12 Best Cameras for Bird Photography (2021)

Tori Rhodes
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Bird photography is booming and is a fun way to get into photography and nature conservation. By photographing birds, you’re helping to document and share what’s happening out in the world.

When you are photographing them, your best chance of getting a good shot is to approach them quietly and get acquainted with them.

You might be surprised how close you can get to some of your favorite birds and even get them to fly near you.

Once you have managed to get up close and personal with your birds, it’s important to make sure your camera is set up correctly.

By doing this you will give yourself the best chance of getting a good shot.

Here are our 12 best cameras for bird photography.

NameCategoryProduct
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera BodyBest OverallCanon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body
PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 Body 4K Mirrorless CameraBudget PickPANASONIC LUMIX GX85 Body 4K Mirrorless Camera
Nikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera BodyUpgrade PickNikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

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

Our rating: 9 / 10

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

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Pros:

  • Fantastic quality and performance
  • Good in lowlight environments
  • Great color reproduction
  • Fast autofocus

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a full frame DSLR camera with an excellent autofocus system. It captures full HD video as well. And features a quiet shutter system.

According to Canon, the new 5D Mark IV DSLR combines a newly designed 30.4 MP CMOS sensor with the sophisticated DIGIC 6+ image processor and a next-generation autofocus system to create a full-frame DSLR that excels in all situations. It features improved low-light performance up to ISO 102,400, which is four times the amount of noise compared to the 5D Mark III and 12 times as much compared to the 1D X Mark II. This DSLR includes an easily accessible and visible built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth connectivity.

It also features Canon’s Hybrid CMOS AF III autofocus technology. This system features improved tracking accuracy when photographing moving subjects in one-shot AF mode while it also has a wider focus area covering approximately 65% of the image frame. It also utilizes more than 145,000 focal plane phase-detection AF pixels for faster and more accurate focusing with an expanded frame coverage.

2. Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR

Our rating: 9 / 10

Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR

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Pros:

  • Exceptionally fast autofocus; suitable for fast moving subjects
  • Near-silent shutter ideal for wildlife photography
  • Weather sealed
  • Great touch screen LCD panel with swivel
  • Advanced video and still photo settings
  • Superb image quality
  • 4K video recording

Cons:

  • Movie quality limited by slow frame rate
  • High ISO shots won’t win a photography contest
  • Kit lenses heavy
  • 2 lens packages A, B, C.

The D500 is an outstanding camera for photographers who want to shoot wildlife. It has an astounding 20.9-megapixel resolution. And has a tremendous continuous shooting speed of 10 frames per second. This allows you to grab those perfect moments, such as a bird taking off from its launch point before they fly out of range.

This camera is capable of taking images at full 20.9-megapixel resolution in a continuous burst at up to 10 fps for up to 100 consecutive frames, which is a great feature for the wildlife photographer. For sports or action photography, this is a great advantage.

3. PANASONIC LUMIX G II Vario Lens

Our rating: 9 / 10

PANASONIC LUMIX G II Vario Lens

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Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Cost-effective
  • Great for beginners

Cons:

  • Smaller sensor size
  • No hot shoe, so you'll have to use external flash and an adapter
  • Cropped sensor can limit your range

This Panasonic camera is not only one of the more affordable mirrorless options on the market but also comes with a smaller sensor size that will give you a wider angle of view when compared to a dSLR.

The Lumix G-II is has a newly designed handgrip, small size body and is extremely lightweight. One of the cutest features of the camera is the retractable flash which pops up on the top right of the camera.

The downside to having such an inexpensive camera is that it comes with a smaller sensor than dSLRs. This can have an impact on the range you can use an extra expense.

4. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

Our rating: 9 / 10

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

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Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Very lightweight
  • Comes with vibration reduction built in
  • Amazing image quality
  • Super long reach

Cons:

  • Higher maximum aperture for crisp images
  • Small minimum aperture for good depth of field

(Black)

Looking for a fantastic lens for bird photography? The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras is one of the best in the market.

This lens allows you capture even the most far-off birds. It’s a super telephoto lens, coming in at a range of roughly 200 to 500mm. It is crafted to deliver superb image quality and professional grade performance. It’s built to be used at its full zoom range, doesn’t weigh much at all, and has a vibration reduction system that reduces blur from faltering hands.

5. Nikon COOLPIX P1000 16.7 Digital Camera

Our rating: 9 / 10

Nikon COOLPIX P1000 16.7 Digital Camera

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Pros:

  • Stunning 4K video
  • 20.5 MP of Optical Sensitivity
  • Touchscreen display rotates up to 180 degrees
  • Vibration reduction for sharp images

Cons:

  • Outperformed by the Canon 2000D with 9fps
  • Still image quality lags behind the competition
  • External battery charger necessary

Nikon’s COOLPIX P1000 is the best high definition wildlife camera available in the market at the moment.

The high dynamic range and the Nikon’s proprietary EXPEED 5 processing engine combine to offer a viewfinder that displays an image as close to what your finished product will look like.

It is packed with features that are usually only found on higher-end cameras. The phase detection AF system is capable of tracking focus in as many as 49 AF points.

6. Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera

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Pros:

  • High-quality photos
  • Sony’s full-frame camera is lightweight and comfortable to hold
  • Features a breathtaking, crisp OLED Tru-Finder EVF for composing images and video
  • Supersonic Wave Filter keeps the image sensor clean at all times which means better quality images

Cons:

  • ISO button is inconveniently placed
  • Non-removable battery (included)
  • No touchscreen
  • No headphone jack for monitoring audio

When Sony announced the a7 III, they managed to make another great camera even better. Boasting an impressive 24.2-megapixels Sony Full-Frame sensor, the a7 III is one of the best full-frame cameras available.

Even though it’s technically a mirrorless model, the a7 III is built like a tank. The over-sized grip is comfortable and made to last.

Performance-wise, the a7 III features some of the best performance specs of any camera. The rear screen tilts for easier image composition and the Eye AF works well in all light situations. Images are crisp, clear, and have little to no noise.

7. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

Our rating: 9 / 10

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens

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Pros:

  • Efficient when shooting at mid to long ranges
  • Highly versatile

Cons:

  • Moderately expensive
  • Higher image noise when shooting in low light

The Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS STM is a respectable mid-range telephoto lens which is great for the kinds of shots that you often need in wildlife photography.

The telephoto lens has been designed specifically for Canon SLR cameras and both novice and experienced photographers will appreciate the fantastic optical quality and quick auto-focus feature which makes this a great lens for anyone getting into bird photography.

A true marvel of engineering, this lens provides an ultra-sharp, high definition image quality.

8. Nikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

Our rating: 9 / 10

Nikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

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Pros:

  • 5.5-Teraflop full-frame sensor
  • Silent shutter mode
  • Best-in-class battery life
  • Faster/more accurate Eye AF (for sharp portraits)
  • Lowered minimum shutter speed in live view for sharp hand-held images
  • UHD 4K video at 30p
  • 10fps with life-size crop

Cons:

  • No built-in flash
  • Live view exposure can get tricky in bright daylight
  • No weather-sealing

Unboxing the Nikon D850 is like opening a treasure chest. This camera is a serious bargain without a price hike.

There are so many features to go over that it’s hard to know where to start. There’s a gigantic 4.4k-resolution sensor with an amazing dynamic range and ISO performance that will result in incredible images unless you’ve got clumsy fingers.

Nearly every other feature has been improved compared to the D810; including faster autofocus. A new focus-shift mode with the addition of subject tracking auto detection is a welcome addition and the D850 has the fastest autofocus in the business.

9. Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5–5.6 GM OSS

Our rating: 9 / 10

Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5–5.6 GM OSS

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Pros:

  • Plenty of high end features
  • Weather-sealing
  • 10x Optical Zoom
  • Fast AF System

Cons:

  • No image stabilization
  • Long minimum focus distance

Although for many photographers this is your first long zoom, there are many great features you will love and thankfully, it’s available at a reasonable price.

This is a camera that will stun you from the moment you take it out of the box. Not only is it small and lightweight, but it also is well designed and easy to use.

You get a camera with superb autofocusing, and you get a fast burst shooting camera as well so you can capture fantastic images consistently.

10. PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 Body 4K Mirrorless Camera

Our rating: 8 / 10

PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 Body 4K Mirrorless Camera

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Pros:

  • Gives you 4K Video
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy to use LCD display
  • Great for vlogging
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Small sensor size
  • No Raw format
  • No built-in viewfinder

The Panasonic Lumix GX85 is a mirrorless camera whose big brother, the Lumix GX8, was also on my 12 best camera list. Like the GX8, the GX85 is lightweight, portable, easy to use, and has a tilting, touch-sensitive LCD screen. It makes it a joy to use!

It has the same sensor as the GX8, which is the same size that you’d find in most high-end smartphones, but it is classed as a ‘Micro Four Thirds’ sensor.

This means that it is not top of the line by any means, but it’s easy to use, takes great pictures, and is light on your wallet.

11. Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera

Our rating: 8 / 10

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera

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Pros:

  • Amazing high ISO capabilities
  • 3-inch display
  • Amazing customer service from Canon

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II is an incredible camera for bird photographers. The high ISO capabilities of this camera are impressive, thanks to both the sensor and processor.

The 3-inch display includes Canon’s new touch-and-drag autofocus which is a lot faster and more flexible than the traditional joystick autofocus.

The EOS 7D Mark II is a camera that will amaze you with its versatility. It has great performance, whether you’re using it for sports or birds, this camera is a game changer for amateur photography.

12. Fujinon XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

Our rating: 8 / 10

Fujinon XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS

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Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Works with any other X-series lens
  • Cheap
  • Sharp

Cons:

  • Slow autofocus
  • Limited range

This zoom lens from Fujifilm is probably my top pick of all the options I researched. It’s a 55mm to 200mm lens and it comes with an aperture range of f/3.5-4.8. It also has a credit card-style design and is extremely lightweight at 1.49 lbs.

If you’re in the market for a new camera accessory, check this one out! A great option for both beginners and experienced photographers.

13. Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Our rating: 8 / 10

Fujifilm X-T30 Mirrorless Digital Camera

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Pros:

  • 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS 4 Sensor
  • Burst Mode up to 10fps
  • 5-axis Hybrid Image Stabilization
  • 2.36m-Dot Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0‖Touchscreen LCD Monitor
  • 10FPS Shooting
  • 23 Cross-Type Focus Points & 425 Phase-Detect Points
  • 3 Inch Tiltable Touch LCD Touchscreen
  • 3.0" 460k-dot Touchscreen
  • 6Senses Lens Technology

Cons:

  • Average Sharpness
  • Continuous AF Can be slow
  • No weather-sealing

Although the FujiFilm XT-30 is classed as a mid range camera, it delivers high quality images thanks to its 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor.

14. Canon Digital SLR Camera Body

Our rating: 8 / 10

Canon Digital SLR Camera Body

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This is still a great camera to get started with. It’s a full-featured camera that can easily double as a point-and-shoot while offering full DSLR capabilities. It’s a mid-range model in Canon’s new lineup of EOS cameras.

15. Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV

Our rating: 8 / 10

Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV

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Pros:

  • The tiltable screen and shooting modes are great for keeping your shots steady.
  • The camera features 425 phase detection, 425 contrast detection, and 183 contrast AF points.
  • There are plenty of connectivity options including wifi and Bluetooth.

Cons:

  • Battery life is average.
  • Unintuitive menu layout.
  • Expensive.

This line is 12 best cameras for bird photography, but it could just as easily be called the best camera for taking pictures of sports and nature. This camera from Sony is the gem of their line for that purpose.

In fact, you may find yourself using this camera for a lot more than just bird pictures. An incredibly high number of reviewers said they would buy it again and were considering any reason to get rid of their DSLR and replace it with this one.

It has 425 phase detection and contrast points that focus incredibly fast. There is an eye auto-tracking feature that tracks just about everything that moves and a backlit LCD that is tiltable so nature shots are easy to get. Battery life isn’t great, but there’s a lot of tech packed into this one.

16. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

Our rating: 7 / 10

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 80-400mm f.4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

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Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Can be used on both FX and DX format cameras
  • Amazing range; the equivalent to 400-800mm on a full frame camera
  • Internal focusing; the lens does not extend/grow while zooming
  • Vibration Reduction

Cons:

  • Zoom creep. It can shift without you knowing
  • No tripod collar, which is a bit of a bummer
  • 80-400mm range isn’t a great focal length for large groups of dabbling duck species

The Nikon 80-400mm is packed with features that any photographer or nature lover will appreciate. If you are looking for a lens to do it all then this is a great choice. It offers super sharp images from infinity to 400mm which is great for taking pictures of birds at a distance.

You’ll notice that we use the terms “large” and “medium” format instead of “full-frame” or “crop sensors”. That’s because, by and large, the sizes of the digital sensors used in these cameras is a more accurate reflection of their relative quality (and price).

17. Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC PZD All-In-One Zoom Lens

Our rating: 7 / 10

Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC PZD All-In-One Zoom Lens

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Pros:

  • Amazing range
  • Portrait-worthy sharpness
  • Image Stabilization

Cons:

  • Extremely large
  • Won’t fit into small camera bags

More versatile than a traditional fixed lens kit.

The ability to shoot in low light and live view mode is a plus especially when taking pictures at night.

Lens breathing is nonexistent; makes focusing easy and precise.

18. Canon EOS-1DX Mark II DSLR Camera

Our rating: 7 / 10

Canon EOS-1DX Mark II DSLR Camera

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Pros:

  • (Body Only)

19. Nikon Nikkor telephoto Lens Z 50-250mm

Our rating: 7 / 10

Nikon Nikkor telephoto Lens Z 50-250mm

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Pros:

  • Telephoto lens
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof
  • Quick-shift focusing
  • 13.2x zoom
  • For cameras with a 1.5x sensors

Cons:

  • Some reported focusing problems
  • Hard to use when placed on a tripod

The 50-250mm telephoto lens is a beast of a lens for your camera. Most telephoto lenses from Nikon are in the 85-300mm range, so this is a great option for someone looking to take wildlife photos as you can zoom in even closer.

This lens focuses very quickly, and the autofocus is very quiet: two important components of a good telephoto lens. It is also very lightweight, which makes carrying it around in a backpack a joy compared to other lenses on the market.

One major issue reported in some reviews is very frequent focusing issues. As I’m sure you’re aware, the best wildlife photos are of animals in motion, so I feel this is an important quality to have.

20. Nikon Z50 Compact Mirrorless Digital Camera

Our rating: 7 / 10

Nikon Z50 Compact Mirrorless Digital Camera

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Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Perfect for travel, as well as portraits and other photos
  • Great battery life
  • Lightweight
  • Weather-sealed for use in harsh environments
  • Auto focus is fast and the camera fires quickly

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to use for long periods
  • Some people may not like the controls

Only, Black (24.2 MP, 20.8X Zoom) (3437)

The Nikon Z50 is a great choice for bird photography, especially if you need something compact. This lightweight mirrorless camera has a 20.8x optical zoom which will let you keep your distance from your subjects to prevent spooking them.

The Nikon Z50 is a solid camera with great features. The 20.8x optical zoom gives it a range of 79-1524mm. At its widest, it gives you a nice wide field of view and great perspective.

21. Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Nikkor Zoom Lens

Our rating: 7 / 10

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Nikkor Zoom Lens

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Pros:

  • A great addition for your DLSR
  • Included tripod mount
  • Highly mobile lens
  • VR can be switched on or off as needed
  • Makes a great companion for telephoto zooms and 70-200mm lenses

Cons:

  • More expensive than most other lenses
  • VR can make a slight noise when activated
  • Plastic construction lacks the durability that most want

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best camera for bird photography?

The best camera for bird photography is not the one with the most megapixels or the longest zoom. It’s the one that focuses accurately and has the features you need to get the shot or video you want.

We find all of the features on these cameras important. They do all produce amazing images. However, the Sony A6000 is our top pick. Here’s why.

Which Canon camera is best for bird photography?

I chose the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV as my pick for best bird photography camera. It’s an excellent camera that offers everything a photographer would need for a professional outing at a price I feel comfortable recommending. The combination of optical and digital image stabilization, a fast AF system, and the high-resolution sensor, although a little pricey, is worth it.

What is the best camera for a 12 year old?

If you’re looking for a great camera for a 12 year old kid then you’re in the right place. Before we jump right into the list, we want to explain exactly why we came up with a list of the 12 Best Cameras for a 12 year old as opposed to the Top 52 Best Cameras for a 12 year old, right?

A camera is an investment. It’s a really good idea to take the time to make sure you’re purchasing the best camera for your needs as it’s likely to become one of their most valued tools for learning and exploration.

Conclusion

If you're a bird enthusiast, photographing birds can be an exciting endeavor. For a good collection of bird photos, however, you'll need a good quality camera and a solid understanding of how to use it. Fortunately, there are plenty of good options in digital cameras with a range of features tailored specifically to bird photography.

In this article, we have selected 12 of the best cameras for bird photography that we've encountered in our research, including some inexpensive cameras along with more advanced models.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera BodyBest OverallCanon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body
PANASONIC LUMIX GX85 Body 4K Mirrorless CameraBudget PickPANASONIC LUMIX GX85 Body 4K Mirrorless Camera
Nikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera BodyUpgrade PickNikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body