of my 7d, and since I have sold several photos taken with this camera I can only assume the people who like and buy my work have no issues with the image quality either.
The Canon 7d has fast processors (which means a high burst rate) and a high number of sensitive autofocus points, which makes it perfect for shooting moving subjects, like insects, creepy crawlies and mini-beasts. With the 7d I can quickly focus on the insect, retain focus and track it and then fire off plenty of shots in quick succession. These two features alone have increased my hit rate/keeper rate no end, however they have also meant I have had to spend more time in front of the computer sifting through more photos. The increase in post capture time is a bit of a faff, but it is worth it when I look at the shots I manage to bag as a result.
How about this for a bargain camera for insect photography?
Since the release of the Canon 7d Mk2 the second hand and used prices of the Canon 7d have gone through the floor, and there are loads of bargains to be had, if you don’t mind buying used lenses that is. Buying used could save you a ton of cash, and if you want to buy a second hand lens there is only one site to visit, and that is eBay. If you want to see the current range of used Canon 7d cameras currently available 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.