Bird photography is a challenging and fun genre that requires a lot of skill, patience, understanding of animal behavior, and creativity to create magnificent images. Whether your birdwatching trip is in two weeks or in a month, this article will show you the essential bird photography equipment for beginners, so you’re ready for your adventure.
Whether you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera, it should be able to reach a shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second or less. At this speed, you may be able to capture the wings of a hummingbird without motion blur.
Another very important feature: the acquisition of focus is the speed at which the camera and lens motors focus on the subject. The shorter the interval between multiple takes, the more likely you are to get an image that captures the subject as expected.
It’s better to have a device with a burst mode capable of shooting 6 to 9 frames per second and with sufficient buffer to handle large bursts before the shooting is stopped.
You can also read: 4 best point and shoot cameras for birding in 2022
2. Telephoto lens
A telephoto lens of at least 300 mm focal length is essential for photographing birds. The ideal one would be from 400 to 500 mm for Full Frame sensors (35 mm). In other words, you should keep in mind that a 400 mm telephoto mounted on a Full Frame camera (FX) won’t be the same for an APS-C (DX) camera.
The difference between a Full Frame sensor and an APS-C sensor is their size. When you buy a lens for an APS-C or DX sensor (not Full Frame), you should multiply the focal length x 1.5 or 1.6, depending on the model of your camera.
Thus, if you only have a 300 mm but have an APS-C camera, this focal length would become an effective focal length of, for example, 450 or 480 mm (300 x 1.5 or 300 x 1.6), which is more than enough for this type of photography.
Before you start shooting, the first thing you have to do is find your protagonist, and you probably won’t be able to do this if you don’t have a good pair of binoculars. As in everything, there are multiple prices, benefits, size and weight, but to start you don’t need the most expensive, the heaviest or the most long-range binoculars.
8x binoculars will give you a very good result and, for example, one of about 40 cm in diameter weighs little and has sufficient magnifications.
You can also read: How to photograph birds close-up?
4. Hides, to photograph birds
There are hides in some bird watching areas and are usually a kind of huts or constructions with holes to observe birds without being seen. But these constructions are only found in specific places, so if you love this type of photography, you might want to get a portable one. There are different sizes, prints and features (such as windows, materials, etc.) Depending on where and under what conditions you are going to work, you should choose one or the other.
You can also choose to dress according to the environment in which you will work and camouflage your camera and lenses. However, if at the moment you only plan to wear discreet clothes, make no noise and go somewhere where bird watching is easy; that should be more than enough.
Yes, in plural. After the camera, the lens, a protective lens filter and a good strap, the most necessary investment is another set of batteries to always carry over. The feeling of being in a magical place and running out of battery, after having woken up early and walked, is terrible. Without light there is no photography, but without battery even less.
A monopod can be very useful in such situations, where you need to combine the freedom offered by freehand, with the stability provided by a tripod. While you’re not as “free” as without it nor have so much stability as a tripod, it gives you more stability than your own pulse and is lighter than a tripod, which is very necessary to photograph moving elements such as birds.
Now you know the complete equipment for bird photography. Does the arrival of good weather encourage you to photograph birds? The truth is that it is a precious, frustrating, hard-working specialization, and like everything that requires sacrifice, wonderful. We hope this information has been useful to you!
Colourful Birding invites you to discover beautiful bird gardens that can be visited and that create a space of protection for many animal species. Do not hesitate to contact us if you require further information about our bird photography travels.