What kind of gear you need, will depend on the kind of nature photography you're practising. Let's break things down in the same categories as in the above segment, to keep things organised and for our sanity.
With wild animals, it's also recommended to use a moderate to fast shutter speed. If your shutter speed drops too low, and the animal moves, chances are you'll have a load of motion blur in your photograph. Personally, I always try to stay above 1/500 of a second. In dark areas in for instance zoos, you'll have to compensate by increasing your ISO speed. With how much is something that will depend on your lens and camera. Some camera sensors have a higher sensitivity than others.
If you don't have a DSLR camera or can't afford one, I would recommend to look into a "super-zoom" bridge camera. These cameras have a huge zoom, and they zoom optical rather than digital. This means that it will zoom with the lens, and not on the pixels, which will result in higher quality photographs. These cameras can often be set to work manually, and are a lot cheaper than DSLR cameras. Downside is that the quality of the photographs is often lower, and you can't exchange your lenses.
When it comes to domesticated animals, you can often get a lot closer to them. This means you'll need less focal length than you'd need for wild animals. The lens I mentioned earlier, the 70-200 mm is one that is absolutely lovely when working with domesticated animals. It's one that allows action shots, close-ups but also, if you take enough distance, a wonderful lens to capture the animal in a landscape. For domesticated animals lenses like the 50 mm 1.8 are often wonderful to work with as well, especially if you have an animal that wants to stay close to you. It will allow you to get even closer, which in turn can get you awesome portraits with a nice depth of field.
When working with domesticated animals, it's once again important to not let your shutter speed drop too far. Domesticated animals can move just as unexpectedly as wild animals, and even a flinch could create motion blur if your shutter speed drops. Personally, I always use a minimum of 1/500 second, like with wild animals.
When you don't have a DSLR, in this case, one of the super-zoom cameras would once again be a good fit. It will give you the full range I just mentioned above. However, I can not guarantee that you will be able to create as nice a depth of field as you can with a DSLR.
There is one thing that is important when working with both wild and domesticated animals: do not use a flash. You'll risk spooking them, and depending on what they are, they might actually run away and become afraid of the camera itself.
Some domesticated animals are used to it, but if this is an animal you don't know personally, always discuss this with the owner before you actually use it.
For landscapes, you're going to need a whole different set of gear. For instance, a wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens could be any focal length up to 35 mm. It's also recommended to have a tripod, filters and a remote control.
Let's start this party by discussing lenses. For landscapes, you will need a greater depth of field than when you're working with animals, which means the number on the side doesn't need to be as low. When I shoot landscapes, I often up my aperture to at least f/8, to ensure that all of the landscape is properly focused and you don't lose focus to a shallow depth of field (if you're unsure what all this means, check out the first chapter in this series).
A tripod will allow you to work with the long exposure technique. This means that you'll expose your sensor (or film, if you're old school) to light for a longer period of time. This could be one second, but it could also be ten minutes. Longer exposure shots work well to create a smooth water surface, clouds which seem to be moving or to simply get rid of the pesky humans in your 'scape. Something important to know about long exposure is that the intensity of the colours will also change. At sunrise or sunset, it's something that will really bring out the natural colours in the sky, creating a magical scene. When working with long exposure techniques, it's important to minimise vibrations to your camera. Even a slight touch already causes a vibration, this is where the remote control comes in. If you touch that instead of the camera, you will eliminate the vibrations.
Tripods are also very useful when you want to shoot a panorama (shoot multiple pictures next to each other to combine to one, wide/tall landscape afterwards). If you shoot a panorama from the hand, chances are your horizon will change, you could tilt your camera a slight bit, etc, all of which will make it more difficult to combine them later on.
Filters are something that can be used in a multitude of situations. With the long exposure technique, you'll often use an ND-filter (Neutral Density). These are dark filters, with or without a gradient, which are available in different grades of darkness. These will be placed in front of the lens to block out part of the light coming in, allowing you to use an even slower shutter speed.
There's also UV-filters, which are amazing at protecting your lens as well as preventing lens flare, polarisation filters to make the colours more intense and remove reflections and many, many more.
For Flora (and fungi) a standard lens or a short telephoto lens are recommended. A standard lens will give you a range of between 40 mm and 50 mm, and a small telephoto lens will be up to a 100 mm. Depending on the weather, you can play with shutter speed too. If it's super windy, a faster shutter speed would be beneficial to your photograph, but if there's no wind, you can easily take your time and use a shutter speed of for instance 1/60 of a second. If you want to go any slower, it's best to use a tripod (there are tiny ones like the Gorillapod that will allow you to work close to the ground) or something else you can place your camera on for extra stability, like a rock, or you could just place your camera on the ground. Do use something like a plastic bag underneath to protect your camera from moist and dirt if you place your camera on anything that is not a tripod. It will also protect from damages if there's something sharp sticking out, etc.
When it comes to aperture, a wider aperture is recommended. This will create a smaller depth of field, creating a nice blur in the fore- and background, which in turn will put the focus in your photograph on the flora/fungi you're photographing.
I personally love to use my 90 mm f/2.8 lens for close-ups like these. The f/2.8 will create a nice depth of field, and the 90 mm allows me to keep some distance, but also get close enough to capture all the details. I also use my 50 mm 1.8 on a regular basis if I want a depth of field that's even more shallow. It often depends on the subject, so I usually take both with me.
For macro photography, you're going to need some macro gear. Macro gear comes in all sizes and shapes, there's lenses, extension tubes, and many more! In this part, we will focus on macro lenses, reverse-rings and extension tubes since these are the three most commonly used.
There's a wide array of macro lenses, and lenses with a so-called "macro function". The thing about lenses with "macro function" is that it's hardly ever actual macro, but a lot closer to a close-up. An actual macro lens can get your subject pictured on a 1:1 ratio. There's many different ones when it comes to focal lengths, the most common ones I have seen are 60 mm, 90 mm and 100/105 mm. These lenses often double as a nice portrait lens (for both human and animals) and are also amazing for close-ups.
Most macro lenses have a wide aperture, around f/2.8 and some lenses have an even wider aperture. This is incredibly helpful to get a good depth of field in your macro shot, but it can also be tricky as it can be harder to get something tiny properly focused in a very shallow depth of field. Even in macro you can use your aperture to create a greater depth of field. The effects won't be as obvious as if you were to work with a landscape for instance, but it will definitely help you focus on the tiny things a lot better. I personally love to use my f/4 or higher on creatures that might move away, since it helps me act faster than if I were to use f/2.8. When it comes to things that won't walk away, I like to keep the aperture open as wide as possible, which is f/2.8 on my macro lens.
Extension tubes are a set of rings which you can place in between your camera and lens. This will increase the distance between your lens and sensor, which, like with the reverse rings, will change the way the light hits your sensor, also creating a magnifying effect. Often these tubes come in a set of three, and in the sizes 7 mm, 14 mm and 28 mm. These measurements are the amount of mm you will increase the distance between your lens and sensor. The more distance you create, the closer you can get. They come in AF and MF variants, but from my personal experience I have learned that AF and macro don't match very well. The MF tubes also are a lot cheaper. With this, you will also have to pay attention that you buy them in the correct mount, otherwise they won't fit your camera.