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Help me pick out a camera

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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 18:01   #1
wunderlong88
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Help me pick out a camera

I'm new to the bird watching hobby and finally purchased a decent pair of binoculars (Monarch 5, 10x42, yea!) and now would like to purchase a camera. I have done some research and am hoping you guys can point me in the right direction.

I want a camera that will take decent pictures of birds but I plan on using it for travel (particularly outdoor shots). I don't want a super huge camera but am prepared for larger than compact. I want point and shoot, with best quality I can get for what I want to pay ($500 or less). I'm not trying to be a National Geographic photographer but would like nice decent bird photos for uploading to Ebird and for id and to just enjoy looking at. I need convenience to some degree or I will not take any pictures or use it, hence not too large to carry and not too hard to use (auto would be nice but I would be willing to learn some basic skills to operate the other functions of the camera for better pictures).

What I think I want:
Price - $500 or less
Zoom - 40x or more
Image stabilization
Megapixels - 16x or more
Wifi
Size - larger than compact is ok but not huge. Something I can carry easily and have out ready to use a lot when traveling.
Viewfinder
Decent battery life/usb charging.
Auto will produce good pictures for most circumstances.
Video is secondary and although nice to have not an important factor.
Good for bird pictures from quite a distance and good for outdoor pictures while traveling of sights/buildings and still take a decent photo of friends/family when needed. This will be my only camera other than my Samsung Galaxy s7 phone camera (which doesn't really impress me most of the time)

I looked at Nikon Coolpix 900 and it looked really big. Canon Powershot SX70 seemed better but was a bit more than I was hoping to spend. Not sure I need all that it offers. But it is an option.

I am a total newbie and flexible in what I want. Just trying to help narrow down the options for you all.

TY,

Linda
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Old Thursday 20th December 2018, 19:13   #2
wunderlong88
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Four models I'm considering:

Nikon Coolpix P900
Panasonic Lumix DC FZ80
Canon Power Shot SX70 HS
Nikon Coolpix B700
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 09:04   #3
HermitIbis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wunderlong88 View Post
[...] I'm not trying to be a National Geographic photographer but would like nice decent bird photos for uploading to Ebird and for id and to just enjoy looking at. I need convenience to some degree or I will not take any pictures or use it, hence not too large to carry and not too hard to use (auto would be nice but I would be willing to learn some basic skills to operate the other functions of the camera for better pictures). [...] Canon Powershot SX70 seemed better but was a bit more than I was hoping to spend. Not sure I need all that it offers.
I've used the Canon SX50 for years, almost always handheld. The stabilization is surprisingly good. Leaning against a tree or similar support never hurts. If you are not satisfied with the image quality, you could use a monopod, as suggested by Rich Hoeg in his recent review of the SX70. But it isn't necessary, I'd estimate 90% of SX50 owners use it handheld. The SX70 has entered the market only ten days ago, its price will come down. Wait for more reviews from respected sources. First signs are promising - it seems Canon has done its homework. Eventually the price should be around $450 or so.

Storing your birding settings on buttons C1 and C2 isn't too different from using "auto". These cameras are really convenient for someone who starts with birding and maybe carries an additional bino. The SX50 delivers ID shots of practically every bird that you see only as a tiny dot on the horizon. A SX70 could/should be even better: more reach, more shots per second and a better RAW format.

A superzoom works best in sunny weather, and you shouldn't expect it a great choice for birds in flight. For everything else - landscape, travel, macro - the SX70 must be a great choice. And in the four years I used an SX50, a weight of little over 500g was never a burden.
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 09:09   #4
Neil G.
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Hi Linda,
All the above cameras will do a decent job for you.I personally own a p900 and it has proven itself on it's ability to take great photos.It is larger and heavier than most bridge cameras but the lens housing provides one of the best supports for handholding i've ever used on a camera.
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 14:18   #5
wunderlong88
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Thank you for all your responses (on the other threads, too). I am to the point of frustration I have read so much. I understand the difference in the sensor sizes. I'm trying to decide between the trade off of small sensor/longer zoom or larger sensor/less zoom. In photographing birds which matters more - zoom (how much is enough for most bird scenarios?) or sensor (are light conditions outside that much of a problem?)

I was leaning toward the P900 after only finding negative reviews of the Canon Power Shot SX70 HS. But I realized I don't know how many of the pics I've seen around from it are using a tripod and how many of the zoom can I use without a tripod? I don't think I will want to use a tripod very often and feel like any zoom that is useless handheld is not necessary to have in the first place.

I also started looking at the 1" sensor cameras (but they are so much). Canon 3GX (no viewfinder but I wondered if I cared) is the only one I've found that I might stretch to get. I saw some great pics from it but wondered if the zoom was enough?

I've read so many good things about the old Canon Powershot sx50 that if I could get a new one I'd probably just do that for now. But I don't want a used one. I also have considered the Nikon Coolpix p610 thinking it might be a small p900 and that 60x is plenty of zoom. Can I even use that much without a tripod? Not sure why it is more than the p900. Still reading about it and comparing. Panasonic Lumix DC FZ80 is still on the table.
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 18:23   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wunderlong88 View Post
In photographing birds which matters more - zoom (how much is enough for most bird scenarios?)
That will depend on where you are, and where you are shooting birds. If you're in open forest or plains, with very little population around, and wild birds that rarely see a person in their territory, you'll have great difficulty getting within hundreds of yards of some birds...the longer the reach the better in those situations. But if you're in a nature reserve, wildlife park, natural area with boardwalks, water treatment plant, or urban/suburban park where the wild birds are much more accustomed to seeing people walking around and have come to learn that they are not a threat, you can often get within a hundred feet of many different species - sometimes within ten feet. If most of your shooting will be in these types of situations, then lenses reaching an equivalent of 300mm to 400mm will often be enough.

Quote:
or sensor (are light conditions outside that much of a problem?)
Again - depends. Middle of the afternoon, outdoors, no tree cover, wide open spaces, sunny day, no clouds? No problem...any camera and any sensor can do just fine. Overcast day, shooting far away, smaller aperture lens - you'd be surprised at just how much light will be lost...to your eye it's not much, but to a sensor, especially a small one, it can have a much bigger impact. Also, if you're shooting in a forest or tree canopy, even on a bright sunny day, it can be dark as after sunset inside that tree cover...small sensors can struggle there. Shooting early AM or dusk? Even larger sensors will need to push to higher ISO sensitivities or use very fast lenses with big apertures.

Quote:
I also started looking at the 1" sensor cameras (but they are so much). Canon 3GX (no viewfinder but I wondered if I cared)
That question goes somewhat towards whether handheld or tripod/monopod may be needed - most birders and photographers in general would agree that using a viewfinder aids significantly in the stability when shooting - it's much easier to hold a long lens stable and non-moving when using both hands, elbows braced against the body, and camera viewfinder firmly up against your eye, rather than trying to hold a long lens camera out away from your face, hovering in air. So for birding photography, I'd strongly suggest a viewfinder would be the better, more stable way to go - not to mention better visibility in mixed lighting conditions and improved ability to properly see what you're focusing on.
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 19:18   #7
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Ok...we live in a very remote area and much of our bird photographing will be of birds not used to people. We've already discovered that problem!

I guess I will learn to deal with the lighting at least at this point as I can't find any real options of a 1" sensor in my budget right now. I feel like I would need the view finder and that makes the GX3 too much and I only saw 2 other options which were even more. (This is at 600 mm which I feel is minimum that I would want)

I'm going to be near a Best Buy tomorrow and I think I will stop and look at the P900 and see just how big it is. Would be interested in a second option superzoom that has the best image stabilization for handheld use. I may not be good at it at first but hope to learn to be steady. I assume the quick fps for burst shots could be a bonus and helpful here? I see plenty of choices but am not sure which one or two stand out as possibly the best of the pack.

I like what I see in the sample photos of the p900 in another thread. I haven't found bird photos for the other models I've checked. Some I'm still considering: Nikon p900, B700, Panasonic Lumix DCFZ80(82), Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX95.

Ruled out the Canon powershot g3x and the CAnon sx70 (wish it was an improved sx50!)
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 20:03   #8
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The models that you are considering should all be fine, if they have an electronic viewfinder: a must for birding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wunderlong88 View Post
I was leaning toward the P900 after only finding negative reviews of the Canon Power Shot SX70 HS.
I've read five reviews on the SX70, for me the jury is still out. The SX50 was/is a nicely functional & reliable package, attractive for birders, but we must not forget that it appeared in 2012. Having a viewfinder with 0.2 million dots or 2.3 million dots as in the SX70 is a huge difference. So IF the SX70 works with the functionality and the sharp images at the long end of a SX50, has a modern viewfinder like the SX60 and could shoot at 10fps or 5fps with better RAW, it would be a serious option.

Today I am using a 1'' camera at 800mm, with trade-offs. There are moments when I miss the reach of a superzoom/small sensor, or the ability to shoot an insect macro without changing the lens. For many species my favourite pic is still the one [of a stationary bird] with the SX50 years ago.
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 20:22   #9
wunderlong88
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I think I will go look at the Nikon p900 and b700 and see if one of those isn't a good choice for me.

As my first real camera and my first real attempts at photographing birds my expectations are not super high and I feel certain either of these will make me feel like a great photographer for awhile! I have to be able to handle using it (not too complicated) or I won't take any pictures and then it doesn't matter what camera I have. :-)

Thank you so much! Hopefully I'll have some pics to show in the future!
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Old Friday 21st December 2018, 21:52   #10
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There lots of P900's going second hand for about half the price of a new one. Don't forget to get a couple of spare batteries, you get a charger with the 900. Still got mine and had 3 faultless years before I upgraded to the 1000.
Good shooting whatever you end up with, the 900 will give you great results even set on Auto or Bird setting.

And a happy Xmas,
Den
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Old Saturday 22nd December 2018, 19:53   #11
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I see some critical remarks on dpreview on the SX70, mainly about the quality of the JPEG at the long end. It seems to work for food photography, admittedly pretty irrelevant for us birders.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wunderlong88 View Post
I think I will go look at the Nikon p900 and b700 and see if one of those isn't a good choice for me.
I seem to remember that the B700 was criticized because of a slow processor. The Nikon P900 must be very popular among birders, searching on the flickr site for "P900 birds" finds 9,167 images.
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