Feathers in Focus: Birding Photography Unveiled

Birding season is upon us! Capturing birds in flight and in their natural habitats can be a truly rewarding experience with tons of opportunities to capture bird behaviors, colors, and interactions. Learn all the techniques you’ll need and make sure you have the right gear for the job! 

When it comes to shooting outdoors or wildlife subjects, you’ll need gear that can handle the conditions and challenges you may face when shooting wildlife. Some common challenges that can arise include fast, erratic movements, changing lighting conditions, distant subject and weather conditions. 


Camera Body

When it comes to choosing the right camera body, you’ll want to look for a model with a high-resolution sensor. This will ensure that your images are as crisp and detailed as possible. A camera with a fast autofocus and burst shooting capabilities with also be helpful in capturing fast moving subjects, such as birds

We Recommend: 

Canon EOS R7 Mirrorless Camera
Nikon Z8 Mirrorless Camera
Sony Alpha A1 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Panasonic Lumix G9 II Mirrorless Camera
FUJIFILM X-H2S Mirrorless Camera


Consider investing in a telephoto lens with a long focal length, such as 300mm or 600mm. These lenses will bring distant subjects closer and are ideal for bird photography because they allow you to capture these animals without disturbing their habitat or behavior. Also, a lens with a wider aperture will allow you to capture birding images even in low light conditions.

We rercommend: 

Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD Lens
Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens
Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM Lens
FUJIFILM XF 150-600mm f/5.6-8 R LM OIS WR Lens
OM SYSTEM M.Zuiko Digital ED 150-600mm f/5-6.3 IS Lens (Micro Four Thirds)
Nikon NIKKOR Z 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR Lens (Nikon Z)


Tripod and Gimbal Head

Telephoto lenses can be heavy, make sure you have a solid tripod you can use to stabilize your setup. A gimbal head will also be useful for providing smooth adjustments when tracking your subjects.

Field Guides and Apps

Knowing your subjects a little better will help your images stand out. Utilize informational tools such as bird identification guides or apps to help you identify species in the field. These guides and resources can give great insight into the habits and behaviors of different birds, enhancing your ability to anticipate and capture unique moments! 

Camouflage and Weather Protection

Try to blend into your surroundings as much as possible with camouflage clothing. Camouflage lens covers are also available and can really help you blend in even more. Blending in will minimize disturbances to the birds and increase your chances of getting better shots. It’s also worthwhile to invest in weather-resistant camera gear or protective covers to shield your equipment from the elements.

To capture birds in flight, you’ll need more than just the right gear! Check out some tips and tricks for capturing awesome birding images! 

Pay attention to Exposure + Shutter Speed

Some birds fly at speeds up to 50mph! Ensuring you have good lighting and a quick shutter speed will help you capture crisp images. Having too slow of a shutter speed can result in blurry images, and no one wants that! Experiment with high shutter speeds to freeze action and avoid motion blur.

Pay attention to the lighting conditions, which can significantly impact the quality of your images. Early morning and late afternoon can be a great time to capture birds with warm, soft light. When trying to get the best lighting, it’s also helpful to shoot with the sun behind you. 


Get the right Pose

Set your camera to the highest frame rate. This will allow you to capture as many frames as possible in a short amount of time. Birds move fast, you want to make sure you have as many chances as possible to capture the best moment! Birds photograph best when their wings are up or down rather than straight out. Also do your best to capture the catchlight in a bird’s eye. The catchlight is the tiny spot of light reflected in the bird's eyes that make it look alive, without it your bird images may look lifeless.

Turn Image Stabilization Off

Because birding photography utilizes such high shutter speeds, there is no need for image stabilization. If you leave it on it will only make it harder to track the birds and slow down your camera’s ability to focus.


Pay attention to the background

Having a great subject is of course important but so is a great background! Make sure you’re not overlooking the importance of a great background! Try incorporating bokeh in your images or ensuring that your background doesn’t distract from the subject! 

Learn bird behavior

Get to know your subject a little! Birds have unique behaviors and knowing how to predict their next move will help you capture amazing shots that elevate your images! Patiently wait for the right moment to capture natural and authentic shots.

Master Silhouettes

Birds make for really cool silhouette images. To capture a silhouette, find a subject against a bright background and expose for the background while keeping the subject in shadow. Sunsets are really great backdrops for silhouettes because the bright colors make for a visually interesting background! 

Invest in the right gear and practice essential techniques and you’ll be on your way to awesome bird photography. Happy shooting!

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