Photographing Birds Help


Active Member
I am currently away with work in Colorado and they have got all sorts of birds flying around and i thought i would try and get a few shots of some of them, i have a Nikon D60 with a Nikkor 55-200 VR lense. I attach the photos i am getting, not good at all. I have one question what setting should i be using the camera on ? also when i open them on my work laptop in winxp viewer i click the actual size button the quality looks horrible.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.[email protected]


From the 2 images on your flickr site, you either need to get much closer to your subject or get a longer faster lens with a wider aperture . . and maybe a monopod.

If you can post the image EXIF data, that would also be helpful as we could see what your camera settings are as well and if necessary, recommend any changes.

I was lucky yesterday. There I was shooting aviation images when I got this Kestrel within spitting distance hovering overhead.


Right place, right time and a 300mm F4 zoom lens.


Well-known Member
As Pirate said (although wide apertures aren't necessarily ideal). Longer glass would help framing the subject.

Perhaps more importantly though, make sure you are spot metering on the bird. If you are using evaluative / full frame metering it will be distorted by the bright sky background, leaving the bird dark and under exposed.


As Pirate said (although wide apertures aren't necessarily ideal)

True, but that was taking into account for poor lighting conditions. Generally a standard tele/zoom at 300mm closes down to f/5.6-6.3 (and most general tele/zooms go soft after 250mm), so in poor light the image will look darker unless you ramp-up the ISO, and if the bird is moving at speed, it'll be a tough capture.

Save yourself £2000.00+ and get this.
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Active Member
Birds in flight are tricky. Spot metering is best but unless you can get the bird full frame it will underexpose especially if, as tends to be, it is above you. I always start with +1 e/v and take it from there. Bracketed exposure is a bit of insurance.
Then there is focus. There may not be enough time to get a lock so you go manual. Then you want to use an aperture that will give you a bit of leeway in case you don't get it spot on. A medium aperture with a high shutter speed probably means upping the ISO so a camera with decent ISO performance is a big help.


Active Member
some top advice from Pirate and Clownfish which I fully agree with.

To get good bird shots takes planning. Observe the behaviour and be prepared to go back 2 or 3 times before you attempt a shot.

Carry a monopod or a tripod, a plastic folding chair and consider a lightweight portable hide. You could even make one with a few bamboo canes, some zip ties and an old kingsized bedsheet.

Go for f8 and 1/500th or above an up the iso to 800 or 1600 if your camera can stand it at this level, mine is ok up to 1600 and perfomance drops big time at 3200 and 6400 is a grainy as hell.

Spot meter from the bird

Lastly, you could go for high speed fash sync with a powerfull gun and use the trailing screen setting. Guide number of 54 or above.

Finally, go to a zoo or animal park where the birds are closer and less nervous ;)

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