What focal length for bird photography?

Neil Rampton

New member
Hey there, What would you recommend as a good general focus length for birding, just out of curiosity? I am aware that each capture would vary on the circumstances, but what would be a good average lens?

When it comes to bird photography, the ideal focal length depends on various factors such as the size of the birds you're photographing, the distance between you and the birds, and the specific effect you want to achieve in your images. Generally, longer focal lengths are preferred for bird photography to capture birds in greater detail and maintain a safe distance from the subjects.

A telephoto lens with a focal length of 300mm or more is commonly used for bird photography. Popular options include lenses with focal lengths of 300mm, 400mm, 500mm, or even 600mm. These lenses allow you to get closer to the birds, filling the frame with them and capturing fine details.

Super-telephoto lenses with focal lengths of 500mm or longer are especially popular among bird photographers, as they offer more reach and enable capturing birds that are far away or small in size. However, it's important to consider that longer lenses tend to be larger, heavier, and more expensive.

If you're just starting with bird photography or have budget constraints, you can still achieve good results with a lens in the 200mm to 300mm range, especially if you have the opportunity to get closer to the birds or if they are larger species.

Additionally, it's worth noting that using teleconverters can extend the effective focal length of your lens, allowing for even greater reach. However, they may slightly reduce image quality and decrease the maximum aperture, so it's important to consider their impact on your specific lens and shooting conditions.

Ultimately, the choice of focal length for bird photography depends on your specific needs, budget, and the type of bird subjects you plan to capture.
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