3 Lightweight Lenses for Bird Photography That Photographers Will Love

If given the opportunity, we think everyone would love photographing birds. But not everyone wants to carry that much weight on them. Luckily, there are some fantastic lightweight lenses for bird photography out there. With the right settings, they’ll stand out from loads of other lenses on the market. And we’d know, since we tested them! So, in this roundup, we’re diving into the best lightweight lenses for bird photography. Check it out!

Pro Tips on Making the Most of Lightweight Lenses for Bird Photography

Here are some great tips on using the best lightweight lenses for bird photography we’re featuring in this roundup:

  • The Phoblographer’s roundups only spotlight items we’ve tested. All the images (except one) in this roundup were shot by our staff. And in each section, you’ll find a reference to our full review of each of these lightweight lenses for bird photography.
  • Live in a city? Try making your home more bird-friendly. Put out bird feeders or bird baths to attract birds for photography. There are lots of easy-at-home ways to do this. If you’re using a bird feeder, go for bird seed laced with chili oil. It will keep rats and squirrels away, but will be just fine for birds.
  • Bird photography requires accurate focusing and long focal lengths. Luckily, these lightweight lenses have just that.
  • If the birds are still, you won’t need the fastest autofocus. But if they’re in motion, be sure to switch your camera to continuous autofocus and tracking. Generally speaking, we keep our Sony cameras in the AF-C mode along with the bird autofocus setting.
  • The lenses we’re recommending have weather resistance built into them.
  • The best thing about Tamron’s lenses is their light weight and high build quality while doing the job. It’s hard to beat them!

Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC VXD

Tech Specs

  • Focal Length: 150-500mm
  • Maximum Aperture: F5-6.7
  • Angle of View: (diagonal) 16°25’-4°57′ (for full-frame mirrorless format)
  • Optical Construction: 25 elements in 16 groups
  • Minimum Object Distance: 0.6m (23.6 in) (WIDE) / 1.8m (70.9 in) (TELE)
  • Maximum Magnification Ratio: 1:3.1 (WIDE) / 1:3.7 (TELE)
  • Filter Size: φ82mm
  • Maximum Diameter: φ93mm
  • Length: 209.6mm / 8.3 in (front tip of the lens to the lens mount face)
  • Weight: 1,725g (60.8 oz) (without tripod mount included) / tripod mount 155g (5.5 oz)
  • Aperture Blades: 7 (circular diaphragm, the circular diaphragm stays almost perfectly circular up to two stops down from maximum aperture)
  • Minimum Aperture: F22-32
  • Standard Accessory: Round-shaped hood, Lens caps, Tripod mount
  • Compatible Mounts: Sony E-mount

How’s the Autofocus

In our review, we state:

“…the combo we used is better for wildlife. Wildlife doesn’t tend to move as fast or as erratically as athletes. Want a nice photo of a butterfly? This is the combo you’ll want.”

“The Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC VXD can focus between 23.6 and 70.9 inches from the front of the lens, depending on the zoom position. That’s fairly good for such a long lens, and it allows you to get close-ups just above a 1:3 ratio.”

Edited RAW

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Tamron 70-300mm f4.5-6.3 Di III RXD

Tech Specs

  • Weather sealing
  • Sony FE Mount
  • Works with Sony AI with Animal AF
  • 5.8 inches in diameter
  • 67mm filter thread
  • 15 elements in 10 groups
  • 3 inches in length
  • 2.6 feet minimum focusing
  • 1.2 lbs

How’s the Autofocus

In our review, we state:

I mostly tried this lens with the Sony a7r III. But I also used it a bit with the original Sony a7. The autofocus is pretty comparable to one another. But overall, the focus with this lens is accurate, fast, and reliable.

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Tamron 18-300mm f3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD

Tech Specs

  • Model: B061
  • Focal Length: 18-300mm
  • Maximum Aperture: F3.5-6.3
  • Angle of View: (diagonal) 77°24′- 5°30’ (for APS-C frame mirrorless format)
  • Optical Construction: 19 elements in 15 groups
  • Minimum Object Distance: 0.15m (5.9 in) (WIDE) / 0.99m (39 in) (TELE)
  • Maximum Magnification Ratio: 1:2 (WIDE) / 1:4 (TELE)
  • Filter Size: φ67mm
  • Maximum Diameter: φ75.5mm
  • Length*: 125.6mm / 4.9 in (Sony); 125.8mm / 5 in (FUJIFILM)
  • Weight: 620g / 21.9 oz (Sony / FUJIFILM)
  • Aperture Blades: 7 (circular diaphragm)**
  • Minumum Aperture F22-40
  • Standard Accessory Flower-shaped hood, Lens caps
  • Mount: Sony E-mount, FUJIFILM X-mount

How’s the Autofocus?

In our review, we state:

One of my favorite features of this lens is its close-up capabilities. At the wide end, the lens can focus at 5.9 inches, but that’s the distance from the camera sensor. With how long the lens is, that means you can focus on objects that are .2 inches from the front of the lens in the wide-angle position. It’s close enough that Tamron actually has a fine print warning about being careful not to let objects touch the front of the lens.

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This piece is presented in partnership with TAMRON. We’ve independently and ethically reviewed all the products in this round-up already without sponsorship. And we worked with them to recommend a few key gems to you.

The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



Anita Shire

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