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Cameras for Bird Photography

The new digital cameras make bird photography easy and fun.

To see some recommended cameras for bird photography go to the camera store

For those switching from film to digital here are answers to a few questions many will have.

What is the difference in lens focal length?

This is probably the most asked question.  Most modern digital SLR cameras use a sensor that is approximately 22  15 mm.  In 35 millimeter cameras the focal plane is 24 X 36 mm.  Because of the smaller sensor size you loose some of the wide angle.

Any focal length lens from a 35 mm camera is the same as a lens 1 and a half times that size for a digital SLR camera.  That means that a 50 millimeter lens for a 35 mm camera is the same as a 75 mm lens of a digital camera.

This is why many digital cameras these days will come with an 18 to 55 zoom lens, which would be about like a 28 mm to 80 mm zoom in a 35 millimeter camera.

Many people will ask if they can use their old 35mm lenses with a digital SLR camera.  The answer is that in some cameras if the mounts are the same you will be able to shoot with the old lens, but you will not have any metering ability because there will be no contacts.

Is there a difference in quality between film and digital cameras?

In film you are concerned with grain size to determine how detailed your picture is.  While there is no direct comparison, in digital photography you are concerned with the number of pixels.  The more pixels or spots registered in your image the better quality of image.  A six mega pixel image will look good if it is printed at 16 x 20.

To illustrate pixels; below is a high resolution picture of a waxwing head along with 3 parts of it enlarged 400 times. Each color square that you see in the enlargements is a pixel.  A lower resolution or pixel count would make each pixel cover more area and definition in the picture is lost.

bird head bird photography bird photography bird photography

For bird photography I would recommend the highest mega pixel camera you can afford.  They do get pricey at the upper end.  I would also suggest at least a 300 mm telephoto.  The camera I use now is the Canon EOS 40D.  My most used lens is a 70 to 300 mm zoom.  Here are some tips on bird photography.

Many film photographers use the grain in film to get different effects in their photography.  While the look is not the same, a grainier appearance can be achieved in a digital camera with higher ISO settings.

Here are some recommended cameras.


Read about binoculars for bird watching 
Go to the binocular store.

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Binocular Store