These are the DSLR settings for bird photography that I recommend. Use these settings as a starting point and play around with them to get particular effects to suit your photography style.
- Put the camera in manual mode so that you have full control of the camera!
- Use 1/1000 – ƒ/8.0 – ISO 200 as your starting point. This works great when your subject is in full sunlight aka the golden situation.
- For hand-held shots of birds, keep your shutter speed at 1/1000 or above. For birds in flight, try for 1/1500 or more.
What about different lighting conditions? e.g. low light
Use the camera’s light meter in the viewfinder in conjunction with histograms and “the blinkies” to determine whether your shot is correctly exposed. For more information on this topic, check out Backlit Bird Photography Tips.
On a cloudy day, you will have to do some or all of the following:
- Reduce the aperture value
- Increase the ISO up to the highest point your camera can tolerate before your shots are too “noisy” (for the Nikon D7200 – I try to keep it below 2000).
- If your subject is relatively still, then reduce the shutter speed as needed (but the slower the speed, the higher the risk of blur).
- Continuous autofocus with 9 focus points. Some people like to increase the number of focus points for birds in flight.
- Matrix metering (aka evaluative metering). In this mode, the camera will evaluate the light from the entire scene.
- With this setting when you push and hold down the shutter button, the camera will take continuous shots. You want this!
Not sure about using manual mode or want more details? Read my article Mastering Manual Exposure For Bird Photography. You got this!