Best Cameras for Wildlife Photography:

Bird Photography

6 steps to buying the perfect camera for bird photography......
No photography jargon on this page
Bird Photography!

Probably one of the most demanding forms of photography. Due to their very nature birds are hard to photograph, they are small, move fast, and usually avoid people. Many cameras can be used to take images of birds but if your serious about it and want the best then read on.
1: Compatibility with good lenses.

Select a DSLR camera that is supported by a wide range of lenses. This means either Canon or Nikon. Most experienced bird photographers use these two with the bias being towards Canon.

2: Buy the best camera you can afford.

Digital technology is progressing year on year with significant advances between models. Buy the latest best camera you can afford, within reason, some cameras are designed to do a lot of things you may not ever want to do. Don’t be seduced into getting top of the range models unless your photographic interests go beyond bird or wildlife photography.

3: Frames (Images) per second.

Go for a camera that offers a good number of frames per second, this is important in bird photography as you will frequently fire a ‘burst’ of shots when a bird is in action such as taking flight or preening. The camera must write every photo you take to the memory card. Good cameras have large fast buffers to do this. You don’t want a camera to ‘freeze’ whilst it’s processing the images you have just taken as for sure you will miss taking photos of further action whilst your waiting.

4: Auto Focus speed.

This is essential to your success as a bird photographer. As a rule you get what you pay for, but if your not sure the best guide is the frames per second mentioned previously. The more frames per second, the faster the auto focus generally is, so if you choose a camera with a good burst rate the auto focus should be fine for bird photography.
Fast camera autofocus is essential to focus on moving birds
Fast auto focus and frames per second are essential to capture moving birds like this
5: Mega Pixels.

Broadly speaking the more, the better although the quality and size of the sensor is also important. You need to be looking at around 20 MP. This is pretty much the standard at the moment in enthusiast and professional cameras. Bird photographers crop their images a lot during post-processing in order to make the bird bigger, if you don’t have enough pixels you wont be able to do this without the image starting to look pixelated.


6: Crop sensor is good enough.

I say this knowing that there is a huge debate about this, but crop sensor cameras are cheaper and wildlife photographers like them because they appear to make the bird bigger on the produced image. Full frame cameras do produce slightly better-quality images, but the difference is minimal and difficult to see in most examples. I would estimate the around 75% of the photographers I know and talk to, some of them professional, use crop sensor cameras. Don’t feel you need to pay out big bucks for a full-frame, if you can afford it you might want to but otherwise crop-sensor is fine.
Sometimes you have to crop images as birds are so small
Birds are often so small and distant that photographers have to crop images heavily during post-processing: Make sure your camera has enough pixels.
Recommended camera, the Canon 7D MkII.

I don't get anything for recommending this camera but it's generally the best that's available at a reasonable cost. It ticks all of the boxes mentioned in this guide and some. There are other cameras to that will do a great job but they are usually lacking something or more expensive. Read my guide on the 4 best cameras for wildlife photography.

Canon 7dMkII best camera for wildlife photography
Take a look at my other articles below....

Bird image with blurred background or bokeh
My guide to exposure in wildlife photography. Learn about the three crucial settings.
Al servo is used for wildlife photography
Understand the technical features that make a good wildlife camera.
No photography jargon on this page
Choose the best camera for wildlife photography by reading my no jargon guide.
Fast camera autofocus is essential to focus on moving birds
The top six essential things that every camera must have in order to take quality images of birds.