There’s no doubt the Apple iPhone 13 Pro is capable of taking stunning photos. Landscapes, portraits, close ups. But birds and wildlife? Can you leave the telephoto lens at home and head out for some bird photography with nothing but this smartphone?

Well, probably not completely if you’re well accustomed to telephoto lenses.

But I’m not writing off the iPhone 13 Pro for photographing some birds in some circumstances, and I’m going to show you why.

There are literally thousands of reviews of this phone out there and I’m not even going to start adding to them. I’m focusing ONLY on the camera of the iPhone 13 Pro (arguably one of the very best currently available) and more specifically, what it can and can not do for those of us into bird photography!

Quick look at the camera on the iPhone 13 Pro:

Triple lens rear camera with:

  • 77mm six-element f/2.8 telephoto (with 3x optical zoom)
  • 26mm seven-element f/1.5 wide angle (with 2x optical zoom)
  • 13mm six-element f/1.8 ultra wide angle

One front camera:

  • 12MP TrueDepth f/2.2 aperture + 1080p video at up to 60 fps
  • So we know the camera is advanced as far as smartphones go. It has a large sensor (for a smartphone), making it very usable in lower light. All the lenses have a fast aperture, and Apple says the autofocus is “improved” on previous models.

    It’s the autofocus that will make or break the ability to get usable bird photos with the iPhone 13 Pro.

    And I’ve been taken aback by what’s possible with photographing birds with this smartphone.

    Here are two tips to make a point of focus:

    • 1. Consider bird-in-landscape photos – the iPhone 13 Pro is basically perfect for this
    • 2. Locations where the birds are more used to people – parks and gardens, zoos, local ponds, beach gulls and so on

    Now, check out the exceptional feather detail on this pelican, photographed with the iPhone 13 Pro:


    That kind of detail in the feathers would be unheard of with any smartphone camera not long ago.

    Yes, the photographer was certainly close to the subject which was no doubt accustomed to human presence. But that’s the kind of situation to be in if you’re going to get the absolute best quality bird images with this phone camera.

    I absolutely love the colors and fine details of the above pelican iPhone 13 Pro photo. In fact, this image alone tells us that the iPhone 13 Pro is perfectly capable of stunning bird photos in the right circumstances.

    Now this is a superb example of a bird in habitat or landscape feature. Perfectly framed, with excellent detail and color in the goose in the foreground but the wider angle takes in the location perfectly (this was in France, by the way):

    Goose in Parc De La Tête d'Or, Lyon, France

    You can tell the goose was moving, by the blurred foot in motion, yet the rest of the bird is in perfect focus. The iPhone 13 Pro was able to adequately focus and freeze the motion of bird as it was walking across the photographer’s field of view.

    While freezing motion of much smaller and faster moving birds isn’t something I’d consider even trying with this smartphone camera, some movement of larger birds like this (especially when they’re in nice bright light) is well within the iPhone 13 Pro’s capabilities.

    This brings me to a whole new way of using the iPhone 13 Pro: through a bird spotting scope.

    Don’t believe you can get awesome results with this method?

    Check out this Cooper’s Hawk taken through a scope with the iPhone 13 Pro from 20 yards away.

    Cooper’s Hawk - juvenile

    At full resolution you don’t get the fine feather detail that you otherwise could, but downsized a little this is an exceptional quality image.

    Not only that, but it’s an exceptional bird and one most of us probably wouldn’t even think about trying to photograh with a smartphone.

    Yet the result is brilliant. I absolutely love this Cooper’s Hawk photo; an image which may never have been captured without the quick thinking of pairing up the iPhone 13 Pro with a good spotting scope.

    Snow geese, Ross geese, Sandhill Cranes and Glossy Ibis on migration over California taken with the Apple iPhone 13 Pro.

    Moltke Harbour - South Georgia Island - 9


    St. Andrew's Bay - South Georgia Island - 34

    Discovery Cove in Orlando

    St. Andrew's Bay - South Georgia Island - 15


    Top of the rook