How to be a Birder part 14

Hint # 14 Use a camera

With the advent of cheap, easy to use digital cameras with great zoom facilities, bird photography has become accessible to everyone. One doesn’t need to buy big, expensive telephoto lenses to get great shots of birds. An added bonus is that you don’t have to lug around a wheel barrow load of camera equipment, lenses, tripod, flash units and other assorted gear. If that turns you on, fine. Go ahead and ruin your back. Only joking. If you want to go down the professional photographer path you probably will need a truck load of gear, but for the ordinary birder, the modern digital camera means light, compact, ease of use and great results.

When I purchased a new digital camera in the middle of 2005 I rediscovered my interest in photography. Many years ago, over 30 years ago in fact, I bought a cheap SLR. I even got to the point of developing my own slide photos. I couldn’t really afford too many extras like expensive telephoto lens, and gradually the interest waned. The digital age has reignited a passion for photography.

I bought a Canon Powershot S2 IS digital camera with a 12x zoom facility. Now this was something of compromise. I bought it especially for the trek in the Everest region I did last January (read my travel blog for details of my adventures). I wanted a powerful camera with plenty of zoom but it had to be compact. I didn’t want to carry a great deal of heavy equipment, and the Canon, while something of a compromise, was ideal.

It has proved to be amazingly adept as a great camera for bird photography. It is easy to carry, even with binoculars around my neck. I have a loop tied in the strap so that it fits over my wrist and just dangles from there when not in use. This way it doesn’t bang against my binoculars. Nor does it interfere with viewing a bird using the binoculars. It is simple and quick to use and the 12x zoom facility is brilliant.

UPDATE: The model of camera I write about above has been through a series of different models and seems to be no longer available. Several new series of models have replaced it, and prices have dropped in recent years. Check out your favourite camera shop.

Updated November 2013.

Silver Gull

Silver Gull


6 Responses to “How to be a Birder part 14”

  1. fernando says:

    Great photos Trevor!
    I am a beginner and just bought the canon s3 is, using the full 12x i have sometimes difficulties with the focus, some images look blurry and it seems that the auto focus doesn’t work well in some conditions, did you have similar problems? For ex. I was shooting at a lake shore early in the morning, scene medium light with some medium strong sunlight reflection, some times the focus is ok, sometimes no. any suggestion is welcome.(email)
    btw great work your web site!

    regards from Italy

  2. Trevor says:

    Welcome to my birding blog, Fernando. Italy – wow – this blog sure gets around! Thanks for the kind comments.

    I also have problems with the auto focus. I tend to take many photos – say 8 to 12 of the same bird and then select the best 2 or 3 to keep. This is the wonderful thing about digital photography – it costs no more to take 2 or 22 shots. By taking many photos I improve my chances of getting good shots.

  3. kasia says:

    Oh a Canon… of course, weren’t they the first to
    go digital?
    You’re photos are awesome Trevor, I’m convinced.. a Canon
    it will be then! 🙂

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  5. […] of the photos on this site have been taken with a Canon Powershot S2IS. It has been a good workhorse camera for me over the last five and a bit years. The results shown […]

  6. […] How to be a birder part 14 – part of a series I wrote some years ago […]

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