Advice please for buying a Camera/Lens for Bird and Wildlife Photography

My wife and I are thinking of buying ourselves a joint Christmas present. We would like a camera and lens capable of taking shots of birds and other wildlife. We regularly see an Otter in a lake near us and we cannot capture it.

I think we realise that the lens is going to be the biggest expenditure and we have started reading up to see what we can learn.

What would be really helpful is any obvious dos and don’t and any pitfalls to avoid please. Any features we must have, etc etc. Really any advice that would help us make a good decision. We have a "London Camera Exchange near us who sell new and used items. We would rather pay money for performance than pay for a brand name.

We have a couple of scopes so we are aware a bit about the balance required between quality of optics and aperture. We have a reasonable tripod.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


You have not given a budget but I would go canon R7 with either the canon rf 100-500 or the rf800 or the new rf 200-800


The “traditional” birding lens on a full-frame camera is 400/5.6 for its combination of reach and relative small size.


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Whatever camera system you buy in to, make sure you get pro glass lenses. These are obviously more expensive but avoid things such as chromatic aberration, pin-cushioning etc.
Also, regarding the tripod, it’s the head that matters. A top quality ball head is the most useful. Most heads will droop with a hefty lens on them and you really don’t want that. My preferred head is a Kirk Enterprises ball head with 2 inch ball. It will lock solid with a mere nipping up of the knob. Again, they’re not cheap.

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… or you might find a spotting scope with a phone adapter gives you everything you need. :eagle:


First of all , a cheaper half frame camera has it’s advantages over a dearer full frame camera where wildlife is concerned

If you think Naim was expensive , wait until you get to the specialist lenses for bird and animal photography . I would say a 70-300 zoom

This was taken with a Canon 4000D , which was their cheapest and lightest SLR and a 70-300 lens


If you are going the second-hand route I would go for a Canon 100-400L F4 -5.6 Mk2 with either a Canon EOS5D4 which is full frame or a Canon 7D Mk2 which is cropped camera and somewhat cheaper than the 5D4. You should also find it easy to pick up reasonably priced lenses of other focal lengths for other types of photography.

New I would go for a Canon R6 mk2 with the 100-500L, but this would be a lot more expensive.


My first suggestion would be to understand weight. The combination of a full frame camera body and large aperture telephoto fixed focal length or zoom lens can be very significant. Particularly if you have to carry it any distance, along with a decent tripod.

You may find as mentioned earlier that the smaller format cameras provide a more than acceptable quality image with a much lighter weight - if that is a consideration.

Another accessory which can provide much needed reach and sometimes frowned upon is a tele convertor. Some of these are decent quality for occasional use - particularly the 1.5x convertor and avoids having to get a huge primary lens.



I would go for a bridge camera such as the Sony RX10 MkIV… Has superb telephoto lens ,lock on focussing plus you don’t have to mess around with lenses.
I used to have dslr and all the lenses. But was going on holiday to New Zealand anddidn’t want to lug all that kit . That was 2016 and not regretted changing for a minute,
Plus it has phase focussing as well as contrast which is better in some conditions
Here’s one I took in the garden on Monday, bird was about 30 yds away, slightly cropped


A crop sensor brings you closer but makes things slower, so it is a trade off.

If you want to get shots with moving things rather than just sitty still things, then a camera with strong high ISO performance is a good start, and a decent denoise bit of software like Topaz Denoise AI too. The latter have come on massively in the last 12 months alone.

The biggest boon for this kind of thing imo however is the camera’s ability to focus and lock on to the animal’s eye. So a modern mirrorless jobby. Canon is defo good at this. I would assume Sony too. Not tried a mirrorless Nikon.

Still get the fastest long lens you can afford though…Or just get closer😉

Ultimately, your choice is going to be largely influenced by budget!



Have a look at the DPReview website. Lots of information there. There are many options, but weight and budget will likely drive your choice.


I have this lens and use it for birding. It was expensive (almost $2500) but I justified it by having paid almost nothing for my 6D body.

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I am considering getting this software. Can you tell me if it is a one-off purchase or a monthly/yearly subscription, like Lightroom/Photoshop ?
Do you use it before your post-processing or after ? Can it be incorporated into Lightroom ?
OP, sorry, to thread-crap… :pray:

One off purchase with updates as they come up. Works standalone or as add in.

Chunky discounts seem to come up quite often, certainly I paid well less than full whack.

Yes, I use it in post. It’s not perfect, you sometimes have to go back and ever so slightly adjust your colour tint and defo. a case of less is more, it has four ‘base’ levels but you can adjust sliders in each to your heart’s content. But quite amazing when you first try it.

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Before or after using Photoshop/Lightroom ?

After/during Lightroom if either. I rarely use photoshop, other than to remove something and that too now takes just seconds! It works fine on a standalone basis though if no editing wanted.

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Not tried it (I use dxo prime) but I read that Lightroom now has a free de-noise plug in. Worth a try if you already use Lightroom.

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The Lightroom one is incredibly memory hungry. Fine if you have lots of spare RAM and whizzo Graphics card. Unusable on my 7 year old PC.

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I have found MPB good for buying second hand online.

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Yep. There is no substitute for standing in the right place… :wink: