Bird Photography Basics: How to Take Great Photos of Birds

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Bird photography is not easy. Birds are fast and high moving subjects, at the best of times. At other times they might hide away in trees.
The closer you get, the higher the chance of the bird disappearing.

How Do You Become a Bird Photographer?

My interest in bird photography is an affliction I’ve suffered since I was a kid. But don’t feel bad for me, my addiction, and I’m not about to give it up.
For the past 25 years, I’ve pursued birds as an observer, scientist, and photographer. In photography, all the facets of my obsession come together.
Natural, science, technology, and art converge. Each one is as important as the others. Like any discipline, the more you understand about your subject, the better your images will be. For the beginner bird photographer, all the different aspects can seem daunting. So here, I want to break the subject down to its fundamentals: a series of bird photography tips for the newbie.

This guide is aimed at those new to photographing birds. But experienced photographers should not dismiss it. You might pick up something new. Let’s dive in.

Bird Photography Gear

Equipment can be one of the most fun and most heartbreaking aspects of bird photography.
A hefty telephoto lens will allow you to make images that would be impossible with any other tool.


Camera bodies can vary in price and quality as much as lenses. That said, the camera itself is less important than the lens.
Big, pro-level DSLRs can rival the cost of the most expensive glass. Entry-level digital cameras from major manufacturers are much cheaper, yet can still create beautiful images.

So which is the best camera for bird photography? For photographing birds, pick a camera that has a good frame rate. This is the number of photos possible in a second. Also, look for good autofocus. The lens also impacts focus speed and accuracy.
A ‘crop sensor’, such as APS-C or 4/3rds, will increase the apparent magnification of your telephoto. This gives you more magnification for your money.
If you are planning to spend big bucks, do your research. Even entry-level bird photography systems can leave your wallet.
Read reviews, and consider renting equipment before you buy. Having a camera that helps you take better images is one of the best bird photography tips we can offer.


Trying to get a bird from a far distance using a wide-angle lens is going to be impossible. You need different lenses or one versatile lens to cover most, if not all, possible distances.
Big, high-end glass made by companies can exceed.
But there is a slew of moderately priced options on the market. Try and get telephoto lenses that are used, as it will cut down on your pricing.
Look at 3rd party glass from companies like Sigma and Tamron. Or check out lenses for the 4/3rds systems of Panasonic and Olympus. These are far more affordable.