Saturday, June 1

Best lenses for bird photography in 2023

As with any lens preference, you’ll want to determine if you need a top or zoom lens. Prime lenses have a unmarried constant focal duration and are normally of higher

That is why the premium options we’ve selected are high lenses; they provide higher sharpness and normally quicker awareness.

Typically top lenses are inexpensive than zoom, but within the case of specialized, high-quit telephoto lenses, that doesn’t necessarily hold real.

On the alternative hand, Zoom lenses provide a variety of focal lengths in a unmarried lens. They provide more comfort over top lenses because you don’t ought to bodily change your function or change lenses to get a exceptional angle.

When deciding among top and zoom, you’ll want to keep in mind the kind of situations you will be using the lens and whether or not you would really like to prioritize great over convenience and value.

For instance, if you are going on a experience in your bird photography, a zoom will prevent from wanting to p.C. A couple of lenses. Plus, the zoom lenses we’ve featured right here are greater less costly than the primes,

making them greater ideal for folks who don’t have a huge finances. But, if you understand you want the sharpest pleasant and price range isn’t a aspect, prime may be the way to head.


Once you’ve narrowed your selections to prime or zoom, you could decide on focal length. You’ll certainly want a telephoto lens for birding, as it’s miles uncommon so that it will get even remotely near a chook with out it flying away.

Of path, conditions vary, however for the most part, a focal period between 300 and 500mm will provide the attain you want. For greater flighty (no pun intended) birds that are perched someplace, 600mm may even be essential.

Some photographers hire tele-extenders, but they are able to impact lens performance and decrease the amount of incoming mild to decrease your most aperture.


Since birds move all at once and quickly, you’ll need a lens which could attention lightning rapid. Unfortunately, there isn’t an without problems referenced size that manufacturers use to speak about focusing pace.

It’s additionally some thing this is partly managed via the digital camera frame. Higher-end lenses often rent faster and extra advanced cars to facilitate quicker focusing. A key factor to getting the satisfactory autofocus additionally entails choosing the fine digicam for fowl images.


The most aperture is an important decision with any lens buy, and that holds real with lenses for hen images. You’ll discover that ultra-telephoto lenses just don’t come with first-rate-extensive apertures very frequently.

Instead, wider apertures more so come into play with low light shooting with this focal period variety. If you propose on photographing in low light situations, such as first and remaining light or dense forests, look for a much broader maximum aperture to ensure you could permit in sufficient light.

If you’re involved which you gained’t get blurry backgrounds with an f/five.6 lens, you shouldn’t be. You usually get first-rate separation from a telephoto lens like this in terms of problem and heritage. You don’t want f/2.Eight the considerable majority of the time.


Ultra telephoto lenses aren’t light lenses. They are huge and may be as a substitute cumbersome; there’s no getting around it. However, a few are lighter than others. If you’re heading into the backcountry or traveling to picture birds, look for a lighter lens to save your lower back as you’re making your way in your vacation spot.

  • Here are our picks for the high-quality lenses for hen images
  • Best Canon: Canon EF 100-400mm f/four.Five-5.6L IS II USM Lens
  • Canon EF a hundred-400mm f/four.Five-5.6L IS II USM Lens

Why it made the reduce: With a rugged construct, exquisite sharpness, and an excellent zoom range, this Canon lens is right for those who want excellent but aren’t searching out an ultra-excessive-end telephoto for hen photography.

Key features:

  • Maximum aperture: f/four.5-5.6
  • Weight: 3.Sixty one kilos
  • Filter size: seventy seven mm
  • Minimum focusing distance: 3.22 feet
  • Ideal zoom range for birding
  • Four stops of image stabilization
  • Weather resistant design
  • Very sharp

Product description

This is the second iteration of the famous Canon EF one hundred-400mm f/4.Five-five.6, and it has many worthwhile upgrades from the unique version. Canon’s first 100-four hundred changed into released way returned in 1998 and featured the less-than-best push-pull zoom mechanism. Luckily,

while Canon updated it in 2014, they modified the zoom to the much-desired twist fashion. The upgrade also included a new, weather sealed layout, which is ideal for natural world photography.

With this lens, you also get 4 stops of photograph stabilization to help when taking pictures in low mild conditions. To quality-song your settings, there are 3 photo stabilization modes, Standard, Panning, and During Exposure Only.

Standard is supposed for stationary topics and effects to your view thru the viewfinder stabilized. The identical is real for Panning, which, as the name implies, is used while tracking a subject moving in a linear manner.

The 1/3 mode does not allow you to have an image stabilized view via the viewfinder and rather simplest applies IS when you release the shutter. It is right for more inconsistently moving topics.

This lens is a luxurious option for the overall fanatic. But it has brilliant image sharpness with a great zoom range. The autofocus is rapid, quiet, and accurate, which means you won’t scare the birds away when focusing and might effortlessly get matters sharp. It genuinely is a amazing zoom lens for birding.

If you are a Canon mirrorless consumer, the Canon RF 100-500mm F4.Five-7.1 L IS USM is a similar choice for RF mount. You get a further 100mm of zoom, even though you lose -thirds of a forestall in aperture while you zoom in. And it’s far greater expensive, but as a more moderen lens, that shouldn’t be too sudden.

  • Best Canon premium: Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens
  • Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens
  • Canon

Why it made the cut: For prime lens fanatics who need the quality high-quality, this 500mm is a top class alternative with noticeably rapid and accurate autofocus.


  • Maximum aperture: f/4.Zero
  • Weight: 7.02 pounds
  • Filter length: 52 mm (drop-in)
  • Minimum focusing distance: 12.14 ft
  • Excellent photo stabilization with 3 modes
  • Exceptional sharpness
  • Fast and correct autofocus
  • Weather sealed



The Canon 500mm is in Canon’s L lineup of lenses, their professional line. And this lens surely belongs there. It has wonderful picture sharpness, even huge open, which isn’t typical.

That will assist you get satisfactory pictures even in low light conditions. You get superb assessment and colour saturation thanks to the lens factors and coatings that Canon used. So in case you’re photographing colorful birds, they may virtually pop.

The autofocus may be very fast and nearly silent, so you don’t ought to worry about scaring away your feathered friends. There also are many handy autofocus capabilities, which include the focal point preset gadget.

If you recognize you’ll see birds on the identical distances repeatedly, you can program the ones in and fast consider that consciousness distance.

It additionally has a focal point limiter with three degrees–12.1-32.Eight ft, 12.1 ft-infinity, or 32.8 ft-infinity–to prevent the lens from looking for consciousness unnecessarily.

500mm is an ideal focal length for fowl pictures. But, ought to you want greater attain, you could additionally apply it to an APS-C camera for an 800mm equal attitude of view.

No be counted what camera you operate it on, the photo stabilization is impressive. Like the lens above, it has 3 different modes relying in your subject. And the lens is weather sealed for protection in opposition to the elements.

Best Nikon: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 2 hundred-500mm f/5.6E ED
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 2 hundred-500mm f/5.6E ED

Why it made the cut: It has a constant maximum aperture of f/five.6, an exceedingly clean recognition ring, and comes at a completely reasonable price for one of these massive telephoto.

Key features:

Maximum aperture: f/five.6
Weight: 5.07 pounds
Filter size: ninety five mm
Minimum focusing distance: 7.22 ft


four.5 stops of photo stabilization
Lots of great for the rate
Works well with teleconverters
Very smooth consciousness ring


Slow to zoom in or out all of the manner
Product description

The NIKKOR 2 hundred-500mm f/5.6 is a lot of lens at a surprisingly low-cost fee. Telephoto lenses of this range and quality usually are across the $2,000 mark or higher, however Nikon made this feature greater affordable.

It even has a constant f/5.6 most aperture, something you don’t see on lenses of this elegance. It is designed for complete frame cameras however also works properly on crop sensors.

In reality, it might be best on a DX camera–consisting of the Nikon D500–when you consider that it might bring about an effective focal period of three hundred-750mm.

This Nikon lens has 4.Five stops of vibration discount, making it less complicated to handhold need to you need to. There are VR modes to pick out from, both Normal or Sport.

For maximum conditions, regular will be the best choice. But in case you are tracking birds in flight, Sport will assist you out.

Like many telephoto zoom lenses, it has a focus limiter. If you already know your concern will be continuously inside the distance, you can turn that switch, if you want to hold the lens from searching for awareness closer than 20 ft.

The autofocus could be very accurate and rapid in maximum situations. If you want to, you can turn the focal point ring for fast guide cognizance override; no fumbling with the transfer is vital.

Nikon’s client-level telephoto is a heavy one. It weighs almost nearly a pound and a 1/2 greater than Canon’s version. As a end result, it’s not some thing that you will want to handhold for lengthy intervals.

But, if you have a tripod or monopod that you can mount it to, it’s far a fantastic lens, specifically for the charge.

For Nikon mirrorless customers, the Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/four.Five-5.6 VR S is a first rate choice, even though it is substantially greater costly.

Best Nikon top class: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED

Why it made the reduce: It has jaw-dropping sharpness, quiet and accurate autofocus, and appropriate low light competencies, making it the high-quality birding lens for Nikon.

Key capabilities:

  • Maximum aperture: f/4
  • Weight: eight.Four kilos
  • Filter length: 40.Five mm (drop-in)
  • Minimum focusing distance: 14.Forty four feet


  • Four stops of vibration discount
  • Quiet autofocus is like minded with video paintings
  • Outstanding sharpness across the frame
  • Weight is well balanced


Very pricey
Product description

The replace to Nikon’s 600mm splendid-telephoto was released in 2015 and featured a few profitable upgrades. The essential upgrade is weight loss. Though it’s far still a heavy lens, Nikon shaved off over 3 pounds from the authentic version of this lens.

It additionally progressed the balance of the lens. The authentic 600mm become quite the front-heavy, making it tough to use without a tripod. This new edition has a higher arrangement of lens factors resulting in higher weight distribution.

Though you gained’t want to keep it for too lengthy because of its weight, it’s miles a whole lot more possible at hand keep it.

Another characteristic that allows with hand-retaining the lens is the four stops of vibration discount. The VR mixed with the fairly huge f/four most aperture makes this lens extremely good even in low mild situations.

Shooting at sunrise or nightfall will be no problem. Plus, the autofocusing of this lens is extraordinary, even when mild isn’t plentiful. It is relatively rapid and accurate, which is very useful when taking pictures skittish birds.

Where this lens in reality shines is its sharpness. It is actually impressive. The saying, “you get what you pay for,” seems actual here. It is a really expensive lens, but the great is remarkable.

You get crisp detail edge to aspect. Sharpness is even top notch whilst completely huge open, so there may be no need to stop it down if you need the sharpest images.

Nikon optimized this lens for current high-decision cameras, so in case you pair it with some thing like the D850, you may get a few superb outcomes.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a first rate-telephoto choice like this for the Nikon Z mount but, but the converters work properly, so that you could placed this 600mm on the Z9 and still get awesome pictures.

Best Sony: Sony FE 2 hundred-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS
Sony FE 2 hundred-600mm F5.6-6.Three G OSS

Why it made the cut: This lens amplifies the already astounding autofocus system of Sony cameras. Plus, the 600mm focal length range is past what different client-centered lenses offer.

Key capabilities:

  • Maximum aperture: f/5.6 to 6.Three
  • Weight: four.Sixty five pounds
  • Filter size: 95 mm
  • Minimum focusing distance: 7.87 toes


Excellent zoom range
Internal zoom
Rugged climate sealing
Exceptional autofocus


No complete-time manual recognition override
Product description

Sony turned into a bit slow in increasing its telephoto options, particularly within the incredible-telephoto variety. So the declaration of the Sony FE two hundred-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS in June of 2019 become a welcome boost, especially for flora and fauna fans.

One of the greater thrilling factors is the reality that it zooms to 600mm, more than other consumer fashions available. Typically you’d either must use a teleconverter or spend $8,000 or extra to get 600mm, to be able to get that focal length at a miles extra budget-friendly rate is exciting.

And, even though it’s designed for complete frame cameras, you may apply it to APS-C cameras to get an effective focal period variety of three hundred-900mm.

Another worthwhile characteristic of this lens is the all-inner zoom; when you zoom in or out, the lens doesn’t exchange in length. At 12.52 inches long, it’s already an extended lens, so having that length stay constant makes it much easier to handle. Also, the zoom ring is particularly smooth to rotate.

It can also even be too clean for some. It may be smooth to bump it to a one-of-a-kind focal period at the same time as shooting, so that you will need to be careful of that.

Sony’s autofocus structures are already very fantastic, and this lens pairs very well with that. It is rapid and correct. And the autofocus is sort of silent, that’s a plus for natural world photography.

It’s additionally a totally sharp lens, so that you’ll get remarkable stages of detail on the birds you photograph.

Even even though Sony cameras have super in-frame stabilization, this lens also has built-in stabilization (called Optical SteadyShot) for even more low-light help.

That greater stabilization is beneficial given that it’s far a relatively gradual lens at f/5.6-6.3. As a result of the slower most aperture, the autofocus won’t be pretty as responsive in low light, but you may be able to get sharp images free of digital camera shake regardless of gradual shutter speeds.

Best Sony premium: Sony FE 400mm f/2.Eight GM OSS Lens
Sony FE 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens

Why it made the cut: With a max aperture of f/2.8, speedy and accurate autofocus abilties, and super weather sealing, this lens is good for difficult conditions.

Key capabilities:

  • Maximum aperture: f/2.8
  • Weight: 6.38 pounds
  • Filter length: 40.Five mm (drop-in)
  • Minimum focusing distance: eight.86 toes


  • Fast f/2.8 aperture
  • Exceptional sharpness
  • Excellent autofocusing abilities
  • Beautiful bokeh


Product description

Though our other top rate lenses offer better focal lengths, this 400mm is one honestly incredible lens. Of direction, just like the different premium alternatives, you’ll ought to pay a pretty penny for it. But, if you need awesome first-rate and overall performance, it’s far a profitable choose.

The huge f/2.Eight most aperture will help significantly in low-mild taking pictures. Paired with Sony’s Optical SteadyShot (its version of in-lens stabilization) and the in-body stabilization Sony cameras have, this lens is a great preference for those difficult lights situations.

You’ll be capable of effectively snap away at birds that are most active at the start or closing mild. And like Canon’s lenses, this lens has 3 stabilization modes for distinct conditions, from stationary to unevenly transferring subjects.

It is completely weather sealed to protect the lens in rugged situations, which is right for all styles of flora and fauna images while you are at the whim of Mother Nature.

And it weighs most effective 6.4 pounds, in component thanks to the magnesium alloy build. It’s quite mild for a telephoto lens on this variety and may be easier handy preserve and carry in your p.C. For your trips.

Like most of Sony’s lenses, you get some customizable buttons on the lens frame. By default, they’re awareness preserve buttons, however you could exchange that inside the digital camera’s menu to whatever you’ll instead have fast get admission to to.

The focusing in this lens is pretty rapid. It’s able to keep up with the remarkable frames in line with 2nd fee of Sony’s pinnacle-tier cameras. And it’s correct, generating sharp pics reliably, even in low mild.

The 400mm focal length can be a piece extensive for a few and is a piece higher for displaying off some of the surroundings across the birds. However, it’s miles compatible–and functions properly–with FE 1.4x and a pair of.

0x teleconverters for a bit greater reach. Or, if you like to shoot tighter, portrait-fashion photos of wildlife with out teleconverters, Sony also makes a stunning 600mm f/four lens.

Best Fuji: Fujifilm XF 100-400mm F4.Five-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens
Fujifilm XF 100-400mm F4.Five-five.6 R LM OIS WR Lens

Why it made the reduce: It has a rugged construct, quiet autofocus, and a complete-body equal focal period range of 152mm to 609mm, ideal for birding trips in harsher environments.

Key features:

  • Maximum aperture: f/four.Five to 5.6
  • Weight: 3.03 kilos
  • Filter length: 77 mm
  • Minimum focusing distance: 5.74 ft


  • Lightweight in comparison to different options
  • Five stops of stabilization
  • Fully climate sealed
  • Extremely quiet autofocusing


A little gentle at 400mm
Product description

Released in 2016, the XF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR continues to be Fujifilm’s longest lens. But, for the reason that this lens may be paired with an APS-C camera, you get a full-body equal of 152mm to 609mm, much like Sony’s zoom offering on our list.

At simply three.03 pounds, it is the lightest lens of the bunch we’ve highlighted right here. However, it’s far the heaviest Fuji lens. So if you are an extended-time Fuji consumer, it would make the effort to get used to.

One of the nicest functions of this lens is its rugged build. It has thirteen weather seals in 12 places to guard against dirt and rain. And it may deal with temperatures as low as 14°F.

So in case you are headed into far flung places in your chicken photography, this lens may be an tremendous preference.

Twin linear motors strength the autofocus. It’s brief to focus, even on shifting subjects. It’s a focus by way of wire setup, which means there are no distance signs or difficult stops on the focus ring, which isn’t absolutely everyone’s cup of tea.

And sadly, there may be no complete-time manual override choice, meaning you’ll ought to toggle the autofocus switch on the lens body in case you need to make a guide adjustment.

This Fuji lens overall produces sharp, clear pix. You will lose some sharpness while taking pictures extensive open and zoomed in all the manner, which is unlucky.

But, you could assist mitigate that some through preventing down your aperture. It additionally has five stops of photograph stabilization, making it exceptional in low mild conditions.

Best micro four-thirds: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f4 IS PRO
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f4 IS PRO

Why it made the reduce: With 17 separate weather seals, spectacular photo stabilization, and the lightest weight of any others on our listing, this lens is ideal in your rugged, backcountry birding trips.

Key capabilities:

  • Maximum aperture: f/4
  • Weight: 2.Eight pounds
  • Filter length: seventy seven mm
  • Minimum focusing distance: 4.59 feet


  • Extremely rugged construct
  • Six stops of picture stabilization while paired with in-digital camera functions
  • Precise autofocus
  • Relatively light-weight


Product description

Olympus cameras have a number of the first-class weatherproofing available and are meant for severe adventures. Its 300mm f4 IS PRO is built to keep up and has a relatively long lasting construct with 17 separate weather seals and freezeproof production.

So should you be photographing penguins in Antarctica, waterfowl within the rainy Pacific Northwest, or the Desert Sparrow inside the Sahara Desert, you’ll be able to trust that this lens will maintain up.

When paired with the in-digital camera stabilization settings, you can get a full six stops of photograph stabilization. That may be hugely useful for shooting birds on the crack of sunrise, in thick forests, or in other low-light conditions.

In addition, the max aperture is a decently rapid f/4, to be able to additionally help with low-mild situations and offer a pleasant heritage blur.

Overall the autofocus on this lens is speedy and correct, though that partially depends on your digital camera and settings. In some situations, it may battle, but the blanketed awareness limiter switch enables extensively with that.

Though now not by using definition a macro lens, this feature can cognizance closer than some other exceptional-telephoto on our list. If you may get within four.59 toes of a chicken, you may get a few quality macro shots of its feathers.

Though it is a piece high priced for client-degree models, hold in thoughts it’s the entire-frame equivalent of 600mm. Most 600mm lenses will value you four times as a good deal.

Should you need even extra attain, Olympus also makes a weather-sealed 1.4x teleconverter if you want to come up with the equal of 840mm.

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