Best Lens for Birding: Top Choices for 2023 Explained

In this article, we have compiled a comprehensive list of the top lenses for birding, ensuring you capture stunning images of feathered friends in all their glory.

Best Lenses for Birding

The ideal lens for birding should have sufficient focal length, fast autofocus, effective image stabilization, excellent build quality, and manageable weight.

In the following sections, we will discuss our findings from extensive research and testing, ultimately unveiling the top lenses that cater to the unique demands of bird photography.

Noptix 10×42 Binoculars for Bird Watching

Noptix 10x42

These Noptix 10×42 Binoculars are a fantastic choice for birdwatchers seeking clear and powerful optics in a portable, user-friendly package.


  • Crystal clear optics with high-definition FMC (fully multi-coated) antireflective lenses
  • Complete kit with smartphone adapter, tripod, and other accessories
  • Waterproof level ipx3, perfect for use in various weather conditions


  • Quality may not be on par with more expensive brands
  • Smartphone adapter can be less secure for certain phones
  • Accessories may fall out from the carrying case easily

The Noptix 10×42 binoculars provide excellent view clarity with their powerful high-definition FMC antireflective lenses, and the 10x magnification power ensures that you can get up close and personal with various bird species in their natural habitats. They’re lightweight, compact, and easy to hold, making them ideal for extended birdwatching sessions or hiking trips.

One of the standout features of these binoculars is the easy-to-use smartphone adapter, which allows users to take stunning close-up photographs without the need for expensive long-distance camera lenses. Simply clip your phone into the adapter and attach it to the binocular eyepiece for an effortless photography experience.

Despite its extensive list of features, the Noptix 10×42 binoculars may not offer the same level of quality as more expensive brands. Additionally, the smartphone adapter may not securely hold certain phone models, and the carrying case’s accessories may fall out easily. However, the waterproof level ipx3 rating ensures that these binoculars can withstand heavy rainwater, making them suitable for a variety of outdoor activities like sports events, hunting, fishing, or even stargazing.

Overall, the Noptix 10×42 binoculars offer birdwatchers a powerful and portable option for observing wildlife, with the bonus of smartphone photography capabilities. Although there may be a few minor flaws, the value and versatility of these binoculars makes them a solid choice for both novice and experienced birdwatchers alike.

Celestron Nature DX ED 8×42 Premium Binoculars

Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42

The Celestron Nature DX ED 8×42 binoculars are an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts who value sharp, bright, and detailed birdwatching experiences.


  • High-quality ED glass for brighter and sharper images
  • Versatile for various uses, including birdwatching and nature observation
  • Durable, waterproof design suitable for outdoor activities


  • Slightly heavier than some alternatives
  • Price might be an issue for casual users
  • Close focus distance could be improved

Having recently used the Celestron Nature DX ED 8×42 binoculars, I can confidently say that they live up to their reputation for providing exceptional image quality with their premium ED glass. The difference in clarity and detail when compared to non-ED binoculars is truly remarkable, especially in low light conditions such as dawn or dusk.

One of the major selling points for these binoculars is their versatility. Birdwatching and nature observation are outstanding experiences with the Nature DX ED, but they are also suitable for sporting events, concerts, or even stargazing. The binoculars’ sturdy waterproof design ensures that they can withstand a range of weather conditions, making them perfect for outdoor adventures.

While I found these binoculars to be an excellent addition to my outdoor gear, there are a few drawbacks worth noting. They are slightly heavier than some other options in the market, which may be a factor to consider for those who prioritize portability. The price might also give some casual users pause, although the quality of the ED glass and overall construction justifies the investment. Additionally, while the close focus distance of 6.5 feet is not terrible, other models do offer a better close-focus capability.

Overall, the Celestron Nature DX ED 8×42 binoculars are a solid choice for anyone passionate about birdwatching, nature observation, or outdoor events that require high-quality optics. The exceptional image quality, durability, and versatility make these binoculars well worth considering, despite their minor shortcomings.

CREATIVE XP Spotting Scope 20-60x80mm

CREATIVE XP Spotting Scope

The CREATIVE XP Spotting Scope is a reliable choice for birding enthusiasts and hunters, thanks to its excellent image quality, durability, and ease of use.


  • Excellent zoom capabilities with minimal chromatic aberrations
  • Waterproof and fog-proof design for extreme conditions
  • Durable and non-reflective, with scratch-resistant lenses


  • Included cell phone holder may not be of the best quality
  • Slightly higher price tag compared to similar products
  • Some users find overall construction materials not as solid as expected

The CREATIVE XP Spotting Scope is designed to offer impressive optical performance for birding and hunting enthusiasts. This scope features extra-low dispersion glass that reduces chromatic aberrations for clear and bright images, even at its maximum 60x magnification. The fully multi-coated lenses not only prevent reflections but are also scratch-resistant, ensuring that your scope stays in excellent condition throughout your adventures.

Using the CREATIVE XP Spotting Scope is incredibly straightforward, thanks to its 2 fine focus knobs that allow users to effortlessly zoom in and focus on their desired subjects. In addition, the scope comes with a waterproof and fog-proof design, making it suitable for use in harsh and extreme weather conditions. This ensures that you get clear, uninterrupted views of birds or targets regardless of the environment.

Aside from the scope’s top-end performance, some users have reported minor issues with the accessory cell phone holder. However, the overall package, which includes a tripod and protective case, still offers great value for its price. While some users reported that the construction materials could be of higher quality, the majority of users have praised the scope for its impressive optical quality and functionality.

In conclusion, the CREATIVE XP Spotting Scope 20-60x80mm is a dependable choice for birding enthusiasts and hunters looking for a clear, reliable, and easy-to-use scope that can withstand various weather conditions.

HUICOCY Spotting Scopes 20-60x60mm Zoom

HUICOCY Spotting Scopes

The HUICOCY Spotting Scopes is a versatile and budget-friendly option for birding enthusiasts looking for a powerful magnification and clear visuals.


  • Powerful 20x-60x magnification
  • Wide view range with fogproof design
  • BAK4 high transmission prism for crisp images


  • Included tripod is basic
  • Powder coating quality issues
  • Phone adapter may not fit all models

The HUICOCY Spotting Scopes offers a powerful 20x-60x magnification range, making it ideal for birding as well as other outdoor activities like astronomy or target shooting. The 45-degree angled eyepiece provides a comfortable viewing experience, allowing you to enjoy hours of bird watching without straining your neck.

Equipped with a multicoated 60mm green film objective lens, this spotting scope provides a wide field of view (131-66ft/1000yards) and ensures bright, crisp images. The fogproof design ensures that the lens remains clear even in damp or foggy conditions. Additionally, the BAK4 prism is utilized for its smoother texture and higher refractive index compared to BAK7 prisms, offering brighter and sharper images.

The included tripod may be a basic option, but it is functional, allowing for easy setup and stability during use. However, the powder coating on the product may not be of the best quality, as some users have reported it rubbing off like a powder. The expandable phone adapter is a nice addition, although it may not fit all phone models.

Overall, the HUICOCY Spotting Scopes is a great budget-friendly choice for bird enthusiasts looking for a powerful magnification and clear visuals in a compact package.

Generic 42mm Binocular/Monocular Objective Lens Caps

42mm Binocular/Monocular Objective Lens Caps

These lens caps provide excellent protection and a perfect fit for various 42mm binoculars and monoculars, making them a worthy investment for birding enthusiasts.


  • Accurate sizing and compatibility with various models
  • Protects lenses from rain, dust, scratches, and during transit
  • High-quality, flexible rubber design for a snug fit


  • Requires precise measurement for proper fit
  • Limited to specific diameter range
  • May not fit all brands or models

These Generic 42mm Binocular/Monocular Objective Lens Caps are designed to provide optimum protection for your birding equipment. The caps are made of high-quality flexible rubber that stretches for a tight fit, ensuring optimal protection for each lens. Compatible with various 42mm models like 8×42, 10×42, and 12×42, they can also fit several binoculars or monoculars with objective lenses between 40-44mm, as well as some scopes.

One thing that sets these lens caps apart from others is their easy-to-remove/add feature. The caps can be placed on the outside barrel of your binocular or monocular, and they remain attached when not in use. This design not only safeguards your lenses from scratches and damage during use but also keeps them covered during transit or storage.

However, to guarantee the perfect fit, you need to measure the outside diameter of the barrels of your equipment correctly. If the outer diameter falls between 51.8-53.3mm, these lens caps should fit your binoculars or monoculars precisely. But keep in mind that these caps may not cover all brands or models.

In conclusion, the Generic 42mm Binocular/Monocular Objective Lens Caps are a valuable accessory for birding enthusiasts aiming to protect their equipment’s lenses. With excellent fit and durability, you can focus on spotting your favorite birds without worrying about lens damage or debris.

Bluebird Optics Zonos HD 8x25mm Compact Birding Binoculars

Bluebird Optics Zonos

A versatile and lightweight option for birders looking for clear images and easy transportability, without breaking the bank.


  • Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass for premium image quality
  • Fully Multi Coated lenses for minimized reflections and distortion-free image
  • Compact and lightweight design at 13.6 ounces


  • Some distortion at the image periphery
  • Occasional quality inconsistencies in a few units
  • Strap and accessories not mentioned in product information

The Bluebird Optics Zonos is an impressive choice for birders who want excellent image quality and clarity on the go. Their compact size and lightweight design make them easy to tote along on any adventure—perfect for those venturing into bird watching for the first time or experienced birders seeking a sleeker alternative to bulkier options.

The Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass and Fully Multi Coated lenses work together to provide exceptional images in various conditions by reducing reflections on the glass and increasing image quality. As a result, you get great visibility of your feathered targets and can admire fine details with ease.

Despite the many positive aspects of the Zonos binoculars, there are a few drawbacks to consider. Some users experienced distortion at the periphery of the image, resulting in less-than-perfect clarity at the edges. Additionally, a few customers noted quality inconsistencies in the binoculars, and the product information lacks details about included accessories, like the strap.

All in all, the Zonos HD 8x25mm Compact Birding Binoculars offer excellent image quality and portability at an affordable price. While there are a few minor downsides, their performance and value for money make them a worthy contender for the discerning birder wanting a reliable, easy-to-carry tool for their birdwatching adventures.

Omano Bird Watching Binoculars for Adults

Omano Bird Watching Binoculars

The Omano 10×42 Travel Binoculars provide an excellent visual experience for any bird enthusiast, offering impressive clarity and comfort without straining your budget.


  • No strain, clear vision with adjustable eyecups
  • Sharp focus and wide field of view
  • Waterproof, fog-proof, and lightweight


  • Heavier than some other binoculars
  • May be uncomfortable for users with larger faces
  • Potential quality control issues with focusing

The Omano 10×42 Travel Binoculars are designed for a high-quality visual experience, thanks to their adjustable twist-up eyecups allowing for customized comfort and easy focusing. This feature is particularly useful for glasses-wearers, as it eliminates black spots and ensures optimal clarity while observing the beauty of nature.

In terms of performance, the adjustable diopter allows for easy focusing of each lens, providing a 6.2-degree field of view. This enables users to see a 354-ft span of space 1,000 yards away, making it perfect for bird watching and immersing yourself in nature’s wonders. The binoculars are waterproof, fog-proof, and lightweight at 700 grams, making them suitable for various outdoor adventures.

Included with the binoculars is a Smithsonian-endorsed bird-watching guide, which adds value to the package and makes it an ideal gift for bird enthusiasts, nature lovers, or adventurers. The Omano Store is committed to offering high-quality, durable binoculars at an affordable price, ensuring customer satisfaction.

Despite its many advantages, there are a few drawbacks to these binoculars. Some users find them heavier than other models, which may affect comfort during extended use. Additionally, their design may not cater well to those with larger faces, which could impact their effectiveness when birding. Lastly, there have been reported issues with the focusing mechanism, which may indicate quality control concerns.

Overall, the Omano Bird Watching Binoculars for Adults offer an impressive visual experience and are a great choice for anyone passionate about birding or outdoor adventures.

PhysioPhyx 80×100 Monocular Telescope

PhysioPhyx 80x100 Monocular Telescope

The PhysioPhyx 80×100 Monocular Telescope is a powerful and compact tool for birding and outdoor enthusiasts, offering clear visuals and handy smartphone compatibility.


  • 80×100 HD magnification
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Suitable for various outdoor activities


  • Smartphone adapter could be improved
  • Limited stargazing abilities
  • Inferior tripod quality

The PhysioPhyx 80×100 Monocular Telescope features an 80x magnification with a 100 mm object diameter, providing bright and clear images even from a distance. I found the fully coated lens effective in ensuring excellent light transmission. The field of view is remarkable, enabling me to clearly see the fine details of birds and other far-away scenery.

Compactness is a notable characteristic of this monocular, as it’s small enough to use with one hand and effortlessly carry around. During my birding excursions, I appreciated how the adjustable eyecup and focusing wheel allowed me to swiftly capture sights that captured my interest.

However, there are a few drawbacks to this product. The smartphone adapter, while helpful in theory, could be improved for better stability and ease of use. Moreover, the telescope doesn’t have enough power to delve deep into stargazing, which might disappoint some astronomy enthusiasts. Lastly, the included tripod could benefit from better materials and construction, as it feels a bit flimsy.

The PhysioPhyx 80×100 Monocular Telescope is a worthy addition for birding and outdoor activities. While it’s not entirely perfect, it gets the job done with excellent magnification capabilities and portable design.

Pankoo 12×50 Monocular Telescope

Pankoo 12x50 Monocular Telescope

The Pankoo 12×50 Monocular Telescope is a solid choice for birding enthusiasts looking for powerful magnification and clear images in a compact, easy-to-carry design.


  • High 12x magnification and 50mm objective lens
  • BAK-4 prism and FMC lens for clear, bright images
  • Smartphone adapter and tripod included for versatile use


  • Not suitable for those requiring lower magnification
  • Image stability can be challenging at high magnifications
  • Smartphone adapter may not fit all phone models

The Pankoo 12×50 Monocular Telescope offers 12x magnification and a 50mm objective lens that provides a wide field of view of 325 ft/1000 yards, making it perfect for birding, hiking, and other outdoor activities where you need to bring the action up close. I recently used this monocular for a birdwatching trip and was impressed with the clarity and brightness of the images I spotted through the lens.

The high-quality BAK-4 prism and FMC lens coating work together to ensure minimal refraction loss and optimal light transmission, resulting in sharp images with no color distortion. The fully rubber-armored exterior adds durability and a non-slip grip, while the adjustable eyecup accommodates users with or without eyeglasses.

Pankoo’s Monocular Telescope comes with a quick alignment smartphone adapter and tripod, making it compatible with most smartphones for taking sharp photos and sharing your birding experiences with friends and family. Although I found it easy to set up, some users might have trouble fitting certain phone models into the adapter.

Overall, the Pankoo 12×50 Monocular Telescope is an excellent piece of equipment for birdwatching and other outdoor adventures that require powerful magnification. Its relatively affordable price, clear image quality, and smartphone compatibility make it a highly recommended option for both casual and experienced birders.

Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon Canon EF Cameras

Sigma 150-600mm Lens

The Sigma 150-600mm lens is an excellent choice for birding enthusiasts looking for a high-performance and versatile telephoto lens for their Canon EF cameras.


  • Lightweight and compact construction for increased usability
  • Water and oil repellent coating on the front glass element for easy maintenance
  • Impressive 150-600mm focal range


  • Slightly heavy for extended handheld use
  • May struggle in low-light situations
  • Requires a 95mm filter size, which may not be common in some photographers’ kits

The Sigma 150-600mm lens proves to be a fantastic option for capturing stunning bird photography. With its lightweight and compact construction, it’s comfortable to use during long birdwatching sessions. Moreover, the water and oil repellent coating on the front glass element ensures easy cleaning and maintenance of the lens surface.

The impressive focal range of 150-600mm allows for great versatility, enabling you to capture images of birds from a distance without disturbing their natural behavior. The lens focuses quickly and silently, delivering sharp and vibrant images, making the most of your bird photography adventures.

However, it’s worth noting that the lens can be slightly heavy for extended handheld use and may struggle in low-light situations. Additionally, the 95mm filter size may not be readily available in some photographers’ kits, so it’s essential to consider this when deciding on your purchase.

In conclusion, the Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Canon EF cameras is an excellent investment for birding enthusiasts who prioritize performance, versatility, and quality images. Its few drawbacks are easily outweighed by the lens’s overall capabilities and impressive results.

Buying Guide

When choosing the best lens for birding, there are several key factors to consider. These factors will ensure that you capture stunning images while birdwatching.

The first aspect to consider is focal length. A longer focal length allows you to get closer shots without disturbing the birds or getting too close. Aim for a lens with a focal length of at least 300mm, but if possible, go for 400mm or more.

Aperture is another important consideration. A wide aperture, such as f/2.8 or f/4, captures more light and enables quicker shutter speeds. This is essential for capturing birds in flight or when shooting in low-light situations.

Image stabilization is a useful feature, particularly when dealing with long focal lengths. It helps minimize camera shake, which can lead to blurry images. Look for lenses with built-in image stabilization or consider using a tripod for added stability.

The focusing system should be fast and accurate to track the movement of birds, especially if they are flying or moving quickly. Look for lenses with fast autofocus motors and compatibility with your camera’s autofocus system.

Lastly, consider the build quality and weight of the lens. Birding often involves long walks or hikes, so a lightweight and portable lens is ideal. Moreover, a weather-sealed lens can protect against dust or moisture, especially if you plan to use it outdoors frequently.

In summary, when selecting the best lens for birding, prioritize the following features:

  • Focal length: Aim for at least 300mm, preferably 400mm or more
  • Aperture: Wide aperture (e.g., f/2.8 or f/4) for better low-light performance
  • Image stabilization: Look for built-in stabilization or use a tripod
  • Focusing system: Fast and accurate autofocus for tracking bird movements
  • Build quality and weight: Lightweight, portable, and weather-sealed for outdoor use

By taking these factors into account, you can make an informed decision and choose the best lens for your birding adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top lenses for bird photography across different camera brands?

Canon users can opt for the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, while Nikon enthusiasts can choose the AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens. Sony offers the FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens, and for Olympus, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS Pro lens is a great choice.

Which budget-friendly lenses are recommended for capturing birds?

Budget-friendly options include the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens and the Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary lens, both compatible with Canon and Nikon cameras.

What is the ideal focal length for bird photography?

An ideal focal length for bird photography ranges from 300mm to 600mm. This allows you to maintain distance from the bird while still capturing clear and well-detailed images.

How effective is a 70-300mm lens for photographing birds?

A 70-300mm lens can be effective for photographing birds in close proximity, but may not be sufficient for capturing distant subjects. The longer focal length provides better reach for distant birds, while the shorter focal length suits closer shots.

Which cameras and lenses are best for beginners in bird photography?

For beginners, the Nikon D500 paired with the AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens or the Canon 90D with the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens are excellent options. They offer good image quality and performance, without being cost-prohibitive.

Are 600mm lenses suitable for birding photography?

Yes, 600mm lenses are suitable for birding photography, offering an exceptional reach while maintaining high image quality. Prime lenses, such as the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM or the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR, provide better sharpness and faster autofocus but are more expensive than zoom lenses with similar focal lengths.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.