Best Camera For Bird Photography – Top 7 Picks (NEW Guide)

Bird photography is a favorite hobby of many tourists and enthusiast photographers. However, the process is quite tiring, considering the shy and flighty nature of these wildlife creatures. Capturing them isn’t easy: you need the right features and settings to capture the perfect shot before you miss your chance. Therefore, there is no use of a camera with a slow AF system, no viewfinder, and a complex control layout.

Our list mentions the best cameras for bird photography to make your next wildlife shooting trip a massive success. Most of them feature impressive specifications, including a long focal length, outstanding zoom, and several settings to get the best shot.  

Best Cameras For Bird Photography

Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 4K Point and Shoot Camera
Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000
  • BEST OVERALL
  • Stunning results
  • Outstanding EVF
    • PREMIUM CHOICE
    • Decent burst shooting speed
    • Brilliant AF system
      • BEST BUDGET
      • Various unique features
      • Large max aperture
      • Bird Photography Camera Reviews

        1. Nikon D500 DX-Format DSLR

        Nikon D500 DX-Format DSLR

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        See the Nikon D500
        • Pixels: 21.51 Megapixel
        • Lens mount: Nikon F
        • Max Resolution: 5568 x 3712
        • Sensor: CMOS 23.5 x 15.7 mm
        • Image stabilization: none
        • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 51200
        • Recording mode: MOV/H.264
        • Focus type: Auto and Manual Focus
        • Weight:860g

        Features:

        Nikon released D500 several years after D300S, a mid-level APS-CA format camera. It is aimed to attract both professional and enthusiast photographers with a wide range of powerful features and incredible results. As a wildlife photographer, you will be more than impressed by its AF system.    

        Design 

        Nikon D500 features a magnesium alloy body with a durable metal chassis and a textured grip. The body is weather-sealed thoroughly for protection against unfavorable shooting conditions. In short, the camera is comfortable and secure to handle. There is a ridged mini-joystick controller that allows you to select the AF point with ease, as well as a rocker-style navigation pad for easy menu selection.  

        Performance 

        As we mentioned earlier, Nikon D500 features an incredible 153-point MULTI-CAM 20K AF system with 99-cross-type points- perfect for bird photography. It is perfect for shooting under dark conditions as the central point is sensitive down to -4EV while the rest can shoot down to -3EV. In terms of speed and accuracy, we weren’t disappointed as it managed to focus on erratically moving subjects with ease.

        Moving on, D500 has a decent metering and white balance system, and we hardly found the need to edit the post-production of the images. The general-purpose Matrix metering system dials in well-balanced exposures regardless of the lighting situation. Furthermore, the final results look no less than perfect: the colors are accurate and quite pleasing with impressive attention to detail.

        After analyzing the images, we figured that those taken at lower sensitivity settings are well-detailed with a high resolution. The resolution starts to drop after ISO6400 but even at ISO12800, the images looked decent.  

        Bottom line

        Nikon fulfilled the need for a professional level APS-C format camera by releasing Nikon D500. It competes with some top-level cameras because of its lightning-fast AF system, impressive specifications, and great low light performance. Moreover, the results appeal to those with a keen eye for aesthetics, thus making it an ideal camera for wildlife photography.

        What we like:

        • Great AF System
        • Incredible image quality
        • Extensive weather-sealing
        • Fast burst shooting speed

        What we don’t:

        • Limited touchscreen control
        • No vari-angle screen

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        2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR

        Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body

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        See the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
        • Pixels: 31.7 Megapixel
        • Lens mount: Canon EF
        • Max Resolution: 6720 x 4480
        • Sensor: CMOS 36 x 24 mm
        • Image stabilization: none
        • Recording mode: M-JPEG 4:2:2 8-Bit, MOV and Mp4
        • Focus type: Auto and Manual Focus
        • Weight: 800 g

        Features:

        Canon never disappoints us, and every release is better than the previous one. Their latest camera, EOS 5D Mark IV brings several new features and some major improvements to the previously loved features. It is easy to say that Mark has redefined the full-frame camera market with no rival matching its level yet.    

        Design 

        Canon did not make any major changes to the overall layout of the camera to avoid any adjustment issues by the old users. Moreover, Canon Mark III had a pretty great design and only required some minor tweaks. The latest version features a refined grip for better handling and a slightly lighter body to enhance portability. Moreover, the magnesium alloy and polycarbonate body make the camera strong enough to withstand any situation.  

        Performance 

        As we mentioned earlier, Canon is not used to disappointing its customers. Mark features a 61-point Dual Pixel CMOS AF system with 41 cross-type points, 21 of them being at f/8. The system is connected to the metering system for detecting colored objects and faces. According to our experience, the system provided decent coverage and performed quite well in every situation.

        There is an outstanding 252-zone RGB+IR metering system with a new Intelligent Scene Analysis mode. The system goes through the entire scene to come up with a well-balanced exposure. However, you may need to dial in some exposure compensation in high-contrast situations. Further on, the white balance system performs quite well by delivering the right amount of warmth and neutrality for a natural effect.

        The viewfinder utilizes the Viewfinder II technology that allows you to view key shooting information at eye level. The viewfinder itself is quite large and bright, while the rear display deserves an award for sharpness. Fortunately, Canon incorporates a touchscreen interface that allows you to move through the comprehensive menus with ease.

        Furthermore, Mark IV has a decent burst rate of 7fps for unlimited JPEGs, a minor improvement from the previous 6fps rate. Moreover, the battery life is pretty pleasing, with 900 shots on a single charge.

        Canon features a 30.4MP sensor; thus, our expectations were pretty high. Fortunately, they were met with images displaying an impressive level of detail and pleasing colors.  

        Bottom line

        Safe to say, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is one of the most well-rounded DSLRs we have worked with to date. It’s suitable for a diverse range of subjects and situations with several outstanding features, including a lightning-fast AF system and several connectivity options.

        What we like:

        • Brilliant AF system
        • Decent burst shooting speed
        • Various connectivity options

        What we don’t:

        • Quite expensive
        • Limited 4K video options

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        3. Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV

        Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV

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        See the Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV
        • Pixels: 21.0 Megapixel
        • Max Resolution: 5472 x 3648
        • Sensor: CMOS 1″
        • ISO sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 12800
        • Focal length: 24 to 600mm
        • Image stabilization: optical
        • Recording mode: AVCHD/MP4/XAVC S
        • Weight: 1095g

        Features:

        Sony Cybershot RX10 IV had its fandom soon after its release, and we were a part of it too. This all-rounder camera offers the best of everything: a brilliant AF system, impressive features, and exemplary image quality.  

        Design 

        Sony RX10 IV is bulkier than an average DSLR; weighing 1095g, it is anything but easy to carry around. However, the weight is justified by the 24-600mm optic lens. Most similar lenses weigh twice the size of RX10. Fortunately, the camera proved the worth of every cent: it has a magnesium alloy and polycarbonate body with thorough weather sealing for protection against every unfavorable condition. Moreover, there are several other features arranged in a simple control layout for better handling.

        Performance 

        The previous version of RX10 missed an on-sensor phase-detection AF system, but fortunately, RX10 IV does not. There are a whopping 315 phase-detection points that offer 65% frame coverage. Moreover, the device makes use of the signature BIONZ X image processor for high-density AF tracking. Sony claims that this feature can track down the most unpredictable subjects with utmost ease, thus making it an ideal camera for bird photography. In terms of the overall performance, the system is precise, brisk, and easy to handle with several personalized AF modes.

        Moving on, RX10 delivers a staggering 24fps burst shooting speed with a buffer capacity of 112 raw or 249 JPEG files – better than most of its competitors. Moreover, it features a wonderful EVF that delivers a crisp view of the scene while the great dynamic range makes it suitable for several scenes.

        The built-in lens surprised us with its performance as we surely were not expecting such incredible results throughout the zoom range. An important feature for bird photography is the image stabilization system: Sony’s built-in Steady Shot image stabilization system is a delight to operate at every shutter speed. Similarly, the metering and white balance system did their job by making the images look pleasing yet natural.  

        Bottom line

        Sony Cybershot RX10 IV is one of the most powerful all-rounder cameras in the market and a delight for wildlife photographers. However, if you are on a tight budget, then you may have to look for other cameras because this lavish device comes at a high price.

        What we like:

        • Fast 24-600mm lens
        • Stunning results
        • Outstanding EVF
        • Impressive AF system

        What we don’t:

        • Very expensive
        • Limited touchscreen control
        • Quite bulky

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        4. Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 4K Point and Shoot Camera

        Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 4K Point and Shoot Camera

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        See the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000
        • Pixels: 20.9 Megapixel
        • Max Resolution: 5472 x 3648
        • Sensor: MOS 1″
        • ISO sensitivity: Auto, 125 to 12800
        • Focal length: 9.1 to 146mm
        • Image stabilization: Optical (5-Axis)
        • Recording mode: AVCHD/MP4
        • Weight: 830.07 g

        Features:

        Contrary to common assumptions, bridge cameras are still in demand highly due to their magnificent lens zoom range, great lens quality, and stunning results. Panasonic FZ1000 is one of the best bridge cameras out there with a 16x zoom range and wide focal length.  

        Design 

        FZ1000 is quite different from the other bridge cameras by Panasonic, with the first major difference being the sensor size. High-quality images need a large sensor, and that results in a bulky camera body. However, it feels robust and not as heavy as our expectations, while the exterior has a “plasticky” texture. There is a refined finger grip to aid handling and an organized button layout for easier control. Moreover, there is a 2359000-dot OLED electronic viewfinder that offers a clean and clear display.  

        Performance 

        Bird shooting requires a fast and accurate AF system, and FZ1000 doesn’t disappoint its users in this department. It utilizes the Depth from Defocus technology to achieve a 275% faster-focusing speed. There are 49 focal points along with several AF modes for a personalized shooting experience, including 49-area, 1-area, Custom Multi AF mode, etc.  

        Further on, the metering system is pretty great and prevents you from opting for post-production exposure compensation by dialing in the right exposures in every situation. Moreover, the dynamic range is wide enough to avoid flat colors and burnouts. There is an additional iDynamic dynamic range that further enhances the tones of the highlights and shadows for a subtle yet pleasing effect. On the other hand, the HDR system produces natural-looking results even under lighting conditions as dark as -3EV.

        There are several filters for every shot, including a ‘Vivid’ mode to boost vibrancy and ‘scenery’ mode for landscapes. You won’t face any troubles with the auto white balance system as it produces pleasing results, but the shade mode is too warm for most photographers.

        The images look great throughout the sensitivity range, with an impressive level of detail and limited noise at normal viewing sizes. Moreover, Panasonic does a better job of resolving details than its competitors.  

        Bottom line

        Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 may be too intimidating for some photographers because of its huge size but packs in some powerful features. The 1-inch sensor is strong enough to produce high-quality images and footage. Moreover, various other elements make Panasonic an ultimate camera for bird photography.

        What we like:

        • Great sensor
        • Various unique features
        • Large max aperture

        What we don’t:

        • No touch-sensitive screen
        • Too large for most users

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        5. Sony A77II DSLR Camera

        Sony A77II DSLR Camera

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        See the Sony A77II
        • Pixels: 24.7 Megapixel
        • Max Resolution: 6000 x 4000
        • Sensor: CMOS 23.5 x 15.6 mm
        • ISO sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 25600
        • Lens Mount: Sony A
        • Image stabilization: Sensor-Shift
        • Focus type: Auto and Manual Focus
        • Weight: 725.74 g

        Features:

        Sony’s range of single-lens translucent cameras is appreciated worldwide. Therefore, we were slightly worried when they paused the production and focused on releasing compact cameras. However, they came out with Sony A77II soon after, and needless to say, we were delighted. It’s perfect for enthusiast photographers and those wanting to get their hands on something more complex than their beginner camera.  

        Design 

        In terms of the overall design and layout, there weren’t any major differences between A77II and A77. However, the mode dial is slightly different from a lock button to retain its position as well as a restyled hotshoe. The function button offers several customization options with 13 Picture effects and 14 creative style options. This is perfect for those who love to have a pre-set aesthetic for their social media feed. Moreover, the body feels secure with a robust build and pronounced grip.  

        Performance 

        Fortunately, Sony A77II comes with an outstanding 3-inch vari-angle screen that displays a crisp and clear view of the shooting scene. It has a 1,228,000-dot resolution for brighter images, but the hinges may make it hard to adjust the screen.

        Sony has gained a positive reputation over the years for producing powerful sensors and processors, with Sony A77II being the best example. It has firm control over image noise resulting in highly detailed images even at ISO25600. Moving on, the AF system is great in terms of speed and accuracy and doesn’t create issues while focusing on erratically moving subjects.

        Further on, Sony features a great metering system, and there were very few occasions where we found the need to dial in exposure compensation. Similarly, the white balance system delivers natural-looking results when set to Automatic. Moving on, the JPEG dynamic range is worth appreciating, but most competitors perform fairly better in this department.    

        Bottom line

        Sony A77II is a brilliant camera with exceptional performance even at higher ISO settings. It boasts a brisk and precise AF system that doesn’t falter under low light conditions. If you are an enthusiast photographer who wants to experiment with the subjects and locations, Sony is an ideal choice for you.

        What we like:

        • Powerful sensor
        • Great AF system
        • Minimizes noise

        What we don’t:

        • Lacks a touchscreen LCD
        • Complex button layout

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        6. Nikon COOLPIX P1000 Digital Camera

        Nikon COOLPIX P1000 Digital Camera

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        See the Nikon COOLPIX P1000
        • Pixels: 16.8 Megapixel
        • Max Resolution: 4608 x 3456
        • Sensor: CMOS 1/2.3″
        • ISO sensitivity: 100 to 6400
        • Focal length: 4.5 to 539mm
        • Image stabilization: Optical
        • Recording mode: MP4/H.264/MPEG-4
        • Weight: 1415 g

        Features:

        Nikon Coolpix P1000 appeals to wildlife photographers with its 125x optical zoom range up to 3000mm. There is no other camera for mainstream photographers that offer similar specifications at a reasonable price.  

        Design 

        Nikon P1000 weighs around 1400g, much more than an average camera, but considering the specifications, there isn’t any reason to complain. Some photographers wonder whether operating the camera is hard but fortunately, handling it was effortless. The only issue we faced in terms of the design was carrying it all around our trip. It has a deep grip with a rubberized thumb rest to enhance security along with a polycarbonate body for a robust structure.  

        Performance 

        Nikon features a rather basic AF system without any phase-detect points. However, the contrast-detect points work incredibly well, and most photographers, including us, didn’t find ourselves missing the phase-detection aspect. There are several focusing options, including Target Finding AF, to track the main subject and a default option that effectively detects faces. Further on, it is pretty fast and accurate when set to moderate telephoto focal lengths or wide-angle but may falter while using longer focal lengths.

        Moving on, Coolpix features a relatively simple menu system compared to DSLRs but has enough options for a personalized shooting experience. It can recall specific focal lengths and allows you to start the camera at pre-set focal lengths- effective for sudden shots. Nikon has a decent speed of 7fps with a burst capacity of 7 frames regardless of the image type.

        Furthermore, Nikon offers 4K video capability and a RAW shooting mode, but the small 16MP sensor lowered our expectations. However, the level of detail depends on the focal length: images taken at mid focal range display great details whilst those taken at wide-angle are much softer. There is a Vibration Reduction system that imitates an image stabilization system by keeping the viewfinder stable for sharp results.  

        Bottom line

        Nikon Coolpix P1000 is a delight to work with, and being the only 3000mm-equivalent lens camera surely highlights its importance in the market. However, it lags in several areas, including a faulty AF system, bulky body, and minor performance issues. Maybe an upgraded AF system would allow us to make full use of the other incredible specifications.

        What we like:

        • Features 125x zoom
        • Sharp results at 3000mm
        • Easy to handle
        • Allows to shoot RAW images

        What we don’t:

        • Poor AF system
        • Lack of weather sealing

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        7. Panasonic Lumix FZ80 4K Digital Camera

        Panasonic Lumix FZ80 4K Digital Camera

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        • Pixels: 18.9 Megapixel
        • Max Resolution: 4896 x 3672
        • Sensor: MOS ½.3.”
        • ISO sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 3200
        • Focal length: 3.6 to 215mm
        • Image stabilization: Optical
        • Recording mode: AVCHD/MP4
        • Weight: 616g

        Features:

        Bridge cameras are slowly losing their popularity with the advancements in DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. However, Panasonic FZ80 is an excellent example of a compact yet powerful bridge camera that is suitable for shooting every subject.

        Design 

        One of the best parts of FX80’s design is that it feels quite light despite weighing 616g due to its well-balanced design. There is a comfortable grip and thumb plate for secure handling and a mode dial to switch between various settings, including aperture priority, shutter priority, panorama shot, etc. Moreover, Panasonic features a simple control layout for ease of use.  

        Performance 

        Bird photography requires a fast and accurate AF system, and fortunately, FZ80 offers us one of the fastest AF systems. It locks on to the subject immediately after pressing the shutter halfway with a minimum focus distance of 1 cm at 20mm. There are several focus modes, including a “Tracking mode” that identifies and tracks erratically moving subjects, “Custom Multi” for a customized AF point pattern, etc.

        The burst rate of 10fps complements the lightning-fast AF system in single-shot AF mode while the continuous AF mode has a speed of 6fps. Moreover, FZ80 has a decent battery life of around 240 shots with the EVF and 330 shots without using it.

        Panasonic also features a brilliant Power O.I.S image stabilization system that is perfect for shooting under low light conditions, slow shutter speeds, and at a focal length of 1200mm. Thanks to the Wifi connectivity option, sharing images with your friends becomes much easier.

        The only drawback of bridge cameras is their performance at higher sensitivities: images shot at ISO1600 have a low resolution while those at ISO3200 are extremely noisy.  

        Bottom line

        Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is a brilliant all-rounder camera that is perfect for both professionals and beginners despite some complex features too. This versatile device is an excellent choice for those looking to exchange their compact cameras for a technically advanced camera. However, you may have to compromise when it comes to performance at higher ISO settings.

        What we like:

        • Beginner-friendly
        • Has a touchscreen LCD
        • Powerful zoom
        • the great image stabilization system

        What we don’t:

        • Poor performance at higher ISOs
        • Lacks an eye sensor

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        Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): About Bird Photography Cameras

        Q: Is 400mm enough for bird photography?

        A: Most wildlife photographers are fond of shooting birds, but it’s quite frustrating at times considering how small and hidden some of them are. Most people consider 400mm the minimum focal length for this job if the subject is nearby and fills the entire frame. In other terms, 400mm is a pretty good lens as it is compact, lightweight, and easy to carry around. Moreover, most photographers are often lucky to capture stunning shots using a 400mm lens.  

        Q: What is a good shutter speed for birds?

        A: One of the most beautiful sights is watching the birds fly around to the other side of town in a disciplined yet pleasing manner. It is quite rewarding and easy to shoot this moment if you have the right equipment and the perfect settings. This includes a high-quality camera, the right focal length, quality of light, and an accurate AF system along with several variable components. Firstly, you must focus on using the shutter release as it’s more comfortable for continuous shots.

        Secondly, utilize the focus limiter to avoid the AF system from focusing on another part of the lens. Most of the shutter speeds used for capturing birds in flight don’t require image stabilization, and closing it enhances lens performance. It is better to set the shutter speed ahead of time as well as pre-set the ISO for optimal shutter speed. It should be fast, i.e., 1/3200, 1/2500, or even higher if there is enough light. Slow flights and low lighting conditions work well with 1/1250 or 1/1600.  

        Q: How much zoom do you need for wildlife photography?

        A: Along with a powerful camera, photographers require an equally powerful lens to get the best wildlife images. The latter should be capable of covering a lot of range that is tested by the specifications of its focal length, lens speed, and AF performance.

        The best focal length is determined by measuring the distance between you and your subject. Wildlife photographers should opt for long focal lenses, e.g., a 35mm SLR lens, 400mm full-frame DSLR lens, etc. since it’s harder to get close to large animals. However, a 70mm-200mm zoom lens can suffice for pet animals or those you can easily get close to. A faster lens allows you to utilize faster shutter speeds regardless of the lighting conditions. Moreover, you should opt for a telephoto zoom lens to easily zoom to the shortest lengths wider angle of view for subject detection.  

        Conclusion 

        We hope that our list of the best cameras for bird photographers helped you make a decision. Most of them are products of renowned manufacturers guaranteeing impressive performance and stunning results. It is important to understand that bird photography, although pleasing, is a quite tiring task, and not every camera is suitable for this job. A camera with a slow AF system may ruin your chances of snapping the rare bird because it flew away before your camera could focus on it.

        Moreover, you must search for an equally great lens after purchasing your camera. A camera is nothing without its lens; thus, a poor-quality lens may ruin the overall aesthetic regardless of how powerful your device is.