Arguably, you can use any camera for bird photography however if you want to consistently capture bird photos to be proud of you are going to have to use the ‘right’ camera, i.e. the best camera for bird photography.
It is possible to capture good photos of birds using point and shoot cameras or compact cameras however because these typically have short focal lengths, and are hence more suited to subjects that are nice and close, it is difficult to consistently capture good bird photos. These compact and point shoot cameras also have slow autofocus systems and cannot deal with fast moving subjects.
If you are serious about bird photography the best camera for birding is an interchangeable lens camera, and you can use a CSC or a slr camera. I have used both a CSC (Olympus EPL) and an slr (Canon 7d) for bird photography and I have to say I found it easier (and achieved better results) with the slr camera.
Because of this my birding camera of choice is the Canon 7d and the reasons for this is as follows:-
The Canon 7d has a 1.6x crop factor which increases the effective focal length of the lenses I use. This means that when I attach my Canon 100-400L IS lens (for a review of this top lens check out “review of the Canon 100-400”) it effectively becomes a 160mm – 640mm lens. This additional reach enables me to get closer to the subject for frame filling shots of those shy and timid birds.
The Canon 7d has lightening quick autofocus. In fact, the Canon 7d is renowned for the speed of its autofocus, and it is one of the main reasons I purchased a 7d. The super quick autofocus allows me to quickly get the birds in focus, and keep them in focus whilst I snap away.
The Canon 7d has a high burst rate. When photographing birds using single shot mode is not going to work and you’re better off firing off several shots in quick succession to increase the chances of getting not only a sharp shot but also one with a pleasing composition. The higher the burst rate, the more photos you can fire off, the better the chances of getting the shot.
The Canon 7d is affordable and you get a lot of bang for your buck. I would love the image quality of a full frame camera for my bird photography however full frame cameras don’t have the same fast autofocus or burst rate as the 7d. If I used a full frame camera I would also lose out on the additional reach of the lens, and there have been many times I have needed the extra reach so to lose it would mean buying a longer (and much more expensive) lens.
Based on the above the best birding camera is a crop sensor camera with a super quick autofocus and high burst rate. I obviously shoot a Canon, however there are other brands of camera with the requisite features so there is something for all.
Other related bird photography articles
If you found this article interesting/useful below are some other related bird photography articles you may want to take a look at.
“Quick and easy bird photography tips” is an article that, as the name suggests consists of quick and easy bird photography tips that will lead to instantly improved photos of birds.
“How to photograph birds in flight” is an article that focuses on capturing awesome photos of birds in the air. Photographing birds in flight is a real challenge, however the tips and tricks in this article should help you along the way.
“Best lenses for bird photography” is an article focused on the best birding lenses. The lens you use plays a big part in the photograph and choosing the best lens for the job at hand can make or break a photo. For the best type of lenses for different bird photography situations (and the lenses I use) you may want to take a look at this article.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.