Best Lens for Photographing Birds

In the world of photography, there are a few subjects that are much harder to photograph than others, and birds are definitely in this category!

Their amazing colors and intricate markings make for stunning images, however their flittish nature and constant awareness of what’s happening around them means that they can be particularly difficult to get a decent shot of. 

Your camera’s lens also needs to be up to the job, and will need to be able to focus on the bird as it blends in with it’s surroundings, keep the image steady in the frame as best as possible and allow you to get a close up shot without actually getting too close to the bird itself.

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These are only a few of the difficulties you’ll face when you’re trying to photograph birds, but there is hope!

A lens that has been specifically designed for bird and wildlife photography will contain all of the features you need to get that perfect shot, and will help take your photography game to the next level.

But, with so many different lenses available (and with the technical jargon that comes with them) it can be quite difficult trying to decipher which one is going to be the best for helping you take some gorgeous pictures of birds. 

To help take the hard work out of it, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best lenses for photographing birds available, along with a super useful buying guide that will help you navigate the technicalities and allow you to find the perfect lens for your individual needs. 

So take a seat, carry on reading, and pretty soon you’ll be out in nature capturing some amazing photos of all your feathered friends! 

If you’re in a hurry and need to find the best lens for photographing birds, take a look at our top pick below.

 

In a hurry?

Our rating:
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras,2183,Black
9,642 Reviews
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras,2183,Black
  • F mount lens/DX format. Picture angle with Nikon DX format 44 degree
  • 52.5 millimeter (35-millimeter equivalent). Rear focusing; Manual focus override
  • Aperture range: F/1.8 to 22; Dimensions(approx.) 70 x 52.5 millimeter
  • Silent wave motor AF system. Accepts filter type is screw on. Lens construction: 8 elements in 6 groups
  • Compatible formats is dx and fx in dx crop mode. Maximum reproduction ratio: 0.16x

 

Best Lens for Photographing Birds – Comparison Table

Best Lens for Photographing Birds – Reviews

Our Pick
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras,2183,Black
Our rating:

Getting a super clear photograph of a bird has never been easier thanks to the AF-S DX NIKKOR 1.8G Lens from Nikon, which has been designed and optimized for use with DX-format cameras to give you consistent, sharp results with every shot.

This amazing lens features a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, which makes it capable of capturing really clear images even in low light conditions, and gives you the ability to blur backgrounds so you can achieve more focus on the bird you're photographing.

The classic ‘normal’ angle of view allows you to approximate what you see with the naked eye and makes it a great all-round lens, whilst the seven-blade diaphragm opening allows anything out of focus within the shot to appear more natural.

It also features two different focus modes, a manual override focus and a manual focus, and the rubber sealing around the lens has been designed to minimize the chances of the lens misting or fogging, as well as providing some water-resistancy, ensuring that you get a clear shot regardless of the weather. 

Pros
  • Designed for use with DX-format cameras
  • Features a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture capable of capturing super clear images in low light conditions
  • The ‘normal’ angle of view and seven-blade diaphragm allows you to blur backgrounds and makes out of focus elements appear more natural
  • Also features two different focus modes; a manual override focus and a manual focus
  • Has a strong rubber sealing that prevents the lens from misting and fogging, and also provides some water resistancy
Cons
  • This lens doesn’t have any zoomable features or functionality

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Our rating:

Featuring a wide f/1.8 aperture, the EF 50mm STL Lens from Canon lets in 8 times more light than a standard zoom lens, resulting in extremely clear images and reducing the need to use your flash even in lower light conditions.

This lens also features a 50mm focal length, which allows you to fill the frame from a comfortable distance, allowing you to get a really clear shot of a bird without getting too close and risking spooking it into flight.

And, should your subject decide to fly away suddenly, the almost-silent STM technology enables the lens to focus extremely quickly, allowing you to capture those fleeting moments. 

The circular, seven-blade design also gives you the opportunity to blur backgrounds as you shoot, giving you greater focus on the subject and making anything out of focus appear naturally blurred.

This lens is also compact and lightweight, which makes it easy to store and carry with you as you trek through the wilderness in search of that perfect shot.

On top of all of these amazing features, this lens also has an improved minimum focusing distance of 1.15ft and a maximum magnification of 0.21x.

This provides you with a super-sharp performance, and it’s rugged metal mount ensures that it will securely attach to your camera with ease.

Pros
  • Features a wide f/1.8 aperture that is capable of letting 8 times more light into the shot than a standard lens, even in low light conditions
  • Has a 50mm focal length, allowing you to fill the frame from a comfortable distance
  • Also features STM technology that enable the lens to focus extremely quickly
  • The circular, seven-blade design allows you to blur backgrounds so more focus can be given to the subject you’re photographing
  • An minimum focusing distance of 1.15ft and a maximum magnification of 0.21x means that this lens provides you with super sharp image capturing performance
Cons
  • Doesn’t feature any image stabilization, however the super fast focusing technology still allows you to get a steady shot at a quick speed

Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon
Our rating:

Compatible with a range of different cameras including Canon and Nikon, the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens from Sigma is a great option to go for if you like to switch between models, and offers a variety of features that makes it perfect for photographing birds.

One of these features is an optimized and super-quiet Hyper Sonic Motor, which works alongside the Optical Stabilizer and accelerometer to deliver improved panning both horizontally and vertically and giving you the clear results you’re looking for when shooting any type of wildlife.

This amazing lens also features a zoom lock switch that can be used at any focal length you choose, adding to it’s image stabilization properties, and a manual override switch that gives you even more control over the focus of your shot.

It even comes with specially developed software that can be used to update the lens’ firmware and parameters, all via the USB connection.

And, for improved durability and functionality, this lens also features an oil and water repellent coating on the front glass, giving it a level of water resistancy and making cleaning and maintenance easier than ever.

The mount is also dust proof and splash proof, adding to it’s durability and ease of care. 

Pros
  • Compatible with a wide variety of cameras including Sigma, Nikon and Canon Features an optimized and quiet Hyper Sonic Motor that works with an Optical Stabilizer to capture perfect birding and wildlife shots
  • The lens features a zoom lock switch that adds to the image stabilization and can be used at any focal length
  • Also comes with specially developed software that can be uploaded to the lens via the USB connection port to update the lens’ firmware and parameters
  • An oil and water repellent coating has been applied to the front glass for water resistancy and easy cleaning
Cons
  • People that previously purchased this lens found that it was a little heavier to carry around than some other lenses

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R Zoom Lens, for Micro Four Thirds Cameras (Black)
Our rating:

Small and powerful, the 40-150mm f4.0-5.6 R Lens from Olympus has been specially designed and optimized to make it super easy to store and lightweight enough to carry with you wherever you go, making it perfect for hiking through woodlands and forests in search of the perfect bird photograph.

The high-power zoom of 3.5x gives you the opportunity to focus on your subject from a fair distance without any risk of disturbing it.

An incorporated linear drive motor provides fast focusing and improved aperture performance in almost total-silence, which is another great feature when shooting wildlife as there won’t be any loud or unnatural noises to spook your subject away. 

It also features a movie and still compatible focusing mechanism, that doesn’t only give you the perfect opportunity to take super clear photographs, but also means you’ll get the same high definition quality from any videography you use the lens for as well.

Pros
  • Designed to be both compact and lightweight, making it the perfect choice for storing and carrying on outdoor shoots
  • Has a high-power 3.5x zoom, allowing you to get a clear shot of your subject without needing to get too close
  • An incorporated linear drive motor provides fast focusing and improved aperture performance
  • The linear drive motor also operates in almost total silence, reducing the risk of your subject getting spooked by loud or unnatural noises
  • This lens also features a movie and still compatible focusing mechanism, making it perfect for getting clear photographs and high definition video
Cons
  • This lens doesn’t have any image stabilization properties, so it may be best to use with a camera mounted on a tripod

Tamron SP AF150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens for Canon Camera
Our rating:

Another lens that is compatible with a range of different cameras including Canon, Sony and Nikon, the SP AF150-600mm F/5 Di VC USD Lens from Tamron is perfect for getting super clear shots or birds and wildlife, and also gives you the ability to switch between cameras as and when you want to. 

This lens features a state of the art Ultrasonic Silent Drive that allows you to focus the camera in lightning-speed time without making any noise, which is essential when you’re photographing birds that can be easily frightened away by unnatural sounds.

It also has a three-coil electromagnetic VC image stabilization system which, when paired with the ultra-telephoto 4x zoom lens, helps to ensure your photographs are clear and the image in the frame is steady, even if you’re shooting without a tripod. 

Durability and maintenance have also been considered in the design of this lens, and the front glass features a BBAR (Broad-Band Anti Reflection) coating that helps to suppress flare and it’s moisture-resistant build ensures that no water can penetrate the lens, reducing the chances of it misting or fogging up.

Pros
  • Compatible with a wide range of different cameras, allowing you to switch between models as required
  • Features a state of the art Ultrasonic Silent Drive that lets you adjust the focus really quickly without it making any loud noises
  • Also features a three-coil electromagnetic VC image stabilization system so you can get a steady shot without needing to use a tripod
  • The powerful 4x zoom gives you the opportunity to get a clear view of your subject without needing to get too close
  • Has a Broad-Band Anti Reflection coating on the front glass that helps suppress flare, and feature a moisture-resistant construction that prevents misting or fogging
Cons
  • It’s size makes it a littler more cumbersome to carry around on longer outdoor shoots

Best Lens for Photographing Birds – Buyers Guide

Whether you’re a professional photographer or are more of a hobbyist who enjoys taking photos of birds and other animals, a lens that has been designed to meet the specific needs of wildlife photography will definitely help you achieve the shots you’re aiming for.

However, when you’re looking for a lens for photographing birds, there are a few things you need to bear in mind before settling on your final decision.

We’ve outlined some key points below that will help you find the perfect lens for your individual photography needs, and will ensure that you get the right one the first time around. 

Compatibility

The first thing you need to be absolutely sure of is that the lens you choose is compatible with your camera. Some lenses can only be used with the same brand of camera as the lens itself, and getting it wrong can be a costly mistake.

Luckily, the majority of lenses are compatible with a wide range of camera models, meaning that you’ll not only be able to use it with the camera you already have, but you’ll also be able to mix and match it with a variety of cameras if you prefer to carry more than one with you on a shoot.

Zoom

It’s also very important to look at what zoom capabilities the lens you’re considering comes with as well. You don’t want to get too close to birds when you’re photographing them, as they can be very easily scared away and you could lose the opportunity to get the perfect shot. 

Many lenses come with the ability to zoom up to 4x the distance from where you are situated, whilst still providing you with a super clear image in the camera’s frame.

This means that you’ll be able to happily snap away whilst remaining undetected by your subject, improving your chances of getting the best photograph possible. 

Focus

Whilst you’re looking at the lens’ zoom capabilities, it’s also important to take some to research it’s focus functions. Getting a closer view of the bird is all very well and good, but if the image is blurry then it’s totally pointless.

Most lenses will focus automatically as you zoom in, which means you don’t have to worry about adjusting it manually.

This is perfect for amateur photographers and professionals alike, however if you do prefer to focus your camera yourself, you may want to look for a lens that will allow you to manually adjust it as well when required.

Noise is another important thing to think about when you’re looking at the focus of your lens. As with getting too close to your subject, any loud or unnatural noises will cause a bird to take flight without any hesitation.

Luckily, there are a lot of lenses available that allow you to adjust the focus without making any noises, so you can continue photographing as stealthily as possible.

Image Stabilization

Another really good thing to look for in a lens that is going to be used for photographing birds is image stabilization. This essentially means that it’ll hold the image within the camera’s frame as steady as possible, giving you the perfect shot without any blurring or shaky lines. 

This is particularly useful when you’re photographing any type of wildlife, as you’ll most likely be out and about in nature and won’t have the time or opportunity to set up a tripod to keep your camera still. 

By using a lens that features image stabilization, you’ll be able to get a perfectly clear, steady shot even when you need to photograph in a much quicker time than you usually would. After all, birds don’t tend to hang around in the same place for a long time!

Weather Resistance

As you’ll be outdoors when you're photographing birds, there’s a fair chance that you’ll be facing some poor weather conditions. With that in mind, it’s important to look at what sort of weather resistance your prospective lens features. 

A lens that features rubber sealing will work wonders at keeping water out of your lens as you take photos in the rain, and will also help to prevent the lens from getting misty or fogging up, so you can continue shooting without worrying about the captured image being ruined.

Portability

It’s a good idea to think about the portability of your lens as well. As we’ve discussed, you’re most likely going to be out in the wilderness, hiking and trekking through all kinds of terrain in order to find the perfect bird to photograph.

The size of your chosen lens will play a large part in how portable it is, as will it’s weight. Anything too large or particularly heavy will make carrying it around with you a bit of pain, so it’s usually best to go for a model that is a little smaller and will be easy to store in your photography case.

Some lenses will also come with a protective cap, which is perfect for keeping it in good condition and preventing any scratches when it’s not in use. You may also find that some come with their own carry case as well, which won’t only keep it protected, but will also make transporting it a lot easier.

Additional Features

Lenses can be quite expensive investments, so it’s always a good idea to see what other features you can get for your money as well.

Some lenses come with the ability to blur backgrounds and focus solely on the subject you’re photographing. This is a really good thing to look for when you’re photographing birds, as you’ll be able to capture a much more detailed picture without the surrounding area pulling any focus. 

There are also lenses available that come with their own software, which can be used to update the parameters and functions of the lens through a built-in USB port. This is a really good way to keep your lens evolving, and allows you to keep it up to date with recent technological advancements without needing to purchase a new lens altogether.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which lens is best for photographing birds?

There are a few features that you need to look for in a lens for bird photography. The best lenses will allow you to zoom in on the bird without getting too close, whilst still delivering a clear and stable image.

A good bird photography lens will also allow you to adjust the focus in almost-silence, so you can get the best shot possible without making any noises that may cause the bird to take flight. 

Last Updated on 2020-10-20 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates

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