How do photographers capture incredibly sharp photos of different birds in flight and in the wild? They simply use the best camera for bird photography. With the right device and clever shooting techniques, you can accomplish this just as well.
Bird photography typically requires using a film or digital SLR camera coupled with extensive telephoto senses. With these, you will be able to shoot amazing bird photos, as well as record sounds and video of their flight and song.
Camera for Bird Photography Reviews
The Pentax K-1 offers premium features at a reasonable price. Its 26MP sensor and high ISO help delivers high-quality images. For easier viewing, its LCD screen automatically brightens up when you shoot outdoors during daytime.
The Nikon D5 is the right camera for professional bird photographers. With a continuous speed of 14 fps, it offers fast shooting speed. Its tough, all-metal exterior makes it a durable camera for outdoor shoots.
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is ideal for bird photography. It can take continuous photos at a superfast burst rate of 170 RAWs. It has a red autofocus sensor instead of black.
Sony a77 II
The Sony a77 II is a good fit for serious wildlife photographers. It has an improved 79-point autofocus and 12 fps continuous shooting to capture fast-moving subjects. Its anti-shake feature minimizes blurs and reproduces sharp, detailed images.
The Nikon P610 can take photos in any angle because of its swiveling LCD. With a 60x superzoom, it can take both wide and very close-up photos. It also has a good selection of filters, effects, and shooting modes.
Panasonic Lumix FZ 200
The Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 has powerful zoom and fast lens speed. It has a 24x optical zoom and can take 12 frames per second. The photos are crisp and sharp, with nice color saturation.
Canon EOS 60D
The Canon EOS 60D is easy to use. It has twin dial controls. Its rapid shooting speed of almost 6 fps allows you to take clear photos of moving subjects outdoors.
Olympus OMD EM5 MK ii
The Olympus OMD EM5 MK ii is a small, handy camera that has many great features. The image stabilization system and anti-shake feature in its viewfinder keep your photos from being blurry. It is great for nature shoots.
Sony Cyber-shot DSCHX90V/B
The Sony Cyber-shot DSCHX90V/B is a light and reliable point and shoot camera. It has a 60x zoom lens that can take clear images from great distances. Its popup high-resolution viewfinder helps you see your shots more clearly.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50S
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50S is a lightweight point and shoot camera for outdoor shoots. It has great image stabilization and reproduces crisp and sharp images at 2x digital zoom. Its viewfinder shows the displays settings, for easier adjustments.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Camera for Bird Photography
Megapixels: It is generally believed that higher megapixels produce better image quality. This isn’t entirely true. In fact, getting a camera with at least 8 megapixels is sufficient enough. It’s your skills and the techniques you use that greatly impact the end result of your photos.
Crop Factor: Crop factor is involved in determining the field of view of your camera. Bird photographers often choose a camera with smaller sensors as these give them the opportunity to make the most out of the crop factors.
Frame Rate: With a high frame rate, you can capture more images within a shorter period of time. Using a camera with this capability is instrumental in the success of your bird photography venture.
Build Quality: If you’re serious about bird photography, consider investing in a professional camera body that is made of durable materials. This camera offers more protection against different elements.
Autofocus Capability: Since you are shooting moving objects (i.e. flying birds), a camera with a sophisticated autofocus system gives you an edge. But if you’re just starting out, you may go for a lower level camera first.
High ISO Capability: ISO measures the sensitivity of the image sensor. Higher ISO is particularly useful when shooting in low-light conditions, although you also need to set proper shutter speed to capture the movement of your moving subjects.
How to Select a Tripod for Your Camera
A tripod increases depth of field and sharpness in your photographs by keeping your camera steady and still. There are many types of tripods out there. Consider the following factors when buying.
Height: Get a tripod that suits your height, so that you won’t need to bend to peek into the viewfinder. The viewfinder must be at the same level as your eyes when you place your camera on the tripod.
Weight and Construction: A lightweight tripod that is made of carbon fiber material is the ideal type as it is stable, durable, and doesn’t rust. An aluminum tripod also works fine.
Weight Capacity: Get a tripod that can support at least 1.5x the total weight of your digital camera and heaviest lens. Settling for something less than that may cause the whole thing to collapse, destroying your camera and lenses.
Stability: When fully set up, a tripod must be able to withstand wind, as well as occasional knocks and bumps that may occur in the field. A weighty tripod doesn’t always mean it’s stable. If possible, test the tripod first before buying.
Quick-Release System: The quick-release system makes it easier and more convenient to attach your camera and lens on a tripod because you will no longer need to deal with the threaded system.
6 Tips for Shooting Birds in Flight
Adjust your camera to proper settings: Set your camera to continuous focus and choose proper focus point (go with either dynamic autofocus or center point). Select a fast shutter speed (about 1/1200th of a second) and a sharp aperture.
Adjust your elevation: When shooting birds in flight, try to get as close to the height of the birds as you possibly can. You can go up a hill or use an elevated stand. Your photos will look more stunning that way.
Watch your composition: Place a considerable amount of space on the side of your frame where the birds are travelling to. By doing so, the viewer won’t get distracted by trying to guess what’s in front of the birds and will focus only on the subject.
Use programmable modes: Most DLSRs now allow photographers to preset a collection of user-programmable settings that you can activate by simply turning the mode dial. Use this capability so you can quickly change all your camera settings depending on what the occasion calls for.
Shoot towards the direction of the sunlight: Backlit birds usually aren’t as good-looking as front-lit birds. Standing in the proper spot, where the light hits the birds perfectly and does not interfere with your camera’s way, significantly improves the quality of your shots.
Pay close attention to the background: A sheer blue sky often works fine, but if you’re able to capture a more interesting background, your photos will look stronger and more meaningful.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bird Photography
What are focal length and zoom lenses for? The focal length and zoom ratio of the lens determine how little or how much of the scene you’re shooting will be in focus when the shot is produced.
What are interpolated megapixels? Interpolated megapixels allow you to capture twice the amount of megapixels by creating additional pixel information for each actual pixel that is captured by your camera’s sensor.
What are CMOS and CCD? CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) and CCD (Charge Coupled Device) are the two main types of camera sensors. The sensors capture light when the shutter is exposed.
What is a continuous drive? A continuous drive on digital cameras allows you to take multiple shots rapidly, one right after the other. Simply hold the button down and your camera will keep shooting pictures until the memory is full.
What are histograms? Histograms help you obtain a quick summary of the tone ranges present in your picture. These tools basically show how evenly exposed your photographs are.
What is white balance for? The white balance setting on your camera automatically adjusts the color cast of your photos and determines their overall warmth. This helps you achieve more accurate colors for your photos.