Choosing the right lens for bird photography
Bird Photography
February 28, 2018

Bird photography is really exciting. Anyone who is a wildlife photographer will tell you the same thing. It has a lot of challenges too, ranging from financial to skill sets. A very common question pops up.

What is the best equipment to do bird photography? We will take a close look at this in our quest to find out the best answer.



Before we get into the solution let us take a look at the requirements. 

Bird photography involves shooting the flight of the birds. Not only this, we will also shoot the birds that have perched on trees or are running in bushes. Not all birds show courage against  humans. Hence we will not be able to get close. Hence fast shutter speeds and telephoto lenses are the requirements for the day.

Discussing only the lens, without the camera is never advised. I will recommend a fast camera which can handle super fast shutter speeds in the range of 1/2000 and more. The auto-focus system should be good enough for quick focusing during the flight of the birds. Coming to lenses, the best out there is the Nikon 600mm f/4 VR lens. This comes with optical stabilization. 


Use a 1.4/1.7 Tele-converter with this to make an absolute pro kit.

The problem is that this lens comes at a very hefty price of almost $10,000 USD. Apart from this you can also use the less bulky Nikon 300mm f/2.8 or the Nikon 200-400mm f/4. They will also produce excellent results and are relatively cheaper. 

In case you are a Canon user, you have a sensational option in Canon 800mm f/5.6 IS. This is lighter than the Nikon 600mm.

Now I will try to provide the perfect lens for all the photographers out there who are running on a very tight budget. The Nikon 300mm f/4 and the 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 are handy options. The 300mm f/4 produces crystal clear images with the perfect bokeh mode. Using this with a 1.4x Tele-converter will mean that the focal length changes to 420mm.

In order to increase the focal length further you may use a 1.7x Tele-converter, but at apertures of f/5.6 and smaller, the Nikon autofocus fails considerably. Another way of getting equivalent long focal length images is to use a crop factor DSLR. The downside of this is that the images will have noise at high ISO. But since zoom plays the most crucial part in bird photography, a crop sensor dslr will be a better option.  

A dslr with crop sensor 1.5 will provide an equivalent focal length of 630 mm for the 300mm f/4 lens with a 1.4x Tele-converter (300 x 1.4 x 1.5) albeit with a drop in quality in comparison to the full frame dslr. 

Bird photography is all about retaining the intricate details of the birds to bring out their beauty. The clearer your images are the better. Choose between reach (crop sensor dslr with the 300mm and 1.4x converter) and clarity (full frame dslr) to bring out the best shots. 

Bird Photography
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