Mariotama – No matter how good the camera is, using a poor quality lens may ruin your photographs. That is why it is crucial to make a wise decision while shopping a lens. Buying the best lens for bird photography is no exception.
You should be careful when selecting a lens for bird photography. Even then, many bird photographers are unsuccessful to invest in the right lens. Most of them purchase lens after leans without gaining something worthwhile.
If you are making the same mistake, I have some good recommendations for bird photography lens. My recommendation will include a variety of brand and budget, so you can meet your best partner easily. Let us check them out!
9 Best Lens for Bird Photography
1. Best Metal Construction: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II
- 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
- Improved zoom torque adjustment ring allows easy setting of zoom tension, Focal Length & Maximum Aperture:100-400mm 1:4.5-5.6, Closest Focusing Distance-3.2 ft. / 0.98m
- New Air Sphere Coating (ASC) helps to significantly reduce backlit flaring and ghosting, Highly resistant to dust and water, and amazing durability enabling shooting even in harsh conditions
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This Canon EF 100-400mm IS II lens is probably the most prominent one among bird photographers. It is also widely used by many professionals as their secondary lens. Its quality is outstanding and the range is good for creating environment shots to the close-ups.
Its compact body and high-performance super-telephoto zoom have made it an ideal camera for bird and overall wildlife photography. Moreover, its rotation-type zoom ring allows for more accurate composition and perfect balance when handholding.
You can find this Canon EF 100-400mm IS II lens on Amazon.
- It is a highly reliable lens with fantastic image quality and top-notch sharpness.
- It comes with a weather-resistant body and includes Canon’s optical image stabilizer.
- The zoom ring offers a neat feature where you can adjust the rotation feel convenient.
- It has impressive macro capability and bokeh quality.
- The price is rather high, especially for novice bird photographers.
- Some users are not comfortable with this lens’ weight.
2. Sharpest Zoom Lens on 21 MP: Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II USM
- Optical Image Stabilization at up to 5 Stops* of Shake Correction.
- One Fluorite Element and Two UD Elements for High Image Quality.
- Highly Resistant to Dust and Water, and Improved Durability Even in Harsh Conditions.
- Three Image Stabilization Modes for Outstanding Results. Other Accessories : optional A II (W II) tripod mount ring
- IS Mode 3 Effective When Tracking Moving Subjects and Assists When Panning**. Minimum Focusing Distance Shortened from 3.9 ft. to Approx. 3.3 ft. (1.2m to 1m). Optimized Lens Placement and Coatings Minimize Ghosting and Flare. Circular Aperture (9 blades) for Beautiful, Soft Backgrounds.
If you are looking for more a budget-friendly option, this Canon EF 70-200mm f/L can be a good choice. This is the best lens for bird photography with high performance, quiet auto-focusing, and a reliable f/4 maximum aperture.
With its f/4 aperture, you will not lose exposure when extending to maximum zoom. Even though it does not have as much zoom reach as the previous lens, you can still enjoy its good-quality glass, high focal reach, and decent aperture. This Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L lens is available on Amazon.
- This lens comes with dust- and water-resistant body, making it ideal to carry out the job in even the most challenging environments.
- It is quick, silent, and sharp.
- It is worth the upgrade if you use the previous model.
- The price is twice higher than its older model.
3. Best Versatile: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED
- Compact super telephoto zoom lens for birding, wildlife, motorsports, events and more
- 500mm of zoom power on FX format DSLRs; 750millimeter equivalent on DX format DSLRS, Minimum Focus Distance: 7.2 feet ( 2.2 meter), Focal Length Range:200 500 millimeter
- Fast f/5.6 constant aperture for beautiful out of focus backgrounds and low light performance
- 4.5 stops of Vibration Reduction with Sports mode. Approx. Weight 81.2 ounce. Approx. Dimensions(Diameter x Length) 4.2 inch x 10.5 inch( Based on CIPA Guidelines )
- AF compatible with optional TC 14E series teleconverters and DSLRs that offer f/8 support.Mount Type:Nikon F Bayonet
This Nikon 200-500mm is the best thing that ever happened to any Nikon users who want to go for bird photography. This lens is highly recommended for anyone craving a good reach. It is surely a fantastic lens with great performance and quality.
This lens also features vibration reduction to help you capture precise photos. It also comes with a tripod mount on the lens itself to ensure a better balance. Overall, it is a reliable lens with many capabilities. You can get this Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED on Amazon.
- This lens is highly versatile. For not only bird photography, but it also makes a great companion for shooting wildlife, sports, events, and many more.
- It has good-built quality.
- It delivers good sharpness with no focusing issues.
- Some users find this lens too heavy.
- This lens is not weatherized in any way.
4. Best Image Quality: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED
- Maximum magnification of 032x
- Angle of view from 76 degree to 5 degree 20'.Focal Length Range : 18 300 millimeter, Minimum Focus Distance : 16 feet ( 048 meter)
- Aperture range from f/35 to f/22
- Angle of view from 76 to 520'
If you are a Nikon DSLR user, this best lens for bird photography can be a nice option too. This Nikon 18-300mm lens provides you a mid-range wide-angle to an incredible zoom. It offers you all the power required for bird photography.
Due to its short 18mm starting point, this lens is ideal for everyday use as well. It comes with good image stabilization and an ultra-high power 16.7 times zoom lens. This Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED is available on Amazon.
- It is considerably compact for its reach.
- This lens offers high-quality images and performance despite its lower price than Nikon’s higher-priced professional lenses.
- It is even impressive for close-up shooting.
- Autofocus seems to be precise and fast in good lighting only.
5. Best Build Quality: Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD
- VC (Vibration Compensation)
- Minimum Focus Distance : 2.7m (106.3in), Focal Length : 150-600 mm
- USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive), New eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating.Optical design:20 Elements in 13 Groups
- Moisture-resistant construction.Diaphragm Blades:9
- Advanced Optical Technology.Angle of view: 16°25'-4°8'.Max. Magnification Ratio:1:5
Tamron also offers a great camera for bird photography. This SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD has some of the best functions of both the Canon and Nikon lenses.
It has a long focal range and comes with a lighter body for that extra reach. This Tamron lens also features Vibration Compensation (VC) to guarantee handheld shots do not turn out to be blurry.
Besides, it comes with an aperture of 5-6.3 that allows for lower light shooting and beautifully blurred backgrounds. It is also compatible with 1.4x or 2.x teleconverters to expected the focal length up to 1200mm.
You can purchase this Tamron SP 150-600mm on Amazon.
- This lens is weatherized, making the elements maintained well while shooting.
- It is compatible for both Nikon and Canon cameras.
- It is the best lens for a lower price.
- Some users report slow autofocus, making this lens a bit difficult to shoot birds in flight.
6. Best for Color Balance: Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro
- 14 Elements in 10 Groups Lens Construction
- 34.3 to 8.2 degrees angle of view
- F22 Minimum Aperture
- 59.1 (150cm) / 37.4 (95cm) Macro Mode Minimum Focusing Distance
- 1 - 4.1 / 1 - 2 Macro Mode Maximum Magnification
This is another recommended third-party lens for Nikon, Canon, and other brands. Even though it does not come with a vibration reduction system, the Sigma 70-300mm lens is still worth looking at. This is mostly thanks to its impressive focal length for the money.
Sigma 70-300mm is a popular lens for bird photography as well as other styles like portrait and sports shooting. This lens offers magnificent image quality for its low price. It also promises reduced flare and ghosting, as well as better color balance.
You can find this popular Sigma 70-300mm lens affordably on Amazon.
- A budget lens is worth trying for.
- It has a compact body, making it easily slotting into your camera bag.
- This lens offers a great macro feature and very sharp images.
- It does not have a large aperture, so it is not meant for low-light photography.
- The speed of its autofocus is slow.
7. Best Pro-Grade: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM UD
- Impressive focal range.Diagonal Angle of View 34° - 8° 15'
- Travel friendly size, packs small and stays small with a manual lock switch on side of barrel. Note: lens can only be locked at 70mm range as it is for travel only. Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 70-300mm 1:4-5.6
- Focus Adjustment Type - lens extension via inner focusing focus cam, plus floating mechanism.Closest Focusing Distance: 1.2m/ 3.9ft
- Note that when the inner lens is fully extended (300mm) it's approximately 8.25" in overall length. The 5.6" measurement is at the 70mm range when lens is closed/locked.
- Suitable for Nature/ landscape/ sports/ travel photography
Canon also has a 70-300mm lens and it comes with a similar specification with the previous Sigma product. This best lens for bird photography is also recommended for those budget-conscious buyers.
This telephoto zoom lens features an impressive focal range in a travel-friendly body. If you travel a lot to take bird photography, this lens becomes a great companion on your way. You can expect stunning color rendition, sharpness, and contrast from this lens.
This Canon EF 70-300mm lens is available on Amazon. Refer to its older model for a cheaper deal.
- It makes a worthy upgrade for a cheaper, older Canon 70-300mm IS lens.
- This lens delivers sharp images and great image stabilization.
- It has less heavy body compared to other high-end lenses, making it a perfect partner for traveling.
- The cheaper product is available if you need budget-friendly lenses.
- Some users found the focus ring a bit lacking.
8. Best Modern Tele Zoom: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm
- 5.5x Telephoto Zoom lens,Filter Thread: 58 mm
- Nikon VR Image Stabilization; Tripod Detection Mode, Focal Length Range : 55 -300 mm, Minimum Focus Distance : 4.6 ft.( 1.4 m)
- HRI (High Refractive Index) Lens Element
- 2 Extra-low Dispersion (ED) Elements.Exclusive Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
- Lens Cap:Snap-on
This Nikon 70-300mm is far cheaper than the previous Canon lens, which has a similar specification. This is also a considerably decent lens with excellent image quality. Of course, you should not expect it to surpass the 100-400 or 200-500 lenses.
It makes a good option if you are out of cash or not sure whether or not bird photography is your thing. This lens is equipped with Vibration Reduction, making it possible to generate sharper images even handheld. You can get this Nikon 70-300mm lens on Amazon.
- It can produce amazing pictures with great quality.
- It features Internal Focus system for faster and quieter autofocusing.
- This lens is ideal for beginners who need affordable gear to start bird photography.
- Newer model is available with a longer aperture range.
- Some users report that the autofocus does not work in several Nikon cameras.
9. Best at f=500mm & f/4: Nikon 500mm f/4.0G ED VR
- Lightweight, convenient, Super Telephoto lens optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness on both the Nikon FX (23.9 x 36mm) and DX-format image sensors
- Vibration Reduction minimizes the effects of camera shake allowing photographers to shoot at as many as four shutter speeds slower than would otherwise be possible, assuring dramatically sharper images
- New Tripod Detection mode reduces vibration that may occur due to shutter release when mounted on a tripod
- Nikon's Silent Wave Motor (SWM) enables ultra high-speed autofocusing with exceptional accuracy and powerful, super-quiet operation
- Exclusive Nano Crystal Coat and a meniscus protective glass element combine to further reduce ghosting and flare for even greater image clarity
If you are a more experienced bird photographer who needs a highly reliable lens, draw your attention to this Nikon 500mm f/4.0G. This is known to be one of the sharpest and best quality lens offered by the manufacturer.
This is also the most widely used lens by professional wildlife and bird photographers. This lens is as sharp as the pricier, high-end 600mm model. It is also much lighter, yet capable to generate high-quality images with perfect sharpness and contrast.
The Nikon 500mm f/4.0G ED VR lens is available on Amazon.
- This lens is much lighter than its higher-level models like the 600mm f/4 and 800 f/5.6.
- It supports Vibration Reduction to minimize camera shake effects.
- This is everything you need to take impressive pictures of birds.
- This lens is still considerably heavy, especially for those who usually handholds the one lower than 6.6 pounds.
- The price is rather pricey, especially for new bird photographers.
Why we need the best lens for bird photography?
Because all the sensors in the camera, including autofocus and metering sensor, are depending on the incoming light which enters through the lens. If the lens is poor, the photo results will not turn out to be fantastic.
Do we need a larger aperture for better bird photography?
Mostly yes. The larger the aperture opening, the better is the autofocus performance. Besides, the larger aperture also results in faster shutter speeds, better color reproduction, enhanced light contrast, and superior image quality.
Should I use a camera manufacturer’s lenses?
Yes, it is recommended to use the lens made by your camera manufacturer. If you have a Nikon camera, do not get a telephoto lens made for a Canon, and vice versa.
Can I use third-party lenses for my Nikon or Canon camera?
Yes, you can. Nevertheless, you should buy a third-party lens with caution since some products are not made of great quality. Tamron and Sigma lens that I have reviewed above are some of the best choices that you can count on.
What kind of lens do I need for bird photography?
You will need telephoto zoom lenses with as much reach as you can afford. You will want a good lens with built-in image stabilization as well, so it can help with the shakiness when using telephoto focal lengths.
What is the difference between a telephoto and zoom lens?
In general, telephoto refers to a lens that has a narrow field of view. As a result, it is capable to look at things further away. On the other hand, zoom refers to a lens that can modify how far it is looking at.
Should I couple my lens with a teleconverter for bird photography?
It is optional. However, I will not recommend a beginner bird photographer to use a teleconverter. This is because the use of teleconverter may reduce shutter speed and slow down autofocus performance. Of course, if you have been more experienced, these issues will not stop you.
What is teleconverter exactly?
It is a device, which is designed to improve the focal length of your lens. This device is typically fitted between the lens and its body. It offers a cheaper way to get a longer focal length on your camera, but it can make your lens less effective in low light conditions.
Finally yet importantly, what is the best bird photography lens? Among the lenses that I have been reviewed above, Canon EF 100-400mm IS II is becoming my top pick. This lens is popular and used by many Canon bird photographers out there.
Moreover, it also offers fantastic quality and excellent focal length. This is the most recommended bird photography lens for those who can afford it. That is all my review of the best lens for bird photography. Hope you all enjoy it!
Last update on 2020-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API