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Compact camera system

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Old Monday 22nd January 2018, 03:21   #1
Jack Speer
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Compact camera system

Hi Photography Subforum,

I am interested in getting into bird photography, though I do not wish to carry something too big or heavy. Just playing around with a measuring tape, I am thinking I would not want anything longer than 8 inches (lens collapsed), and probably no heavier than 3 or 4 pounds. Would I be able to get fairly decent image quality with these restrictions? I am not interested in selling my photos, but I would like something that can capture the feather barbs of birds as I like seeing that in other people's photos.

I think I'd like to spend around $1500, definitely no more than $2000. Are my parameters realistic? Should I be looking for a DSLR and lens? Or a mirrorless system? A fixed lens camera? I should note that I am not too interested in other types of photography so the ability to change the lens to something wider is not a big priority.

Thank you in advance.
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Old Monday 22nd January 2018, 08:01   #2
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Think you're not going to get an easy answer

Things like the detail in your images are as much to do with how good you are, light conditions and how close you can get to the subject.
With your budget and if your not interested in birds in flight then a top end bridge camera may fit the bill, you would need to think of the high power zoom to get larger images of small birds when you were close, not images of birds over long distances if you wanted to have the detail.

DSLR and long enough lens will be a lot bigger and heavier, mirrorless and say 100-400 would be closer but it still may be over your required weight etc
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Old Monday 22nd January 2018, 08:09   #3
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I dont know what level of IQ your after but these were taken with a Nikon P900 bridge camera, no more than 20ft away though.
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Old Monday 22nd January 2018, 08:30   #4
HermitIbis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Speer View Post
Hi Photography Subforum,

I am interested in getting into bird photography, though I do not wish to carry something too big or heavy. Just playing around with a measuring tape, I am thinking I would not want anything longer than 8 inches (lens collapsed), and probably no heavier than 3 or 4 pounds. Would I be able to get fairly decent image quality with these restrictions? I am not interested in selling my photos, but I would like something that can capture the feather barbs of birds as I like seeing that in other people's photos.

I think I'd like to spend around $1500, definitely no more than $2000. Are my parameters realistic? Should I be looking for a DSLR and lens? Or a mirrorless system? A fixed lens camera? I should note that I am not too interested in other types of photography so the ability to change the lens to something wider is not a big priority.

Thank you in advance.
8 inches = 20.32cm. With the hood left on, that's exactly the size of the Nikon J5 + CX 70-300 lens. If you mount the hood "reversed" on the lens, it's a mere 6 inches. But the Nikon J5 has no electronic viewfinder, essential for birds in flight.

The Nikon V2 (with an EVF) + CX70-300, hood on, is a little thicker: 20.5 cm. Weight below 2 pounds. Price (used) is about $200 for the camera, circa $650 for the lens. - The Nikon V3 with the optional EVF and grip also comes into consideration, as it doesn't have an AA filter, offering better feather detail. It is more expensive, camera + lens would cost more than $1000.

Here is an article from Thomas Stirr's website to give you an idea. I've posted on my own experiemces here.

Last edited by HermitIbis : Monday 22nd January 2018 at 08:36.
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Old Tuesday 23rd January 2018, 02:40   #5
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Mike,

The 100-400 looks interesting. It looks like on the edge of what I'd be willing to carry, it is a bit tough to say without holding yourself.

The P900 is much cheaper though, and the feather detail on those birds is about what I am looking for...


HermitIbis,

The Nikon 1 series is one I had not considered. That is an interesting system indeed, and Thomas Stirr really makes it sing. Thank you for the suggestion.
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Old Tuesday 23rd January 2018, 02:47   #6
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Another one I am considering is the Sony RX10 IV. It looks like about the size I would be willing to carry.

From what I'm reading, it is an f4 lens, meaning it can take in over twice as much light as the P900 and panasonic 100-400 at the long end. And twice as much light as the Nikon 1 70-300. This is in exchange for less focal length. An interesting trade off.
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Old Tuesday 23rd January 2018, 04:42   #7
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Hi Jack,

The micro 4/3rds systems (Panasonic & Olympus) are pretty much designed for someone like you in mind. My Oly EM-1, mk. ii with Panny-Leica 100-400 (200-800mm equivalent) weighs 3 pounds and the length is 9 inches. While that combo exceeds your budget, there are significantly cheaper but still good options for the body, and you could try to find a used lens (or start with the 100-300).

The alternatives either weigh significantly more or have smaller sensors with reduced low light capabilities. (The Sony RX10 IV you mention is also attractive, but the wider aperture is offset by the smaller sensor for low light capabilities, and I'd want the ability to go beyond 600mm equivalent reach at some point. But since it's not an ILC, you're stuck with that one lens.)
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Old Tuesday 23rd January 2018, 08:00   #8
HermitIbis
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Another one I am considering is the Sony RX10 IV. It looks like about the size I would be willing to carry.
Reading reviews and user reports, everybody seems to agree that the AF has been significantly improved over the iii model. Several slow-motion videos are available - nice to watch, but it's not something I'd do. So far I haven't found a report from someone who knows both, Nikon1 and Sony iv, comparing the AF. What worries me are reviews like this one, paragraph titled "Limitations for sports and action".

The Sony iv is still relatively new, we only have to wait. Finally someone will be willing to share their insights: does the Sony manage to AF on a sparrow that flies towards the camera?

PS. I forgot to mention this thread - a V3 user now prefers the Sony iv. Not a detailed review, but still...

Last edited by HermitIbis : Tuesday 23rd January 2018 at 08:34.
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Old Wednesday 24th January 2018, 06:46   #9
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Originally Posted by HermitIbis View Post
Reading reviews and user reports, everybody seems to agree that the AF has been significantly improved over the iii model. Several slow-motion videos are available - nice to watch, but it's not something I'd do. So far I haven't found a report from someone who knows both, Nikon1 and Sony iv, comparing the AF. What worries me are reviews like this one, paragraph titled "Limitations for sports and action".

The Sony iv is still relatively new, we only have to wait. Finally someone will be willing to share their insights: does the Sony manage to AF on a sparrow that flies towards the camera?

PS. I forgot to mention this thread - a V3 user now prefers the Sony iv. Not a detailed review, but still...
One of their limitations is buffer size. It's got a larger buffer than a Canon 7d mark ii. Probably the most popular wildlife camera.
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Old Thursday 25th January 2018, 03:42   #10
Jack Speer
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Thank you all for your input. I have narrowed it down to a micro 4/3 body with 100-400 and the RX10IV. I have read that the P900's sensor is quite small and that it is tough to use the camera for flying birds, which I would like to try at some point. And while the Nikon 1 V2/V3 and 70-300 looks like a nice streamlined combination, I am liking what I am reading about the RX10 IV more.

At this point I think this decision comes down to my needs and preferences. Making a list of attributes usually helps in my decision making...

Micro 4/3 and 100-400 Panasonic-Leica
  • Larger sensor
  • Higher focal length
  • Ability to change body and/or lens in the future

RX10 IV
  • Smaller
  • Lighter
  • Wider aperture helps gain back some performance lost with the smaller sensor

Used prices say an RX10 IV is slightly cheaper, but I will try to keep price out of it for now since I think I could get a micro 4/3 system in my budget with some patience and compromise on the body.

I will have a good long think on this.


Jack

Last edited by Jack Speer : Thursday 25th January 2018 at 03:52.
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Old Thursday 25th January 2018, 06:59   #11
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Originally Posted by Jack Speer View Post
Used prices say an RX10 IV is slightly cheaper, but I will try to keep price out of it for now since I think I could get a micro 4/3 system in my budget with some patience and compromise on the body.

I will have a good long think on this.
Jack
Makes sense to me. At the end it's all about waiting for the moment - with the birds and when you buy a camera. - New models arrive at Photokina in September, quite a few will sell their gear in August to get a new toy.
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Old Thursday 25th January 2018, 17:34   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Speer View Post
Thank you all for your input. I have narrowed it down to a micro 4/3 body with 100-400 and the RX10IV. I have read that the P900's sensor is quite small and that it is tough to use the camera for flying birds, which I would like to try at some point. And while the Nikon 1 V2/V3 and 70-300 looks like a nice streamlined combination, I am liking what I am reading about the RX10 IV more.

At this point I think this decision comes down to my needs and preferences. Making a list of attributes usually helps in my decision making...

Micro 4/3 and 100-400 Panasonic-Leica
  • Larger sensor
  • Higher focal length
  • Ability to change body and/or lens in the future

RX10 IV
  • Smaller
  • Lighter
  • Wider aperture helps gain back some performance lost with the smaller sensor

Used prices say an RX10 IV is slightly cheaper, but I will try to keep price out of it for now since I think I could get a micro 4/3 system in my budget with some patience and compromise on the body.

I will have a good long think on this.

Jack
Some Flying birds Jack from my Bridge (Lumix FZ1000)....Smaller, Lighter than a DSLR and relatively cheap. Cheers
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