Bird Photography Best Lens For Bird Photography Workshop

Bird Photography Wildlife Photographer Workshop

Birds are among nature’s most fascinating creatures. For the wildlife photographer, they are one of the hardest subjects to master, but as with all photographic difficulties, perseverance can bring great rewards. If you have ever witnessed the elaborate courtship display of the great crested grebe, watched a small pas-serine searching for material to line its nest, or seen an osprey plunge into icy water to snatch a fish, you quickly realize why birds are such popular subjects for photographers all around the world. Wherever you are, there is never a shortage of feathered subjects and there is a huge diversity of species, all with their various specializations. Many of them are easily accessible, even in a suburban environment, and some will permit a very close approach, so there are endless possibilities for capturing a stunning image.

Bird Photography Wildlife Photographer
bird photography


bird photography
bird photography


  • Telephoto zoom lens

(for example, 75–300mm)

  • Tripod
  • Beanbag

  • Telephoto lens
    (ideally 400mm or longer)
    Carbon-fibre tripod

    Useful accessories

  • Wimberley tripod head
  • Teleconverter
  • Bait
  • Fully-charged spare camera battery
  • Hide
  • Camouflage netting

    noticed this

    heron perched motionless on a mossy rock underneath a large waterfall, and immediately saw the potential for an environmental study. I managed to crawl to the water’s edge without being seen,
    placed the camera on a tripod and used a slow shutter speed to blur the movement
    of the water, capturing the bird in its habitat.
    Canon EOS-1D Mk IV, 100–400mm L IS, ISO 50,1/8 sec. at f/16, tripod


Surprisingly, one of the most important aspects of successful bird photography lies not with the subject itself, but in its surroundings. Employing a wide aperture, such as f/5.6, will typically provide a very limited depth of field, especially when coupled with a long lens, helping to blur the background and eliminate unwanted distractions from the frame. Colour and composition are two more key factors.


bird photography
bird photography

It can be helpful to compare the aperture to the pupil of an eye. Pupils widen and contract to control the amount of light entering the retina. Aperture works in a similar way. Altering the size of the aperture adjusts the speed at which light can pass through the lens to expose the camera’s sensor. If a large aperture is selected, light can enter quickly – so a faster corresponding shutter speed is necessary to produce a correct exposure. If a small aperture is selected, it takes longer for the light to enter the lens and expose the sensor, so a slower shutter speed is needed. Apertures are stated in numbers, known as f-stops. The aperture range varies depending on the speed of the lens, with some optics having more or fewer settings. The typical standards for aperture are shown in the diagram below: f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22. The f-numbers relate to whole-stop adjustments. However, most modern cameras allow you to alter the aperture in 1/2- and 1/3-stop increments, for even greater control. Confusion often arises because large apertures are represented by low numbers (f/2.8 or f/4, for example), while smaller apertures are represented by higher numbers (like f/22 or f/32). To help you remember which value is bigger or smaller, it is useful to think of f-stops as being fractions – for example, 1⁄8(f/8) is smaller than 1⁄4(f/4). F-numbers correspond to a fraction of the focal length. For example, f/2 indicates that the diameter of the aperture is half the focal length; f/4 is a quarter; f/8 is an eighth; and so on. With a 50mm lens, the diameter at f/2 would be 25mm; at f/4 it is 12.5mm. A lens is often referred to by its settings – maximum and minimum. Its maximum – or fastest – aperture relates to the widest setting; closing it down to its smallest setting – which allows the least amount of light through – is said to be the lens’s minimum aperture. Until fairly recently, many optics were constructed with an aperture ring, which the photographer adjusted to select the f-stop required. Today, however, few lenses are designed with an adjustable ring – instead, aperture is quickly and conveniently adjusted via the camera itself, often using a command dial or wheel.


Feeding time bird feeder bird photography
Birds are fast movers, so in most cases autofocus (AF) is a crucial aid for ensuring really sharp shots. Recent major advances in lens and camera technology have resulted in autofocus systems that are incredibly complex and responsive, and all current digital SLRs feature at least two different autofocus modes, one designed for static subjects and one for moving subjects.

Best Len For Bird Photography

bird photography
One of the key reasons why a digital SLR system is the only real choice for wildlife photographers is its compatibility with a huge range of interchangeable lenses. You can customize your system by investing in the focal lengths that suit the subjects you wish to capture – for example, longer ‘telephoto’ lengths for photographing birds and mammals from a distance. Lens choice is important, greatly dictating the look, feel and impact of your nature shots.
A lens with a focal length of more than 50mm is generally regarded as a ‘telephoto’ lens. Telephoto lenses have a narrower angle of view than the human eye, so a scene or subject appears magnified in the frame. Telephotos are available in a wide range of strengths, up to and exceeding 1000mm. They can be divided into three categories, depending on focal length: short, medium and long.
For bird and mammal photography, a focal length of at least 300mm is required. Fast, prime telephotos like this Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 are quite pricey, but there are many more affordable options available.
Sigma 120-400mm
Sigma 120-400mma
Sigma 120-400 mm bird photography
This item Sigma 120-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 AF APO DG OS HSM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras
Bird Photography Wildlife Photographer
Bird Photography Wildlife Photographer Nikon D300, 120–400mm (at 400mm), ISO 200, 1/400 sec. at f/5.6, handheld bird photography
Depth of field becomes progressively shallower at longer focal lengths and higher magnifications. However, as long as focusing is precise, this can help you to isolate your subject from its environment, throwing surrounding vegetation pleasantly out of focus.

Nikon D300, 120–400mm (at 400mm), ISO 200, 1/400 sec. at f/5.6, handheld

A focal length of 50–135mm is considered a ‘short’ telephoto. For most subjects – certainly timid ones – this focal range is fairly limited, and will not give you the reach you require. However, it is a useful range for shooting wider views of subjects, perhaps in order to show them in context with their surroundings; and also for using in combination with close-up attachments. A lens in the region of 50–100mm is ideal for use with an extension tube (see page 20). ‘Medium’ telephotos, typically in the region of 135–300mm, and ‘long’ telephotos, of 300mm or more, are most suited to wildlife photography. Their higher magnification makes them well suited to shooting animals – photographing birds from a hide, or large mammals from further away, for example. These lenses not only magnify the subject, allowing you to capture intimate images of subjects that would run or fly away if you tried to approach them, but they also foreshorten perspective. This means that elements within the frame appear closer to each other than they really are,

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