Bird photography can be a rewarding and challenging activity. To capture beautiful images of birds in the wild, you need patience, skill, and high-quality camera equipment.
Modern digital cameras are equipped with high ISO, autofocus, and shutter speeds. You can take great pictures of birds if you have the right skills and knowledge.
This article will provide you with some tips on bird photography that will make the most of your experience. We will cover camera and lens settings, composition, and post-production. You’ll also learn where to find and how to approach birds.
Bird Photography Accessories, Cameras and Lenses
It would help if you had the right equipment to get the best bird shots. Invest in high-quality cameras and lenses to get the best possible image. Here’s what you will need.
Bird Photographers will love the camera body for Bird Photographers.
Canon, Nikon, and Sony are among the major camera manufacturers that offer many options for photographing birds.
A higher price usually indicates a better-quality camera. Cameras with large and advanced sensors will cost more. Autofocus accuracy and rapid focus acquisition are also important features that will increase the price.
It would help if you looked for a camera that has a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 seconds, a burst mode with at least six frames per second, and a large buffer. Both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can do this.
The Sony A7 and Nikon DSLR D500 as well as the Canon 7D Mark II have been designed to deliver in situations of fast action and wildlife. The three cameras are all priced at around $1500 (US).
Even though you might miss some great images, an entry-level digital camera will keep you from taking bird photos. You can learn more about birds and improve your photography skills with a basic camera.
If you are on a budget for beginners, consider buying a refurbished or used camera. A used DSLR may be more affordable than a mid-level DSLR.
What Lenses are Best for Bird Photography?
This question can be qualified by how much you are willing to spend on a lens. Long lenses can cost up to $5,000; super-telephoto prime lenses are even more expensive.
The Sony FE200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS, which is priced between $1,500 and $2,000, is one of sharpest telezoom lenses on the market. Sony FE 70-300mm is a more affordable alternative. It costs less than $1,000.
Nikon offers an excellent 200-500 mm F/5.6 EVR at a price of about $1,100. Nikon 70-300mm F/4-5.6G is also lighter and more versatile at half the price.
Canon EF 400 mm f/5.6L produces beautiful images for under $1200. The company’s 70-300mm IS Lens is also available for less than $500.
Understanding how crop factor affects focal length is important. A 200 mm focal length lens mounted on an APS-C camera (crop factor 1.5x) will produce the same field of view as a 300 mm equivalent lens.
Teleconverters can be used to magnify the image and create a longer lens. A 300mm lens combined with a 2x Teleconverter will give you an equivalent focal distance of 600mm. However, there are some downsides.
You can also buy used or refurbished lenses. Renting a high-quality lens for a specific shoot is another option.
Use a Monopod or Tripod to Stabilize
Monopods and Tripods are used to stabilize the camera and reduce camera shake. This allows you to capture sharp images when using a telephoto.
Tripods offer more stability than monopods but are bulkier and heavier. Monopods are more lightweight and portable than tripods, which makes them perfect for bird photographers.
Which monopod or tripod you choose will depend on your preferences and needs.
Birds and Camera Settings
The exposure settings you choose will depend on what image you want to capture as well as the conditions of the shoot. It’s only possible to cover some possible scenarios in one post. However, you should be familiar with the triangle of exposure to help you select settings that will allow you to take good photos under any conditions.
It is important to have a fast shutter speed when photographing birds, especially those in flight. I’ve seen several people recommend a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 seconds. I’d double that minimum. For stunning shots of flying birds, I prefer shutter speeds as fast as 1/2000 sec.
Blurring occurs when the shutter speed is slowed down. The camera may have shaken, or the bird could have moved just at the right moment.
The shutter speed is a key factor in bird photography. Many great bird photographs capture birds flying, hovering, or landing.
Understanding the basics and the impact of the aperture on your photographs is essential to tackling the challenges of bird photography.
Most photographers use the Aperture priority mode. Set the aperture to its widest opening or lowest f-number. Select Auto-ISO and a minimum shutter of 1/1000 second. In low-light conditions, Auto ISO increases the camera’s light-capturing capability to maintain the minimum shutter.
The photographer can control the depth of the field more easily with Aperture Priority. You may not be able to get the whole bird in focus if you are close to the bird, but you shoot wide open. Stopping down the aperture will help you avoid soft stress.
A shallow depth of field also creates bokeh – a blurred backdrop that helps the bird to stand out in soft tones.
Above, we have described how to select Auto ISO settings when shooting in Aperture-Priority mode. Keep Auto ISO all the time for bird photos. Some people use Shutter Priority when photographing birds or animals. When the light is low, and I have my aperture wide open, a quick shutter speed is still important. Auto ISO makes this possible.
Find out what your camera’s maximum ISO is. When noise is unacceptable in an image, the ISO limit will be reached.
Bird photography is a fast-paced activity. Manual mode can be difficult to manage. Try Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority until you find what works for you.
Metering and autofocus modes
Use the matrix mode to capture a moving bird. This mode is also known as evaluative mode. The camera’s algorithms will evaluate the whole scene in this mode to determine the right exposure value. Select continuous autofocus for Canon, AF C for Nikon, and AI Servo for Sony. This mode allows the camera to continue focusing as the subject moves.
Spot metering is the best option in some situations. If you are shooting a bird that is stationary and want to expose only the bird, you can use spot metering. In this case, a single-area AF-S mode for Canon, Nikon, and Sony is the best option.