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Compact and lightweight point and shoots for birding?

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Old Sunday 28th April 2019, 15:46   #1
mskb
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Compact and lightweight point and shoots for birding?

Hello Everyone,

We used to carry a DSLR + a Tamron 150-600 G2 for wildlife photography; some photos here: www.500px.com/mskumar . Now we carry binoculars more often, and we are looking for (a) very compact, (b) relatively fast-focusing P&S camera. OK/sub-par image quality is fine if that means more compactness. Our goal is only to have sufficient information in the image as (a) a record of the bird observation and (b) to ID birds at a reasonable distance, which might not be covered by our 8x binoculars, even if that means zooming in a bit digitally after the fact. Any thoughts ? Also, I see that smaller zoom cameras can be more compact, so in general, what zoom range would you suggest for birding?

Thanks,
Kumar

Last edited by mskb : Sunday 28th April 2019 at 15:53.
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Old Sunday 28th April 2019, 18:14   #2
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Hi Kumar,

Quote:
Originally Posted by mskb View Post
we are looking for (a) very compact, (b) relatively fast-focusing P&S camera.
It might depend on your defintion of "very compact".

My Panasonic FZ1000 certainly focuses quite fast, and it's much more compact than my DSLR rig. However, my girlfriend thinks it's a big camera, and prefers her smaller but slow-focusing FZ200. The Nikon P900 seems to be very popular with birders, but from what I've heard, it doesn't have a very fast autofocus either.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Sunday 28th April 2019, 19:53   #3
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Hey Henning, Thanks! "Wirecutter" was recommending a Sony Cybershot DSCHX80/B, a 30X zoom, which is pocket-able. So I was hoping for that kind of a size? May be, I am dreaming! :) What do you think?
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Old Saturday 8th June 2019, 15:36   #4
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Just as an update: we think we found an answer here for now: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62606878 , resulting in https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62743968

We removed the pocket-able constraint, although still wanted something light weight and easy to focus; had to be OK with certain other trade offs, which was fine for our use.

Last edited by mskb : Saturday 8th June 2019 at 15:40.
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Old Sunday 9th June 2019, 07:55   #5
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Have you looked into the panasonic tz100......10x zoom with a 1"sensor,viewfinder and compact.The fact that it "only" has a 10x zoom is negated by the fact you can crop your images more because of the larger sensor.
It's a great compact camera and the only one to have such a large zoom range with a 1" sensor.

Last edited by Neil G. : Sunday 9th June 2019 at 08:07.
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Old Sunday 9th June 2019, 12:35   #6
mskb
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Thank you Neil G. We did not look at the TZ100. We will take a look when we get to the store again.

The Om-D's larger 4/3rds sensor & very light 600mm equivalent lens kit combined with its fast manual zoom rings + focus peaking was extraordinarily pleasing and quite a modern shift. Like I mentioned in that Dpreview thread with examples, focusing on fast moving subjects is easy and fast as well, I so wish my much more expensive full frame Canon kit had it. For this and a few other reasons, I can clearly foresee moving to a Sony body for my full frame photography pretty soon. I never thought I would do that for budget reasons and the hassle of reselling, but these attributes are simply too good to miss out on.

Anyway, the Olympus kit always goes with us these days whenever our focus is birding.
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Old Sunday 9th June 2019, 23:21   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mskb View Post
Thank you Neil G. We did not look at the TZ100. We will take a look when we get to the store again.

The Om-D's larger 4/3rds sensor & very light 600mm equivalent lens kit combined with its fast manual zoom rings + focus peaking was extraordinarily pleasing and quite a modern shift. Like I mentioned in that Dpreview thread with examples, focusing on fast moving subjects is easy and fast as well, I so wish my much more expensive full frame Canon kit had it. For this and a few other reasons, I can clearly foresee moving to a Sony body for my full frame photography pretty soon. I never thought I would do that for budget reasons and the hassle of reselling, but these attributes are simply too good to miss out on.

Anyway, the Olympus kit always goes with us these days whenever our focus is birding.
The Panasonic TZ100 also has a follow on, the TZ 200, which has a 15x zoom, (24-360mm equivalent), with a 20 megapixel 1" sensor.

That said, I suspect the Olympus offers materially better image quality to either Panasonic, as it is very difficult to make a really sharp 10x or 15x zoom lens. Packaging this zoom into a very compact body just adds to the difficulty. All reviews that I've seen have noted the images to be somewhat soft.
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Old Sunday 9th June 2019, 23:25   #8
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Thanks @etudiant. I still have to compare the OM-D image quality against the Panas, so can't comment on that. If you have some experience with the Panas, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the full images shown in this post, which I had also linked to earlier: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/62743968 . Three out of the last four images were relatively "low light".
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Old Monday 10th June 2019, 04:38   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mskb View Post
Hello Everyone,

We used to carry a DSLR + a Tamron 150-600 G2 for wildlife photography; some photos here: www.500px.com/mskumar . Now we carry binoculars more often, and we are looking for (a) very compact, (b) relatively fast-focusing P&S camera. OK/sub-par image quality is fine if that means more compactness. Our goal is only to have sufficient information in the image as (a) a record of the bird observation and (b) to ID birds at a reasonable distance, which might not be covered by our 8x binoculars, even if that means zooming in a bit digitally after the fact. Any thoughts ? Also, I see that smaller zoom cameras can be more compact, so in general, what zoom range would you suggest for birding?

Thanks,
Kumar
I really wouldn't be mucking around too much - if you want a 'compact' camera capable of taking photos in just about all situations, then the SONY RX10 IV is it. At least it will take BIF https://m.dpreview.com/products/sony...sony_dscrx10iv Anything lesser defeats the purpose even if it does fit in a pocket.

What 8x bins are you using? It may pay to get lightweight or downsized versions - two excellent choices would be the Nikon MHG 842, or the Swarovski 832 SV.

If you wanted to go even lighter and more compact still I'd try Swarovski's 832 SV or even the new 830 CL bins, paired with a mobile phone - either a large sensor type, or perhaps one of the new telephoto models such as the Huawei P30 Pro, etc. ...... such setups (with a suitable adapter) should work quite well at least on static subjects.



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Old Monday 10th June 2019, 21:48   #10
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Thank you @Chosun for the advice! I carry an SV 8.5x42.

We are looking for two bodies.
(a) For the first one, at $650 used prices on the OM-D kit, I am very satisfied at 600mm for the purpose originally stated. For more serious photography, I intend to go full frame + Tammy / a 400 2.8 with a TC.
(b) For the second body, yes, we are considering the RX10IV. At >$1500 for a 600mm although admittedly at a better image quality than the Nikon P900/P1000 counterparts, we are still debating value vs price. Also, the other person amongst us is debating if 600mm is too short for their purpose, despite taking all the cropping advantage of the 1" sensor into account (one of the main reasons why an experienced birder like @Evelyn returned her RX10IV on that dpreview thread).

Thank you!

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Old Monday 10th June 2019, 22:21   #11
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Our "pocketable" cameras when we don't want to compromise in a tiny camera are the Sony Cybershot RX100 series. I have the Mark III myself, but my girlfriend has the Mark VI.

Of course, these aren't inexpensive cameras either and don't have alot of zoom. But we do "bird" with them at closer ranges, and have them as cameras we carry when we don't want to carry a bridge camera (SX60 for me) or a DSLR (D700 + 70-300 for her).

Though in a pinch I have really pushed the settings on my Canon Powershot ELPH 330 a couple of times and was pleasantly surprised. This is an older PNS camera and I use it in situations where I don't want to risk my nicer cameras (like on the beach).
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Old Tuesday 11th June 2019, 02:10   #12
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Quote:
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Our "pocketable" cameras when we don't want to compromise in a tiny camera are the Sony Cybershot RX100 series. I have the Mark III myself, but my girlfriend has the Mark VI.

Of course, these aren't inexpensive cameras either and don't have alot of zoom. But we do "bird" with them at closer ranges, and have them as cameras we carry when we don't want to carry a bridge camera (SX60 for me) or a DSLR (D700 + 70-300 for her).

Though in a pinch I have really pushed the settings on my Canon Powershot ELPH 330 a couple of times and was pleasantly surprised. This is an older PNS camera and I use it in situations where I don't want to risk my nicer cameras (like on the beach).
Agree on the Sony RX100 series, very fine quality at a premium price. My wife gave me a Mark VI to travel with and the camera really performs nicely.
While it maxes out at 200mm equivalent, the lens delivers sharp still and video images.
Only drawback is the menu is very convoluted, so really learning the camera is essential to getting full value from it.
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Old Thursday 13th June 2019, 12:27   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
...
That said, I suspect the Olympus offers materially better image quality to either Panasonic, as it is very difficult to make a really sharp 10x or 15x zoom lens. Packaging this zoom into a very compact body just adds to the difficulty. All reviews that I've seen have noted the images to be somewhat soft.
Hi @etudiant, just had a chance to look at the ZS100 vs the OM-D3 basic sensor performance here: https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/ima...57229366120588 I will leave the reader to decide on whether the image quality is better or not at appropriate ISOs.

ZS200 isn't available yet on their drop down boxes. Just thought I would share. Of course, it would be nice to have a look at the tele-end qualities of the zooms similarly!

Last edited by mskb : Thursday 13th June 2019 at 13:42.
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Old Thursday 13th June 2019, 12:30   #14
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Thank you Kevin & Etudiant for for your thoughts on the RX100VI. We will need to find a way to check it out as well in the field.
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Old Thursday 13th June 2019, 18:02   #15
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Thank you Kevin & Etudiant for for your thoughts on the RX100VI. We will need to find a way to check it out as well in the field.
If you were closer, would let you try mine. :)

Etudiant is correct, they are a complicated beastie to get the best out of.

To be fair though. Sony sells the RX100 as "a DSLR in your pocket" and I didn't find the menus any tougher to wade through than the Nikon D700 (a full-frame DSLR)...often as cryptic, certainly nearly as many options to choose from and set.

Any of the RX100 series are great cameras, and I think you can even still get the Mark I and Mark II new in box (one of them has more zoom too). I wouldn't get less than the Mark III because it has most of the same features as the newer ones. The Mark IV, V, and VI added improved video and the VI added a new lens element in the stack (ND filter, if I recall).
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Old Thursday 13th June 2019, 18:17   #16
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My recommendation is that whatever you get it has a good EVF. Trying to hold a P&S at arm-length to look at the rear screen while aligning a 600mm+ image is really hard.

I liked the Sony EVFs better than the Panasonic. Something like the HX80 or RX10 or RX100. The Panasonics take nice pictures, but I thought the Sony EVF looked better.

If you are looking m43, the Panasonic 100-400 lens is really nice. I liked using it better than the Oly 300 f/4, which is a bit of a beast on m43. I've used the E-M5m2 and E-M1, both worked pretty well, but not well enough for me to switch from Nikon DSLR.

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