10 Best Superzoom Cameras for Birding (Beginner’s Guide)

Taking great pictures of birds means getting close–real close! But using your iPhone to take a selfie with a bird is simply not happening. That’s why superzoom cameras are the perfect way to get close to birds without getting too close.

Superzoom cameras are an excellent choice for birdwatchers hoping to capture images of their favorite birds. But with so many options and so many technical features it can be difficult to make the right choice.

For the hobbyist, a point-and-shoot superzoom camera is a great option due to their ease-of-use and their incredible zoom capabilities. This guide will give you a brief rundown on superzoom camera specs and also provide suggestions that suit your photography preferences.

We recommend

Best for beginners

Nikon Coolpix
P900

Best budget option

Panasonic Lumix
FZ300

LONGEST zoom available

Nikon Coolpix
P1000

Best for beginners

Best for enthusiasts

How is Bird Photography Different from Other Types of Photography?

Unlike macro photography or landscape photography, wildlife photography moves. Yes, you will still have to be savvy with how you use light and with how you frame your photos, but you’ll also have to be sneaky.

  • Wildlife photography, particularly bird photography, can be difficult to capture because your subject is constantly on the move. Birds are, for lack of a better term, flighty and notorious for not staying in one place for very long.
  • Someone interested in bird photography will need a camera that can capture images of birds quickly and in varying light environments. Such a camera will have superzoom capabilities, quick auto-focus with image stabilization, and a range of aperture & ISO options for better pictures in low and high light.

Additionally, passionate birders often times travel to the locations where birds may be found, regardless of weather and climate conditions. If you’re a birder who loves to travel, hike, and explore a variety of ecosystems you may want to invest in a camera that is easy to carry and also dust-and-water resistant. 

There’s nothing worse than taking photos of shorebirds on a beach, then later on hearing the grinding sound of sand particles lodged in your zoom lens (great for wildlife).

Superzoom vs DSLR vs Mirrorless vs Smartphones

So what kind of camera should you choose? The most popular camera options include Superzoom, DSLR, Mirrorless, and Smartphone.

Superzoom – Remember the old point-and-shoot digital cameras. Superzoom cameras are essentially that, but with a fixed superzoom lens. These specialty cameras are easy-to-use and offer extreme zoom capabilities. 

A solid superzoom camera can offer up to 125x magnification at a fraction of the cost and at a fraction of the size. These cameras are great for amateurs hoping to capture memorable shots that can be easily shared and enjoyed.

DSLR – DSLR cameras are the dominant cameras on the market today. Buyers can spend anywhere from $500-6,000 depending on the quality of the camera and the images it produces. DSLR cameras are great for wildlife photography for a few reasons:

  1. The viewfinder sees exactly what the lens sees. This is great for bird photographers who are constantly tracking birds in motion.
  2. DSLR cameras are durable, often having great dust-and-water resistant capabilities.
  3. DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses. So if you want to use your camera for birding and also to take photos of the family at Christmas, you can! You just have to pay more for the extra lenses, which can be pricey in the long run.

Mirrorless – Mirrorless cameras have come a long way in the last few years. The benefit to using a mirrorless camera is that they can be faster and more effective at auto-focusing. This is because the mirror that reflects images into the viewfinder on a common DSLR is not there. Instead, the image is directly relayed from the lens to the sensor. 

Mirrorless cameras use electronic viewfinders (EVF). This projects a digital image from the lens into the viewfinder. In the past, EVF cameras would often lag making action shots difficult to capture. Nowadays, Mirrorless EVF cameras easily rival the image-capturing power of DSLRs.

Smartphones – Smartphone cameras are becoming more and more impressive, making the common point-and-shoot digital cameras obsolete. It’s not unusual to see a birder with a spotting scope and a smartphone mount. Smartphones can capture great pictures (even through a spotting scope) but it’s difficult to make them your primary camera for bird photography. 

It may be easy to get a quick pic through a spotting scope of a Tundra Swan calmly floating on a lake. But as soon as that bird flies, capturing the image with a spotting scope and smartphone is nearly impossible.

Superzoom Price Timeline

When shopping for a superzoom camera you will find that there is a variety of technical options offered at a range of different price points. The best way to start is to consider your budget. 

How much are you willing to spend on a superzoom camera? Prices for these cameras can range from $300-2,000. Fortunately, most superzoom cameras are reasonably priced, as compared to their DSLR and mirrorless counterparts. 

Next, you’ll want to determine what features you are interested in buying. Do you want high magnification? Do you want external audio capabilities? Do you want to pay for a high-quality sensor that takes better photos? Weighing these options will help you determine which camera will be best for you.  

Below is a quick list of what you can expect to get at certain price points:

$200: Can get you a 20x optical zoom camera with an ergonomic handgrip.

$400: Can get you a 60x optical zoom camera that can shoot 4K video and capture 18.1 megapixel photos. 

$600: Can get you a 1-inch sensor and a maximum aperture of f/2, great for taking high-quality photos in low light. 

$800: Can get a camera with a hot shoe mount to fix a flash or microphone to. Plus, you get a camera with a high-frame-rate which helps take clearer action and slow-mo shots. 

$1000: Can get you 125x optical zoom camera that shoots 4K video and also takes RAW photos for better editing. 

$1200 and Up: Can get a blend of high-quality options: excellent aperture/ISO range, 4K video, external microphone or flash compatible, high optical zoom, high-quality sensor for better imaging, etc.

What About Audio?

Most birders love to take pictures of birds, but there are a few who also enjoy capturing bird songs. In order to do this, you need to be able to record the sounds of birds. This can be accomplished using a smartphone or a camera with an internal microphone. 

These sound file may not be reminiscent of the high-quality bird songs you heard out in the field. Choosing a camera that is compatible with an external microphone will help you better capture the sounds of nature. This feature will also make the audio you record for any video sound clearer and static-free. 

Expert birders looking for high-quality audio recordings may prefer to use stand-alone directional microphones to record bird songs. But having the option to mount an external microphone to a camera can be a practical choice for birders interested in capturing bird song recordings, especially if you plan on taking video of the birds.

How to Choose a Superzoom Camera?

When choosing a superzoom camera, it is essential to understand your own preferences and how that translates to a camera’s technical specs.

  • Zoom Magnification– How much zoom do you anticipate using? Normal birding binoculars magnify birds between 8x-10x and zoom binoculars even more. There are many superzoom camera options that range from 10x-125x. The key is to find a camera that has a good balance between zoom capability and image quality. 
  • Sensor Quality– How concerned are you with image quality? Most amateur photographers will be pleased with the images they capture from most cameras on the market today. If you’re hoping for supreme image quality, you may want to invest in a higher-end DSLR or mirrorless camera. Superzoom cameras can offer better quality photos too though. A camera with a 1 inch sensor will provide more space for the image to project onto, making this a better choice for someone hoping to get the best image quality. 
  • Low-light Picture Capabilities– Will you be taking photos in low-light situations, such as a forested area? Finding a camera with a decent aperture range will help you capture better photos in low light. Aperture range is measured by f-numbers. For example, these numbers may appear as f/2.9-5.8. The lower the first number, the better equipped the lens is to capture images in low light. If you plan on taking photos in varying light environments you may want to purchase a camera with a wider aperture range.
  • Weight & Durability– Where will you be taking your camera? If you plan on lugging your camera around on long hikes or while travelling, you may want to prioritize a light-weight model. Also, if you plan to take your camera outdoors frequently check to make sure your camera is dust-and-water resistant.
  • Image Sharing– How do you plan to share your files? Most digital cameras on the market today feature bluetooth, wi-fi, or NFC capabilities. These features allow you to wirelessly connect to your camera to a computer or smartphone. This is great for photographers hoping to quickly share their photos on their favorite social media.
  •  

Best Superzoom Camera for Birding

1. Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera

The Nikon COOLPIX P900 is a great option for bird photographers just starting out due to its quality build and its price point. 

The impressive 83x Optical Zoom NIKKOR Super ED VR Lens allows users to capture great close-ups of the birds they love. 

As with most cameras, photos taken at the highest zoom levels won’t be as crisp as photos taken at lower magnification.  

The Nikon COOLPIX P900 gives you the option of getting those close shots, but also plenty of magnification to back off and capture cleaner looking photos.

The electronic viewfinder will make tracking birds in flight easy and the image stabilizer will ensure that your photos will come out crisp. The image quality on this camera may not be professional grade, but the amateur photographer will still have a great time capturing incredible shots of birds.

Check the price of Nikon COOLPIX P900 here

What we liked

  • Great for beginners
  • Good price/quality value
  • Zoom Capabilities
  • Image Sharing Features
  • Includes ED Glass for Better Clarity

What we didn’t like

  • Does Not Shoot RAW Files
  • Battery Life
  • Not Compatible with External Microphone

Optical Zoom: 83x
Megapixels: 16
Video Resolution: FHD 1080p/60fps
Image Stabilizer: Yes
LCD Screen: 3 inch Vari Angle TFT LCD
Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inch
Sensor Resolution: 16 megapixels (Optical Sensor)/1080p (Video Capture)
Lens: 83x Optical Zoom NIKKOR Super ED VR Lens
Equivalent Focal Range: 24-2000mm
Aperture: f/2.9-6.5
Weight: 1.98 lbs
Connections: Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, Hi-speed USB, and HDMI Output

2. Canon PowerShot G3 X Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot G3 X is an excellent choice for the avid traveller looking for a light camera that produces high-quality images. 

With the 1-inch, 20.2 megapixel sensor, photographers can expect excellent photo quality.

Admittedly this camera may not be the best choice for the committed birder. 

It can still take quality photos of birds, but the lack of a viewfinder and the lower zoom will make it difficult to track birds in flight.

The Canon PowerShot G3 X does provide an impressive range that rivals 600mm telephoto lenses. This camera is a great option for travelers who enjoy taking a variety of picture styles such as landscapes, portraits, and wildlife (not exclusively birds).

Travellers can also be reassured that the Canon PowerShot G3 X is dust-and-water resistant. It features dust-and-drip proof rubber sealing which is typical of Canon’s DSLR EOS line of cameras.

Check the price of Canon PowerShot G3X here

What we liked

  • Great for travel
  • Light Weight
  • High-Quality 1 inch Sensor
  • Shoots RAW Files
  • Dust-and-Water Resistant
  • Includes External Microphone Jack

What we didn’t like

  • No Viewfinder
  • Slow Auto-Focus

Optical Zoom: 25x
Megapixels: 20.2
Video Resolution: 1080p/60fps
Image Stabilizer: Yes
LCD Screen: 3.2 inch Multi-Angle Touch LCD
Sensor Size: 1 inch
Sensor Resolution: 20.2 megapixels (Optical Sensor)/1080p FHD (Video Capture)
Lens: 25 x Optical Zoom Lens (24-600mm)
Equivalent Focal Range: 24-600mm
Aperture: f/2.8-5.6
Weight: 1.5 lbs
Connections: Wi-Fi, NFC, Camera Connect App, Mobile Device Connect Button, and Image Sync Function

3. Nikon Coolpix P1000 Digital Camera

Bird photographers know a good zoom lens goes a long way when it comes to bird photography. 

Well, imagine a camera lens that can capture the rings of Saturn! The Nikon Coolpix P1000 can do just that and more. 

With a 125x zoom capability (3,000mm equivalent), this camera can capture incredibly close photos of any distant subject. 

The fact that it can do all that and only weighs 3.12 lbs is quite amazing. 

Lenses that capture merely 600mm are comparable in size. The Nikon Coolpix P1000 is a great option for birders hoping to get up close and personal. 

With higher zoom capabilities, images tend to get a bit shaky in the hands of the photographer. With a zoom this extreme its best to pair the Nikon Coolpix P1000 with a solid tripod or camera stand to ensure your photos come out crisp and clear.

Check the price of Nikon Coolpix P1000 here

What we liked

  • Incredible Zoom Capabilities
  • Compact Considering the Zoom
  • Shoots 4K Video
  • Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction
  • Includes External Microphone Jack

What we didn’t like

  • Small Sensor
  • Low-Light Photo Quality
  • Not Designed to be Dust-and-Water Resistant

Optical Zoom: 125x
Megapixels: 16
Video Resolution: 4K UHD/30fps
Image Stabilizer: Yes (Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction) 
LCD Screen: 3.2 inch Vari Angle TFT LCD
Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inch
Sensor Resolution: 16 megapixels (Optical Sensor)/4K (Video Capture)
Lens: 125x Optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED Glass Equivalent Focal Range: 24-3000mm
Aperture: f/2.8-8
Weight: 3.12 lbs
Connections: Wi-Fi, SnapBridge, Bluetooth, Hi-speed USB, and HDMI Output

4. Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV Digital Camera

Experienced birders will certainly recognize the lens on the Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IVThis camera features a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Ultra Zoom lens. 

Owners of any renowned Zeiss binoculars can attest to the build-quality of this brand and the clarity of its glass. 

With a 25x optical zoom (600mm equivalent) and an astonishingly fast auto-focus. 

The Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV is a fantastic option for birders hoping to get high-quality action shots of birds in flight.

This is an excellent all-around camera but it does come at a more expensive price point. Serious photographers will not be disappointed with this camera though. 

The lens paired with the 1 inch sensor and RAW shooting capability ensures superior image quality for the photos you capture.

Check the price of Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV here

What we liked

  • High-Quality Zeiss Zoom Lens
  • Shoots 4K Video
  • Includes 1 inch Sensor
  • Dust-and-Moisture Resistant
  • Includes External Microphone Jack

What we didn’t like

  • Higher pricepoint
  • Can be heavy for some

Optical Zoom: 25x
Megapixels: 20
Video Resolution: 4K UHD/30fps, 1080 megapixels/960fps
Image Stabilizer: Yes
LCD Screen: 3 inch Adjustable Angle TFT LCD with Touch Pad Functionality
Sensor Size: 1 inch
Sensor Resolution: 20 megapixels (Optical Sensor)/4K (Video Capture)
Lens: Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Ultra Zoom 
Equivalent Focal Range: 24-600mm
Aperture: f/2.4-4
Weight: 2.32 lbs
Connections: Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth, HDMI (Output), and USB

5. Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Digital Camera

The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is an affordable option for any bird enthusiast interested in getting started with bird photography. 

The long 60x digital zoom allows users to magnify images with ease. The zoom capabilities alone are worth the price, but this camera also shoots video in 4K!

The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is very light and can easily be taken with you on a hike or a long trip. 

Just be careful with it in dusty or rainy environments as it is not dust-and-water resistant. 

At this price point this camera is an excellent option for beginner bird photographers or for someone hoping to capture pictures of birds at their feeder.

Check the price of Panasonic Lumix FZ80 here

What we liked

  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Exceptional Zoom
  • Shoots 4K Video
  • Touch Enabled LCD Screen

What we didn’t like

  • Not Compatible with External Microphone
  • Not Dust-or-Water Resistant

Optical Zoom: 60x
Megapixels: 18.1
Video Resolution: 4K/30fps
Image Stabilizer: Yes
LCD Screen: 3 inch Touch Enabled LCD
Sensor Size: 1/2.3 inch
Sensor Resolution: 18.1 megapixels (Optical Sensor)/4K (Video Capture)
Lens: Lumix DC Vario
Equivalent Focal Range: 20-1200mm
Aperture: f/2.8-5.9
Weight: 1.36 lbs
Connections: Wi-Fi, HDMI (output), and USB

6. Panasonic Lumix FZ300 Long Zoom Digital Camera

The Panasonic Lumix FZ300 Long Zoom Digital Camera comes with a Leica DC 24X F2.8 Zoom Lens. 

The camera features a splashproof construction that is also resistant to dust. 

The built-in Wi-Fi technology makes it easier to transfer photos and videos from the camera to your mobile device or computer. 

It also enables you to print photos without cables. The camera has a maximum zoom rate of 24x. There is a 12.1MP sensor to provide high-quality and high-resolution imagery.

The camera is also capable of recording video content. It can record in resolutions up to 4K at 30 frames per second. A MOS sensor is used to help improve the sensitivity of the camera. 

The rugged body design also makes this an appropriate camera for outdoor use. There is a 5-axis image stabilizer built into the digital camera. This helps to reduce glaring and ensure photos are more stable. 

Check the price of Panasonic Lumix FZ300 Long Zoom Digital Camera here

What we liked

  • 12.1MP sensor
  • 4K video
  • Wi-Fi
  • Splashproof
  • F2.8 zoom lens
  • 24x zoom
  • Comes with Leica lens

What we didn’t like

  • Low MP for some photographers
  • Bag costs extra
  • Limited splash resistance

Lens: Leica DC 24x F2.8 Zoom Lens
Zoom: 24x
Sensor: 12.1
Frames per second: 30
Weight: 1.52lbs
Video: 4K
Weather-Sealed: Splashproof

7. Sony DSC-HX99 Compact Digital 18.2MP Camera

The Sony DSC-HX99 Compact Digital 18.2MP Camera offers a lightweight design and is great for photographers who need a superzoom camera on a low budget. 

The camera is made by Sony, a trusted brand in the industry. It features a built-in ZEISS lens. 

The ZEIS Vario-Sonnar T lens provides a high magnification system for better zooming. You can adjust the zoom of the camera between 24mm and 720mm. 

The camera is also able to record video content. The video recording function can be set to a maximum resolution of 4K. 

A full pixel readout function is offered with the 4K resolution. This ensures there is no need to worry about pixel binning. A BIONZ X image processing engine is used in this camera. 

There are also a few different shooting functions that you can choose from. A touch shutter and focus system make these functions easy to control. This option is also the best superzoom compact camera for easier traveling. 

Check the price of Sony DSC-HX99 Compact Digital 18.2MP Camera here

What we liked

  • High magnification zoom
  • Built-in zoom lens
  • BIONZ X image processing engine
  • Front-end LSI
  • Multiple shooting functions
  • Touchpad screen design
  • 4K video recording

What we didn’t like

  • Limited LCD tilting
  • Does not use third-party lenses
  • Touch shutter may be too sensitive

Lens: ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T
Zoom: 24-720mm
Sensor: 18.2MP
Weight: 14.3 ounces
Video: 4K
Weather-Sealed: No

8. Canon PowerShot SX70 HS 4K Camera

The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS 4K Camera offers a 20.3MP sensor for superior shots and comes with a complete bundle. 

This is a great option for beginners who do not want to spend too much money on a camera and additional accessories. 

The bundle includes a 64GB SD card, a spare battery, a wired shutter release, and a flexible tripod. 

A monopod is included for both videography and photography. There is a Ritz Gear DSLR case included, making it easier and safer to travel with the camera. 

The camera uses a CMOS sensor. It comes with a built-in DIGIC 8 image-processing engine. This helps to provide better quality photos with every shot. 

The 4K video recording function also allows you to record high-quality video content. The camera has a 65x optical zoom function. It comes with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology for wireless photo transfers.

Check the price of Canon PowerShot SX70 HS 4K Camera here

What we liked

  • Beginner’s Kit
  • Comes with carry case
  • Accessory bundle included
  • 4K video recording
  • 20.3MP resolution
  • 65x optical zoom
  • Image stabilization

What we didn’t like

  • Limited lens compatibility
  • Low continuous shooting frame rate
  • Included monopod is short

Zoom: 65x optical zoom
Sensor: 20.3MP
Frames per second:  10fps
Weight: 4.24 lbs
Video: 4K
Weather-Sealed: No

9. Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II 20.1MP Digital Camera

The Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II 20.1MP Digital Camera is another great option. 

This camera is ideal for wildlife and sports photography, and it provides excellent performance in low light conditions. 

This is the best zoom camera if you prefer a point and shoot option. It is also a great point and shoot camera with a viewfinder. 

The megazoom camera features a 20.1MP sensor. 

A MOS sensor is used for better quality shots. The sensor has a 1-inch diameter. The camera comes with a LEICA DC Vario-Elmarit lens. 

The lens features a 16x optical zoom function, with a variable aperture range that can be adjusted between F2.8 and F4.0. A 5-Axis hybrid optical image stabilization system is used to minimize flaring and hosting on your shots. 

This is also a good point and shoot camera for those who want a touch display. It makes it easier to control your point and shoot photography with the touch of your finger. 

Check the price of Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II 20.1MP Digital Camera here

What we liked

  • Point and shoot design
  • Optical image stabilization
  • 3.0 inch LCD
  • 16x zoom function
  • 20.1MP sensor
  • 4K video recording
  • Leica DC lens

What we didn’t like

  • Some cameras offer a better zoom range
  • 4K photo provides 8MP resolution
  • Smaller sensor than some alternatives

Lens: LEICA DC Lens
Zoom: 16x
Sensor: MOS sensor
Frames per second: 30fps 
Weight: 1.0lbs
Video: 4K
Weather-Sealed: No

10. Nikon Coolpix B700 Digital Camera

If you are looking at Nikon superzooms, but do not have a big budget, then the Nikon Coolpix B700 Digital Camera is a great option. 

This is the best bridge camera for wildlife, sports, and even macro photography. 

It also serves as a good nature camera due to the included NIKKOR Super ED lens. The lens offers a maximum optical zoom of 60x. 

While not the best point and shoot camera for wildlife photography, there are several customization options that help you get that perfect shot. Shooting birds should be no problem. 

The camera has a 20.2MP 1/2.3” BSI CMOS Sensor. The 921-Dot Electronic Viewfinder helps you zoom in on birds with ease. You can also capture macro shots with the camera. 

A 3.0” LCD monitor makes it easy to control every aspect of the camera. It also offers 4K video recording. The camera has NFC, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth technology. 

Check the price of Nikon Coolpix B700 Digital Camera here

What we liked

  • Low price tag
  • Wi-Fi
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth
  • 3.0” LCD
  • Macro close-up shooting mode
  • NIKKOR zoom lens

What we didn’t like

  • Limited zoom settings
  • Does not come with carry bag
  • LCD does not have a touch function

Lens: NIKKOR Super ED
Zoom: 60x optical zoom
Sensor: BSI CMOS Sensor
Frames per second: 30fps
Weight: 1.25 lbs
Video: 4K
Weather-Sealed: No

Frequently asked questions

What is the best bridge camera?

One of the best brdige cameras is definetly the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000, it offers great value for the price.

Which superzoom camera is best?

The best superzoom camera is Nikon Coolpix P1000 thanks to its mind blowing 300mm superzoom lens.

Are superzoom cameras any good?

It depends on the camera you choose. Whether you prefer Nikon superzooms or a Canon superzoom camera, consider the sensor, magnification, and the included lens. 

What is a good zoom on a camera?

When it comes to the best digital zoom camera, you should consider the purpose. The best bridge camera for bird photography will often offer magnification options up to 60x.

Which bridge camera has the best image quality?

The Canon PowerShot SX70 offers a 20.3MP camera. This is a good option if you want the best bridge camera for wildlife and birding in particular. 

Which is better Nikon P900 or P1000?

A good bridge camera for birding should offer high-resolution photos with a great sensor. The P1000 does offer a superior telezoom reach. 

What is the best small camera with zoom?

A Sony superzoom can offer you a compact size. Sony bridge cameras also provide superior performance. The Sony DSC-HX99 is a great small camera. 

What is the best long-range camera?

The best long-range camera is Nikon Coolpix P1000 thanks to its mind blowing 300mm superzoom lens.

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