best entry level dslr for bird photography

Bird photography is no doubt one of the most popular genres amongst nature photographers. Finding the best Entry Level Dslr For Bird Photography and best camera for bird photography can be hard if you’re unaware of what features to look for especially that there are so many of them to find around. For this reason, we’ve put up a guide highlighting the top canon bird photography options in the category.

Our team has researched and reviewed these products to help you come up with a better decision.

Best Entry-Level DSLRs of 2020, Ranked

Things to Consider While Purchasing a Camera for Bird Photography

Here are the four things to keep in mind while purchasing a new DSLR for your bird photography purpose:

  1. Better Sensor Trumps the Reach
  2. More Autofocus Points the Better
  3. Better ISO Performance
  4. Higher fps (Frames Per Second)

Let’s dive deep into each of these aspects.

1. Better Sensor Trumps the Reach

I know it will shatter your belief. You must be thinking I am crazy. I am, in a way J

Sensor plays a significant role in getting you the top-notch image quality. Full frame sensors will always outperform the cropped-sensors by leaps and bounds. The bigger the pixel size or photo-diode size in the sensor, the better is the light gathering capability. Better light implies better Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). Higher the SNR, lower will be the noise.

Bigger sensors are always great in handling noise.

If you are serious about your passion, go for the full-frame camera body. Period.

If money is a bigger constraint, then think of going for a second-hand full-frame camera. It’s always worth it.

If you are just starting out and doesn’t know whether bird photography is for you or not, then go for a decent cropped frame camera.

2. Autofocus Points

The number and type of autofocus points is a killer. Not many bird photographers seem to realize it.

If you check few camera models, the fundamental difference will only be in the number of autofocus points. But the price difference will be a bomb. That’s because the increase in autofocus points implies an increase in autofocus sensors, which costs money.

There are two types of autofocus points:

  1. Single-point autofocus sensors (referred by default as autofocus points).
  2. Cross-point autofocus sensors.

Most entry-level cameras have single-point autofocus sensors. These sensors will detect the contrast (contrast detection) or the phase (phase detection) only in one direction. They are also known as vertical sensors.

Mid-segment to professional-end cameras will have cross-point autofocus sensors. A cross point sensor will have a horizontal and a vertical sensor, both working together. It’s much faster and precise in detecting the contrast or the phase thereby achieving a more rapid focus.

Now it should be clear to you why a camera body with more autofocus points, especially more cross-points will cost a bomb.

Next time you are purchasing a camera, you need to check how many autofocus points it has. Also, check the number of cross-points. It will prove to be a massive advantage with the right set of lens.

3. Better ISO Performance

If you are into bird photography for at least some time, you will already know the need of better ISO. Don’t you?

Poor ISO performance could be disgusting. What seemed to be a good action shot in the field looks awful on the bigger display. Many bird photographers are sick and tired of removing the ruthless noise in the image. It’s painful. I know it. And I just hate it.

The best thing that happened to me last year was buying Nikon D750. It changed the whole game. I have shot up to ISO 3200 without hesitation.

Don’t be a scapegoat for manufacturer’s claim on ISO 100 to ISO 12,800. Nowadays, every DSLR supports that range. The manufacturer is bullying you to purchase inferior cameras.

Remember that bigger sensors can handle noise very well. Unless you are buying a full-frame body, I would strongly recommend you to rent a body and test it thoroughly. Most cropped-sensors are good only up to ISO 400 or 800.

Higher ISO is always a boon for the bird photographers. It will give you an enormous advantage in the low light as well as in the early morning and early evening lighting conditions.

4. Higher fps (Frames Per Second)

Wonder why it’s the last thing to consider?

I intentionally wanted to put it at the end, the first thing in bird photographer’s mind. How cruel! J

The reason my friend is; compared to all other factors, this is not a deal-breaker.  I know, at this point, you are growling with anger. I will make my point if you can wait.

Higher fps is always a boon for bird photography. I see a smile now J But, not at the expense of several hundred to thousand dollars. If I have to spend several thousand dollars to get from 6.5 fps to 12 fps, I would rather spend that money on a lens.

Why?

There’s a strong reason. Most of the action can be captured with a decent speed of 5 to 6 fps. Higher fps will only fill your buffer and memory card faster. It doesn’t necessarily give you an edge over others. Certainly there are many exceptions. But, is it worth the extra cost? It might not be.

Today, most cameras support an fps of 5 to 8 fps. That’s sufficient enough. At least 5fps is a must, though. Don’t go for a camera below 5 fps. It will be a disaster unless you are too good at what you are doing.

While purchasing a camera, remember to look for a camera with at least 5 fps. The more, the better as long as it meets other criteria.

Round Up

To round up, here it is:

  1. Go for a full-frame camera or a bigger sensor.
  2. Go for a camera with more number of autofocus points, especially the cross-points.
  3. Go for a camera with better ISO capabilities in terms of lesser noise at ISO 400 to 1600 range.
  4. Go for a camera with a burst speed of at least 5 fps.
Cheap, Budget, Bargain, Best Deal Camera Recommendations for 2020

best entry level dslr for bird photography

Nikon D5

I think this is by far the best choice for Nikon shooters.

Nikon D5 DSLR 20.8 MP Professional DSLR

Canon 1D X Mark II

I think this is by far the best choice for Canon shooters.

Canon EOS-1DX Mark II Profesional DSLR Camera

Best Full-Frame DSLR Camera for Bird Photography

Nikon D850 — The best in the industry!

Nikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera — The Best!

Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera — The best DSLR for Canon Shooters

Best Cropped-Frame (APS-C or DX) DSLR Camera for Bird Photography

Nikon D500 — The best in the industry!

Best Canon and Nikon Cameras or DSLRs for Bird Photography Beginners Amateurs and Professionals

Canon 7D Mark II

Canon EOS 7D Mark II Digital SLR Camera — the Best APS-C camera body for Canon shooters!

Where to Buy Cameras

Most cities will have their own independent camera stores, and I’m all for supporting your local shops. However, it’s an unfortunate truth that in 2021, independent stores have a hard time competing with the chain stores and online shops, especially in the photography industry.

While I was living in the UK before I turned pro, the best place to buy cameras for me was a well-established department store called John Lewis. They offered price matching, free extended warranties, and the best customer service of any UK camera retailer.

However, their range of camera gear wasn’t great, and mostly focused on amateur gear. In addition, their price match guarantee didn’t extend to most online retailers… and it was these online camera shops who seemed to be offering the best prices on camera gear.

So the question of where to buy cameras led me to search for online retailers, and soon I came across what’s known as ‘grey-market‘ retailers.

Grey-market camera shops usually offer camera gear at much cheaper prices than other stores. It’s usually a bit unclear why their products are so much cheaper, but I’d recommend that you exercise caution when researching.

Usually grey-market camera shops are based out of Hong Kong, and the camera gear you will receive will have foreign documentation; sometimes even foreign plugs.

I’ve bought numerous items from grey market online camera stores in the past, lured in by their bargain prices, but I’ve stopped doing so ever since I bought a faulty camera. Being located in Hong Kong made the return of the item a huge hassle, and made me wish I’d bought from another reputable retailer.

So back to the question of where to buy cameras – for me, there’s really only 1 option… and it’s called Amazon.CHECK CURRENT PRICE

Why is Amazon the Best Place to Buy Cameras in 2021?

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After interviewing a handful of photographer friends who live in Europe and the US, I can completely understand why they feel that Amazon is the best place to buy cameras (especially disposable cameras).

Remember that not all these points will relate to us unfortunate ones who live in countries not yet supported by Amazon, but most of them are still relevant for you to consider before your next big camera purchase.

All the Amazon links in this review will take you direct to the camera/photography related page on the site.

1. Return Policy

This is a strange point to start on when discussing where to buy cameras, but the store’s return policy is very important in my opinion, especially when you’re buying camera gear online.

As of August 2017, Amazon’s terms of service states:

“You may return new, unopened items sold and fulfilled by Amazon.com within 30 days of delivery for a full refund. Items should be returned in their original product packaging. We’ll also pay the return shipping costs if the return is a result of our error. Just visit our online Returns Center, and we will guide you through the process and even supply you with a return mailing label you can print out.”

In practice, Amazon seems to be totally happy with customers returning items, as long as they are in perfect condition.

Obviously I’m not advocating buy items with the intent of returning them, but it certainly takes the worry out of buying expensive products online. Being able to try any product out for free for 30 days is really incredible, and no other high street store can offer such a service.

2. Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime is a paid service that gives Amazon customers certain advantages, including savings on certain products, unlimited movie/music streaming, expedited postage and much more.

It’s the express postage that’s most relevant here, making Amazon by far the best place to buy cameras if you want your new gear as fast as possible!

Amazon Prime gives you free 2-day shipping to eligible addresses and even the occasional free same-day delivery service.

Imagine seeing a camera, lens or even a photography backpack you like in the morning, then having it on your doorstep by the afternoon! There’s no need for us to leave our houses to shop anymore…!

3. Reviews

In researching where to buy cameras, it’s important to consider huge retailers like Amazon who have amassed thousands of user reviews.

It’s so easy for online store owners to write ‘fake reviews’ for product purchases, but with Amazon, reviews can only be written by people who’ve actually purchased the respective product. It’s the closest to an honest feedback loop that you’ll ever see for an online retailer.

Being able to check reviews before making any camera purchase is incredibly useful. Even though you can find lots of reviews of camera gear online, being able to read the reviews of actual owners of a product is invaluable.

Unless a product has numerous 5 star reviews, I’ll rarely consider purchasing it. I always read the negative reviews too, just to get a well-rounded opinion of the item, and encourage you to do the same thing.

4. Prices

For most of us, our search for where to buy cameras usually revolves around the best price. Aside from the aforementioned grey-market online retailers, Amazon often offers some of the best prices on camera gear.

Most of their products are discounted in some way, and with free Prime shipping, or low-cost standard shipping, Amazon really is hard to beat.

As I mentioned before, ordering to Australia from the US or UK Amazon is usually even cheaper for me to buy locally here in Australia, even from online stores.

5. Refurbished Products

Not many people know that Amazon stocks what’s known as ‘refurbished products’, and it’s here where some massive cost savings can be made.

Refurbished goods are also called ‘Amazon Renewed’:

“Products on Amazon Renewed are tested and certified by qualified suppliers to work and look like new and come with a minimum 90-day supplier warranty.”

I imagine that most of the refurbished products consist of items returned by customers that may not be brand new, but are as good as new. You can definitely find a good bargain on photography gear if you have time to browse, so I recommend bookmarking this photography gear page of Amazon Renewed, and having a look each week to see what new is on special offer.

6. Customer Service

I’ve heard stories from friends who exceeded the 30-day return period, only to have their items still refunded by a helpful Amazon customer service agent.

I wouldn’t recommend you test this, but regardless of the case, it seems that Amazon’s customer service really is second to none. For an online retailer, it’s also very easy to get replies from their email service, and it certainly doesn’t feel like you’re dealing with a ginormous retailer.

How to Buy a Digital Camera

1. Determine what you need

A mistake I see some digital camera buyers making is that they get sucked into buying cameras that are beyond what they really need. Some questions to ask yourself before you go shopping:

  • What do you need the camera for?
  • What type of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)
  • What conditions will you be largely photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
  • Will you largely stay in auto mode or do you want to learn the art of photography?
  • What experience level do you have with cameras?
  • What type of features are you looking for? (long zoom, image stabilization, large LCD display etc)
  • How important is size and portability to you?
  • What is your budget?

Ask yourself these questions before you go to buy a camera and you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision when you see what’s on offer. You’ll probably find the sales person asks you this question anyway – so to have thought about it before hand will help them help you get the right digital camera.https://da360a56a245c0803c5da779cd8113ff.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

2. Megapixels are NOT everything

One of the features that you’ll see used to sell digital cameras is how many megapixels a digital camera has.

When I first got into digital photography, a few years back, the megapixel rating of cameras was actually quite important as most cameras were at the lower end of today’s modern day range and even a 1 megapixel increase was significant.

These days, with most new cameras coming out with at least 5 megapixels, it isn’t so crucial. In fact at the upper end of the range it can actually be a disadvantage to have images that are so large that they take up enormous amounts of space on memory cards and computers.

One of the main questions to ask when it comes to megapixels is ‘Will you be printing shots’? If so – how large will you be going with them? If you’re only printing images at a normal size then anything over 4 or so megapixels will be fine. If you’re going to start blowing your images up you might want to pay the extra money for something at the upper end of what’s on offer today.

3. Keep in mind the ‘extras’

Digital-Camera-Accessories

Keep in mind as you look at cameras that the price quoted may not be the final outlay that you need to make as there are a variety of other extras that you might want (or need) to fork out for including:

  • Camera Case
  • Memory Cards
  • Spare Batteries/Recharger
  • Lenses (if you are getting a DSLR)
  • Filters (and other lens attachments)
  • Tripods/Monopods
  • External Flashes
  • Reflectors

Some retailers will bundle such extras with cameras or will at least give a discount when buying more than one item at once. Keep in mind though that what they offer in bundles might not meet you needs. For example it’s common to get a 16 or 32 megabyte memory card with cameras – however these days you’ll probably want something at least of 500 megabytes (if not a gigabyte or two).

4. Do you already own any potentially compatible gear?

Talking of extra gear – one way to save yourself some cash is if you have accessories from previous digital cameras that are compatible with your new one.

For example memory cards, batteries, lenses (remember that many film camera lenses are actually compatible with digital SLRs from the same manufacturers), flashes, filters etc.

5. DSLR or Point and Shoot?

Dslr-Point-And-ShootWhile digital SLRs are getting more affordable they are not for everyone. Keep in mind that they are usually bigger, heavier, harder to keep clean (if you’re changing lenses) and can be more complicated to operate than point and shoot. Of course there are some upsides also.

If you’re trying to make a decision between a point and shoot and DSLR you might want to read my previous posts titled Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera? and it’s companion piece How to Choose a DSLR.

6. Optical Zooms are King

Not all ‘zooms’ are created equal.

When you’re looking at different models of digital cameras you’ll often hear their zooms talked about in two ways. Firstly there’s the ‘optical zoom’ and then there’s the ‘digital zoom’.

I would highly recommend that you only take into consideration the ‘optical zoom’ when making a decision about which camera to buy. Digital zooms simply enlarge the pixels in your shot which does make your subject look bigger, but it also makes it look more pixelated and your picture ‘noisier’ (like when you go up close to your TV).

If you’re looking for a zoom lens make sure it’s an optical zoom (most modern cameras have them of at least 3x in length – ie they’ll make your subject three times as big – with an increasing array of ‘super zooms’ coming onto the market at up to 12x Optical Zoom).

7. Read reviews

Before buying a digital camera take the time to do a little research. Don’t JUST rely upon the advice of the helpful sales person (who may or may not know anything about cameras and who may or may not have sales incentives for the camera they are recommending).

Read some reviews in digital camera magazines or online to help you narrow down the field. There are some great websites around that give expert and user reviews on virtually every camera on the market – use this wonderful and free resource.

A little self promotion here – one such site is my Digital Photography Blog which is a site that collates the reviews of many sites from around the web. To use it best enter the camera’s model name that you’re looking for a review on in the search feature in the top right side bar. It’ll give you a link to a central page that has information on the camera as well as links to any reviews published online on that camera from around the web.

8. Hands On Experience

Photo by erinmariepage

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a handful of cameras head into your local digital camera shop and ask to see and play with them. There’s nothing like having the camera in your hands to work out whether it suits your needs.

When I shop for a camera I generally use the web to find reviews, then I head into a street in my city with 4 camera shops side by side and I go from shop to shop asking for recommendations and seeing the cameras live in the flash. In doing this I generally find the same camera or two are recommended in most shops and I get to see them demonstrated by different people (this gives a more well rounded demo). I also get to play with it and get a feel for which one I could see myself using.https://da360a56a245c0803c5da779cd8113ff.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

9. Negotiate

After you’ve selected the right digital camera for you it’s time to find the best price.

Once again, I generally start online (on a site like our store) and do some searches to find the most competitive prices on the models I’m interested in. With these in hand I’m in a good position to be able to negotiate in person with local stores and/or with online stores. I generally find that retail stores will negotiate on price and will often throw in freebies. Online stores are more difficult – most bigger ones don’t give you the ability to negotiate but smaller ones often will if you email them.

Don’t forget to ask for free or discounted bonuses including camera cases, memory cards, extra batteries, filters, free prints, cases etc. I even know of a couple of stores that offer camera lessons that you can ask to be included. Some stores will also consider giving you a trade in on older gear.

I generally do negotiating from home on the phone and only go into a store to pick up the camera after a price is agreed upon.

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