What camera & lens for bird photography

Has anyone got any recommendations for a beginners camera and lens for bird photography. I have a budget of £800 but would purchase used equipment too.

Thanks in advance

  • A good question, the photographic world is your oyster, and a lot depends on your personal needs and preferences.

    Would you find swapping lenses to be an issue or are you not too worried?

    If swapping lenses is an issue, the consider a bridge camera, there are some very good ones around, and may even fit into your budget easier.

    If you like the idea of swapping lenses and don’t mind carrying one or two lenses with you (it’s unlikely you’ll need more than two, a zoom lens and a standard range lens should be more than adequate), then a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera would probably be the ideal choice.

    If you go for a bridge camera, don’t be blinded by the magnification figures given, a 60x is a very ambiguous zoom figure, not because it isn't good, it is purely relative to the camera processor, so a 60x zoom may not be better than a 40x zoom.

    You need to look at optical zoom relative to a 35mm camera, which most manufacturers will specify and 35mm optical zoom figures are a good standard to work with, and a good salesperson will be able to help you make a suitable informed choice.

    Bridge Cameras, are often a nice in-between camera, between a compact and a Digital Single Lens Reflex often with all the thrills and none of the messing around with changing lenses.

    A decent Bridge camera would probably have an optical zoom ranging from 200mm relative to a 35mm camera up to 800mm relative to a 35mm camera, depending on budget and how it feels in your hands, and around your neck when carrying the camera, which is a very important consideration.

    Do you prefer to seek your subject from a small LCD screen or through an optical viewfinder?

    Personally, I prefer to have an eye view finder, that is where you bring the camera to the eye, which for me, cuts out the light and other interferences while concentrating on the subject of your photo. LCD screens are good, but in brilliant sunlight or artificial can make it hard to see clearly what you're subject is and what's around it.

    But many cameras do offer both options today.

    Also, consider do you want loads of photographic scene options, or just play around with the main functions, shutter priority, aperture priority or straightforward auto mode(s)

    Most cameras today offer video as well as still options.

    As a former hill and moorland walker, I generally used compacts with an optical zoom or around 200mm relative to a 35mm camera, but you can get larger zooms. Anything bigger was just unwieldly with a rucksack and other mountaineering and/or camping gear.

    Today, because I'm not able to go to the hills and moors, for personal preference, I use a DSLR camera, except I'm no pro, merely an amateur who loves taking landscape and wildlife photos and it helps to get me outdoors and select the lens according to what my subject is.

    A DSLR price range can vary from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds. But DON’T be put off by that, there are many good budget priced DSLR’s both new and used and they are a great way to start photography.

    I've stuck with one brand of DSLR, mainly because the cost of not just changing the camera, but also the lenses as well. Having said that, the key manufacturers are pretty much on a par with each other today. The rest is down to what deals are around your budget and how the camera feels in your hands and around your neck whilst walking.

    Don't forget, you may want to carry a packed lunch and some drinks along with your newly acquired camera gear, and there are bags available to facilitate that.

    With DSLR and bridge cameras, try to stick with the named brands, of which there are many, and in no particular order other than the names as they spring to mind, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Fuji, Sony, Olympus and many many more.

    Likewise, for DSLR lenses, the afore mentioned names will have lenses from those manufacturers, which will generally be unique to the manufacturer, plus some very good budget lenses from Sigma and Tamron being the most well-known brands using integral adaptors will fit to the main named cameras.

    From here, the best advice would be to visit a reputable camera retailer, talk to the salesperson about your requirements and budget, and have a look what's available, handle them and look at the price. Often camera shops have starter deals on, so give them consideration.

    Your £800 budget buying used is reasonable and there may be some good deals if you shop around.

    Good luck with your search and enjoy it, you'll pick up a lot of tips and let us know what you finally buy.


    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • Hi Higgibobo, there are plenty of threads on this subject, the most recent here from about a week ago I think, so the info contained will be relevant for you I hope :o)

  • Mike's got some good info in there, so I'll just add a note - if you follow the link to Getting off Auto index in my signature below, that will take you to an index page with links to a whole bunch of useful and informative threads on cameras. lenses, settings etc that may help you


    Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index