Canon 7D Settings for bird photography

A very interesting thread on bird photography was started at my favorite photography forum: The original poster wanted to leave his camera in a pre-set condition where he would use the same settings all the time.

It was quickly pointed out that lighting condition is always changing and there is no one set of conditions that will work all the time. Some of the responders are bird photographers who shared their experience and made workable solutions. Some of the suggestions include”

“I shoot mostly birds. I can safely say, 99% of the time you don’t really need such small aperture f16 to get the Depth of Field that covers the entire subject (the bird) in focus, unless you can get REALLY close to the bird, i.e. within 5 ~ 7ft. This is because, setting your aperture to f16, you are doing it at the expense of shutter speed and also of ISO. The former is critical for bird in action, the latter is important for noise-free images.”

“Stay well away from F16 for bird photography. It will result in a slower shutter speed which is the mortal enemy of birders……….I use F7.1 on my 100-400 normally, ISO 800 in Aperture mode. If you need more light then go ISO 1600 or higher, and use native ISO’s only ( 100 – 200- 400 etc ) ”

Follow the thread here and also check out the stunning bird images by Ian Hatch.


I shot this photo of a Cattle Egret from my car, using the window to steady my Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens set at 200mm. The exposure was 1/1000 second f/8 and ISO 200.