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Old Monday 23rd October 2017, 03:25   #1
fugl
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Whats the best bridge camera for birding?

A friend is seeking advice on a replacement for her c. 5-year-old Canon SX60 HS. She’s dissatisfied with its performance at full zoom and is willing to sacrifice some focal length for better image sharpness at maximum extension. She uses it almost exclusively for birding and wants to stick with the bridge camera format.

So, money not necessarily being an object, what would you folks recommend? I can’t help her myself since I’ve had zero experience with bridge cameras.
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Old Monday 23rd October 2017, 04:55   #2
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Very expensive but take a look at the new Sony RX10 IV.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fugl View Post
A friend is seeking advice on a replacement for her c. 5-year-old Canon SX60 HS. Shes dissatisfied with its performance at full zoom and is willing to sacrifice some focal length for better image sharpness at maximum extension. She uses it almost exclusively for birding and wants to stick with the bridge camera format.

So, money not necessarily being an object, what would you folks recommend? I cant help her myself since Ive had zero experience with bridge cameras.
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Old Monday 23rd October 2017, 06:57   #3
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Thanks. Looks perfect but probably a bit more than she wants to spend.
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Old Monday 23rd October 2017, 09:50   #4
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The Canon SX60 (or perhaps the SX50) are still among the best bridge cameras for birding. Sacrificing some focal length for sharper images at full extension sounds like a good idea, and I could mention some cameras, but if you look at more detailed reviews there is often a handicap: AF not impressive, or VERY long buffer clearance times. Apparently Sony has successfully fixed most of these issues in their latest model, but $1,700 is a steep price. I had used the Canon SX50 for four years and then decided it was time for a "real" upgrade. Now I have the Nikon V2 + CX 70-300. It's not as small as bridge camera, but the weight is below 1kg and is easy to handle for birds in flight, so for me it was worth the investment of $800 (used). Thomas Stirr's website shows examples.
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Old Monday 23rd October 2017, 10:03   #5
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Hi Fugl,

Quote:
Originally Posted by fugl View Post
A friend is seeking advice on a replacement for her c. 5-year-old Canon SX60 HS. Shes dissatisfied with its performance at full zoom and is willing to sacrifice some focal length for better image sharpness at maximum extension. She uses it almost exclusively for birding and wants to stick with the bridge camera format.
I'm quite happy with the Panasonic FZ1000. Since I have it, my (old) Alpha 700 + "Bigma" 50 - 500 mm tele lens rig has seen no use at all.

By the "advertising numbers", the FZ1000 only has a 400 mm equivalent focal length, but it delivers a lot of pretty sharp pixels since it has a big sensor.

Small-sensor bridge cameras might offer more attractive "advertising numbers", but I'd stay away from those anyway. My girlfriend has an FZ200 with a 600 mm equivalent focal length, but a small sensor - the FZ1000 very clearly beats it in any side-by-side comparison.

Additionally, the FZ1000 has a very fast autofocus that is as good as that of my (older) DSLR, a Sony Alpha 700. I've heard that is a problem with other bridge cameras, and I certainly know that it is one with the FZ200.

There might be other bridge cameras with the same sensor size as the FZ1000's which could be fine too, but I'd definitely stay away from cameras with a small sensor.

Regards,

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Old Monday 23rd October 2017, 15:06   #6
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Just as an FYI - the previous version of the Sony RX10 is still available, and is $400-500 cheaper than the newest RX10 IV version. It has the same lens and essentially the same sensor - but just doesn't have the PDAF-based focusing system so it won't be as good with tracking moving subjects. For sharpness and clarity though, it will be among the best of any fixed lens cameras.

The FZ1000 also uses a 1" sensor like the Sony RX, so is also a good consideration - slightly less reach, but still much better IQ than the small-sensor superzooms.

And Canon also makes a 1" sensor superzoom, the G3X. Like the Sony RX10III, it won't be as good for tracking moving subjects, but has the same 600mm equivalent reach and larger sensor, so like the Sony and Fuji, image quality should be solid...and it sells in the $850 range.
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Old Monday 23rd October 2017, 17:12   #7
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Thanks, everyone. Lots of good suggestions which I’ve forwarded on to my friend. Keep them coming!
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Old Monday 23rd October 2017, 17:19   #8
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It's coming out next year ..... it always is!

Seriously, for a while now it has been rumoured that Nikon is going to replace the well regarded Coolpix P900 with a new camera with an even more insane 'reach'. Hence if you're tempted to get a P900 it might be worth waiting either to get the new camera or for the older model to be discounted ...
See
https://nikonrumors.com/2017/09/18/n...0-camera.aspx/
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 04:08   #9
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My friend has pretty much narrowed her choice to either the G3X or a replacement 60SXHS. She likes the superior IQ of the former but tends to be rough on her equipment and is worried about the durability of the optional electronic viewfinder for the G3X. Has anybody had experience with the G3X/viewfinder combo under field conditions? If so, how did it hold up? TIA for any and all replies.
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 09:32   #10
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I'm a very happy owner of a Sony RX10iii, to which I upgraded from a Canon SX50 Hs which I loved, but moved on from as it aged and I wanted better image quality.

It is considerably more expensive, but its also pretty tough - I'm also not too kind to my kit - and given the tremendous versatiliy of the 24- 600mm zoom is really a camera for all occasions. I have posted some sample shots of birds and African wildlife here:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=328256

There are more pix on my two Hong kong threads and my trip reports which can be found from searching the threads I've started.

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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 16:53   #11
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I don't have experience with the G3X, but did shoot wildlife and birds for several years with a camera that had a similar detachable EVF. I had a Sony NEX-5N with the optional EVF attached, which works exactly the same way, and I never had any issues with it. I didn't baby it, but I also didn't drop the camera in a loose bag or bounce it around where the EVF might be in danger. I had a small camera bag that fit the camera nicely with the EVF attached and lens attached...when in use, it would get bumped, sometimes I'd brush the camera against my body while hanging from the strap and the EVF would be tilted up and out all the way - and I once knocked the EVF eye hood off - but just snapped it back on. I shot that system for more than 2 years heavy use and travel and it never had any problems or reliability issues. Here was the rig, to give an idea:
https://g1.img-dpreview.com/A572058D...0A738A914D.jpg
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 19:43   #12
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I have the G3X and still use it as a backup now that I have moved on to a DSLR. It can take very good photos and the (required for birding IMO) EVF is excellent and durable. The only problem with that camera is it is slow. I am so used to being able to quickly take a photo with the DSLR now that it is hard to go back. It is especially slow with RAW photos.

Other than that drawback, it can take nice photos. It has weather sealing as well.
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 19:44   #13
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Mike, Justin, Pete, thanks for your posts. Useful info in all which I’ll pass on to my friend.
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 19:47   #14
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I will say, if she is getting serious, she could think about something like the Canon 400mm L lens which is getting cheap, not to mention the new Sigma and Tamron versions of the same, with a camera like a Nikon D7200 or Canon 80D or 77D. These kinds of combos can be had for well under $2K now and will take top notch photos fast.
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Old Friday 27th October 2017, 20:09   #15
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I will say, if she is getting serious, she could think about something like the Canon 400mm L lens which is getting cheap, not to mention the new Sigma and Tamron versions of the same, with a camera like a Nikon D7200 or Canon 80D or 77D. These kinds of combos can be had for well under $2K now and will take top notch photos fast.
Thanks for the suggestion but shes pretty much committed to smaller formats as she wants something small and light. Ive tried to talk her into 4/3 or cropped-frame DSLR for months now but to no avail.
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Old Wednesday 1st November 2017, 13:44   #16
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Does she want the superzoom/bridge class because of cost-to-weight-to-zoom factor?

I only keep at the "superzoom" thing because it's a budget-vs.-reach-vs.-weight question. DSLR with 1300+mm of reach is too heavy (an expensive) and MFT is lighter, but doesn't seem to have decent (if any?) lenses with that kind of reach. Even if they did I'd expect...heavy. Digiscoping on-the-cheap is still heavy, expensive, and awkward.

So...bridge/superzoom; and I'm eternally grateful someone pointed out this class of camera to me or I'd have missed it. And I'm still happy with my SX60 for that purpose.

By the way, a trick with probably any superzoom camera...never use the full extent of the zoom. Always back-out just a tad. I read a number of reviewers comment that the full-zoom is always a tad blurrier than one tiny bit back from it.

But if she's not looking for that kind of reach, and has a healthier budget, MFT might be the compromise she needs. I was looking at the Olympus line at the time.
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Old Wednesday 1st November 2017, 19:48   #17
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Does she want the superzoom/bridge class because of cost-to-weight-to-zoom factor?

I only keep at the "superzoom" thing because it's a budget-vs.-reach-vs.-weight question. DSLR with 1300+mm of reach is too heavy (an expensive) and MFT is lighter, but doesn't seem to have decent (if any?) lenses with that kind of reach. Even if they did I'd expect...heavy. Digiscoping on-the-cheap is still heavy, expensive, and awkward.

So...bridge/superzoom; and I'm eternally grateful someone pointed out this class of camera to me or I'd have missed it. And I'm still happy with my SX60 for that purpose.

By the way, a trick with probably any superzoom camera...never use the full extent of the zoom. Always back-out just a tad. I read a number of reviewers comment that the full-zoom is always a tad blurrier than one tiny bit back from it.

But if she's not looking for that kind of reach, and has a healthier budget, MFT might be the compromise she needs. I was looking at the Olympus line at the time.
Thanks for your comments. Ive already suggested MFT to her but shes adamant in her desire to stay with the bridge format for its combination of light weight, very long reach, and familiarity (shes not very technically minded). Ive already told her that backing off a little from maximum zoom should improve IQ (as should closing down the aperture a stop or half-stop) but shes finds this hard to keep in mind in the excitement of the chase. Given all this, I think the G3X is probably her best bet, and I suspect thats what shell probably end up with. Decisions, decisions. . ..
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Old Wednesday 1st November 2017, 20:15   #18
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I'm sure that the G3X is a good camera but personally I would hesitate to consider a camera without a built-in EVF in bright light can be tricky. You could add a EVF-DC1 Viewfinder but that's another 220. It might also be worth waiting until January when a G3X replacement is rumoured to be announced as you could either go with the newer model or hope for discounted prices for the older one.
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Old Wednesday 1st November 2017, 20:40   #19
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Thanks for your comments. Ive already suggested MFT to her but shes adamant in her desire to stay with the bridge format for its combination of light weight, very long reach, and familiarity (shes not very technically minded). Ive already told her that backing off a little from maximum zoom should improve IQ (as should closing down the aperture a stop or half-stop) but shes finds this hard to keep in mind in the excitement of the chase.
Yeah, that makes it tricky, I don't envy you. Even I use Shutter Priority mode for birding on the SX60, which requires at least a little bit of "fiddling." Pretty much the lower down the scale you go from DSLR the more you have to "fiddle" to maximize the camera. In my case, that's using Shutter Priority, permanent -2/3 exposure compensation, constantly fiddling with shutter speed, ISO max lockout, and probably more.

A DSLR-MFT-4/3 (or something like the Sony RX100 series) in "idiot mode" will get better photos than any bridge/superzoom. I've seen my GF's D700 in "Auto" and...jealous. Just the way it goes.

Okay, preaching to the choir...I'll just finish with...good luck with the advice!

(And I agree with the above post: get a bridge/superzoom with a high-res EVF and don't rely on the back-panel screen. I wish the SX60's EVF was even higher resolution, and I only use the back panel indoors and when shooting over people's heads in a crowd...never for birding.)
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Old Wednesday 1st November 2017, 20:56   #20
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Hi,i owned the g3x with the viewfinder for a short while....not a bad camera if you can live with a few shortcomings,but not a great birding camera.
The first is the autofocus.......quite disappointing for a camera of this price.......its slow and worst of all innacurate in certain conditions,especially in lower light.Considering birds tend to be more active either early or later in the day,you are running into trouble already.Its fine if you are close to your subject in good light but it starts to struggle in tougher conditions.
Secondly,although the sensor in the camera is capable of some great detailed images,you really still need to be close to your subject to get those really good shots.Its no good running around with this type of camera,no matter how long the lens is,trying to get great shots of small birds that are 50 feet away.....even the larger sensor in the g3x does'nt stand too much cropping.
Overall it is a good camera for most situations but the autofocus leaves you frustrated on many occasions if you are using it primarily for birding and i would not recommend it for such.
To be honest,if your friend wishes to stick with bridge cameras,she will never get really great results from a bird photography perspective as they just have'nt got the performance that is required.
Again,don't get a g3x if birding is a main interest,the autofocus alone is reason enough to avoid it.
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Old Wednesday 1st November 2017, 21:18   #21
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Hi Neil,

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To be honest,if your friend wishes to stick with bridge cameras,she will never get really great results from a bird photography perspective as they just have'nt got the performance that is required.
Out of curiosity, what is the type of equipment you consider suited for great results?

I admit that I wouldn't use a bridge camera if bird photography were my primary focus, but it's pretty similar in performance to my DSLR rig, which was fairly good (for amateur use) 10 years ago.

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Old Wednesday 1st November 2017, 23:43   #22
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To be honest,if your friend wishes to stick with bridge cameras,she will never get really great results from a bird photography perspective as they just have'nt got the performance that is required.
Really?......Lumix FZ1000 Bridge.
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Old Thursday 2nd November 2017, 06:06   #23
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A friend is seeking advice on a replacement for her c. 5-year-old Canon SX60 HS. Shes dissatisfied with its performance at full zoom and is willing to sacrifice some focal length for better image sharpness at maximum extension. She uses it almost exclusively for birding and wants to stick with the bridge camera format.

So, money not necessarily being an object, what would you folks recommend? I cant help her myself since Ive had zero experience with bridge cameras.
No need to sacrifice focal length just dont use it fully zoomed, you still have the extra length if you want it that way.
It would be interesting to see what they are dissatisfied with to give a better idea of recommendations.
Yes bridge cameras have their limitations but they also have their strong points.
Would your friend be happy with this.
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Old Thursday 2nd November 2017, 06:41   #24
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I said in my above post that the canon g3x was capable of great results in the right circumstances......you just do not get as many opportunities to take "great" bird photographs with a bridge camera full stop.
I've owned the g3x and taken some cracking photos with it in the right conditions.......i also own a nikon d7200 with a nikon 200-500mm lens and im afraid that there is no comparison.....the slr with its big bulky lens will better a 1 inch sensor bridge camera in every respect......thats what i was saying.
If you want the best quality an slr is the only option.......better autofocus,better low light performance,better noise control,more flexability etc,etc.
I'll say it again,the latest bridge cameras are capable of excellent results in the right conditions,as ive said all along,but if bird photography is your main interest and you want ultimate quality,a bridge camera is'nt a patch on a good dslr and lens.
How many professioal wildlife photographers make a living with a bridge camera!!!

Ps,
Ken,if you are satisfied with the level of quality in your sample photos,a bridge camera is all you need.

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Old Thursday 2nd November 2017, 07:07   #25
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I said in my above post that the canon g3x was capable of great results in the right circumstances......you just do not get as many opportunities to take "great" bird photographs with a bridge camera full stop.
I've owned the g3x and taken some cracking photos with it in the right conditions.......i also own a nikon d7200 with a nikon 200-500mm lens and im afraid that there is no comparison.....the slr with its big bulky lens will better a 1 inch sensor bridge camera in every respect......thats what i was saying.
If you want the best quality an slr is the only option.......better autofocus,better low light performance,better noise control,more flexability etc,etc.
I'll say it again,the latest bridge cameras are capable of excellent results in the right conditions,as ive said all along,but if bird photography is your main interest and you want ultimate quality,a bridge camera is'nt a patch on a good dslr and lens.
How many professioal wildlife photographers make a living with a bridge camera!!!

Ps,
Ken,if you are satisfied with the level of quality in your sample photos,a bridge camera is all you need.
This is the problem we face when questions like this are ask, unless example pictures are posted as to what the OP is unhappy/happy with we have no idea what to recommend.
No getting away from it a DSLR is the best but it can often be more than is wanted.
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