Why shoot Wildlife?


Wildlife photography is an exciting and challenging genre that tells the timeless story of the connection between humans and animals. It can also push our technical and creative skills to the very limit, yielding striking and beautiful results. This article takes a deeper look at what wildlife photography is, how it can be approached and what makes a successful image. It also details the equipment that can unlock various creative considerations, plus we’ll also hear from some professional Pentax wildlife photographers to who share thoughts and advice. Remember, wildlife photography doesn’t have to mean safaris in far-off locations, because once you start to explore, you may be surprised to discover the wildlife that's waiting to be captured around every corner.



© Mike Muizebelt // PENTAX K-3 // HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450 mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW // Focal length 500 mm // Exposure Time 1/180sec. // Apperture F6.3 // ISO 100


© Mike Muizebelt


© Mike Muizebelt


© Mike Muizebelt


© Mike Muizebelt // PENTAX K-3 Mark III // HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450 mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW // Focal length 450 mm (695 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/25sec. // Apperture F25 // ISO 1250 // Exposure Correction +1 EV


© Mike Muizebelt // PENTAX K-3 Mark III // HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450 mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW // Focal length 450 mm (695 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/80sec. // Apperture F5.6 // ISO 3200 // Exposure Correction +0.3 EV


© Mike Muizebelt // PENTAX K-3 Mark III Monochrome // HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450 mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW // Focal length 450 mm (695 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/640sec. // Apperture F6.3 // ISO 2000 // Exposure Correction +0.3 EV


© Mike Muizebelt // PENTAX K-3 Mark III Monochrome // HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450 mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW // Focal length 380 mm (587 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/400sec. // Apperture F5.6 // ISO 6400 // Exposure Correction +0.3 EV


© Ogun Turkay // PENTAX K-3 Mark III // Lens: HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW // Focal length 450 mm (695 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/1000sec. // Apperture F5:6 // ISO 500 // Exposure Correction -0.3 EV


© Ogun Turkay // PENTAX K-3 Mark III // DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW (Focal length 865 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/1600sec. // Apperture F6.3 // ISO 200 // Exposure Correction -0.3 EV


© Ogun Turkay // PENTAX K-3 Mark III // HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450 mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW // Focal length 450 mm (695 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/2500sec. // Apperture F5.6 // ISO 160 // Exposure Correction -0.7 EV


© Ogun Turkay // PENTAX K-3 Mark III // DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW (865 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/1250sec. // Apperture F7:1 // ISO 800 // Exposure Correction -0.3 EV


© Ogun Turkay // PENTAX K-1 // DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW (865 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/640sec. // Apperture F6.3 // ISO 500 // Exposure Correction -0.3 EV


© Ogun Turkay // PENTAX K-1 // DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW (865 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/1000sec. // Apperture F5.6 // ISO 500 // Exposure Correction -0.3 EV


© Ogun Turkay // PENTAX K-1 // DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW (865 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/1000sec. // Apperture F5.6 // ISO 400 // Exposure Correction -0.7 EV


© Ogun Turkay // PENTAX K-3 Mark III // DA 560mm F5.6 ED AW (865 mm - APS-C equiv.) // Exposure Time 1/1000sec. // Apperture F8 // ISO 500 // Exposure Correction -0.3 EV

Where to start



When embarking on your journey in wildlife photography, there are several key elements to consider. First and foremost, research and knowledge about the animals you intend to photograph is crucial. Understanding their habitats, and behaviour patterns will help you anticipate and capture those elusive moments. As the saying goes; patience is a virtue and this is doubly true with wildlife photography - animals are acting on instinct, meaning they behave in unpredictable ways. Investing in quality gear, particularly telephoto lenses and sturdy tripods, is essential to get those demanding and unique shots. Lastly, always prioritise ethical photography practices; respecting the well-being of the animals and their habitats, and never disturbing them for the sake of a photo. Balancing technical skills with a deep respect for nature will set you on the right path to becoming a skilled wildlife photographer.



Tips and tricks


Ready to take your wildlife photography further? Here’s some tips, tricks and to think about that can help you level up your images.


  • Think about what you need from a camera, stay true to your own vision. Focus on the camera that's right for you. It could be the sensor size, how it feels in your hands or having an optical viewfinder could be a deciding factor. Try not to get too distracted by features that could be futher down the list of priorities.
  • Keep on top of photography fundamentals. An undertanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO is a must, as it's these adjustments that are most important when it comes to correctly exposing your images. With this knowledge you can adapt to different lighting conditions and achieve the desired depth of field making it more likely to get the shot.
  • Choose a camera that you can rely on. Reliability and battery life are features that can be crucial. It could be that you find yourself travelling in remote locations where it may not be possible to quickly recharge batteries. Think about what conditions you'll be shooting in, sometimes it's extreme conditions that can lead to that magial shot, so weather sealing could be a key consideration here.
  • Long focal lengths. Lenses like the DA 150-450 mm or DA 55-300 mm are often used in wildlife photography, but a 70-200 mm or even 18-135 mm may be sufficient depending on the subject.
  • A stable tripod (or monopod) can prove very useful. Especially for longer focal lengths where the image is highly magnified, even the smallest of hand movements can have a huge impact on the sharpness of the image. Fixing the camera in place can be an essential part of the set-up.
  • The right perspective is critical to create an interesting photo. Taking the picture close to the ground brings you to the same level as the subject and creates an impression of how they see the world. Conversely, shooting from an elevated shooting position brings their surroundings into context. Experimenting with different approaches in this way is what makes photography so addictive!
  • Find new viewpoints. There may be good alternatives to the location that you would typically go to first. Take time to look around and observe your surroundings. Perhaps a rock or boulder will provide an interesting vantage point, or taking a few steps to the left will bring the subject between two trees that frame the composition perfectly. This has the power to give standard subjects new and more interesting perspectives.
  • When composing the picture, pay attention to any elements in the frame that can be distracting to the viewer’s eye. A creamy background can be created by choosing a large aperture such as f/2.8. With this approach light sources can also enhance the image, creating a beautiful bokeh effect. If you you want to keep the background in focus to provide context, composition is key, so focus on keeping any distractions out of frame.
  • Wildlife photography requires patience and perseverance. Be prepared to wait for hours to get the right shot. Often, just being quiet and unobtrusive in the environment will lead to get incredible opportunities.
  • Stay true to an ethical approach. You are moving in nature, be aware of your responsibility. Do not disturb animals when they are breeding or tending their nests. The great outdoors is the animals’ territory so protect the landscape, leave nothing but your footprints, and take any rubbish you find with you for disposal.




Meet the Photographers

Inspiration is important when learning about a photography genre and we’ve got two experienced Pentax professionals who are here to share their stunning work with you. One of our experts is at home in the jungle with a family of lions, while on the other hand, there is an expert for birds and the world of domesticated animals. Although working in vastly different locations, they both have a great deal of experience in their fields.




Mike Muizebelt from the Netherlands works as a full-time professional photographer and organises photo workshops.

Since his first camera, a PENTAX ME, he has been a dedicated Pentax photographer. Based on his requirements for a particularly robust camera that is protected from environmental conditions, he uses the Pentax product range from APS-C to medium format cameras.

His safaris to Africa are an essential part of his work today, as he organises photo tours to Botswana and other regions of the African continent.

Photography for Mike Muizebelt means sharing ideas, visions and natural beauty with others: "I have an idea in my head and with photography - especially as a digital medium - I can pass it on to my audience."




Ogun Caglayan Turkay lives in Sweden. He is an ethical nature photographer which aligns with his work as an environmental consultant.

The path of his photographic development began with photography of frogs and butterflies and developed into a passion for birds. Their diversity of species and the many different colours fascinate him in particular.

The camera plays an important role in this. However, it is not the star of the show; to Ogun it’s a tool, a means to an end. Highly-equipped camera technology often only disturbs potential subjects so instead, he concentrated on improving his skills and is now in perfect harmony with his PENTAX APS-C and 35 mm digital cameras.



Which equipment to consider



Both our experts rely on Pentax DSLR cameras and for good reason. They utilise a wide number of features and functions as well depending on the weather-sealing and durable design. For Ogun and Mike, it is important to be able to use the camera to survey the scene quickly and efficiently.


The beauty of DSLR photography is seeing the light directly from the subject through the optical viewfinder. This offers a huge advantage, especially out in the field. It is not only the composition of the individual elements, but also assessing light that's available when taking the shot.
Along with the camera, the focal length of the lens is crucial for successful shots. When we talk about focal length, the size of the camera’s sensor is an important factor.

You'll find that the lens name always includes the focal length, which refers to the angle of view in relation to a 35mm full-frame sensor. An APS-c sensor is smaller so doesn't include the the outside area of the image that a full frame sensor would capture. Comparing them side by side the APS-C image would appear cropped - and that's why it's called a crop sensor.


Choosing a lens for a full frame camera is easy because the focal lengths correspond directly to the sensor. However when choosing a lens for an APS-C camera you have to consider the crop factor, and these are calculated by multiplying the focal length by the crop factor, which for PENTAX is 1.5x.


So for example, to calculate the focal the focal length for a 300mm lens, the calculation would be: 300mm x 1.5 = 450mm.


So when using a 300mm lens on an APS-C camera, it would be the equivalent to using a 450mm lens on a full frame camera.


Here's another example: 150-450mm x 1.5 = 225-675mm


This is a key consideration for wildlife photographers when choosing their camera equipment.

Which lens to choose?


One of the most popular lenses for wildlife photography is the HD PENTAX-D FA 150-450mm F4.5-5.6 ED DC AW. Belonging to the DFA series, it is designed for the 35mm full-frame cameras, but also delivers image quality at the highest level on cameras with an APS-C sensor.






A powerful magnification is perfect for capturing an eagle soaring high in the sky, or a lion lazing on the Savannah. Although it's important to keep in mind that wildlife photography can also focus on animals in an enclosure or simply the wildlife at your local park. In these situations it's possible to get much closer to the subject. As the distances are shorter and lenses such as the HD PENTAX-D FA* 70-200mm F2.8ED DC AW can be an option.








Or the HD PENTAX-D FA 70-210mm F4 ED SDM WR, which requires less investment, could be more practical as they are easier to carry due to their smaller size and weight.








If size and weight are the main considerations, the PENTAX-DA 55-300mmF4.5-6.3ED PLM WR RE is a powerhouse that fits in almost any camera bag or backpack. With a focal length equivalent of 85-460mm, this is a lens that will enable you to capture frame-filling images from a distance - important when trying to capture less redictable subjects such as deer.








Another lens to consider is the DA★300mm F4 ED [IF] SDM, which is a prime lens, meaning it has a fixed focal length This offers an enhanced level of image quality and detail, while still being fairly lightweight.











But what if you need even more focal length? Here the HD PENTAX-DA AF REAR CONVERTER 1.4X AW could be an option. This pairs up with Pentax lenses to increase the focal length by a factor of 1.4x - so a 300mm optic used on the K-1 Mark II switches up to 420mm. Pair the convertor and 300mm lens with an APS-C camera like the K-3 III and that total focal length ends up at a whopping 630mm, although it should be remembered that the compromise of using a 1.4x convertor means you sacrifice the maximum aperture of the lens - for example, an f/4 lens like the 300mm then offer a maximum aperture of f/5.6 as the teleconvertor slightly reduces the amount of light capable of passing through to the camera.




So, we’ve talked about telephoto lenses, which enable photographers to capture images from a fair distance away, but what other options can be of use to a wildlife photographer?

Well, the truth is that by mixing up your focal lengths, you can not only cover a wider range of wildlife subjects, but you’ll also add variety to your portfolio and this will lead to your images feeling fresh and more diverse. Wide-angle lenses for example, will deliver images that distort the perspective of your subject. A macro lens will let you capture close up photos of small subjects, showing tiny creatures in a whole new light, revealing shape and texture that may be invisible to the human eye.

The choice of lens depends on the type of wildlife you want to photograph. Many wildlife photographers use a combination of several lenses to cover a range of situations and subjects. Remember that when it comes to wildlife photography, the right lens can make a significant difference to the quality of your shots.



Final Thoughts



In conclusion, wildlife photography offers breathtaking encounters, unique challenges and the opportunity to become a storyteller of the natural world. When you engage in this captivating activity, you not only capture moments of unparalleled beauty, but also contribute to the appreciation and conservation of our planet's incredible biodiversity. Make the most of the benefits Pentax cameras and lenses offer and enjoy your wildlife photography.  


We would love to see the images you create and often share images the @pentax.photography official Instagram account. Make sure to use the #pentax_wildlife hashtag so we can find your work easily!