Photographing birds with phone cameras

I’ve been using my Android for photographing observations, sometimes using the macro feature for small organisms. However, when it comes to photographing birds, my phone camera just doesn’t seem to cut it. Zooming in creates blurry photos at best. Are bird photos best left for actual cameras?

(Here’s my only successful bird shot as of yet, by slowly inching up to the target:

Any tips would be very helpful (or links to other discussions on this forum which may have covered this question in the past). Thank you!

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You practically answered your question, if you don’t have anything but phone with you, use the phone, but practically any camera, even without tele lens, will get better photos of birds in the distance. Definitely try to photgraph anything you wish to!
I don’t remember the exact topic about phone+birds, there was one, but here’s a recent topic about phones in general:

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Digiscoping takes a little bit of practice, but for the most part, it’s the only way you’re going to get many bird photos with a phone. Of course, if you don’t already have a good pair of binoculars or a scope, then you are better off getting a camera.

I usually rely on my camera, but sometimes I don’t feel like carrying it. However, I almost never leave my binoculars behind when I’m outside. Here’s my digiscoped Rusty Blackbirds seen today. Obviously, a camera is going to provide better quality photos, but at least digiscoping can get IDable photos with a phone.


I use my iPhone for everything, including birds, but my bird photos only come out OK if the bird is either quite large and also not too timid, or if the bird is small, but very unafraid of humans.

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Thank you for the clarity - at least I know it’s not just me.

Somehow the bird id-ers got my recent phone woodpecker to species:

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iNat Project: Digiscoped Photos to give an idea of what’s possible with binoculars and a digital camera.


Like others have said above, you can definitely get doable shots of birds by digiscoping, but if you are at all interested in bird photography I would highly recommend getting a dedicated camera. Entry-level cameras with great zoom such as the Nikon Coolpix series are fairly cheap, you can find them used for $100-200.

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