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Old Thursday 1st October 2009, 14:14   #1
Amarillo
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which compact super-zoom?

Right, having thought long and hard about a DSLR + big enough lens to try some wildlife photography, I have just realised how good the superzoom cameras are these days and have decided that this would be ideal for me.

So, which would be the best?

(not necessarly Panasonic but there doesn't seem to be a section that isn't brand-specific)

Any suggestions much appreciated!
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Old Thursday 1st October 2009, 14:41   #2
ChrisKten
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Originally Posted by Amarillo View Post
Right, having thought long and hard about a DSLR + big enough lens to try some wildlife photography, I have just realised how good the superzoom cameras are these days and have decided that this would be ideal for me.

So, which would be the best?

(not necessarly Panasonic but there doesn't seem to be a section that isn't brand-specific)

Any suggestions much appreciated!
Well everyone will basically tell you that the camera they have is the one to get. Some may recommend a camera based on reviews that they've read.

But you are probably best to ignore everyone (including me) and judge for yourself from reviews, comments, and check the Gallery in this forum. Just type in, say, FZ28 (that's my camera ) and check the image quality, and also check the EXIF data to see what ISO was used etc.
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Old Thursday 1st October 2009, 14:58   #3
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If you scroll down below the brand-specific folders, below there actually is a general area with several threads on superzooms. Take a look at one, two, and that was just from the first page of threads.

Personally, I have a panasonic FZ18, which is by now a little older. In addition to the newest pana, I would also look at the latest offerings from Canon, but I am not sure many of the others would be on my shortlist.

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Old Thursday 1st October 2009, 21:16   #4
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@Amarillo
The problem with these otherwise fine cameras is that they have a considerably slower reaction time than a top DSLR. Thus, if you want to take shots of fast birds in flight, a DSLR may still be the better choice. However, the types like FZ18 etc are hard to beat when it comes to overall versatility, weight and price. In the end, it's up to you to decide where your priorities are.
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Old Friday 2nd October 2009, 00:06   #5
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fully aware of the limitations, but I'm a complete beginner so should be just the job. Can always get a DLSR at a later stage if I really get into it....

Have pretty much decided on the new Panasonic DMC FZ38
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Old Friday 2nd October 2009, 00:29   #6
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I think the Canon SX20 or SX1 are the best cameras for birding in this class. Being able to use a Speedlight for fill is a BIG advantage for getting great shots in low light for birds in "sweet zone" of up to 20m. Whereas the built in flash is only good for about 3m. Also has bigger, easier to see EVF and the articulating LCD is a big help too for getting ground level perspective shots and for recording HD video. I also prefer the standard AA batteries to the uber expensive Panasonic Lithiums (FYI, Panasonic now uses firmware to prevent cheap clone batteries from being used). And the SX1 also continuously shoots JPEGS at 4fps making it much easier to catch the right shot with more in focus.

cheers,
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Old Friday 2nd October 2009, 01:54   #7
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Rick, how narrow can you make the focusing point on the SX1? my pana FZ18 has the best I have experienced in a P&S camera (including the old canon S3).

How many shots do you get on a set of rechargeable AA batteries in the SX1? (I believe I am above 400 on the pana battery).

I believe my pana gives between 2 and 3 fps in rapid fire mode (and it lives there).

I have not heard the answers to these questions for the SX1, but especially the narrow focusing point is one of the highlights of my pana, and I am curious if there is a second maker that has upped the ante. On my old coolpix 4500 with a tele converter, I had many photos that were out of focus because the bird did not completely fill the focusing area and the camera liked the leaves behind the bird better.

I have already said in a previous post that I would consider the canon range if I were to change camera now.

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Old Friday 2nd October 2009, 03:23   #8
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I have recently purchased a Panasonic FZ35. I bought a Lenmar battery as a backup (Chinese knockoff), and it works just fine in the camera (I would use it only as a backup). It is a fraction of the cost of the Panasonic battery, but might not provide all the failure "safeguards" of the original.

As a confirmed digiscoper, I wanted something to use for birds in flight (or quickly moving) that are nearly impossible with digiscoping. I have been delighted with the results. One significant result is that pictures taken with the Panasonic exhibit much greater depth of field (even at wide apertures) than is possible with the scope.

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Old Friday 2nd October 2009, 05:30   #9
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Niels, the SX1 can have either large/small focus points that can be changed on the fly. For batteries, I use Sanyo Eneloops and carry 2 spare sets of 4 for the camera and Speedlight. They are not expensive, ~$25 a 12 pack. I would guess I get 300+ shots but truth is I never take that many pics in one outing.

When we first got the camera, we did not really value the Speedlight option for birding. Actually bought a Speedlight for indoor bounce flash then tried it once on a cloudy day. Huge difference in pic quality allowing ISO100 with 1/500sec shutter speeds.

Suprised to learn you can use a clone battery in the new FZ35/38. I thought Panasonic had been trying to prevent it, sneaking it in with new firmware updates.

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Old Friday 2nd October 2009, 07:43   #10
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See, told you people would say the best is the one that they have.

Before deciding on the FZ28 I researched online for a few months. I pretty much ignored reviews apart from sample images, noise comparison at high ISO, and AF and cycle timings. Mostly I searched the Gallery here and compared IQ and EXIF data. The reasons I chose the FZ28 instead of, say, the SX1 were:
  • The High Speed AF mode, in good light, is very fast; it's comparable to DSLR speeds but not consistently so.
  • The IQ of the SX10 was better than the SX1.
  • Chromatic Aberration (purple fringing) and Barrel Distortion was corrected automatically for JPEGS on the FZ28
  • It seemed pretty much accepted that the Leica lens on the FZ28 was sharper, and was faster (F4.4 @ 486mm) than the SX1.
  • Noise was well controlled even at ISO 800 (there's a Jay picture in my gallery that was shot at ISO 800).
  • Last, but not least, the FZ28 was more than 100 cheaper than the SX1.

Those were my reasons, and I've not regretted my decision. I've taken over 14,000 pictures with the FZ28, learned it's limitations (all cameras have them), and it's not let me down yet. BTW, there's not a great deal to choose between the FZ28 and the FZ18, in fact I doubt I'd upgrade to an FZ28 if I had an FZ18.

But, like I said, don't take anyone's word for it, do some research, and check images in the gallery. One thing to watch out for is the ISO in the EXIF data. If most of the images are shot at ISO 100, then that's not telling you a great deal as nearly every camera is good at that sensitivity. Trouble is, it won't be often that ISO 100 will give you a fast enough shutter speed in the available light for nature, and especially for birds.

All of the above is just my experience based on the camera that I use, nothing more.
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Old Friday 2nd October 2009, 21:30   #11
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.... I also prefer the standard AA batteries to the uber expensive Panasonic Lithiums (FYI, Panasonic now uses firmware to prevent cheap clone batteries from being used)......Rick
I used to be convinced that AA batteries were a big advantage. Until I realized how many more pictures my son got out of his Li-Ion powered model. So I'm now very happy with the Li-Ion batteries.

Fortunately, Panasonic's FZ35/38 is still accepting any brand batteries as long as the basic specs are OK. Thus, I mostly use my Impact batteries that I had bought for my FZ8 and later for the FZ28. The reason I prefer them is because they last longer.
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Old Tuesday 8th December 2009, 13:29   #12
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I own a pana fz28 and my bro has a canon SX10. Both are great camera. Only problem on the canon SX10 is you can't add a zoom extension, such as TCON17.
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 11:35   #13
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Link to superzoom camera test at depreview

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q109superzoomgroup/
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Old Wednesday 9th December 2009, 18:08   #14
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I've done a lot of research on the net and opted to for the Panasonic FZ38.
It has arguably the best image resolution.
Its cheaper than its main rivals Sony and Canon.
Perhaps most importantly it allows easily a teleconverter to be added, a big drawback in canon excluding this from their recent models.
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Old Thursday 10th December 2009, 12:17   #15
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As this thread has recently been ressurected, I should say that I went for the Panasonic FZ38 and am very happy with it - also added a TCON17 which is also great.

Am starting to see the limitations compared to a DSLR - i.e noise at low light, but for what I want at the moment having more than 800mm zoom for 400 that doesn't weigh a tonne, I am 100% sure I made the right decision.

thanks for the advice
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