Best Birding Camera

birding camera

June 13, 2016 • Product, Tips & Lists • Views: 15189

Start photographing birds with the right camera.

Bird photography is an enjoyable activity, which can be very rewarding. However, it’s crystal clear that selecting the best birding camera is of primordial importance, being the first step an amateur bird photographer should take. Birds won’t stay still to have their picture taken, and if you move closer in order to catch a better shot of one of them, the likelihood is that the colorful wonder will fly off before you know it.

On that account, selecting the best birding camera will allow you to photograph birds from the angles you want, without risking that your point of focus vanishes into thin air once the bird notices your presence. In this article, we’ll answer the main questions every eager-to-be photographer might have – what should I look for in a birding camera? And which is the best lens for bird photography?

beautiful bird photo- best camera to use(Photo courtesy: Savinay Dangi)

What to Look for in the Camera for Bird Photography

  • Megapixels

Capturing stunning photos of birds in the wild is every birder’s objective. On that account, the first thing many photographers have in mind when browsing for birding cameras is represented by the megapixels. You’ll notice that the megapixel rating is emphasized as one of the most important features in birding equipment. However, while the megapixel rating does account as an important factor, it doesn’t necessarily translate into providing you pictures of the highest quality.

The number of megapixels you need will imminently depend on what you intend to do with the photographs you take. In other words, the lower the megapixel count, the softer the image. On the other hand, in the case in which you intend to have a 4-foot by 5-foot print that is extraordinarily sharp, you must have over 250 megapixels. Additionally, cameras with increased megapixel rating will produce images with less noise.

  • Autofocus

Another equally important factor you should look for when searching for the best camera for birding is the autofocus system. What does an autofocus system refer to? It aims at intelligently adjusting the camera lens, in order to obtain the focus on the subject you wish to photograph. In other words, a great autofocus system can make the world of a difference between a fantastic shot and a picture opportunity that slipped through your fingers.

Setting the autofocus point expansion will make birding photography a far more enjoyable and effortless activity, as it enables the photographer to track the moving bird, and get a stunning shot. When aiming at photographing a bird in motion, it does help to establish your autofocus point selection to center and take the shots you want. If you’re a novice in this field, the automation of this function will enable you to take good photos right after picking up the camera.

  • Frame rate

When it comes to birding photography, there are scenarios in which having more than one shot in a limited amount of time accounts as a major advantage. Photographing birds in motion, particularly when they’re flying, can be an attainable purpose when the photographer has appropriate camera gear that enables him/her to shoot at a high frame rate.

If you’re eager to take motion photos, you should consider the frame rate as an important factor in your quest towards acquiring the best birding camera. The frame rate to a birding camera refers to the number of frames comprising each second of a video you record.

Best Four Options for Bird Watching Cameras

1. Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera with 83x Optical Zoom and Built-In Wi-Fi

The Nikon COOLPIX P900 is a viable option for birding photography, as well as wildlife photography, as it is equipped with 24-2000 lenses, which are of the highest quality. The zoom to the camera is long so that you can aim at photographing birds at a significant faraway distance, which is a valuable feature in birding. Concurrently, image stabilization, which is a primordial aspect when it comes to birding photography, is excellent, enabling you to locate the subject even if it’s in motion. The P900 comes with a high resolution, together with an electronic viewfinder, equipped with an eye sensor.

Additionally, the gear is equipped with Wi-Fi, GPS, and NFC. This way, you can easily transfer your photos to your smartphone or computer via Wi-Fi. Simultaneously, by using NFC, you could pair the instrument with other compatible devices. If you’re an eager traveler, you will benefit from the built-in GPS, which will save your location information. The battery to the P900 charges rapidly, and will deliver about 360 shots per charge. As a bonus, even though it provides excellent quality pictures, the camera is lightweight, which you’ll imminently appreciate while photographing in the wild.   

Pros:

  • High-quality pictures and videos

  • Good battery life

  • Good image stabilization

Cons:

  • Expensive for a superzoom

  • Video-recording is automatic; therefore, the settings cannot be manually controlled.

2. Canon SX40 HS 12.1MP Digital Camera with 35x Wide Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch Vari-Angle Wide LCD

The PowerShot SX40 is a product featured by versatility, enabling you to capture high-quality photographs and videos in the wild. The advanced Canon technology ensures maximum image quality with diminished noise and blur. The imagery captured is realistic, mirroring vibrant colors, while the white balance is accurately reproduced. The optical zoom enables the photographer to shoot excellent pictures from a distance, which accounts as a major draw for birding.

The optical image stabilizer allows you to take steady, crystal clear photos. Shooting birds in natural surroundings may come as a challenge, but the Canon SX40  lens technology aims at correcting unwanted camera movement that occurs in the natural environment. Furthermore, the 24mm lenses facilitate taking pictures of expansive landscapes, buildings, and many others. In a nutshell, this product is one of the best cameras for bird photography as it’s equipped with multiple features and is characterized by versatility. The handling is good, and the light performance in limited light conditions accounts for a plus.

Pros:

  • Excellent zoom range

  • Improved low light performance

  • High-quality pictures and videos

Cons:

  • Manual mode limitations

  • Locked ISO – 100 with >1-second exposure

3. Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera

The Canon EOS 7D is created for photographers who are looking for a camera gear that meets the requirements of artistic photographing, making the most challenging shots effortless to take. The 20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor paired with dual DIGIC 6 Image processor facilitates the making of gorgeous imagery. Additionally, it will enable you to shot about ten frames per second, which is genuinely useful if you’re into motion photography. Another advantage is that the camera comes with a built-in GPS, which comes as a useful option for eager travelers in particular.

The 3.0-inch Clear View monitor is excellent for shooting stills and videos. The attention to detail is maximal. Moreover, in order to enable photographers to attain optimal quality images, the EOS 7D adjusts image distortions such as chromatic aberration, peripheral illumination, and distortion. Also, if you wish to shoot in Live Mode, the distortion results are monitored through the image simulation function technology.

Pros:

  • Excellent autofocus technology

  • Lightweight

  • Fast and responsive

Cons:

  • Considerable ISO noise

  • No built-in Wi-Fi

4. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70 16.1 MP Digital Camera with 60x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3-Inch LCD

One of the best cameras for birding, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 Digital Camera comes equipped with a 16.1-megapixel rate, producing high-quality resolution when it comes to still photography, together with HD video shooting, even in low-light conditions. The 60x optical zoom facilitates the equivalent of 33mm focal length, as it covers a pervasive zoom range. It works excellently under low-light conditions, with high zoom magnifications, which accounts as a bonus when shooting birds in the natural surroundings. As for the best lens for birding photography, the optical lens of this camera facilitates a 35mm length range, while covering excellent angles from more points.

The autofocus enables you to shoot excellent pictures of the subject, while offering you good control over the camera. The optical image stabilizer – IOS, works efficiently to diminish the appearance of camera shake, especially when you’re shooting higher zoom magnifications for realizing sharp, crystal clear imagery. The stabilization system is featured by Active Mode, which enables steady video recording, even when you’re walking. Additionally, by purchasing this birding camera, you can take raw shoots.

Pros:

  • Excellent zoom lenses

  • Solid design

  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Higher noise level than you’d anticipate

  • Diminished picture quality in low light conditions

Best Lens for Bird Watching

1. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

This is one of the best lenses for bird photography. The Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lens is a product that is featured by versatility, which can be used in various photographing conditions, including birding. The product is created for both professionals and enthusiast amateurs who plan on shooting in a wide range of weather conditions and lighting environments. The lens provides exceptional image sharpness, and the colors and contrast featuring the shots are top notch. Nikon AF-S FX has managed to deliver a product that suits the requirements of birding enthusiasts. The ED glass elements aim at diminishing the amount of chromatic aberration, while enhancing the sharpness.

Additionally, to be noted – the lens weighs about 900 grams, which is a considerable weight, and might account as an impediment for amateurs. You’ll benefit from quick and efficient autofocus, which decreases flare and ghosting. Moreover, regarding weather sealing, the product is designed to be adequately protected against severe weather conditions such as moisture, dust, and increased humidity. When it comes to the optical performance, we can affirm that this is one of the best lenses for bird photography, as it delivers excellent performance.

Pros:

  • Moisture resistance

  • High-speed autofocus

  • Quiet operation

Cons:

  • Quiet operation

  • High cost

2. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens

Moving on to the next product on our suggestion of best lenses for bird photography, the Canon EF 100-400 mm provides excellent image stabilization, which is useful when it comes to wildlife photography, as well as outstanding open image quality. The focal length will determine the framing and perspective of your photography.

As the range begins with 100mm, and reaches 400mm, without considering the extenders, the lens will cover a lot of ground. The focal length range is more than excellent for birding when combined with the best camera for bird photography. The lens technology ensures amazing contrast and resolution, while diminishing chromatic aberration. Also, the fluorine coatings on the lens – both front and rear – contributes to decreasing the amount of fingerprints and smears.

Regarding image stabilization, the product comes equipped with an excellent image stabilization system. In fact, it facilitates up to 4 steps, in terms of image correction. Autofocus accuracy is an aspect of critical importance for every photographer, albeit you’re planning on using the manual focus. The speed of the autofocus is considerably fast, and the noise is minimal.

Pros:

  • Excellent image stabilization

  • Optimal autofocus accuracy

  • Top wide open image quality

Cons:

  • Top wide open image quality

  • High price range

Best Superzoom Camera for Bird Photography

1. Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Digital Camera – Wi-Fi Enabled

The pictures taken with the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS are featured by an impressive, vibrant color reproduction. Nonetheless, regarding grain noise, it is notable, to a limited extent. Nevertheless, as ISO sensitivity grows, the process aims at diminishing the image noise, preventing sacrificing the details of the photos. The restrained noise reduction enables the photographer to shoot images that appear natural, similar to real-life scenarios, while being reasonably detailed.

Apart from manual exposure control, we could say that the PowerShot SX60 is one of the few cameras in its class that provides Raw support, enabling you to post-process the images according to your preferences. If you want to use this superzoom camera for filming as well, the good news is that you can aim at recording 1080/60p videos using the camera, with manual control of exposure. However, the lens might experience chromatic aberration, to some extent, particularly in low light conditions. As a drawback, having a maximum aperture of F3.5-6.5, in low-light conditions, chromatic aberration may occur. Additionally, the electronic viewfinder is small-sized.

Pros:

  • Wi-Fi feature comes in very handy

  • Ability to take pictures in Raw form, and you may process them later according to your liking

  • Long zoom lenses – wide enough for shooting birds from a distance

Cons:

  • Small Electronic viewfinder

  • The occurrence of chromatic aberration in low-light conditions

Best Bridge Camera for Birding

1. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 4K QFHD/HD 16X Long Zoom Digital Camera (Black) + Transcend 64 GB UH3 SD Card + 72 inch Tripod + Filters + Spare Battery + Camera Bag + Accessory Bundle

This particular bridge camera enables you to take excellent quality images, which capture the real-life colors of natural landscapes. That’s mainly the reason we’ve included it on our suggestions for the best cameras for birding. The 16x optical zoom enables you to take close shots of birds, which may be crossing a distant horizon.

Additionally, what further increases the versatility of the product is the fact that it provides exquisite light sensitivity. If you’re in search of a high-quality camera that is versatile and gives you high-quality photos in most scenarios, this product is a great buy. Additionally, the kit is equally useful; the extra battery comes as a plus, as well as the filters and the lens cleaners. The tripod is standard and helpful, yet not very sturdy. Moreover, numerous users of this product have noted that after 15 seconds of utilizing the camera – looking at the pictures or using the menu – the lens will retract automatically, consuming time and energy.

Pros:

  • Real-life color capture

  • Excellent optical zoom

  • Versatility

Cons:

  • The kit isn’t necessarily of the highest quality

  • Considerable optical stabilization motor noise

  • Fast lens retraction

How to Maintain Your Birding Camera

As your birding camera is a substantial monetary investment, it’s common sense to acquire a set of tips on how to keep it working properly.

  • To clean your equipment, it’s important to use a soft cloth. For instance, a microfiber one would be great. You should gently wipe off any trace of particles or dust that may reach your camera body.

  • When it comes to your camera’s storage, it’s recommended to avoid leaving it in extreme temperatures. While you may use it in various conditions, when on the field, leaving it in freezing or extremely hot temperatures for an increased amount of time will do more harm than good.

 

When you don’t use the camera, always keep the lens covered, to ensure its protection.

  bird photography. Superb starling. Tanzania. Africa. Beautiful Birds. An excellent illustration. shutterstock_306166922

Conclusions and Recommendations

Acquiring the best camera for birding shots will redefine your enthusiasm for appreciating the nature surrounding you. To ensure the optimal functioning of your instrument, it’s recommended to opt for high-quality accessories as well, such as a stable tripod, and an appropriate lens cleaner. By learning to clean and store your instrument as recommended, you’ll be able to use it successfully for numerous years.

We hope that our guide on how to purchase bird cameras has initiated you in this exciting field. Happy shopping!

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