A novice wildlife photographer may be better off with an automatic camera than a manual one.

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Wildlife Photography Equipment for Beginners

Beginner shooters may be most comfortable starting out with a camera that has an automatic adjustment mode for aperture (or f-stop) and shutter speed. Aperture controls the depth of field in focus in the photo, and shutter speed is how the camera captures different speeds of movement -- it's what the photographer adjusts to either blur or freeze a moving subject. Both are adjusted based on the amount of available light [source: Coe].

Automatic mode helps to take the guesswork and frustration out of situations where beginners may be slow at changing their manual settings, or when the subject is moving very quickly or the light is changing constantly. Manual mode, on the other hand, permits complete creative control over your composition. If you want to slightly overexpose or underexpose certain areas of the picture, or if you want to capture motion or show depth of field in a specific way, manual mode allows for any combination of aperture and shutter speed that you want to work with.

When it comes to camera bodies, you'll want one capable of taking several shots in a multiple frame mode, which makes it easier to capture moments that don't include your subject's blinks, protruding tongues or sneezes. According to professional photographer and photography instructor, Catherine Coe, a basic camera that takes about three frames per second is a good starting point for all types of photography and is perfectly suitable for a year or two of experimenting with wildlife photography. But shooters may want to move on to something more advanced down the road [source: Coe].

However, even the best camera won't do much good if you're not a sound woodsman. Most wild animals will see or smell you before you ever see them, so the ability to remain still and silent for extended time periods vastly improves your chances of getting good shots. Depending on your target, you may have to wake up prior to sunrise and make your way stealthily to a well-hidden position, so your clothing and its contents shouldn't make any noise when you move. Leave the corduroys, maracas and nylon windbreaker at home. At the bare minimum, you should be sure to adjust your in-camera settings to turn off any beeping noises. That said, there's no camera that can take pictures completely silently. Even cameras with special "silent" modes still have moving shutters, which produce an audible clicking sound [source: Canon].

Read on to find out whether there's a best lens to use for wildlife photography.