What Camera Should I buy?

Grey Catbird getting ready to feed the young. by David Lilly

House Finch by David Lilly

House Wren by David Lilly


Many bird photographers assume if they buy the latest and best camera they will be a better bird photographer. We know that is not the case. Yes, you will have more megapixels, the latest processors and and a little better ISO settings for low light. 


During the last 10 years camera technology has changed fast. Every new camera had some improvements worthy of upgrading. However, the technology has now gotten to the point where their is no need to upgrade if you have the latest camera. As a matter of fact, today (2015) a bird photographer could purchase a camera for less than $800.00 and have more than enough resolution for any photography. Let me explain.


I always check the DXO Mark scores to compare cameras. The latest DXO comparison indicated that the Nikon D 5300 was rated better than the Nikon D3S. The D 5300 price tag Approx $600.00, the D3S was around $5000.00 five years ago approximately. The question you are probably asking yourself is, There must be a difference in the cameras if I pay a lot more for a camera? Lets compare the differences that are important to bird photographers between the Nikon D 5300 Approx price $600.00 and the 

Nikon D 7200 , approx price $1300.00.


Update: Nikon just introduced (2016) a D 5600, D 3400 and a D 500. You may want to check these cameras as well. I have recently purchased the D 500. It is the best camera I have ever owned for focusing on birds in flight.


D 5300 - 24 megapixels

D 5300 – 5 frames per second

D 5300 – Resolution 6016 x 4016

D 5300 – Plastic body

D 5300 – to change ISO etc, you must go into the menu, 

D 5300 – Metering changes done in menu D 5300, 

D 5300 – Modes, M,S,A, P one button for S, A, 

D 5300 – 13 frames buffer at 12 bits 

D 5300 – not weather sealed













For a complete specifications on each camera click on the links above.


A few more reasons why you might want to consider a less expensive camera body. Usually, after three years we trade in or buy a new camera body. Using the two cameras above, the D 5300 would cost approx $200.00 per year, whereas the D 7200 would cost $400.00 per year. Consider the Nikon D 800 would cost approx $1000.00 per year. Just face it there are not many bird photographers making a living from bird photography. So, it basically becomes a psychological thing, better camera better bird photography or a cheaper camera with equal results.


The purpose of this article was to make you think about your next camera purchase. Ask yourself do I need the more expensive camera with the same resolution as a cheaper version for two, three times more money?


D 7200 – 24.6 Megapixels

D 7200 - 6 frames per second

D 7200 - 6000 x 4000

D 7200 - Metal body

D 7200 – external button for quick change.

D 7200 – M,S,A,P two buttons, S, A.

D 7200 - 18 frames

D 7200 – weather sealed.