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Camera Settings for Bird Photography

edited September 2015 Posted in » Canon 60D Forum
Hello Experts,

I'm a newbie to Canon 60D, and whenever I'm taking bird pictures (on a cloudy day as well as a sunny day), I get full noisy pictures. My settings are shutter priority (TV) 1/1250 with Auto ISO. Kindly tell me the settings for bird photography.

Body: Canon 60D
Lens: Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM


  • edited September 2015
    If noise is your problem, I suggest you try a slower shutter speed to bring the ISO down. Check your EXIF information to determine just what ISO the shot ended up at. Every little bit can help. I don't know how your Canon does on this, but on my Nikon, the rate of change increases as ISO goes up. The difference between 100 and 400 is hardly noticeable, but that between, say, 800 and 1600 is obvious.

    It's always going to be a challenge to get a bird in flight without the high ISO performance of a more expensive camera. For birds standing still, you can usually get shutter speed down around 1/250. For birds in flight, you're going to be stuck needing a higher speed even if you get good at panning, if you want to avoid blurring of the wings, but you can try.

    I don't know what software options you have, and it may depend on what kind of file you're saving. Nikon's Capture NX-D, on a Nikon Raw image, has a fairly effective noise reduction feature, and I believe various Adobe programs do as well. To capture a flying bird you may end up with no alternative but cleaning up the noise in post processing.

  • edited September 2015
    That's a big lens you are using. Don't forget that with the 1.6 crop factor of the 60D your lens equates to 240-800mm lens. It is the sort of lens I might use for stationary birds, but not birds in flight.
    The maximum aperture is limited to f/5 at the wide end and f/6.3 at the long end so unless you use the right shutter speed, ISO is bound to go sky high. As @bruto says, with the 60D (and most consumer Canons) noise starts to show from 800 upwards. So set your camera to Auto 800 ISO and just tweak your shutter speed up or down until you get a good exposure.
  • edited September 2015
    Again a computer glitch, so I'll try again.

    That is indeed a big lens, and rather long for birds in flight, or for that matter for any hand holding. I have seen some references that suggest it works better than you'd expect, in part because the vibration reduction is so good. I'd see if you can get the ISO down to a manageable level, at the cost of some shutter speed, remembering that it will be hit or miss, and one may have to take a lot of shots to get a few good ones.
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