Taking pictures of nocturnal animals in the African veld is no easy task, but there’s no need to put your camera down after sunset as Nitecore makes some of the best flashlights for spotting wildlife at night or in low-light conditions. Known as spotlighting, these high-powered flashes reflect in the animals’ eyes, whether it’s a leopard up in the trees or a porcupine in the grass, which makes it easier for you to find them. Once spotted, the flash provides a strong, continuous fill light to light your subject.

Note that catching an animal’s eyes with a white spotlight can cause vision disruption or jeopardise their chance from escaping predators, thus we recommend using it responsibly. Experts recommend using red filtered spotlights as their effects are much less pronounced. It is always important to consider the animal’s well-being first, and your photo opportunity second. Some nature reserves ban the use of flash or spotlighting at night, so be sure to check their rules before commencing with your night safari.

Award-winning photograph of a leopard drinking water by Brendon Cremer.

© Brendon Cremer at Tusk Photo

How to take photos of wildlife at night

Learning how to take photos of wildlife at night will require you to switch your camera to Manual and playing around with the exposure triangle settings, namely shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Start with the default settings and then:

  • Shutter speed: Adjust the shutter speed to let in enough light without motion blur. A faster shutter speed lets in less light, resulting in a darker image whereas a slower shutter speed may result in camera shake.
  • Aperture: Set your lens aperture at its widest to let in as much of the available light as possible. 
  • ISO: Keep your ISO low to avoid noise.

It often helps to adjust the angle of the spotlight so that it points slightly in front of or behind the animal to avoid spooking the animals. With the fill light “on” your subject, take a test shot to see whether you need to adjust the shutter speed. If the subject is too bright, increase the shutter speed to balance the exposure. If the subject is too dark, slow the shutter speed down. Note that the light will dim and brighten as the animal moves further away from, or close to you. This is because the light that hits the subject has to travel a shorter or farther distance from its source to the subject for you to see it. Adjust the shutter speed accordingly. You can also play around with White Balance settings. 

We recommend using a tripod, monopod or bean bag for support to prevent motion blur, especially when using a telephoto lens at slow shutter speeds. Lastly, while you may opt for an off-camera flash, do not use an on-camera flash. Instead, use the LED torch to provide the necessary artificial light. Combining your off-camera flash with a modifier system like the MagMod MagBeam Wildlife Kit will help focus the flash output, thereby improving the distance and power for sharper shots with crisp edges.

Photograph of a leopard by Brendon Cremer.

© Brendon Cremer at Tusk Photo

More about Nitecore LED flashlights

Nitecore is a multi-award winning designer of flashlights for various applications, including outdoor sports and tactical use. Despite having over 13 years of experience their devoted team (who comprise campers, hikers mountaineers and enthusiasts of diving, cycling, fishing and boating) continue to receive training on various outdoor activities and their elements such as rain, fog or snow to understand how to develop their gear to complement your journey. They also employ the latest technologies and user-friendly designs for optimal performance as is evident from their innovative flashlight range, which offers plenty of choices in size, operating preference, performance and powering solutions. Every product is a masterpiece and built for a very specific purpose. You are thus guaranteed to find the right light for the job.

Nitecore P10GT

Thanks to their effective, intuitive and robust designs, Nitecore LED flashlights is a great investment for anyone who does a lot of after-dark game viewing. For game viewing, camping and general outdoor use, the full-featured Nitecore P10GT has the power without the bulk. It provides a 900-lumen max output, which is powerful considering that 100 lumens are bright enough for most walkways. Its beam can reach a distance of 286 m, and features a Strobe Mode for tactical application (such as self-defence or combat in low light conditions). It also lets you adjust low-mid-high brightness levels with one-handed operation. A power indicator will let you know when it is time to replace its batteries, but this will only be after a runtime of 17 hours. Note that this light produces a white beam. Should you wish to add a red filter, it is compatible with the Nitecore NFR25 accessory.

Nitecore P10GT

Nitecore MH27UV

The Nitecore MH27UV is a rechargeable multi-spectrum flashlight for tactical use. It fits comfortably in your hand while throwing a maximum of 1000 lumens that reach distances of up to 462 m. The flashlight lasts up to 28 hours on a single charge (via a micro-USB port), includes a power-level indicator and has an intelligent charging circuit that prevents over or undercharging. Special modes include a location beacon, SOS and strobe, and independent red, blue and ultraviolet auxiliary led lights:

  • Red LED: Low-illumination tactical application
  • Blue LED: Blood tracking / verification
  • UV LED: Gemmology / forensic science
Nitecore MH27UV

Nitecore TM16GT Tiny Monster

The Nitecore TM16GT Tiny Monster is ideal for search and outdoor photography use that provides an unparalleled illumination experience. It has an extremely powerful max output of 3600 lumens and can reach distances of just over a meter! Its batteries are rechargeable and boast an impressive 610 hours of runtime! The flashlight has 5 brightness levels, and the rear thumbscrew can be connected to a tripod, turning the TM16GT into a camp or camera light. It is waterproof to 2 m, impact-resistant to 1 m and also has SOS and Strobe modes.

To extend the longevity of your flashlight, do not place it face down on surfaces as this may cause the generated heat to melt down the lamp body. Click here to view more Nitecore products.

Nitecore TM16GT