Is Bird AF Really Cool AF?

Popular Photography is running a bird-photography theme this week, so my contribution with my Smarter Image column is a look at the Bird AF (autofocus) features in some of the newest camera models.

The big question is: does it really make a difference? I don’t own a camera with the feature, so I reached out to two photographers: Hudson Henry, who recently took the Nikon Z9 to Costa Rica to shoot birds and animals, and Marie Read, the author of the book Mastering Bird Photography. Hudson used the Bird AF mode often, and wrote in email, “I can tell you [Bird AF] worked just shockingly well.” Marie shoots with a Sony a9, which does not have a specific bird AF mode, but tracks birds well using its Animal AF feature.

You can read the column here: Does bird detect AF really work?

One upside is that these features make bird photography more accessible to more people. It’s not a field that one casually gets into, due to the hardware required to do it well. But the Bird AF modes help ensure more shots are keepers.

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