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How many megapixels do I need for Bird photography?

01.12.2023

This question came up on Quora and I thought it may be useful to repeat my answer here

A minimum of 12Mp to is needed make a decent print. Beyond that, anything is plenty. The key to good Bird Photography is your choice of lens: plenty of reach, good stabilisation and excellent autofocus.

One of the biggest mistakes is to believe that using a super high megapixel camera will give you great images. Better to use a lighter, portable and more affordable Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system camera with ‘more bang for the buck’ in terms of lenses, to get closer to your subject, than to have a distant spot in the picture and to crop afterwards to make it bigger.

A 300mm lens on an MFT camera like an OM-1 is equivalent to 600mm on a high megapixel full frame camera, so you are already twice as close to the bird. MFT cameras from brands like OM System have incredibly good stabilisation and the lenses are light, so you don’t need a bulky tripod.

Options like Bird detect in the AF system are like cheating when you use them for the first time and they make bird photography far easier, even when birds are moving fast in flight like the Oystercatcher below:

Nick 1st December ’23


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