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 both influenced science and the interest of the general population for bird watching.

image for bird photography lenses guide

However, despite the growing popularity of the given niche, the internet doesn’t offer many useful 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 come to the conclusion that I should create the ultimate buying guide on this topic to help all photographers turn their bird-watching into a serious photographic endeavor.

Best Telephoto
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens
5.0
$1,089.00 $799.00

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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11/28/2022 06:37 am GMT

The first pick has the optical design of 20 elements in 14 groups, along with 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 the reason why I included it on the best bird photography lens is lightweight and compact construction that still has water and oil repelling front glass element.

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

Optical image stabilization does a phenomenal job in reducing shakes and movements, even when shooting from hands. I tested it even during the nighttime, while raising the ISO value, and it still produces great 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

Best Telephoto
Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L Lens
5.0
$1,759.99

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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11/29/2022 04:44 am GMT

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 the this lens has optical image stabilization. One of the key 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 the muddy wetlands when you don’t have the option of mounting it on the tripod. The focus system is solid, although it tends to hunt under dim lighting. The general image quality is outstanding, with great contrast and natural color rendering.

Another excellent thing is the macro capabilities since it is possible to focus about three feet, which comes in handy for snapping close-ups. The only objections I have relate to the tripod collar weight which is difficult to get on and off. Also,m the lens packs a monstrous weight, so you should be careful if you intend it to use for prolonged periods of time.

Pros

  • Optical design
  • OIS
  • Robust design
  • Image quality

Cons

  • Weight

Best Telephoto
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E
5.0
$1,396.95 $1,056.95

The color palette looks natural and vibrant, with strong and deep contrast tones.

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11/28/2022 02:18 pm GMT

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 the 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 why it is on the best lens for bird photography is an awesome “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 still retaining a solid amount of details. It also does a phenomenal job in controlling aberrations and flare issues.

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

 

Pros

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

Cons

  • Large front diameter

Best Telephoto
Sony 100-400mm f/4.5–5.6 Lens
4.5

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, along with 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 which significantly reduces 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 which could be used for portrait or landscape orientation, and it also has a great detachable slide door that enables access when you want to adjust 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 reach and it is extremely clear, so it is possible to capture bird shots even when they are far away, without compromising on the image quality.

The color transmission works without flaws, with natural rendering and sharp contrast. The only objection I have regards the lens creep which happens at tightest settings, but it is not a too big issue. Another plus goes to an 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

Best Telephoto
Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Lens
4.5
$1,069.00 $645.97

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

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11/29/2022 03:29 am GMT

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 offers 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 also 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 difficult 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, on this lens autofocus proved to be a more reasonable option, since it tracks subjects with surgical precision it doesn’t jam.

For the comparison, the manual focus has issues with the throw distance which is relatively short. Another awesome thing is the chromatic aberration control since you won’t notice any issues with this kind on your images. Since I love shooting from hands, 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 in the realm where both 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, if you pick any of the lenses from the list, your portfolio will improve overnight.

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 about which one is best for you.

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

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

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These Are 5 Best Lenses For Bird Photography in 2022
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These Are 5 Best Lenses For Bird Photography in 2022
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In this guide, you will learn what are the 5 best lenses for bird photography to help you capture beautiful photos of your feathered friends.
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Lensespro.org
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