Not sure where to actually ask this but, can anyone recommend a good started camera for taking photographs of birds in the garden?

I would love to start taking good quality photos of all the beautiful birds in my garden so, would like to buy a camera. Can anyone recommend a good quality (not mega expensive) camera that can take photos up to 10 meters away? Thank you! :)

  • It all depends on how "In to it" you want to get and your budget. The best results will typically be from a DSLR or EVIL camera (Digital Single Lens Reflex or Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens (also called Mirrorless)). Those are similar in that they have the ability to swap and change different lenses - so you can choose lenses that best suit your subject. Those will start from a few hundred up to ~£6k for the body and a few hundred up to ~£13k for the lens (new prices, there's a healthy 2nd hand market for such kit). Most people start with something in the "Whole kit for a few hundred ££" area, so don't panic!
    Bridge cameras are the next choice - they have fixed all in one zoom lenses, but typically smaller sensors than a DSLR. They're generally cheaper and some are excellent bits of kit. They also tend to be more of a one-off purchase whereas the DSLR route tends to be more of an ongoing commitment (ie you decide you'd like pics of birds, add a specialist long lens. Like to take pics of creepy crawlies? You'll probably add a macro lens). How deep down the rabbit hole do you want to go? :-)
    In the footer just below here there's a link to the Getting off Auto index - that might be worth a look too, there are a bunch of threads in there that relate to kit purchases (as well as some covering technical aspects)


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

  • Thank you for such an amazing reply! I knew cameras and all the kit were expensive but, I didn't realise how expensive! I'm looking to do it as more of a hobby so, not too far down the rabbit hole :) Thank you so much for all this information and the link! Super super helpful, I will actually know what to look for now :)
  • In reply to Whistling Joe:

    This may help you...

    The lens is probably the most important thing you need to think about and it is not always easy to compare between the likes of a DSLR and a Bridge camera.  Bridge cameras often quote the multiplier (eg "An 80x Zoom").  This doesn't really help, as that multiplier is simply the difference between the shortest and longest focal length.  eg an 80x zoom may be 10mm to 800mm, or 20mm to 1600mm.  Lenses for DSLRs etc are always quoted in mm though - so to compare and work out what you need, always look in the fine print to see what the "Full Frame Equivalent" is.  Full Frame (FF) is simply a sensor the same size as old 35mm film.  For birds at 10m, you're going to want something of 400mm or longer ideally - this is shot at ~10m with a 400mm lens on a FF body as an example/benchmark

    The feeder's a typical one, it'll help you gauge the image size.

    This is then the result of me cropping out the Sparrow from that image

    Anything shorter than 400mm equivalent is going to make it harder to get a nice image cropped from the picture (unless you get closer of course).  Longer lenses in many ways are better (and some Bridge cameras give you silly focal length equivalents of 2000mm), but they will also be poor light gatherers, giving noisier images, so there's always a bit of a trade-off


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

  • In reply to Whistling Joe:

    Oh wow, I wouldn't of even thought so much about the lens! Thank you! So basically, 400mm lense or more? That narrows it down a lot :) The photo is beautiful by the way! I'd be soo soo happy to get something half as good as that one. This is probably a very silly question but, do you use Photoshop to crop the picture?
  • In reply to O Mini Fred O:

    I normally use Photoshop Elements rather than the full product (full PS is a subscription service and overkill I find, Elements is a one-off purchase which I prefer). Plenty of free options if you're just doing basic cropping and tweaks though, even the Windows Photos app will do the job


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

  • Depending on what you are going to do with your photos such as just post them on sites like this or Flickr I would go for a bridge camera, there are some good ones out there now at a decent budget that will do all you want, such as birds in your garden, insects and landscapes.

    My Flickr photos

  • In reply to Whistling Joe:

    Free is always good :) Thank you so much! I have had a look and managed to find a few second hand cameras and lenses so, hopefully I can start taking some photos soon :) Thank you again for all your amazing information!!
  • In reply to Alan.:

    Thank you! I never even knew there was a difference between cameras! I think I would start off by just having the photos for myself but, in the future, I could post them somewhere so, I will take that into consideration when doing my research :) Thanks Again!
  • I'm always hesitant about giving advice on choosing cameras but I'm inclined to agree with Alan that a bridge camera may be the way to go in your situation. That way you haven't spent a fortune if you decide photography is not for you or if you eventually get the bug and want to upgrade to DSLR's for example. That's how I got started.

    Just to give you an example I dug out my old Canon Powershot SX50 (now obsolete) and took a photo of a Red Kite perched about 50 metres away. It was just handheld and rather windy and here's the image straight out of camera.

    And here's the same image after cropping and a bit of tweaking.

    OK it's not going to win any prizes but it's still fairly usable.

    Have a look at the Panasonic Lumix range of bridge cameras also the Canon Powershot range. Sony and Nikon do similar cameras but I'm not familiar with them. Best advice I can give is go to a reputable camera shop and talk through your requirements with them perhaps having done a bit of research first.



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    I very much appreciate your advice so, thank you :) I cant believe you got that amazing photo from 50 meters away! I'm very new so, I'm sorry if I get this wrong, what sensor or mm was the camera? I know that bridge cameras are quoted differently to the simple DSLR's 400mm. Just so I have a better idea of what to look out for when I do my research :)