It can be a challenge to shoot sharp and stunning photos of birds. Whether you’re looking for general tips, or what settings / equipment to use, read our latest article to learn everything you need to know for bird photography.
What Is Bird Photography?
Bird photography is the art of capturing the beauty of birds in flight. Bird photography is a great hobby because it allows you to capture the beauty of birds in flight in a unique way. It also gives you a chance to explore the world in a different way.
There are many types of bird photography, including DSLR, mirrorless camera, compact camera, smartphone, and cameras hooked up to binoculars- all still bird photography.
A wide variety of equipment is needed for bird photography, including a tripod, lens, and camera body.
There are also many different types of bird photography, including landscape, close-up, and action photography. Bird photographers often use natural light to capture beautiful photos of birds in their habitats and can be done from a distance, or up close and personal.
What Basic Camera Settings to Use for Bird Photography
The basic camera settings to use for bird photography are ISO, shutter speed, aperture and focus. These settings can be adjusted to change the brightness and the clarity of the image. Learn about camera settings and how to use them below:
Which Camera Mode Should You Choose
You should always choose the best camera mode for your particular situation. Here’s a quick, but comprehensive list of the most common camera modes:
- Auto: This mode will automatically choose the best camera setting for the situation based on the lighting conditions.
- Landscape: This mode will take photos in landscape orientation.
- Portrait: This mode will take photos in portrait orientation.
- Close-up: This mode will take photos of close-up objects.
How to Choose the Aperture Value
The aperture value is the size of the hole in the lens, measured in millimeters. The aperture determines the amount of light that is allowed to pass through the lens. The aperture size is important because it determines the size of the image.
You should aim for an aperture value of 8 or less while shooting in manual mode, because it lets you set all the important settings yourself, while semi-automatic modes make your workflow faster.
Aperture priority mode also lets you decide how much light enters the camera and blurs the background accordingly; shutter priority mode lets you avoid motion blur more easily while shooting birds in flight.
How to Set Your Shutter Speed for Bird Photography
This is the shutter speed you use to capture the images in your camera. It is measured in seconds and represents the amount of time the shutter is open.
Aperture priority mode is the best mode for bird photography because it allows you to set the ISO and aperture (by spinning the wheels or dials on your camera), while the camera sets the shutter speed based on its meter reading.
If you are not handholding the camera, you can go slower, but then motion blur can occur.
You can use motion blur creatively to beautifully visualise the bird’s flying patterns . But it’s more for artistic purposes than documenting wildlife.
To take good bird photographs, use a shutter speed that is approximately the same as the bird’s natural blinking rate.
To determine the recommended shutter speed for your subject, use aperture priority mode and look at the camera’s “Recommended Exposure” bar in the viewfinder.
If you’re using Manual mode, set your shutter speed based on how consistent light is throughout your photo shoot.
How to Choose the ISO for Bird Photography
Bird photography is one of the most rewarding aspects of birding. The challenge of capturing the perfect image is one that many birders enjoy. There are many factors to consider when choosing the ISO (International Standards Organization) for bird photography.
To capture amazing bird photos, you’ll need a DSLR or mirrorless camera and lens of 400mm or more.
The right light includes cloudy light (when the diffused sky will give you beautiful colors and subtle images), and golden-hour light (which is consistently gorgeous).
Compositionally, you’ll want to pay attention to the position of the bird in the frame (point the bird into the empty space), and select your background carefully to be as simple as possible.
Choosing the ISO for bird photography is important to optimize the quality of your photos.
There are a few things you need to consider when choosing an ISO setting: aperture, shutter speed, and focal length.
You can use a low ISO (100 or 200) if you want to get a soft photo with lots of detail and noise, or use a higher ISO (800 or 1000) if you want a brighter image with less noise but less detail.
Try different settings and see what produces the best results for your type of photography!
Key Bird Photography Equipment: Cameras
DSLRs are the best cameras for bird photography because they have impressive autofocus capabilities and high continuous shooting rates.
Lenses for DSLRs come separate from the cameras, so you’ll need to purchase them separately.
There are two broad types of DSLRs: full-frame and crop-sensor (APS-C).
APS-C cameras perform worse in low light than full-frame cameras and have a more limited dynamic range.
There are many different bird photography cameras on the market.
Some cameras are better suited for specific types of birds or locations.
It’s important to choose the right camera for your needs and shooting style.
The Canon 90D is a high-resolution DSLR that shoots at 10 frames per second. It features a good autofocus system and is perfect for bird photography.
The camera is also rugged and has a magnesium alloy body and offers some awesome capabilities for the price.
When using a lens with a focal length of 300mm, the camera can obtain a super telephoto angle-of-view equivalent to focal length 450mm.
There is no need to reselect a focus point each time you change the composition, therefore allowing you to rapidly respond to shooting opportunities.
The Nikon D7500 is a digital SLR that shoots in DX format, which enables it to capture an even greater telephoto effect than crop shooting.
The Nikon D7500 also has a built-in VR feature that allows users to experience 3D photos and videos.
Additionally, the Nikon D7500 has other features such as face detection technology and Wi-Fi capability that make it an ideal choice for photographers who need versatile camera equipment.
The Nikon D500 is an APS-C, 20 megapixel camera that’s designed with action photographers in mind.
The autofocus system is identical to the Nikon’s flagship full-frame D5, which sports 153 autofocus points for lightning-fast focus and impressive tracking.
Add to that the 10 frames per second continuous shooting rate and you’ve got yourself a monster of a camera–one that’ll get you incredible bird photos, consistently.
The main drawback of the Nikon D500 is price, which is about 50% higher than the Nikon D7500. But if you’re serious about your bird photography and don’t want to compromise on action capabilities, then the Nikon D500 is the way to go.
Nikon D500 is a professional-grade digital camera that offers several features for advanced photographers.
Nikon D500 has a 24.3 megapixel sensor that captures stunning images and videos with detail and clarity.
The camera also has an updated autofocus system, which makes it easier to take great photos and videos even in difficult lighting conditions.
With its fast processing speed, the Nikon D500 allows you to capture stunning images and videos quickly and easily.
Canon 7D Mark II
The Canon 7D Mark II is a camera that debuted all the way back in 2014 and has been eagerly awaited by fans since.
The Canon 7D Mark II is still one of the best cameras for action photography, shooting at 10 frames per second.
The body of the Canon 7D Mark II is made out of a rugged magnesium alloy material.
Key Bird Photography Equipment: Lenses
Bird photography lenses are not cheap and can cost upwards of $7000 USD.
The most important criteria for a bird photography lens is that it offers fast autofocus, good image quality, and isn’t skimping on focal length.
Lenses for bird photography should be chosen based on other factors as well, such as price and focal length.
Lenses are an important part of bird photography.
There are many different types of lenses to choose from for bird photography.
Lens choices depend on the type of photography you plan to do and your camera equipment.
Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II
5-5.6L IS II is a recent update of the incredibly popular Canon 100-400mm IS I–both of which make for great bird photography lenses.
The 400mm focal length is perfect for shooting large birds, or small birds in tame environments. And the lens offers an impressive autofocus system, which will allow you to lock onto moving subjects with speed.
While long telephoto zooms are known for poor image quality, the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L defies these expectations, producing sharp photos even at 400mm.
While not quite as impressive as its successor, the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS I is also a viable option, especially if you’re looking to keep the price down.
5-5.6L IS II is a telephoto lens that can be used for both stills and video shooting.
It has an aperture range of f/4.5-f/5.6, making it suitable for capturing images in low light conditions as well as providing good reach when photographing distant subjects or large items from a distance.
The lens features a long focal length (300mm) and a variable zoom range (from 100mm to 400mm), which makes it ideal for taking wide angle shots or composing shots with tight framing requirements
Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G VR
5-5.6G VR is a good option for reasonably priced supertelephoto lenses, offering fast and accurate autofocus and vibration reduction.
The image quality is good, especially when stopped down.
The lens is prone to camera shake, but it performs well in terms of image quality overall.
Canon 400mm f/5.6L
6L is a prime lens meant for wildlife and bird photography.
It features fast autofocusing, great build quality, and stellar optics.
The autofocus is impressive, especially for the cost.
It’s a rugged lens that feels quite solid in your hands and is not suitable for casual use.
It has good sharpness wide open and beautiful colors
Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC
3 Di VC is a great lens for bird photography.
The lens performs well at the long end and autofocuses accurately.
The lens is affordable and easy to use.
Tips for Different Types of Bird Photography
Bird photography can be broadly classified into two types: ground and aerial.
Shooting birds in flight requires different skills than shooting them on the ground.
To photograph birds in flight, you need to use a fast shutter speed. Read some of our other tips below on how to shoot bird photography:
How to Take Bird Portraits
Birding is a hobby that has a great deal of competition. Because of this, it’s important to be able to spot the birds you’re looking for. The best way to do this is to get familiar with their call, be able to identify the birds you are looking for and then be able to recognize them in their surroundings.
To take a good portrait of a bird, focus on the eyes.
Use Aperture Priority to quickly adjust depth of field and shoot at a shallow depth of field if your lens is high quality.
Set your camera to an aperture of f/2.8, f/4, or even f/5.6 for long-range shots with a 300-600mm lens set to an ISO of 100-20000.
How to Take Environmental Bird Portraits
Environmental portraiture is a great way to capture the beauty of nature and the wildlife. A lot of photographers use the technique to capture the beauty of birds and other animals without disturbing them.
Composition is a key factor in environmental portraits.
A lens with a focal length between 85 and 300 millimeters is ideal for this type of photography.
Use aperture priority mode to adjust the depth of field.
Pay attention to light when taking environmental portraits.
How to Capture Birds in Flight
Capture Birds in Flight is a process that involves using a camera to take pictures of birds in flight from a high vantage point. This is done to capture the birds’ flight patterns, which can then be used to create a flight path that can be used to find the birds’ homes.
To capture birds in flight, be prepared to go through a lot of useless photos and a lot of memory space.
Use the continuous focus mode on your camera to get sharp action shots.
Use a fast shutter speed to create blurs or flight scenes.
Choose shutter priority mode for slower shutter speeds and Bulb Mode for capturing all motion range with one shot
Why are my bird photos not sharp?
There are a number of reasons why your photos may not be sharp. Some of the most common reasons include:
- The camera is not adjusted properly.
- The lighting is not bright enough.
- The camera is not set to the right exposure.
- The camera is set to a high ISO.
- The camera is set to a low ISO.
- The camera is set to a wide angle.
- The camera is set to a telephoto.
How To Get Sharp Bird Photos
-Use a fast shutter speed to get sharp photos of birds.
-Ensure your camera setup is stable to get sharp photos of birds.
-Tripods are a good way to keep your big lenses steady
-Tripods can reduce flexibility and increase kit weight
-Handholding in the field requires careful steadying