Increasing Size of Birds in Photos: Comparing Focal Lengths, Sensor Size, and More

It only takes one trip out in the field to learn that getting birds large in frame is no easy task. Here are five different ways to increase the size of the birds in your photos and how these methods compare to each other.

In this new video from Australian bird photographer Duade Paton, he examines the five ways of making birds appear bigger in photos. The different methods talked about include using bigger lenses with more focal length, using teleconverters on compatible lenses, the differences of full frame versus crop sensors, cropping in post-production, and physically getting closer in the field when possible. Paton describes the advantages and drawbacks to these methods and should leave you with a good idea on how to set out and improve your bird photography.

A few of these methods do involve pricey gear, so with that I will leave some encouraging thoughts that don’t cost a thing. Primarily, it should be stressed that having birds large in the frame is not a prerequisite to excellent bird photography. You can have a frame-filling bird, but without good lighting or interesting behavior or posing it’s going to fall flat. If you’re on a limited budget, you can level the playing field by paying particular attention to the things you can control; Shoot with the best light, get into position early so that birds are at ease and come close to you, look for interesting compositions that deep focal lengths miss out on. Take pride in capturing a bird well within its habitat, because it’s too often overlooked yet so important.

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Jerome Brill's picture

Good explanation if you're not too familiar with all of this. Especially DSLR AF vs Mirrorless AF at high apertures.

Still found this funny though.

Trey Mortensen's picture

Haha got one similar during lockdown back in April!

Nitin Chandra's picture

Nice. Just missing one critical point though...DoF. I have shared my thoughts on the Nikon bodies a bit earlier and we do have the focus distance in the EXIF till the lens is around infinity. ON1 Photo Raw shows that, for the rest, you would need to pull out that data manually...

Mike Dochterman's picture

just photograph bigger birds

jim hughes's picture

I'm of the school that says - to get an interesting photo of a bird, you have to get close . A big lens helps, APS-C helps, but you still need to find a way to get close.