The Problem with Small Birds (three photographs)

The Problem with Sparrows-1To view more of my photography please click on

Small bird photography is very difficult; you need real dedication and patience (and the money to buy a long lens). Lets start with the bird, they are so small that details can be lost unless you have a long enough lens to fill a significant part of the frame, or the megapixels to crop to that size. Small birds are mostly hyperactive and very sensitive to sound and movement, seeing the bird and finding it with the lenses, are two different things. Small birds have the advantage of being able to hide in the brush and in the tree cover. You can sooner hear them than see them. Of course bird feeders provide some opportunity, but I am talking about birds entirely in nature. In the trees and brush the growth between them and you ruins any chance of easy focus and if you can focus they usually have their backs towards you. When you do get to see them they choose a roost so high up the photographic view is unnatural. A small bird on a branch is relatively rare and one on a branch with a clear background is even rarer. When you see photographs of small birds that work applaud the photographer, he worked for it. The photographs, above show why you might nonetheless want to shoot small birds, even if the highest standards cannot be met.

The Problem with Sparrows-2

The Problem with Sparrows-3

18 responses

  1. I echo the struggles to shoot small birds. I have an 800mm lens and it still hard to fill a frame.


    October 12, 2014 at 3:37 am

  2. Nice shots… You are absolutely right, Victor, it’s so hard to get a sharp image of these small birds.

    My technique is wait for them to come near and try my luck.

    It works out by keeping a water pot or something in our garden.


    October 12, 2014 at 6:11 am

  3. Pat

    These are lovely shots.


    October 12, 2014 at 8:01 pm

  4. Great shots – I love birds! But nearly impossible for me to photograph!


    October 12, 2014 at 11:11 pm

  5. Sweet shots. It’s comforting to know so many others are challenged by small birds…even with LONG lenses.


    October 13, 2014 at 7:11 am

    • Thanks. I think a 300m is about as far as most would wish to go.


      October 13, 2014 at 9:15 am

  6. Amazing shots Victor. We have lots and lots of birds here and I’ve been having fun identifying the birds. There is a huge list! What lens did you use to capture these?


    October 13, 2014 at 11:49 am

    • Thanks. I used a 300mm F2.8, my longest lens.


      October 13, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      • Wow you must’ve been fairly close. I have that focal length. I need longer though because the big birds are down by the lake. And the 300 isn’t long enough from our backyard


        October 13, 2014 at 5:11 pm

        • 1. 24 Megapixels, allows for significant cropping
          2. teleconverters work well with the 300 2.8 nikon at f8
          I shot my egrets with this combo. A longer lens would not be hand holdable at 300 (which is how I used it today), and the narrower filed of view that much more difficult to find the bird in the first place. Also the difference in weight and price is significant.
          Hope this helps.


          October 13, 2014 at 5:20 pm

          • My 300 is not a 2.8 and doesn’t accept teleconverters unfortunately. I do understand what you’re saying though and cropping doesn’t work for me at the distance I am at. I’ve tried and I have a good camera a D7100.


            October 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm

            • I a am using the D7100. the 70-300 variable aperture lens is not for birding (though I know one great photographer who uses it). The next option is the 300 f4 and it takes the 1.4 teleconverter, The most expensive, heaviest and quality option is the 300 2.8. There are new long lens options from Sigma I think, but also variable aperture. The results I have seen in full daylight are excellent they would be less good in low light and a forest. Hope this helps.


              October 13, 2014 at 6:08 pm

              • Thank you so much Victor. I think this would be used mostly during the day as that’s when I’m out there taking pics. I will investigate the 300 f4 with the 1.4 teleconverter though. I like that option. The 300 2.8 is probably too heavy for me. Thank you so much for this information. I really appreciate it!


                October 13, 2014 at 7:03 pm

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