For any birding photographer, choosing the best lens for their work is not the easiest task. It is, in fact, the toughest task because there are numerous features that you have to consider before you get an excellent one. This is whether you are an experienced bird photographer or if you are just starting out.
A birding camera might be an ideal one to use, and so might the autofocus system and other significant features. However, if the camera’s lens is of poor quality, then your experience with the camera will not be a worthwhile one. This is because the lens lets the light go through until the sensors of the camera, as well as the autofocus sensor and the metering sensor.
The quality of the light that enters the camera is determined by the type of lens fitted in the camera. Therefore, the lens’s design and quality should be excellent to let the light pass through uninterrupted-this as it passes through the various elements of the lens.
However, you can use this article and review because it has the various lenses for bird photography. You should get best lens for bird photography that will provide you with the best experience as far as your type of bird photography is concerned. It may take some time to choose through the plethora of options, but you are guaranteed to get one that will offer you the performance that you are looking for.
It would be disappointing if you are not keen when selecting a lens for bird photography before you purchase it. This might lead to you changing the lens after every few days, and this will be an expensive affair. You might not even get a lens worth using for your birding experience because you acted hastily and were not able to evaluate the features of the lens you got.
Bird photography requires that the cameraman captures the shots of the birds promptly. This might be through a single click if you don’t want to miss the moment. If you delay even with a single second, you may miss the perfect shot of the bird. This is why the birding camera needs to be in perfect condition through all of its components, including the lens fitting in it.
As you will discover from the discussion above, the lens on the camera is the most important component. It plays a significant role in determining the quality of the image that the camera captures. This is through it determining the quality of light that goes through the associated components of the camera.
Types of birding lenses
Some lenses are specific for birding because of their design that will work out for the entire expedition. Generally, there are two types of them, the prime lenses and the zoom lenses.
- The prime lenses offer a lens type that has a fixed focal length
- This lens lacks a zoom ring, meaning you just have to move close to the object that you want to capture for the perfect shot
- It provides a relatively wide aperture that may provide you with a better leeway when you want to use the camera under a low light situation
- Unlike the prime lenses, the zoom lenses offer you a range for the focal length
- You can zoom in for the perfect shot of the image. You don’t have to move closer to the object for a better image
- Provides with a smaller aperture compared to the prime lenses
- Works out great if you are a beginner in the field of bird photography
- It provides an enhanced versatility as you will get more opportunities to capture images of birds situated in various distances from where you are
The comparison table of the lenses used for bird photography is as below;
|Model||Focal length||Aperture||Close focus||Weight|
|i.Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary Lens||150-600mm||f/5-6.3||9.2 ft||4.25 lbs|
|ii.Panasonic Lumix G II Vario 100-300mm Lens||100-300mm||f/4-5.6||4.92 ft||1.15 lbs|
|iii. Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5–5.6||100-400mm||f/4.5-5.6||8.43 ft||3.08 lbs|
|iv. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens||100-400mm||F/4.5-5.6L||3.2ft||3.46 lbs|
|v. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 300MM f/4E PF ED Vibration Reduction Lens||300mm||f/4E||Cras sed||1.66 lbs|
Some of the best lenses for bird photography include
1) Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary Lens
- Lightweight and compact in construction for higher useability
- Water and oil repellent coating on front glass element makes maintenance of the lens surface
The Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary Lens is an excellent type of lens for bird photography for those who are just beginning. It is an ideal lens to use if you know only a few things about birding photography. This is because you can use it quite easily as it doesn’t complicate the usage process when working with it.
You can take advantage of the zoom lens because it provides you with a user-friendly interface. This enables you to get the best out of this lens without too many adjustments.
At its price range, it offers an unmatched focal length that you can use to capture images of birds that are far away. For this, you don’t have to move too close to the birds you want to capture with your camera. This will ensure that there is little or no interruption to the birds, and they will continue acting naturally as they do without distractions.
The autofocus of this lens utilizes its hypersonic motor that works to limit the noise and enhance the speed. On the other hand, image stabilization is also offered thanks to the sigma’s optical stabilizer system.
The major benefit of this particular lens is the fact that it is compatible with numerous brands of cameras. Therefore, if you already have a camera brand of either Canon, Nikon, and Sony, you can use this lens, and it will work just well. This is an excellent idea of a lens to use because few of them are compatible with these brands of cameras.
However, you will need to be aware of the specs of the lens that can work with your brand of camera. There are different versions of lenses, and that is why you need to get one that is ideal for you. You also have to get an appropriate amount of the lens that you are going to use in the camera.
This lens offers those who use the Sigma 150-600mm because it provides them with the perfect amount of zoom. Professional bird photographers, however, may not be satisfied with what this lens has to offer. This is because it is not the best when it comes to providing fairly sharp images or providing the best magnification of the object you want to take a shot of.
- Provides a zoom capacity of up to 600mm
- It is an affordable lens
- Compatible with a variety of camera brands
- It is a compact type of lens
- The image quality is fairly low
2) Panasonic Lumix G II Vario 100-300mm Lens
- Updated Panasonic LUMIX 100 300mm zoom lens replaces H FS100300
- 100 300mm F4.0 5.6 (1 ED), closest Focusing Distance : 1.5m / 4.92feet
The Panasonic Lumix G II Vario 100-300mm Lens is a perfect type of lens that you can go for if you want a decent option to work with. This is especially the case if you already have a Panasonic Lumix GX85. Combining this compact camera with this type of lens will offer you the best shots of the birds that you will enjoy for a long time.
You will find that this type of lens is the best to use when you are on a trip or even for a specific type of birding photography. This is as you get to work with a higher focal length that is maintained with each shot that the camera takes.
What stands out from this particular lens is the fact that you are able to get excellent images. The images will be nothing less than fantastic, and they will also have the brightest colors. This will work to make the birds that you are taking photographs of to look lively and bright even when they are in their natural habitat.
The Panasonic Lumix GX85 has one of the best autofocus that is provided with an autofocus motor that provides preciseness and also a relatively smooth focusing capacity. It also performs well as far as image stabilization is concerned.
The only undoing about this type of lens is that the focal length may not be as high as you wish it to be. However, you can still capture the moment with the best shots of your favorite birds without getting too close to them.
After capturing the moment with high-quality bird images, you will be able to share them through seamless capabilities. To print the images, this might not be the best option to use because you will need a lens that has significant zooming capabilities.
Another feature that will ensure that you enjoy working with this lens is that it is a lightweight lens. This works so that the camera you are carrying around is not bulky and hence comfortable to handle.
You will also find that it is resistant to harsh outdoor conditions because of the upgraded support that makes it resilient through the harsh conditions. It is designed with both splash and dustproof construction that enables it to withstand whatever conditions it is exposed to. This works to make it a durable lens that you can use for long, even when the outdoors are not so friendly.
The benefit of using this particular lens is that it is a 2-in-1 type of lens to work with. You can use it to capture the best photos when you are traveling around or even when you want to get photos when out birding. You should be able to get the best images of the birds in nature with the least effort.
- A multipurpose type of lens for your camera because it is excellent for both traveling or even birding
- A lightweight lens
- Provides a close focus of up to 4.92 ft
- You can capture relatively sharp images with this lens
- It is an affordable type of lens to get
- Provides a relatively fast focus tracking that is ensured with the linear motor
- The image stabilization needs a little bit of improvement
3) Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5–5.6
- G Master design combines extraordinary sharpness and smooth bokeh
- 35 mm full-frame.Double-linear and Direct Drive SSM for fast, quiet, precise focus
The Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5–5.6 is an excellent type of lens that you can use to complete your birding experience. It matches what the high-end lenses provide because of its unmatched features that provide you with a seamless performance when capturing images of birds in your expedition.
With this lens, you get quality performance from a lens for a low price. You don’t have to spend too much on this lens as it is priced at a highly affordable rate. The performance you get from this birding lens will not disappoint because it is unmatched with those that are more expensive compared to it.
This type of lens may not be able to provide a relatively high focal length as to what other lenses of higher zoom cameras offer. However, when it comes to the quality of the image, this lens does an excellent job because they are fairly sharp.
The images you get from using this lens are close to flawless and might just be the type that you are looking for your birding experience. Some of the advanced features that you get from using this lens are the Optical SteadyShot IS, an excellent AF system, and an unmatched type of glass for the lens.
This is the best type of lens because of its capacity to match what both Canon and Nikon lenses bring to the table. You just have to understand how to use it, and you will be able to start taking perfect shots of birds whenever you are outdoors.
You will find this lens to be compatible with Sony cameras and provides high-quality images that you will enjoy when the photos come out. It is an excellent idea of a lens that you want to go for if you can settle for nothing less than high quality when you are taking photos of the birds in nature.
If you have extra cash to spare, then you should go for this high-end lens because of the value for money that you get when you purchase it. You will also find the fact that it is able to resist the harsh outdoor conditions worth shooting for. This will work to enable you to use the lens in your camera for a long period of time while it provides an uncompromised performance.
- Has a quality design
- Provides a relatively sharp image that is of high quality
- It is a compact lens considering its telephoto zoom that is at 100-400mm
- Provides an excellent autofocus
- Excellent image stabilization capacity
- It is a costly type of lens to purchase
4) Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
- Compact, high performance L-series super-telephoto zoom makes it ideal for sports and wildlife photography
- Rotation-type zoom ring allows for more precise composition and excellent balance when handholding
One of the best lenses to use for bird photography, the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens will offer you an unmatched experience. However, you might have to dig a little deeper into your pocket to afford this type of lens.
This particular lens provides you with unmatched performance, especially when you want to engage in professional photographing. This will be guaranteed because working with this lens for your cameras will result in high-quality images. You will just have to ensure that you get a compatible camera body that will lead to the production of the best images.
The upside of this lens is that it is quite heavy when compared with most lenses that are on this list. This might make the camera, in general, to be quite heavy and a handful when you are carrying it around when you are out birding.
For the purpose of durability, this lens is coated with an air sphere that prevents the occurrence of ghosting and the production of glare on the shots that you take. This will ensure that you can get good shots for a long period.
What stands out from this particular lens is that you can get the best quality of images. The images will be nothing less than fantastic, and they will also have the brightest colors. This will work to make the birds that you are taking photographs of to look lively and bright even when they are in their natural habitat.
The Canon lens has one of the best autofocus that is provided with an autofocus motor that provides preciseness and also a relatively smooth focusing capacity. It also performs well as far as image stabilization is concerned.
For the purpose of birding photography, you will enjoy the fact that the lens works to provide an unmatched capability when you want to capture images of moving birds.
However, the close focus of this particular lens needs a little bit of upgrading. This is because you may not get the best images when it comes to the point of close shots.
For the case of durability, this lens is designed with features that make it both dustproof and splash-proof. These features make it an ideal choice of lens to use for your outdoor expeditions and take bird photos even when the outdoors are harsh.
- The best for taking professional images of high quality
- Provides an unmatched image stabilization
- A top-performing lens
- Featured with a good telephoto zoom system
- Contains a rotation type zoom ring
- Has an air sphere coating that works to prevent ghosting of the lens as well as the formation of glare on the images you get
- It is highly resistant to damage caused by both dust and water
- Quite costly
- The focus distance is not the best for close up shots
5) Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 300MM f/4E PF ED Vibration Reduction Lens
- Perfect for fashion, portraits, nature, wildlife, sports, and more.Vibration Reduction Fixed Zoom Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras
- Phase Fresnel lens provides superior chromatic aberration compensation performance
If you already have a Nikon camera, this is the lens to work with for the best experience. It is a type of lens to work with, especially when you are looking for high-quality images after you capture the images of the birds.
What this particular type of lens offers is a suitable and simple process of using it so that you can get the best out of it. This is because, unlike other types of lenses, it does not require too much adjusting before you get a set that you want to use. Furthermore, you will be able to capture the best images within the shortest time possible. This is because you will not waste any minute while setting it up before you take a shot quickly.
The focal length and the aperture of this lens are fixed, which might limit your expectations. However, this will enable you to focus on the object that you are interested in, and with just a press of the button, you should be able to get your shot.
Apart from being a birding lens, it is also ideal for wildlife captures and also for capturing the moments during sports and even still portraits. This is especially if you combine it with a vast range of Nikon cameras.
To limit the interference caused by both ghosting and flares on the shots you make, the lens is designed with a Nanocrystal coat. The coat will keep either of them at bay. In the case of autofocusing capabilities, there is a silent wave motor that does not emit any noise when it is working. Similarly, a vibration regulation system works to regulate the camera movement as you focus on getting a perfect final shot.
- A multipurpose lens that you can use for both bird photos and capturing wildlife as well as for spot photography
- Has a Nanocrystal coating that prevents ghosting and occurrence of glare on the shots you take
- Featured with a focus distance indicator which is convenient to use
- Features a silent wave motor to autofocus
- The vibration of the camera is reduced
- Quite costly
- The IS only works for regulating vibration from the camera
- The focal length is not long enough for wide shots you may want to take
The shopping guide for the best lens for birding photography
Buying the best birding lens should not be difficult anymore as you can use the guide below to know the factors that you need to consider. This will help you when you are spoilt for choice and sort of don’t have an idea of which is the best lens for birding that you can go for.
The brand of the lens
The brand of the lens says a lot of the performance that you should expect to get from it. This is because there are brands that are reputable and trustable in the quality of lenses that they provide. Some of the brands provide you with exceptional features that will be ideal using for your birding experience while there are those that you shouldn’t expect a lot from them
You will also have to get a brand of the lens that is compatible with the brand of camera that you are using. There are brands of cameras like Sony and Nikon, which might only work well with a lens that is specific to them.
Zooming capacity of the lenses
The best lenses used for birding photographing have a zooming capability of at least 300mm. You can go for as much as 500mm, which will provide you with the experience that you are looking for from a lens to use in birding. This will help you so that you can perfect images without moving too close to the birds. You will also capture the moment when the birds are going about their activities with little interruptions.
Price of the birding lenses
Birding lenses come through different price ranges that you can get them at. Some of them may be high-end lenses that will require you to pay more for them, and they might just be what you need. The high-end camera lenses may be of high quality and worth going for. Similarly, their performance might be one that you will enjoy using for a long time.
The low-cost camera lenses for birding photography might not be as sophisticated as the high-end options. They may not have a lot to offer either in performance or even durability. This is because they might not be made from the best materials either are they designed for the best performance when you use them in birding photography.
However, price shouldn’t be used as the sole factor that determines the experience you get from a lens to use in birding photography. There are those that are not expensive but are worth going for because their performance may surpass what you get from the high-end options.
The high price may just be due to logistics or even just the issue of too many middlemen in the sales channel of the lens. Some brands may also sell their lenses at high prices, but there are those that sell at high prices but are worth using for birding photography.
The glass on the lenses
Some lenses used for the birding cameras may be designed with a specialized glass, while others have alternative elements. The specialized glass may be designed to capture quality images- because they are designed to make the image clearer and also capture sharper images.
Some of the best glass options used in birding photography are the ED, UD, or even fluorite. The high-end lenses on birding cameras will be made from fluorite as the average alternatives are designed with either ED or UD elements.
Fluorite is the best option to go for if you want the glass on your lenses to be effective in providing you with high-quality images. They are also able to deliver highly professional types of images of a variety of birds. However, you might have to dig deeper into your pocket to afford cameras that have these types of lenses.
The mid-tier cameras are fitted with either the UD or ED lenses, and they might just be what you need. They may not offer the best performance in terms of the quality of the image, but they try to get standard image quality. They are also quite affordable and the best option to go for if you are working with a relatively strict budget.
The practicality of the design of the birding lenses
For the purpose of using the lens effectively, you have to get a lens type that is designed with unmatched features. The seamless features should count in determining the experience that you get from using the lens. This will work to make the lens functional and not only just decorative as this might not help the whole idea of birding photography.
Some of the designs included in a lens used in the making of a birding camera are simply decorative. They may not be that useful in any way, as their impact may not be felt when you are using the cameras at any point. These are the options that you should avoid because they will simply make the entire camera to be costly for no reason at all.
The practicality or functionality of the features on a birding lens should also provide you effectiveness depending on the type of birding photography that you are into. If you enjoy the type of photography that you can capture images of birds from a distance when they are in the wild without interfering with them, then there is the perfect choice of lens for that. The zoom lenses have excellent and unmatched zooming capabilities that will enable you to capture the best shots without moving too close to the birds and scaring them away.
If you want to get close to the birds as you are sure that you won’t interfere with their activities, there is also a type of lens for that. The prime lenses will offer the best practicality as they have a wide aperture but lack zooming capabilities.
The durability of the lenses
The durability of the lenses is not specific to the birding lenses, as this is general to all types of lenses. The type of lens that is fixed in your birding camera should be resilient against some elements that may get them damaged. The birding camera is obviously going to be used outdoors where the environment might be extreme, and this may provide a severe beating to the birding lenses.
The lens is going to be exposed to numerous elements in the outdoors because the whole idea of birding photography will take place in the wild. There will be a lot of dust, rain, humidity, and even sand. Either of these might affect the performance of the birding cameras as well as their lenses. An excellent example of a lens used for birding should be able to be resilient against either of the above elements.
When the lens is capable of preventing damage caused when it is exposed to the elements above, then it will be a durable one. This will work to ensure that it lasts for a relatively long period of time before it starts experiencing any complications.
Undoubtedly, the most important part of a birding camera is its lenses, which play a major role in determining the experience you get from using it. There are numerous brands of lenses that you can use comfortably for birding photography, and this makes the whole idea of choosing the best one to be quite difficult. However, thanks to this article, you should be able to select one that suits what you are looking for from a birding camera.
The various options of lenses in this list are designed with features that are important for a variety of birding photography techniques. Either of them provides a whole different experience that you will be able to work with. You just have to get one that suits your needs!