HomeHelpIdentify living thingsDigital Camera
You need a way to refer back to the details of your specimen as you try to identify it with the help of field guides or any other resources. Having a permanent record allows you to go back and reevaluate the observation if any anytime you are are not 100% confident in the original identification, for example if you realize only later that something very similar exists in the same area. A digital image makes it easier to get help through internet resources such as Flickr identification groups, iNaturalist.org, or BugGuide.net. Contributing to sites like these and many others enables projects, such as Texas Nature, to use your data for research purposes.
Compact camera
Compact camera
Many point & shoot cameras take descent close up photos as long as there is enough light on the subject. The Pentax WG series is an example of a compact camera that can take pretty good close ups. I like the WG because it is rugged and has LED lights around the lens that work as a low power macro light. The LEDs do not give off nearly enough light for great photos in the dark, but at least it makes a photo possible.
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Digital SLR
For anyone who is serious about getting great images, there is nothing like a DSLR with interchangeable lenses and the ability to look through a viewfinder. Consider getting a good lens for photographing your favorite subject, such as a macro lens for bugs and wildflowers, or a strong telephoto for birds.
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Share
After identifying your subject, please consider sharing your observation in an online community such as iNaturalist.org. This allows others (like us) to use your data for research. Having a digital photo with your observation makes it possible for others to validate your identification.

Alternatives to a digital camera

Collected specimen
Collected specimen
Of course you may not need a camera if you have collected your specimen, but collection should be done only on your own property or with permission. If it is something that you can press flat, then a scanner can be used to obtain a digital image.
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Note pad
You can write down details of an observation, but this requires knowing in advance what are the important field marks.
Binoculars
Binoculars
It can be challenging to take good photos of distant wildlife, and typically expensive too. That may explain why birders are so often seen with a pair of binoculars in their hands and a field guide in their back pocket. It may be necessary to make identification at the site, and you won't have an image to use as evidence when you see that Bald Eagle.
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