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: Bridge cameras  ( 1412 )

Nick Block

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Bridge cameras
« : April 26, 2014, 05:50:42 AM »
Hi all,

I've read tons of reviews of bridge cameras, but I was curious if any of y'all have experience with superzooms other than the Canon SX50. In particular, have any of you used the Panasonic FZ200 or one of the Fuji superzooms? Do you actually need the 50x time instead of ~30x? Reviews and image quality keep coming back to the SX50, but the manual zoom of the Fujis and the fixed f/2.8 of the Panasonic both seem attractive (in addition to their better LCDs and viewfinders). I would wait for the SX60, which supposedly is coming this summer, but the itch to get one of these is becoming unbearable. Thanks for any insight.



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Re: Bridge cameras
« #1 : May 03, 2014, 08:57:20 PM »

I've just been experimenting with the Nikon P600 bridge camera (60x zoom).  It's hard not to send it out to the maximum  superzoom level.  The ultimate zoom is great for identifying birds that are "way out there" if you don't want to carry a scope.  However, the picture quality at that level, while okay to verifiy sightings for eBird, is really pixelated.  I'm still working with the camera to see what settings will be best to come to a compromise between art and documentation.  I still haven't tried out the "bird-watching" setting yet. 



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Re: Bridge cameras
« #2 : May 09, 2014, 12:04:25 PM »
Nick, i’m sure you will make a good choice. Application is going to drive your purchase, so imagine the situations you would want to capture. Birds are often challenging to photograph -- small, fast, distant, hidden, skittish, etc. So you are right to seek fast focusing/shooting and good lens range. Here however is where some caution about the lower-end photo gear comes into play.

If you were a more casual observer i would not suggest this, but I think your higher interest levels are going to translate into wanting/needing high performance camera equipment. i think you will want to capture finer details and won't be satisfied with birds on a perch shots. If you simply want optics for id purposes, some crossover type stuff may meet a checklist-type need quite decently. But i am guessing your interest levels will have higher demands as well as avail unique views and situations that require good gear to capture. This is where digital zoom and optical zoom are not really comparable, and there is really no substitute for quality lens power.

Beyond an application or expense mismatch, the wrong equipment would be gear that doesn’t help you learn photography fundamentals. You rarely see any kind of digital zoom or scene modes in the pro DSLR models, and you’ll notice most of the experienced shooters consider those ‘features’ to be marketing gimmickry. Those are some reasons i think you are headed to the DSLR market, whether in the shorter or longer run. There cost, bulk and weight may seem dissuasive at first glance, but what wins people over is the stun factor in results and capability.

Hope this helps.  There is a lot of third party review info out there. Image Resource is a decent site. In vendors, B&H Photo has a nice return policy and seems well-stocked. Plenty of pro photographers draw more income from instruction than images, and offer some solid ground information to help get the shutterbug bite deep into the affliction layers. If you approach photography with the same kind of thoroughness you approach ornithology, your needs will advance beyond the models you’re considering quite quickly, imo.


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Re: Bridge cameras
« #3 : May 09, 2014, 04:22:40 PM »
I like Elliot's summary.  It really depends on what you are looking to get from the camera.  I have a pretty decent DSLR (Canon 5D MkII) with a pretty decent 500mm lens.  After using it for a season in the field I purchased a Lumix FZ40 for birding.  While I'm a professional photographer (architecture and interiors mostly) I wasn't looking to sell my bird images, just get decent shots for ID and memories.  For what I wanted to do the DSLR was overkill, big and heavy.  I've been pretty happy with the FZ40.

If there is one thing I'd change about the camera it would be to have a decent manual focus capability for those times the camera insists on focusing on a branch between me and the bird!

If you want more than "snapshots" you may find a DSLR is the way to go.



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