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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 01:50   #1
crazyfingers
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What Superzoom? Dissatisfied with the Nikon P100

Hi,

I am looking to replace my Nikon Coolpix P100 with something better for birding and other wildlife photography in the super-zoom range.

I do not want an SLR. I can't spend the money and I need something very portable for both closeups and long zoom. My photography is generally targets of opportunity, from my kids to the hawk way over there, while doing all different outdoor activity such as hiking, biking, canoeing with the kids.

I've become dissatisfied with the Nikon for two reason.

First, it has very difficult time focusing at long zoom. For example I get this way too often. The spot focus was right on the breast but still....

Second, I'd like image quality to be at least as good as my pocket camera, currently the Canon Powershot 890IS. As it is, as much as I try, for regular non-zoom or slight zoom shots, the Pocket camera is superior.

I've been seriously researching the Canon Powershot SX30IS. It has been out for a while. Can anyone comment on how well it lock a focus at long zoom?

Other options? Nikon has the P500 coming out soon. I don't really want to go with less zoom than the Nikon's 26x....

Very hard to decide. I just know that I'm not happy with the Nikon P100 and can spent about $500 on this present to me.
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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 08:57   #2
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Have you see these threads:
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=192909
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=161843

Regarding the photo you've posted, it seems the bird was closer than the minimum focus length of the lens. Often, all you need is to zoom out a touch and the lens will be able to lock on.

Hobbes
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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 13:17   #3
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The other explanation might be that the focus point is too big. Most cameras default to a rather large focus point, and you have to manually choose a smaller one. However, when I used a nikon CP4500, the smallest focus point I could choose was rather big, it was much smaller on the Pana FZ18 I then purchased, which made it much more certain that I focused on what I wanted even for a bird among branches and leaves. Therefore, if you switch, do look at the panasonic lineup as well.

Niels
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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 16:51   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hobbes2 View Post
Have you see these threads:
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=192909
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=161843

Regarding the photo you've posted, it seems the bird was closer than the minimum focus length of the lens. Often, all you need is to zoom out a touch and the lens will be able to lock on.

Hobbes

Thanks. I read those threads and some others. I was just hoping that perhaps someone has had hands-on experience with both the SX30 and the P100. The reviews suggest that image quality on the SX30 is better than the P100 but... given that it's high zoom focus I am having my main issues with, I have not found much. I've found a few user comments that were a bit contradictory on e-commerce sites mainly.

I may further investigate the Fuji.

I suppose it's possible that one of the photos I posted was too close for the zoom. I'm no expert on cameras. The Osprey was very a good distance away but the Coopers hawk and Sharpie I managed to get pretty close.

Still though it's focus when the critter is quite a bit away that I'm having the most trouble.
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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 16:58   #5
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Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
The other explanation might be that the focus point is too big. Most cameras default to a rather large focus point, and you have to manually choose a smaller one. However, when I used a nikon CP4500, the smallest focus point I could choose was rather big, it was much smaller on the Pana FZ18 I then purchased, which made it much more certain that I focused on what I wanted even for a bird among branches and leaves. Therefore, if you switch, do look at the panasonic lineup as well.

Niels
I guess it's possible but I generally take photos though the EVF which shows me a small rectangle that turns green when it believes that it's in focus. Trouble is it will often say that it's in focus even when whatever is right there at the rectangle is clearly not in focus. That's the case with the bird above in the OP. The rectangle was green and talking up only a small part of the center of the bird's belly.
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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 17:12   #6
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There might be a malfunction in your camera -- however, I guess you would have contact Nikon and then convince them that the error exists.

Take a look at this image to what is possible with a well functioning Pana fz18: I focused on a part of the bird between the branches, repositioned, and shot.

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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 20:33   #7
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Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
There might be a malfunction in your camera -- however, I guess you would have contact Nikon and then convince them that the error exists.

Take a look at this image to what is possible with a well functioning Pana fz18: I focused on a part of the bird between the branches, repositioned, and shot.

Niels
I don't know if it's a malfunction but I know that it would have a real hard time taking that shot. If the critter would stay still I'd need to take a dozen shots to get one that is correctly focused. Do you recall how many shots were focused and not when you took that?
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Old Sunday 27th February 2011, 22:19   #8
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I took 6 shots of this bird. As you can see on this one, they were all with flash, so no serial shots. A couple of them suffers from the bird having moved between focusing and the actual shot, but none are grossly mis-focused. I have in poor light had more problems with focusing having taken too long, but relatively few that are really off focus (yes they have occurred). The fz18 have the best evf of the pana series, so it is usually possible to see that the focusing do not agree with what you want before pressing the shutter.

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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 14:55   #9
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Crazyfingers, I apologize for cannibilizing your thread, but this is so appropriate. I also have a Nikon P100 and to say I'm dissatified is an understatement. I was up in the wee hours last night reading the threads here and I want to ask some questions, but first I want to rant a bit. For my rant, I'm going to paste part what I started writing for my next blog post. I couldn't even finish my story because I got so wound up and I decided I needed to come here:

......As I watched one looking for goodies, a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan landed close to it and it flew off. The toucan was pretty close and I thought it was my chance to get a really good photo. Unfortunately, my camera refused to focus. I took ten or so shots and not one was good. The bird sat there cocking his head, posing and investigating me and the damn camera was worthless. I hate this camera! I never know when or why it will or will not work. Sometimes, the zoom lens gets stuck and the camera won’t do anything. It won’t take a picture in the ‘stuck’ mode, it won’t retract. It won’t even turn off. I just push buttons until it finally goes off and I can turn it back on again. If you are looking for a zoom camera, do yourself a favor and don’t buy a Nikon Coolpix p100. God, the peaceful remembrances of a beautiful day have just been obliterated....
Ok rant over, problem solving starting.
I had a Sony DSC H5 that I LOVED! It had a Carl Ziess lens and was easy to use. Of course, I had lots of shots out of focus. The auto focus would focus on a limb in front of the bird, etc. I understand that, it makes sense, but when it did focus, I got clean, sharp images. I liked the camera from day one. I had it for four years. Unfortunately, last September (?)I dropped it on a tile floor and the lens inside is now at an angle. I went to replace it and, of couse, it is no longer made. I confess I was hoping to get a new one with more megapixels and more zoom.
At any rate, the guy at Best Buy convinced me the Nikon was the ticket. I am upset with myself because I knew right away the camera wasn't good. It had a sticker on the box saying that if I returned it, I would lose 15% of purchase cost. I'm cheap, so I didn't want to do that. I convinced myself that I just needed to learn how to use the camera.
I go home to California in May and I'm going to get a new camera. When I bought this one, my husband kept telling me to get a dslr. I understand they take better photos, but for my needs, here and now, I need something with a zoom. I want good photos for my blog, but sometimes I need photos to help me with ID. A blurry photo is ok for that and very often I need a zoom to get a secretive or distant bird.
In thinking about it, I think the 24 zoom may be too much. When I bought the camera, I thought, WOW 24 zoom; I can get some of those really far off mysteries! Now, I think the 12x was good enough. What I'd like is my old Sony with 14 megapixels instead of 7.1.
After reading some of the zoom threads last night, I went online to look. It seemed that all the FZ38 ads were followed by com.uk. I couldn't find anything in the US. But Matt RTH is from CA and he knew what it was. I'm confused. I did find a FZ40, and this morning my husband started looking for me and found a FZ100. Would either of those be comparable to my old Sony in clarity? Is there a camera with less zoom and more pixels I might like more?
Sue

Last edited by SueO : Wednesday 2nd March 2011 at 15:08.
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 15:11   #10
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Hi Sue
First off, I'm sorry you've had such a bad experience with the P100! How thoroughly frustrating.

Secondly, I'd advise you to wait a couple of months (if you can) whilst this next batch of new super zooms comes to the market. In particular, I'm keeping an eye on the Fuji HS20, the Sony HX100V and Nikon P500.

In terms of the zoom, it's not really whether it has a 12x 24x or 36x, it's more about what range that goes through. So, for example, I have the Panasonic FZ8 (a very early super zoom) with a zoom range of 36mm - 518mm (35mm lens equivalent), but that's with a 14.4x zoom. The newer Panasonics FZ28/38 have a zoom range of 27mm-486mm (35 mm equivalent) but the zoom factor is larger at 18x. So, basically, my old camera reaches further than the newer camera but it has a smaller zoom range. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, for now, I'd keep an eye on the reviews and then make a decision.

I hope that helps
Hobbes
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 15:13   #11
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Sue: the Sony DSC-HX100V might be for you, but it's not released yet.

Have a look at the spec here:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/1102/11...hx100vhx9v.asp

Obviously, wait for a review to see how much of the hype is true.
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 15:21   #12
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Sue: the Sony DSC-HX100V might be for you, but it's not released yet.

Have a look at the spec here:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/1102/11...hx100vhx9v.asp

Obviously, wait for a review to see how much of the hype is true.
Hi Chris
It's a bit like waiting for Christmas, lol. The release date for this one is a little difficult to find. I know the Fuji and Nikon come out this month but not sure about this one. Soon though....can I stand the suspense?!
Hobbes
P.S. Glad to hear your garden birds haven't been scared off
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 15:28   #13
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Thank-you both. The Sony HX100V sounds perfect! I can't help but be a Sony fan, I really did like my old camera. I am in Panama now and won't be going home until May. Will it be out by then? Hopefully, it will be and it will have been used and reviewed by that time. If not, I can wait because I won't be coming back to Panama until the following Sept. However, it would be very nice to have a decent camera while I'm home.
I'll keep my eye out for this.
Thanks again,
Sue

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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 16:11   #14
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Hi Hobbes,

This is a quote from photographyblog, regarding the HX100v:

Quote:
The Sony HX100V and HX9V will be available from April 2011 for about $450 and $350. UK pricing to be announced.
But whether that's UK or US is anybody's guess.

And yes, surprised that the birds seem to be adapting so quickly; although the Council haven't finished digging yet, who knows what comes next.
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 16:34   #15
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Sue,
the panasonic subforum has several threads about the different FZ models: http://www.birdforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=375. The two new models fz100 and fz40 have more reach at the cost of more noise in low light situations when compared to the FZ38 it seems.

Also look at this thread: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....47#post2076947 for the upcoming fuji camera that sounds very interesting.

Regarding the possibility of getting a dSLR: there are also zoom lenses available for those, but going that direction is more expensive, and with most of the models (except the pana micro4/3) there is quite a bit of weight to contend with.

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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 16:41   #16
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Crazyfingers, I apologize for cannibilizing your thread, but this is so appropriate.
HA. No problem. Keep the topic going a while longer I say. And your experience sounds so similar to mine. Camera not focusing as the critter sits and finally leaves... It's very frustrating.

For my part I have been very tempted to just go get the Canon SX30 but I have resisted because, as noted above, there are some new cameras on their way and there should be some hands-on reviews out soon. I can get along a few more months. I need whatever I end up getting by July for our various trips to Maine on vacation.

But even the preliminary reviews I have seen and the published specs, make me think that it's likely I will get the Canon.

I don't want to be replacing AA batteries. I want it to have a rechargeable battery. That means that the new Fuji 20 is probably out unless some other overriding factor emerges. But it's also a lot heavier and larger than the others and I would like to be able to comfortably ride my bicycle with it around my neck.

I have a very strong reluctance to buy anything from Sony these days given their inexcusable and unethical activities placing hidden tracking software to infect people's computers.

The Nikon P500 is due in the stores shortly but I have strong doubts that they will fix their focus problem.

Panasonic would be OK if the product is right.

Anyway. I'm resisting deciding yet. I'm going to wait a month a least I think. But I have been very happy with the image quality of the various Canon pocket cameras I've had. That quality or a bit better on a big zoom would likely satisfy me - so long as it focuses!
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 16:53   #17
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Quote:
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I don't want to be replacing AA batteries. I want it to have a rechargeable battery. That means that the new Fuji 20 is probably out unless some other overriding factor emerges. But it's also a lot heavier and larger than the others and I would like to be able to comfortably ride my bicycle with it around my neck.
I believe you can purchase AA batteries that are rechargeable--but I guess you'd also have to purchase your own recharger, which is an annoyance I agree. As for weight, I think of the Fuji as being equivalent to other cameras with a teleconverter (but without the bulk and zoom restrictions of TCs). It has similar additional magnification. It's also about the same weight as other cameras with a TC. Superzooms around 500mm mag just don't have what it takes for frame filling shots of most birds in most circumstances, so extra mag is desirable in my view.

But different people have different needs.

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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 17:04   #18
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I believe you can purchase AA batteries that are rechargeable--but I guess you'd also have to purchase your own recharger, which is an annoyance I agree. As for weight, I think of the Fuji as being equivalent to other cameras with a teleconverter (but without the bulk and zoom restrictions of TCs). It has similar additional magnification. It's also about the same weight as other cameras with a TC. Superzooms around 500mm mag just don't have what it takes for frame filling shots of most birds in most circumstances, so extra mag is desirable in my view.

But different people have different needs.

Best,
Jim
I went the rechargeable AA route a few years back. Tried to power my flashlights and kids toys, etc.... Got the best ones I could find. They all ended up running out way faster than regular alkalines.

I don't know much about batteries and why a camera battery works for me and rechargable AA's don't but I just don't want to deal with AAs.

As for size and weight, perhaps I'm confusing that camera with a different review I read. I've read so many the last week or so I get mixed up. But the Nikon is 491g with battery installed and the Fuji 20 is 730g with batteries. The Canon is 601g

Last edited by crazyfingers : Wednesday 2nd March 2011 at 18:08. Reason: tpyo
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 18:01   #19
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I went the rechargeable AA route a few years back. Tried to power my flashlights and kids toys, etc.... Got the best ones I could find. They all ended up running out way faster than regular alkalines.

I don't know much about batteries and why a camera battery works for me and rechargable AA's don't but I just don't want to deal with AAs.
Thanks for the info. Looks like most rechargeable camera battery packs are Lithium-ion, and those are not available in AA form based on a quick internet search (regular non-rechargeable lithium is though). NiMH is the standard rechargeable in that form--supposed to be better than older NiCad, but not sure what you were using. Spec sheet for HS20 suggests NiMH lasts longer than Alkaline, but that might be after first charge.

Best,
Jim

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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 18:14   #20
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Sue,
the panasonic subforum has several threads about the different FZ models: http://www.birdforum.net/forumdisplay.php?f=375. The two new models fz100 and fz40 have more reach at the cost of more noise in low light situations when compared to the FZ38 it seems.

Also look at this thread: http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....47#post2076947 for the upcoming fuji camera that sounds very interesting.

Regarding the possibility of getting a dSLR: there are also zoom lenses available for those, but going that direction is more expensive, and with most of the models (except the pana micro4/3) there is quite a bit of weight to contend with.

Niels
Hi Niels,
Yes, we read about the fz100 this morning and it sounded very good. I do have low light quite often in the jungle here, but that isn't a problem at home very often. I will read about the fuji also. Now, I'm going to have to go back and re-read about the Sony and compare it to the FZ100. I could spend forever reading about the cameras and about the time I make a decision, the next bigger and better one will be about to come out. Anything will be better than the one I have now. Fortunately (or unfortunately since I don't have a decent camera now), I have time to think about things. Better yet, I'll turn this over to my other half and he can figure it out. I'm still thinking about what Hobbes said about his 14 zoom being more than the 18.
Thanks for directing me here, it's very informative.
Sue
EDIT: On the subject of dslr's--I carry my bins around my neck and the camera slung on my right shoulder. Would a dslr have a non-collapsible, long lens attached if it was capable of zoom? If I can carry a dslr easily without it getting in the way of my bins, I would explore that route.

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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 18:20   #21
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I have a very strong reluctance to buy anything from Sony these days given their inexcusable and unethical activities placing hidden tracking software to infect people's computers.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Actually, I have a reluctance to buy anything Japanese because of their whale killing activities, but does anyone else make cameras? I find the quality of Japanese products very good (until the Nikon) and I would love to be able to buy guilt-free.
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 18:52   #22
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I took a look at the Panasonic. http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-came...-34150249.html

I have never worked with RAW and while I could see getting interested in trying to do that on some special photos, generally I would not.

I am not looking for a dedicated wildlife camera but something that will also be general purpose.

The comment about quality tanking out at ISO400 scares me a bit. But it uses a battery pack and is lighter weight than the Canon... It's in the running.
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 19:07   #23
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Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Actually, I have a reluctance to buy anything Japanese because of their whale killing activities, but does anyone else make cameras? I find the quality of Japanese products very good (until the Nikon) and I would love to be able to buy guilt-free.
Sue
The Sony HX100 does seem to have the right specs for my needs. Not due to actually hit the stores until May 1 so no hands-on reviews yet.

Sony.. hmm... I'd rather not but..
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 20:22   #24
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EDIT: On the subject of dslr's--I carry my bins around my neck and the camera slung on my right shoulder. Would a dslr have a non-collapsible, long lens attached if it was capable of zoom? If I can carry a dslr easily without it getting in the way of my bins, I would explore that route.
On some other threads I have detailed why I got so fed up with the lack of performance in poor light of my old FZ18 that I decided to take a strong look at the dSLR sector. The only camera with low enough weight of the long lenses for me to get exited was the micro4/3 option. I have therefore purchased a Panasonic GH2 and 100-300 lens (which after some calculations equates to a longer maximum reach than the FZ18). That lens and that camera comes out at about 900g (= 2 lbs). But, to have a full complement of range, I am also buying a 14-140 mm lens, which again adds about 1/2 of that weight. I imagine that I will have the camera with birding lens over the shoulder and the other lens in the rucksack when out and about.

This is written a little in future sense because I have not actually received the camera yet, I got someone to hand carry it here.

In total that camera body and two lenses is about 5x more in price than a superzoom. I don't hope I will be pining for an even longer lens, because I suspect that there won't be one available for a good long while.

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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2011, 20:30   #25
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I have therefore purchased a Panasonic GH2 and 100-300 lens (which after some calculations equates to a longer maximum reach than the FZ18).
I will be very interested to hear how you make out with this Niels. One thing that makes me hesitate to go that route is that even with the extra weight and expense, the FZ18 with 1.7 teleconverter would still have more magnification than the DSLR by my reckoning. But looking at the samples in the other thread, image quality should be much improved!

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