📸 5 Best Lenses for Bird Photography In 2024 [Guide]

Jan 12, 2024 | Buying Guides

Have you ever considered what it would be like to own the best lens for bird photography?

If you like both nature and photography, you probably have.

Bird photography is among the most popular niches among semiprofessionals and hardcore photography veterans. Its influence has influenced science and the general population’s interest in bird watching.

image for bird photography lenses guide

However, despite the growing popularity of the given niche, the internet doesn’t offer many helpful buying guides which would ease the process of purchasing these types of lenses, which, next to sport-action lenses, fall under some of the most expensive.

With that idea in mind, I have concluded that I should create the ultimate buying guide to help all photographers turn their bird-watching into a severe photographic endeavor.

Editor's Choice
Best Runner Up
Best Budget

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E

Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens

Unleash your creativity with exceptional zoom range and sharpness. Capture stunning details with this highly acclaimed lens.

Elevate your photography with impressive reach and superior optics. Experience outstanding performance and versatility with this lens.

Unleash your potential with affordable power and remarkable image quality. Explore the world of telephoto photography without breaking the bank.

5.0
4.8
4.6
Editor's Choice

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens

Unleash your creativity with exceptional zoom range and sharpness. Capture stunning details with this highly acclaimed lens.

5.0
Best Runner Up

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E

Elevate your photography with impressive reach and superior optics. Experience outstanding performance and versatility with this lens.

4.8
Best Budget

Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens

Unleash your potential with affordable power and remarkable image quality. Explore the world of telephoto photography without breaking the bank.

4.6
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens

Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sports has one SLD and four FLD elements with a super multi-layer coating that reduces flare and ghosting issues.

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  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Mounting Type: Canon EF
  • Focal Length Range: 150-600mm
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 280cm/110.2 inches
  • Weight: 4.25 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10.2 x 4.1 x 4.1 inches

The first pick has the optical design of 20 elements in 14 groups and nine rounded blades. It has an angle of view of 16.4° to 4.1°, with a minimum focus distance of 9,19 feet. The maximum magnification sets at 0,2x, while the macro reproduction ratio is 1:4.9. Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 also sports optical image stabilization and a removable & rotating tripod collar.

One of the main perks of these optics, and why I included it on the best bird photography lens, is its lightweight and compact construction that still has water and oil-repelling front glass elements.

The overall image quality of the lens is impeccable. I noticed the extreme sharpness across the frame, no matter the aperture. It is reasonably sharp at the maximum opening, but I spotted it produces the most robust results at an f/8.

Optical image stabilization does a phenomenal job of reducing shakes and movements, even when shooting from hands. While raising the ISO value, I tested it even during the nighttime, and it still produced excellent photos. The Focus system is reasonably quiet and operates quite fast.

The color distribution is well managed, and the natural places represent what a human eye sees. The focal length is versatile, and I didn’t have a problem photographing birds, even while they were flying.

Pros

  • Versatile focal length
  •  OIS
  • Overall sharpness
  • Compact design

Cons

  • Modest minimum focus distance

Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L Lens

The lens is exceptionally resistant to dust and water. Images are razor-sharp and the maximum aperture is enough for shooting under low-light conditions.

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The best telephoto lens for bird photography, Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6, is optically designed with 21 elements in 16 groups, with nine rounded diaphragm blades. It has an angle of view of 24° to 6° 10′ and a minimum focus distance of 3,22 feet.

The maximum magnification is 0,31x, and this lens has optical image stabilization. One of the critical factors that have influenced my decision to include it on the best lens for bird photography Canon list is the rotating zoom ring which allows precise control and an exquisite balance when using the lens from hands.

Furthermore:

These optics packs dust and water resistance, so it is possible to use this lens under harsh conditions. The optical image stabilization comes in handy when shooting birds in muddy wetlands when you cannot mount it on the tripod. The focus system is solid but tends to hunt under dim lighting. The general image quality is outstanding, with excellent contrast and natural color rendering.

Another awesome thing is the macro capabilities since it can focus about three feet, which is handy for snapping close-ups. The only objection I have to relates to the tripod collar weight, which is challenging to get on and off. Also,m the lens packs a monstrous weight, so you should be careful if you intend to use it for prolonged periods.

Pros

  • Optical design
  • OIS
  • Robust design
  • Image quality

Cons

  • Weight

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E Lens

Experience the extraordinary with Nikon's 200-500mm f/5.6E lens; expansive zoom, sharp detail, and steady performance in every frame.

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Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 offers an optical design of 19 elements in 12 groups with nine rounded diaphragm blades. The angle of view is 12° 20′ to 5°, while the minimum focus distance is 7,22 feet. The maximum magnification sits at 0,22x, and the lens supports optical image stabilization. My first impression of this best Nikon lens for bird photography was that there were no focus issues since the lens performed without a flaw at all f-stops and focal lengths.

One of the reasons it is the best lens for bird photography is an excellent “sports mode” feature that allows for sharper images at slower shutter speeds, so it is great to use when shooting moving birds or under dim lighting. Another excellent feature is the vignetting control since I didn’t notice any issues in the picture corners, even at the maximum focal length and aperture.

The general image quality is excellent, with a beautiful color transmission and strong contrast. It produces the best results above an f/8 while retaining a solid amount of details. It also does a phenomenal job of controlling aberrations and flare issues.

The lens is lightweight and compact, but it has a large front diameter, which could cause storage problems. On the positive side, I didn’t have problems shooting from my hands, so that you won’t need a tripod in most situations.

Pros

  • Versatile focal length
  • Sports mode
  • OIS
  • Glaring and flare control

Cons

  • Large front diameter

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5–5.6 Lens

Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens combines excellent sharpness for the subject in focus, with a smooth bokeh for the background and it produces incredible images.

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Sony’s FE optical design consists of 22 elements in 16 groups and nine rounded diaphragm blades. It has an angle of view of 24° to 6° 10′ and a minimum focus distance of 3,2 feet, while the maximum magnification is 0,35x. The Sony 100-400mm f/4.5–5.6 also has optical image stabilization, significantly reducing motion blur.

The high-end G Master construction is one of the reasons why it is on the best lens for bird photography list since it offers a great design in a not-so-difficult body.

It also has three customizable buttons that can be used for portrait or landscape orientation. It also has a tremendous detachable slide door that enables access when adjusting the circular polarization filter. The optical image stabilization is worth the money since I tested the lens at 1/80th of a second and achieved crystal-sharp images.

The focal length offers a lot of reaches and is obvious, so it is possible to capture bird shots even when they are far away without compromising image quality.

The color transmission works without flaws, with natural rendering and sharp contrast. The only objection I have regards lens creep, which happens at the tightest settings but is not too big. Another plus goes to excellent flare control since it is possible to shoot almost directly at the Sun without experiencing a bad outcome in the image.

Pros

  • Versatile focal length
  • Great design
  • OIS
  • Overall sharpness

Cons

  • Price

Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens

This is a telephoto lens from Nikon that features excellent image stabilization, great manual focusing and exceptional optics quality.

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The last candidate here and the best budget lens for bird photography, offers an optical design of 21 elements in 13 groups, along with nine rounded diaphragm blades. It provides an angle of view of 16° 25′ to 4° 8′ and a minimum focus distance of 7,22 feet.

The maximum magnification is 0,26x, while the lens comes with optical image stabilization. One of the selling points that made me put Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 on the best lens for bird photography list is the fluorine coating with a moisture-resistant construction which comes in handy under challenging conditions.

Design-wise:

A flex zoom lock mechanism is also a great feature that enables the locking of the zooming ring at any position. The phenomenal sharpness of this lens is so good that it is possible to focus on birds flying high in the sky (at 600mm). Although many photographers like manual focus, this lens, autofocus, proved to be a more reasonable option since it tracks subjects with surgical precision and doesn’t make jam.

The manual focus has issues with the relatively short throw distance for comparison. Another awesome thing is the chromatic aberration control since you won’t notice any problems with this kind on your images. Since I love shooting from hand, I highly appreciate the optical image stabilization because it was possible to shoot at 1/100th of a second at 600mm.

Pros

  • Versatile focal length
  • Incredible sharpness
  • OIS
  • Robust design

Cons

  • Price

Verdict

Getting your hands on the best lens for bird photography is paramount if you want to achieve impeccable results where patience and high-quality gear play a vital role. Since the investment in this type of gear is quite expensive, I highly recommend searching the market to find the best solutions.

With that in mind, no matter what camera brand you like, your portfolio will improve overnight if you pick any of the lenses from the list.

After learning something new from this guide, it’s time to pick a lens that will help to improve your photography skills. We advise you to test this lens if you’re still unsure which one is best for you.

Check our other content, especially the astrophotography lens guide and guide for underwater photography, as it contains excellent advice about how to improve your photography skills. 

Disclaimer: "As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases."

Stacy WItten

Stacy WItten

Owner, Writer & Photographer

Stacy Witten, owner and creative force behind LensesPro, delivers expertly crafted content with precision and professional insight. Her extensive background in writing and photography guarantees quality and trust in every review and tutorial.

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