Birding with bad gear

What do you do if you want to go out and take some nature, or more specifically bird photographs, but your gear isn’t good?

Tim Wells


Do you see the bird?

Firstly, let me say that I don’t completely believe in bad gear (within reason) and am a firm believer that even low end gear can be used to excellent effect. In this case, neither my camera or my lens would be considered bad.

BUT…. it wouldn’t be considered good for the task of bird photography either. At least the lens wouldn’t. I shoot with a Nikon D750 DSLR and in this case was using my old Sigma 70–200 lens. It’s a beautiful lens and does great for what it was designed for, but on a full frame sensor with a max zoom of 200mm and no image stabilization at all… well, it’s certainly far from ideal for this task.

However, not willing to let something like “you can’t use that lens for bird/wildlife photography” stop me. Out I went to a local park to look for something to shoot.

I’d not been at the park long, having taken up a seat on the ground near the waters edge when I saw my first potential subject sitting in a nearby tree. I moved slowly to zoom my lens to it’s max, quickly glanced at the settings and took the shot.


I’ll forgive you if you don’t see it, but there is a Kingfisher sitting on the branch in the center of the shot. I was no more than 5 meters from the bird and my lens was zoomed to the max (200mm). That’s as close as I could get.

cropped…. a lot!

I can almost hear people thinking… “walk closer”.

Had I done so, the bird would have promptly left. No matter. I knew going in that this wasn’t the lens for it. I’d move on and see what else presented itself.

It wasn’t long at all before I found another subject, approached as carefully as close as I dared and took the shot.



Tim Wells

Self taught software developer and photographer.