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Should I sell my DSLR and get a superzoom?

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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 09:06   #1
stevenshaw
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Should I sell my DSLR and get a superzoom?

I'm considering selling my entry-level DSLR (Rebel T3) and replacing it with something a bit more portable. I've found that a lot of the times when I go out to a place I'd normally want to get good shots, I end up just not taking it at all due to the bulk. The idea being that a slightly less capable camera that I actually have with me most of the time is more useful than a more capable camera that stays at home because I don't want to lug it around. I've been looking into bridges/superzooms because one of the things that I do like photographing is wildlife, specifically birds, and I'm aware of the tradeoffs but I'm still not sure if that's exactly what fits my use case best. Could use some thoughts on other solutions that might fit my use case better (basically: be able to get decent birding pictures and also be pretty portable), better questions I should be asking myself about my use case, or recommended models for a max budget of around 500USD.
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 09:10   #2
Andy Bright
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Hi and welcome to birdforum. I have moved your thread to a more appropriate forum where, hopefully, you should have a better chance of answers to your questions.
cheers,
Andy
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 09:32   #3
delia todd
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Hi Steven and a warm welcome from me too.

I use a superzoom (or bridge) camera. Mostly due to my lack of camera knowledge, weight and scary cost of lenses LOL

You might like to search our Gallery for cameras you may be interested in purchasing; for instance this is the result for the Nikon Coolpix P1000 (just using P1000 for the search parameters).

This will give you an idea of the quality of the images and the type of shots that they're taking with that equipment.

Others will be along with more technical information for you before too long, I'm sure.
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 10:42   #4
Neil G.
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Hi Steven,
I've used both types of camera and currently own a Nikon p900.I used a Nikon D7200 with a Nikon 200-500mm lens and this set up was capable of some stunning images.
It really boils down to this.......do you want the ultimate quality photos that come with a camera with a much bigger sensor or are you going to be happy with decent quality photos that come with bridge type cameras.
I've used the P900 for a while now and when used to it's potential it is capable of taking some great images,like a lot of bridge type cameras on the market.Ultimately though the p900 or similar can't compete with the image quality you get with a decent dslr set up no matter what anyone tells you or what the marketing men say.
So the choice is bulk and ultimate iq or compact and decent iq......i like my p900 a lot but i will go back to a good dslr set up eventually as not only is the iq better but it is easier to obtain this quality in a wider range of conditions.A quality bridge camera is a good choice if you want less bulk to carry and are not concerned about ultimate iq.
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 11:58   #5
Hauksen
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Hi Neil,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil G. View Post
I've used the P900 for a while now and when used to it's potential it is capable of taking some great images,like a lot of bridge type cameras on the market.Ultimately though the p900 or similar can't compete with the image quality you get with a decent dslr set up no matter what anyone tells you or what the marketing men say.
Very good point, and I fully agree!

I'd say the key to this is that a certain objective mass and bulk is going to limit your picture in some way.

The smaller the sensor, the bigger the "35 mm film equivalent focal length" of the camera becomes.

At the same time, the smaller the sensor, the poorer the quality of the individual pixel, and the stronger the artifacts from the image processing algorithms become.

The P900 accordingly the technical data goes to 2000 mm at 16 Megapixel, showing the advantage of using a small sensor.

Personally, I use a Panasonic FZ1000, which has a fairly big sensor for a bridge camera, but the downside is that its "35 mm film equivalent focal length" is limited to 400 mm at 20 Megapixel. Digital zoom will give you 800 mm at 5 Megapixel, as it's essentially the same as cropping the picture.

My DSLR is a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR with a "Bigma" (Sigma 50 - 500) lens, featuring a 750 mm "35 mm film equivalent focal length" (at 12 Megapixel).

I'd say the FZ1000 gives abot the same results as the Alpha 700 in a much smaller package, but the comparison is hardly fair as the Alpha 700 is about 10 years older than the FZ1000. I'm sure a contemporary DSLR would do a lot better.

One advantage of the FZ1000 is that it has a quick autofocus that makes it easy to take pictures of birds in flight. From what I've heard, the P900 has a bit of a hard time with that, and my girlfriend's FZ200 - which has a sensor of the same tiny size as the P900's - certainly doesn't do well in that discipline either.

So if you know what you'll be using your camera for, you can consider the trade-offs that come with size, bulk, "reach" and autofocus speed, and pick one you're going to be happy with because it does well in the things that are important to you.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 12:55   #6
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You don't tell us what your big sensor setup is at the moment? there might be a middle ground between what you have and the superzoom.

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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 13:32   #7
CalvinFold
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delia todd View Post
I use a superzoom (or bridge) camera. Mostly due to my lack of camera knowledge, weight and scary cost of lenses LOL
Hi Steven,

I'm going to go with the same answer as Delia...I use a superzoom because I'm what used to be called a "prosumer," I want more out of a camera than a day-to-day consumer, but far less skill than a pro (or super-serious hobbyist). I also simply can't afford a DSLR or MFT that would accommodate my zoom needs (I need to shoot from long distances). I use an SX60, looked at the P1000 but it's too large and the SX70 left out a feature I needed.

I have an above-average knowledge of Photoshop, so I use that to squeeze better images out of the SX60; you can judge for yourself in my gallery.

I don't think anyone will be able to tell you definitely if "downgrading" from a DSLR to a superzoom is going to work for you except...you.

Other things to consider:

--I use a superzoom and my girlfriend uses a D700 DSLR (with a 70-300mm NIKKOR); I have quality envy of her, she has zoom envy of me. She got hers as a gift though, and if it died, not 100% sure if she'd replace it with another DSLR due to cost.

--We both found that it gets to be a pain to shoot close-up objects at times, and our birding cameras are just too big or annoying for carrying with us on forays into the city or causal adventures where we want to bring a camera, yet we both just don't like consumer pocket cams nor phone cams. So we both own Sony RX100's (she has a Mk V, I have a Mk III) for our "DSLR in our pockets."
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 14:22   #8
njlarsen
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Try look at posts 204 and 210 in this thread: https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?p=3834953

Niels
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 17:58   #9
marcsantacurz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevenshaw View Post
Could use some thoughts on other solutions that might fit my use case better (basically: be able to get decent birding pictures and also be pretty portable), better questions I should be asking myself about my use case, or recommended models for a max budget of around 500USD.
Budget and weight are really the two criteria to look at. APS-C and full frame DSLRs will take better photos and autofocus better and sometimes have important features like memory recall or fast turn-on time. But they are much heavier and much more expensive for long lenses.

A used P900 or Lumix FZ80 / FZ300 / etc. or similar from Canon or Sony would be much more appropriate for your budget. Maybe a used Sony RX10 III or HX400.

When buying a superzoom, I think it is very important to ge a good EVF. You need to be able to hold the camera in a secure position with good solid bracing. Trying to use a rear display at 1000mm is really hard, and if you need glasses, there's no diopter on the rear so you will have a hard time seeing it. I've found the Sony EVFs better than the Panasonic, so I'd probably steer to the RX10 or HX400 rather than the FZ series.

When I last looked at these, my girlfriend wanted a small point-and-shoot size with an EVF and superzoom, so the Sony HX99 was our choice. It handled better than the equivalent Panasonic (don't remember the number).

In any major city, you should be able to find an electronics place that has all these current models from Sony and Panasonic and others. Wake-up time from sleep, EVF quality, autofocus speed area all things you should compare.

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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 18:35   #10
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Yes, I'd buy a superzoom. The only camera you can get good shots with is one you have with you! If you are willing to spend more money (now or later), and want a step up in image quality without the weight of a DSLR, take a look at micro 4/3 interchangeable lens cameras (Olympus and Panasonic).
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Old Friday 12th April 2019, 18:40   #11
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Hi Marc,

Quote:
Originally Posted by marcsantacurz View Post
A used P900 or Lumix FZ80 / FZ300 / etc. or similar from Canon or Sony would be much more appropriate for your budget.
The FZ1000, which gives much superior image quality to the FZ200 (which I believe has the same sensor as the FZ300), is available new from Amazon at $600.

Of course, only Steven can decide what's the best trade-off in terms of quality vs. cost within his budget, but it might be worth not forgetting the FZ1000 if one looks at used cameras. And maybe there's even a better deal to be found for a new one than the $600 offer from the first and only vendor I checked :-)

Niels' hint that a smaller, lighter lens on the original DSLR body might work too is a good one as well.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Thursday 27th June 2019, 18:04   #12
Kurt N
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I have a P900 and I'm switching to a DSLR.
Although I agree with the strengths of the P900 mentioned above, it is frustratingly slow and has a manual focus option that is pretty much useless. For forest birding, where you have to deal with poor lighting, fast moving birds and lots of foliage in the way the P900 just doesn't cut it.
In more open country the P900 competes well though, and if you take it a little more seriously and put it on a tripod for stabilization the extreme zoom level can still produce some good quality images.
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Old Saturday 6th July 2019, 23:31   #13
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I’ve gone full circle from DSLR (various Canon, Nikon models) to Nikon1 V1 to micro 4/3 (E-M5 mkII) to superzoom point and shoot (lumix fz300) to APSC mirrorless (Fuji) to a P900 Nikon and have finally settled on a micro 4/3 camera (G9) and the panasonic 100-400mm lens. With the DSLRs and larger sensor mirrorless cameras, reach is always a struggle and it can get expensive. With point and shoot super zooms, the shutter-lag, poor performance in low light and slowness to zoom may get frustrating.
You mention that birds are among the things you like photographing, so for general use and portability I would recommend a smaller micro 4/3 camera with a 100-300mm lens (used from a reputable dealer like KEH). I find it’s an excellent middle ground between quality and speed. If that stretches the budget and if you are willing to buy a discontinued line of cameras - I would recommend a Nikon 1 camera with an FT1 adapter and a 55-200mm or 70-300mm VR (dslr) lens from Nikon. That will give you good reach and fairly small size, relative to the focal length. It’s also an interchangeable lens setup, so you have the option of getting other lenses for non birding use. Good luck!
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Old Sunday 7th July 2019, 05:52   #14
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I've never tried the Nikon 1 combo, but I've heard good things about it. You get a 2.75x crop factor, I believe, so a 70-300 is like 192-825mm. Maybe CX is 2.7 not 2.75, I don't remember.

I've not been too impressed with Olympus E-M5m2 focus speed. The E-M1 is better, but still not up to top-end DSLR. But the weight savings for equivalent focal length is enormous. I've not tried the E-M1 since the last firmware update or the newer E-M1x (or whatever the call it), so maybe it's improved. It is definitely worth a try, it might work for you.

I found the Sony RX10 IV speed to be pretty good. It goes out to 600mm equivalent. It's handling was ok too, though the menus drive me crazy.

The P900 was too slow for me and no raw so cropping was not very good. I've not tried the P1000, I hear its better though bigger with insane zoom.

Personally, a full frame 45 MP or crop frame 20 MP plus the 500mm f/5.6e pf is really good and I'm happy with it. I get about 1500mm - 2000mm equivalent out of that with post cropping and the speed and quality are excellent. Expensive and a little heavy.
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Old Sunday 7th July 2019, 08:06   #15
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Just to set the record straight, the P1000 wll take good pics in poor light, not at 1000sec but I have shot good pics set on auto and the camera picked a low shutter speed and got a good pic. I then tried at 1000sec (in S ) and the pic was almost black. The light under the trees was pretty dark.

The EVF has got a diopter to set to suit your eyesight, I know because I set mine to suit me. You can also adjust the brightness of the image which I have done.

I agree the 900 manual is damned awkward to use, so much so that in the field I rarely used it, but the 1000 is childishly simple to use (so it should be) I probably use it 50% of my shots, and in foliage it is spot on. Well done Nikon for fitting it to the 1000. many of my pics are taken at 30yds plus at above 1000mm and if there is any foliage I just switch to manual and turn the ring until the peaking is on the subject. This works every time even picking out a butterfly at 25mtrs on a load of stinging nettles.

I could go on and on about just how good the 1000 is, just to say that for a walkabout camera that will focus down to 1cm, out to the moon and Mars. can be used as a telescope and takes Raw (if you need it, I don't)

Don't make the mistake of comparing the 1000 to the 900, there is no comparison, the 1000 is an excellent all round camera.


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Old Sunday 7th July 2019, 10:44   #16
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interesting thread, im looking for more reach / better quality shots with my set up and wondering why ive not gone for a super zoom?
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