Do you want me to let you in on a little secret? You can take great photographs of birds without having to buy a DSLR! You also don’t need to carry a heavy telephoto lens around with you. The best part? It won’t cost you more than $500!
Superzoom Camera For Bird Photography
The camera I’m talking about is a superzoom or a bridge camera like the Canon SX50. These cameras are not quite DSLRs, but they are a cut above a regular point and shoot. They also definitely have some advantages that are worth considering.
For anyone getting started with bird photography, I think a superzoom camera is the way to go. They’re also a good option for people on a budget and for times you don’t want to carry the weight of a DSLR and telephoto lens.
I also think superzooms take great pictures. My Canon SX50 performs particularly well in full sunlight and I think some of my shots are comparable with those taken by DSLRs. The zoom is amazing! I take the majority of my pictures at full zoom, which is 50X or the equivalent of 1200mm (most DSLR users shoot bird photos with 400-600mm lenses!).
Using a Superzoom Camera for Bird Photography
If you want to know how to get the best results with a superzoom camera, read my article: Best Canon SX50 Settings for Bird Photography.
How Good are the Photos?
Here are some of the shots I’ve taken with the Canon SX50.
To see more of my photographs, follow me on Instagram @theafternoonbirder and check my hashtag #abcanonsx50.
If my pictures don’t sell you, check out these Canon SX50 photographers and I guarantee you will be impressed!:
Where to Buy?
Unfortunately Canon discontinued the SX50, but you can buy refurbished and used ones on Amazon:
Superzoom Camera Buying Guide
There are plenty of newer superzoom options on the market with more features and updated specs. Here is my guide to the best models for bird photography.
All the links below go to Amazon.
1. Canon SX60
Canon now makes a SX60 with an even longer zoom (60x, versus 50x). Some people say it isn’t as good as the SX50, but others believe the longer zoom makes it worth the upgrade.
The Lumix FZ80 has 60x zoom and is one of the most affordable superzoom camera options! The specs are amazing for the price.
Nikon’s COOLPIX P900 is another interesting option with a whopping 83x zoom! Some reviewers say you need to use a monopod/tripod at full zoom to reduce camera shake. It also can’t shoot RAW, so it may lack the image quality of other models. This is the model to choose if your main priority is the longest reach possible!
Nikon’s B700 has 60x zoom, ability to shoot in RAW and 4K video. It is a difficult decision between this model and the Panasonic FZ80!
1 inch Sensor Superzooms
One of the complaints about superzoom cameras is they have smaller sensors than DSLRs. All the previous models come with small 1/2.3 inch sensors which can cause issues with image quality and low light performance. Sony and Panasonic’s answer to this is to make superzooms with 1 inch sensors (not as big as a DSLR’s, but still a significant improvement on 1/2.3 inches). This is an interesting option worth considering for bird photography, but it’s going to cost you!
Some reviewers say this is the best superzoom camera on the market. I can believe it with a 1 inch sensor, respectable zoom reach, fast frame rate and quick autofocus. It would be an excellent choice for bird photography, but it’s price tag is pushing DSLR territory.
24-600mm, 20.1MP, RAW, 24fps, 4K video
If a 1 inch sensor superzoom interests you, but the price tag on the RX10 IV is too hefty, consider the FX2500. The major downside to this model is it has the shortest reach of any other model. I still think it could be suitable for birds, but you are trading off ‘zoom’ for a bigger sensor.
If you choose to purchase items from the links I provided, I will earn a small Amazon credit at no extra cost to you. This goes towards the cost of maintaining this website, which is greatly appreciated!
Superzoom Camera Comparison Chart
For best viewing on a mobile device, tilt your screen sideways.
Price (USD) Sensor Size Lens Mega
RAW FPS Video Wifi
Canon SX50 $250-350 refurbished 1/2.3 inch 24-1200mm 12.1 Yes 2.2 1080p No
Canon SX60 $449 1/2.3 inch 21-1365mm 16.1 Yes 6.4 1080p Yes
Panasonic FZ80 $348 1/2.3 inch 20-1200mm 18.1 Yes 10 4K Yes
Nikon P900 $579 1/2.3 inch 24-2000mm 16 No 7 1080p Yes
Nikon B700 $447 1/2.3 inch 24-1440mm 20.3 Yes 7 4K Yes
Sony RX10 IV $1698 1 inch 24-600mm 20.1 Yes 24 4K Yes
Panasonix FZ2500 $997 1 inch 24-480mm 20.1 Yes 12 4K Yes
If I were buying a new superzoom camera for bird photography and money was no object, the Sony RX10 IV would be at the top of my list. If money is a consideration, then the Panasonic FZ80 is excellent value for money, with the Nikon B700 being another great option.
Prefer to buy a DSLR? Read my DSLR buying guide.