The Best Superzoom Camera for Birding (Sample Photos Included)

Inside: Discover the best superzoom camera for birding that fits your birding style, based on my hands-on testing and reviews. I reveal the key features to look for when choosing a superzoom camera, which superzoom camera may be ideal for your birding style, and actual pictures I took with the actual superzoom cameras I reviewed.

Have you started shopping for a superzoom camera? It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? So many models to choose from with different zoom ranges and other features you may not have heard of before. It’s hard to know what features are important and which ones you don’t need to pay attention to.

That’s how I felt when I started shopping for a superzoom camera to take close-ups of the birds in my yard.

The more I learned about superzoom cameras for birding, the less confident I felt about buying one. Something was missing.

It was this frustration and absence of real information that motivated me to research superzoom cameras myself.

Better yet, I decided to buy each camera, take pictures with each camera, and test them like I was using them to take pictures of birds.

I’m sharing everything I learned with you as well as the results of my testing – including actual photos taken with the cameras!

I’ll get more into it in a minute but first, let me share my recommendations for the best superzoom cameras for birding.

Best Superzoom Cameras for Birding

BEST OVERALL SUPERZOOM CAMERA

Nikon Coolpix P1000

Nikon Coolpix P1000 superzoom camera for birding

BEST LIGHT & SMALL SUPERZOOM CAMERA

Canon PowerShot SX70HS

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS superzoom camera for birding

BEST BUDGET SUPERZOOM

Panasonic Lumix FZ80

Panasonic Lumix FZ80 superzoom camera for birding

Why I Bought the Superzoom Cameras I Reviewed

The Nikon Coolpix P1000 has the largest zoom capability of any superzoom camera available – a whopping 165x! But what does that mean? If the other bridge cameras only have 50x or 60x zoom, is 165x overkill? Is 50x or 60x not enough?

Some manufacturers tout the fastest autofocus on this side of the Mississippi! That’s great, but is it fast enough to capture a fidgety bird? Is slower autofocus perfectly fine? I had to use the cameras in a natural setting in order to know for sure.

The “experts” say most bridge cameras have a sensor that’s too small to produce a quality image. But what’s that mean? My idea of quality may be different from the trained eye of a professional photographer. Or your idea of quality for that matter. I included the pictures I took within the reviews so you can decide for yourself.

I’m not a professional photographer but I understand digital photography and have been photographing birds for my personal enjoyment for more than 15 years.  

I was excited to test the superzoom cameras for birding and provide you with practical information based on real, hands-on experience so you can feel confident if you decide to purchase one.

Let’s get started with some background on camera types, how to choose a superzoom camera for birding, and how I selected and reviewed the superzoom cameras for birding. 

Short on time? Skip right to the reviews!

What is a Superzoom Camera?

A Superzoom camera is a type of bridge camera that has very high optical zoom capability. Some manufacturers and photography experts use different terms to refer to these types of cameras including long zoom, big optical zoom, bridge zoom, and hyper zoom 

In my research, I did not find a definitive number that qualifies it to be a superzoom vs. a regular old standard zoom. For the purposes of photographing birds, I looked at cameras with a minimum optical zoom of 25x.

Superzoom vs DSLR vs Mirrorless vs Bridge 

There are three main types of digital cameras including DSLR, Mirrorless, and Bridge. Below is a brief summary of each type. 

DSLR Camera

The DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera is commonly used by a professional photographers. They consist of a camera body and interchangeable lenses. 

DSLRs rely on a mirror inside the camera body to capture the light and direct the image to the viewfinder. This enables the photographer to see exactly what the image will look like.

Mirrorless Cameras

The Mirrorless camera is similar to the DSLR in that it has interchangeable lenses. It differs from DSLRs in that it doesn’t have a mirror. This enables a mirrorless camera to be smaller and lighter than the DSLR. 

Also, the image displayed to the photographer in the viewfinder and screen (if it has one)  is an approximation of what the image will look like rather than exactly what it will look like. 

Bridge Cameras

The Bridge camera consists of the camera body and lens built into one unit. They’re also referred to as Point & Shoot, SLR-Style Compact. 

Bridge cameras may have some manual settings available for the photographer to flex her creative side but are also known for preset modes so the novice can immediately begin shooting pics just by setting the dial (for example) to “Bird” mode. 

As mentioned earlier, Superzooms are Bridge cameras.

How to Choose a Superzoom Camera for Birding

Bird photography is unique from other types of photography in that birds are tiny, fidgety, fly away without notice, and often make their appearance in the early morning and late afternoon when lighting is low – again, without notice. 

When choosing a superzoom camera for bird photography there are a few key features the camera must have to help us take great close-up pictures of the birds.

Superzoom Camera Key Features for Bird Photography

I identified several features to pay attention to when choosing a superzoom camera for taking pictures of birds. They are:

  1. Optical Zoom (Hello Superzoom!)
  2. Auto Focus
  3. Image Stabilization 
  4. Frame Capture Rate
  5. Sensor Size

Combined, the above key features work together to provide great image quality, a clear and in-focus close-up of the bird. After all, that is what we want, right? Great close-up pictures of birds! 

Let’s take a look at each of these features and learn why they made the “key features” list.  

Auto-Focus

We see a bird, grab our camera, get it in the frame, zoom in, press the shutter ½ way to auto-focus, and click! A beautifully focused close-up of the bird. Or so we hope. 

A fast auto-focus dramatically increases our chances of capturing that perfect shot. 

With a slow auto-focus, our photo may show the tail end of the bird as it flies off! This is why auto-focus speed is so important.

All cameras come with an auto-focus feature, Some manufacturers state the auto-focus speed, usually in fractions of a second, while others do not.

By testing each superzoom camera myself I’m able to gauge whether or not the camera’s autofocus speed is suitable for bird photography.

Image Stabilization

Camera movement is a leading cause of blurred images. Image stabilization helps by reducing camera movement and is particularly important with bridge superzoom cameras because not only is the photographer trying to hold the cameras steady but also the long, extended lens when it’s zoomed out. 

A monopod or tripod is also useful but not always practical. 

Auto-focus and image stabilization work together to produce an image that’s in focus. 

Optical Zoom

Optical zoom refers to the camera lens’ ability to get close to the subject – the birds. The higher the optical zoom the closer we can get to the bird which is crucial. 

Note: Digital zoom is a fancy way of referring to zooming in on the photo. You can disregard digital zoom because it doesn’t improve image quality – in fact, it introduces noise which results in poorer quality. 

I disabled digital zoom while testing the cameras in my review. s disabled on all cameras I tested to ensure I was assessing optical zoom alone.

Frame Capture Rate (fps)

Remember, our models (birds) are always on the go. Even while perching they may be darting their bodies here and there. 

For that reason, it’s helpful to enable the camera’s continuous mode which captures photos continuously versus one at a time. 

The multiple shots allow you to choose from a variety of images in hopes of at least one being the perfect pic.  

Sensor Size

The job of the camera sensor is to capture the photons (light particles) that hit it and convert them to an electrical signal that the camera’s processor reads and forms into an image. 

The camera sensor is important because it is a key factor that determines image quality. The bigger the sensor, the better the image quality. 

However, as I alluded to in my introduction, your idea of great image quality may differ from mine and that of the seasoned professional photographer. So I invite you to be the judge. Review the sample photos I provide in this article and decide – is the image quality good enough for you?

That said, the majority of the cameras I reviewed have the same sensor – 1/2.3″ (6.2 x 4.6mm) BSI CMOS. 

What about Megapixels?

Time to bust the myth “More megapixels are better.” 

Note: The number of megapixels your camera has is important when having large prints made of your image. If you’re taking pics of birds to frame and hang a 10” x 20” photo on your wall, more megapixels may be better for you. For the rest of us, keep reading…

Remember when camera and smartphone manufacturers were regularly raising the bar in the megapixels department? It led us to believe that more megapixels are better

While this may have been true back then when the average camera sported 4MP, it no longer is true. Today, even a camera with 12 MP is more than enough for most of us. 

This is great news because in general, the higher the megapixel the slower the camera becomes at other tasks such as auto-focusing and continuous shooting – two key features for bird photography. 

From an image quality perspective, the sensor size is a far better gauge of image quality than megapixels. 

Superzoom Camera Nice-to-Have Features to Consider for Bird Photography

The features and attributes below are nice-to-have and may enhance your experience or meet a personal preference, but are not deal-breakers for shooting pics of birds. Review the list and if something is personally important to you, make note of it.

  • Size & Weight – Superzoom cameras come in a variety of sizes and weights. If you’ll be hiking great distances or just prefer a smaller, lighter camera, look for one that meets this need.
  • Battery Life – Some batteries last longer than others. If you are easily annoyed by having to switch batteries when spending the day with nature, look for a camera with longer battery life.
  • Price – Superzoom cameras range in price anywhere from $300 to $2,000. The less expensive cameras often mean you’re giving something up – but not always. Read my reviews carefully and decide for yourself if the more expensive camera is worth it.  
  • Bird Mode – Many cameras come with predefined “scene” modes where you easily switch to them and all exposure settings are automatically set. Bird mode is one such scene mode. If you’re new to photography or just don’t want to deal with manual settings, look for a camera with a Bird mode.
  • Durability – More durable cameras enable you to get thick in the woods without fear of damage. A well-cushioned camera bag can also help protect the cameras when not actively snapping pics. Decide if this is an important feature for you.
  • Waterproof – Plan on taking photos in the rain or snow? Look for a waterproof camera if this is a concern. 
  • Video – Most if not all cameras are video-capable these days. If video is or will be part of your photography life, make sure the camera has the latest and greatest format – 4K. 
  • Audio – Same as video, if you intend to capture audio of your videos make sure this feature is available. 
  • Image Sharing – Nowadays many people want to easily share their images on line. If simple image sharing capability is important to you, be sure to check out the camera’s capability for it. 
  • RAW Image Format – If you plan to do some backroom editing (e.g. with Lightroom or PhotoShop), you’ll want to take photos in RAW format. All cameras shoot in JPG format but not all support RAW. If this is important for you make sure RAW is supported. 
  • Connections (Wi-FI, Bluetooth, HDMI, USB) – Determine what you plan to do with your amazing bird photos. Then determine how the photos will get there. Popular options include: Transfer to computer via Wi-Fi, USB cable, or Bluetooth. Transfer to a smartphone (to share online) via Wi-Fi, app, or Bluetooth. Show on TV or monitor via HDMI cable. Don’t have Wi-FI? Make sure the camera has Bluetooth capability.

How I Reviewed the Superzoom Cameras

I purchased and tested each of the superzoom cameras I reviewed.  The same tests were performed with each camera so they could be assessed equally.

First, I took several photos of a static subject (wooden cardinal below) at full-zoom, without support (e.g. handheld) from distances of 15, 25, 50, and 75 feet from the subject.

Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000 from 50 feet away

This allowed me to determine if the superzoom camera was up to the task of zooming in close enough to capture up-close images of birds in a real-life scenario. 

Note: Because the cardinal is made of wood with definitive edges, not soft feathers, the quality is going to be better than a real bird. For that reason, I didn’t use the distance tests to determine image quality. It wouldn’t be fair.

Then I spent time using the cameras naturally, taking pics of birds around my yard and beyond. 

I was mindful of how quickly the auto-focus was able to find a clear shot of the bird. How often I was able to capture the bird before it flew away and how often I wasn’t. 

Using the continuous shooting features I wanted to be sure it was fast enough to capture enough pics of the bird (from perching to flying away) so I was left with several choice shots to choose from.

Finally, I analyzed the photos for image quality. 

How did I determine the distances? 

From an ethical standpoint, Audubon suggests we always keep enough of a distance that allows our subject to behave naturally. In other words, if the bird notices us, we were probably too close.

Besides that, if you’re too close to the bird it’s going to fly away and you get no shot.

Thinking about my own experience with birds in my yard, a distance of 50’ generally assures the bird hasn’t noticed me. 

If the bird approached me, I may be between 15-25’ away.

If I’m taking pics through a window in my house, the distance is about 15’. 

In larger yards or out in the wild a distance of 75’ (minimum) is likely needed.

By testing the 4 distances (15, 25, 50, and 75 feet) I felt many bird encounter scenarios were covered helping you to make the best superzoom camera choice depending on how you typically shoot photos of birds.  

How I Selected the Camera Models to Review

There are so many cameras available I couldn’t possibly review them all. I’d never get to writing the article!

So, I chose to focus on the superzoom cameras with an optical zoom 50x or greater. Any less would require you to be so close to the birds which will scare them and frankly, isn’t cool. We should always respect their space.

Also, I chose not to review discontinued models. In case you’re wondering why I didn’t review a particular model, I listed several popular superzooms below that are discontinued thus excluded from my review.

  • Nikon COOLPIX P900
  • Nikon COOLPIX B600
  • Nikon COOLPIX B700
  • Canon PowerShot G3x

Let’s get to the good stuff – the reviews!


Nikon COOLPIX P1000 Review

Nikon Coolpix P1000 superzoom camera for birding
Nikon Coolpix P1000 camera

The Nikon Coolpix P1000 is an excellent camera with a mind-blowing optical zoom capability – 125x!

It’s ideal for the birder who won’t settle for less than the maximum zoom capability and demands excellent image quality – even at full zoom from 100′ away.

It’s one of the highest-priced cameras in the superzoom category but with 125x optical zoom it’s still thousands of dollars less than a DLSR or Mirrorless attached to a telephoto zoom lens. And, it’s lighter!

Key Features

Make & ModelNikon Coolpix P1000
Optical Zoom125x
Auto FocusFast
Image StabilizationYes
Frame Capture Rate7 fps
Sensor1/2.3″ (6.2 x 4.6mm) CMOS

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Astounding optical zoom (125x) to get those closeups even when 100+ feet away.
  • Excellent image quality near and far (100’ +) for greater versatility.
  • Fast autofocus speed so you don’t miss the shot.
  • Easy to use so you can start shooting pics right away.
  • Multi-directional monitor, so you can easily size up the shot.

Cons

  • Some say the camera is big and heavy.
  • A stability device such as a monopod or tripod is needed for greater distances using full optical zoom (unless you have a really steady hand).

Nikon Coolpix P1000 Test Observations

When the camera arrived I immediately opened it, installed batteries & a memory card, set it to Bird mode, and started shooting. It was that fast and easy.

Optical Zoom Distance Test

Below are the results of the distance testing with the camera at full zoom.

I did not include a photo from a 15′ distance because the Nikon Coolpix P1000’s optical zoom was too strong for the wooden bird at a short distance.

Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000 from 25 feet away
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000 Distance: 25′
Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000 from 50 feet away
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000 Distance: 50′
Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000 from 75 feet away
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000 Distance: 75′

The Nikon Coolpix P1000 camera is up to the task of zooming in on birds far away. Check out the pic below taken more than more than 100’ from the subject! 

Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000 from 100 feet away
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000 Distance: 100′

With the shooting mode set to continuous, I was able to capture more than 10 great shots each time. Although it’s not the fastest camera I tested (only 7fps), it was plenty fast for me.

And, because the quality of each shot was great it didn’t matter. In fact, I literally had a difficult time choosing the best shot. They were all that good. 

shot of American goldfinch bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000
shot of American goldfinch bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000
shot of American goldfinch bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000
shot of American goldfinch bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000
shot of American goldfinch bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000
shot of American goldfinch bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000

Nikon doesn’t explicitly state the speed of the autofocus and I didn’t get out a stopwatch and test the actual autofocus speed but found it to be really fast.

I took the Nikon Coolpix P1000 to a nearby nature park and although it’s the heaviest (3 lbs) and largest (5.8″ x 4.7″ x 7.1″) superzoom camera I tested, I felt like I was just carrying “a camera” vs. “a really heavy cumbersome camera”. I think it boils down to personal preference.

Unless you’re one of those people with a really steady hand, a monopod or tripod is needed for really far distances otherwise, the camera has trouble focusing on the subject due to camera movement.

The shots below were from a distance of more than 150’ and full zoom. I had a difficult time keeping the camera still enough to let the autofocus do its job. 

shot of American robin bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000 Distance: 150′
shot of American robin bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000 Distance: 150′
shot of American robin bird taken with a Nikon Coolpix P1000
Camera: Nikon Coolpix P1000 Distance: 150′

That said, for the shots under 100′ I really appreciate the image stabilization on the P1000. I shot all of the pictures freehand and they’re pretty clear and crisp. A pretty impressive feat with a camera that some say is too heavy. (And I’m a wimp!)

More Nikon Coolpix P1000 Sample Images

Below are additional photos taken with the Nikon Coolpix P1000. They’re unedited and perhaps not the best in terms of composition but provide a sample of the camera’s image quality and zoom.

American goldfinch on thistle feeder
American goldfinch. The photo was taken with Nikon Coolpix P1000 about 10′ feet away, zoomed-in but not full zoom.
American goldfinch
American goldfinch. Photo was taken with the Nikon Coolpix P1000 about 105 feet away (zoomed-in but not at full zoom).
Downy woodpecker. Taken with Nikon Coolpix P1000.
Downy woodpecker Photo was taken with the Nikon Coolpix P1000 about 10 feet away (zoomed-in, but not full zoom).
female house finch on a peanut feeder
Female house finch. Photo was taken with the Nikon Coolpix P1000 about 10 feet away (zoomed-in, but not full zoom).

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS Review

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS superzoom camera for birding
Canon PowerShot SX70 HS camera

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is a fun camera with an impressive optical zoom of 65x. It’s ideal for the backyard birder that wants to be able to zoom in close on birds on the feeder or nearby the deck/patio.

Compared with the Nikon Coolpix P1000, the Canon is much smaller, lighter, and less expensive. However, it’s only 1/2 the zoom capability of the P1000 (125x).

When capturing shots of small birds, its sweet spot at full zoom is about 25′ or closer.

Key Features

Make & ModelCanon PowerShot SX70 HS
Optical Zoom65x
Auto FocusFast
Image StabilizationYes
Frame Capture Rate10
Sensor1/2.3″ (6.2 x 4.6mm) BSI CMOS
+

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Tremendous zoom capability (65x) to capture great shots of small birds closeup.
  • Small & lightweight.
  • Vari-angle monitor to easily setup the shot.
  • Great image quality.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a Bird mode so getting started was slower.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS Test Observations

After unboxing and charging the battery it was ready to go. I did have to fiddle with the settings a bit since it doesn’t have a Bird mode. That slowed me down a bit.

I was impressed with the image quality, especially zoomed in. The autofocus speed was lickety-split. That combined with the fast image capture rate (10 fps), I didn’t miss any shots.

The Canon PowerShot SX70’s viewfinder is large and I was able to swing the monitor out to the side, rotate 360, and place it back in its compartment with the monitor facing outward. I found the flexible monitor really helpful when getting the shot ready, reviewing it afterward, and navigating the camera’s menu system.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS camera variable monitor
Canon PowerShot SX70 HS camera variable monitor

As you’ll soon see, the image quality is really very good. Kudos to the image stabilization as most shots were very sharp and clear, even in full zoom, without a tripod or other stability method.

Optical Zoom Distance Test

Below are the results of the distance testing with the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS camera at full zoom.

Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Canon PowerShot SX70HS from 15 feet away
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX70HS Distance: 15′
Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Canon PowerShot SX70HS from 25 feet away
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX70HS Distance: 25′
Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Canon PowerShot SX70HS from 50 feet away
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX70HS Distance: 50′
Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Canon PowerShot SX70HS from 75 feet away
Camera: Canon PowerShot SX70HS Distance: 75′

More Canon PowerShot SX70HS Sample Images

Below are additional photos taken with the Canon PowerShot SX70HS. They’re unedited and perhaps not the best in terms of composition but provide a sample of the camera’s image quality and zoom. And yes, I like chickadees!

Black-capped chickadee. Photo taken with Canon PowerShot SX70-HS 15' away.
Black-capped chickadee. Photo was taken with Canon PowerShot SX70-HS 15′ away.
Black-capped chickadee. Photo taken with Canon PowerShot SX70-HS 25' away.

Black-capped chickadee. Photo was taken with Canon PowerShot SX70-HS 25′ away.
Black-capped chickadee. Photo taken with Canon PowerShot SX70-HS 10' away.
Black-capped chickadee. Photo was taken with Canon PowerShot SX70-HS 10′ away.
Downy woodpecker.  Photo taken with Canon PowerShot SX70 HS 25'+ away.
Downy woodpecker. Photo was taken with Canon PowerShot SX70 HS about 35 – 50 feet away.

Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Review

Panasonic Lumix FZ80 superzoom camera for birding
Panasonic Lumix FZ80 camera

The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is the ideal budget superzoom camera for the backyard birder that wants to capture bird closeups from the deck or patio and still get very-good quality images.

If you prefer a camera on the smaller and lighter side and prefer to navigate the menu via touchscreen, this camera is for you.

When capturing shots of small birds at full zoom, its sweet spot is about 15-20′ away.

Key Features

Make & ModelPanasonic Lumix FZ80
Optical Zoom60x
Auto FocusQuick
Image StabilizationYes
Frame Capture Rate10 fps
Sensor1/2.3″ (6.2 x 4.6mm) BSI CMOS

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Good image quality when within 15’ of the subject.
  • Good autofocus speed to focus in on the bird quickly. 
  • Touch screen monitor to easily navigate the camera menu options.
  • Small & light so it’s easy to carry anywhere.

Cons

  • Viewfinder and monitor too tiny to be useful for gauging the shot (even from close distance or fully zoomed in).
  • Image quality became soft around 20’.
  • Doesn’t have a Bird mode so getting started was slower.

Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Test Observations

The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 doesn’t have a Bird mode so I wasn’t able to set it and start shooting right away. This is a minor annoyance but may be key if you’re new to photography.

The closest the FZ80 came to a bird mode was to set it to Scene mode and choose animals that appear to be intended for pets – not fidgety tiny birds. So, it wasn’t intended for fast-moving wildlife.

Optical Zoom Distance Test

Below are the results of the distance testing with the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 camera at full zoom.

Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ80 from 15 feet away
Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Distance: 15′
Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ80 from 25 feet away
Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Distance: 25′
Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ80 from 50 feet away
Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Distance: 50′
Wooden cardinal bird taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ80 from 75 feet away
Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Distance: 75′

The Panasonic FZ80’s strength is image quality when closer to the subject – about 15′ or less. Beyond that, the image quality starts to soften – not as clear and crisp.

Sparrow on the edge of birdbath
Sparrow. Taken with a Panasonic Lumix FX80 about 15′ away using full optical zoom.
Nuthatch at feeder
Nuthatch. Taken with Panasonic FZ80 about 25′ away using full optical zoom.

More Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Sample Images

Below are additional photos taken with the Panasonic FZ80. They’re unedited and perhaps not the best in terms of composition but provide a sample of the camera’s image quality and zoom.

Downy woodpecker.  Photo taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ80 25' away.
Downy woodpecker. Photo was taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ80 25′ away.
Blue jay. Photo taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ80 15' away.
Blue jay. Photo was taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ80 15′ away.
American goldfinch. Photo taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ80 10' away.
American goldfinch. Photo was taken with Panasonic Lumix FZ80 10′ away.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Bird Photography Different from Other Types of Photography?

Bird photography is unique from other types of photography because the models (birds) are very tiny, appear without notice, and don’t stay still for long. Bird photography requires equipment that quickly zooms in to tiny subjects and focuses very, very fast. It also requires the photographer to be patient and aware of the birds’ behavior so they can plan for their arrival while at the same time ready to shoot because you may only have one chance.

What’s the best time to watch birds?

The best time to watch birds is when they are most active – early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

How close should you be to a bird when taking pictures?

Although there isn’t a concrete number in terms of distance, Audubon suggests we keep enough of a distance that allows our subject to behave naturally. In other words, if the bird notices us (e.g. appears spooked or rattled and flies away), we were probably too close.

How Can You Tell if a Camera Lens is Zoomed?

You can tell if a camera lens is zoomed because the lens is protruded out from the camera body.

Are Superzoom Cameras Any Good?

Superzoom cameras are an excellent choice for someone that takes pictures of small, far away objects but doesn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a camera and lens setup. Superzooms are also generally smaller and lighter than a DSLR or Mirrorless camera with a large zoom lens attached.

Next Steps

It can be overwhelming to find a superzoom camera that suits your needs. I was in the same position which is why I dove into testing the top superzoom cameras myself.

I learned that whether you’re an all-around birder that likes to venture to parks and nature centers to satisfy your “birding” need or someone that just enjoys their backyard, there’s a superzoom camera for you.

The Nikon Coolpix P1000 is for you if you want maximum zoom and image quality.

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is for you if you want great image quality and impressive zoom around your yard.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is for you if you want a superzoom on a budget.

Happy Birding!

Photo of author

Tammy Poppie

More than 20 years ago, Tammy put her first bird feeder outside her kitchen window. Since then she learned how to attract wild birds to her back yard (and repel others). In her free time, she can be found in nature kayaking, hiking, and biking always hoping to see a bird in the wild.