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Best 2019 bridge cameras for birding

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Old Tuesday 30th April 2019, 14:10   #1
Sbiriguda
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Best 2019 bridge cameras for birding

I asked about the same topic some years ago and I would like to refresh my ideas...
Provided bridge cameras are mostly for birds identification and not suitable for birding, especially for birds in flight, I have found the following info:
https://www.digitaltrends.com/photog...ridge-cameras/

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS ($429)
Nikon Coolpix P1000 ($995)
Panasonic Lumix FZ300 ($398)
Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV ($1,700)

In the low price range perhaps the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is one of the best choices...
In the upper range Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV is unbeatable, some say almost comparable to the DSLR + lens. The only problem is its price...

My doubt is about Nikon Coolpix P1000 ($995) or the previous model P900 (about 600 bucks I guess, even less than that used)
The Nikon P1000/P900 has an incredibly powerful zoom for a bridge camera, probably the only one that can be used for moon photography
Is it better than the other bridge cameras for birding? Are there any other P&S camersa I didn't mention that might be worth of notice?
Thanks
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Old Tuesday 30th April 2019, 14:48   #2
Foxy
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I have had a Canon SX50 for about 4 years now and it is a superb camera but showing its age now. I have read a number of user reports that suggest the SX60 is not much of an improvement - many prefer the SX50 and are waiting for the next leap forward by Canon. The Nikon P1000 really appeals but it ha s a very small sensor so limits quality which means the functionality is little advanced from the P900 but that zoom...

I was close to committing buying one when I spoke to a guy using a Sony RX10 last week and he had such fantastic results that I am now torn. The P1000 has the incredible zoom and price on its side, the PX10 a better spec and quality. I would suggest based on his comments that the PX10 is better for birding: he was getting good quality pictures in flight which I have never managed with the SX50 and that could be the crucial point.
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Old Tuesday 30th April 2019, 17:48   #3
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This kind of question has never resulted in a definitive answer has it?! Ever! Otherwise 1 model would drive all the others out of business. I guess you just have to choose the which price, spec, etc appeals to you most.

I don't think there is any point listening to others' opinions, unless that person is identical to you! Haha, sorry, a bit grumpy today!
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Old Tuesday 30th April 2019, 17:53   #4
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Check out the P1000 is big topic and some of the links to pictures,

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Old Tuesday 30th April 2019, 18:12   #5
Chris.S
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxy View Post
I have had a Canon SX50 for about 4 years now and it is a superb camera but showing its age now. I have read a number of user reports that suggest the SX60 is not much of an improvement - many prefer the SX50 and are waiting for the next leap forward by Canon. The Nikon P1000 really appeals but it ha s a very small sensor so limits quality which means the functionality is little advanced from the P900 but that zoom...

I was close to committing buying one when I spoke to a guy using a Sony RX10 last week and he had such fantastic results that I am now torn. The P1000 has the incredible zoom and price on its side, the PX10 a better spec and quality. I would suggest based on his comments that the PX10 is better for birding: he was getting good quality pictures in flight which I have never managed with the SX50 and that could be the crucial point.
I went from SX50 to SX60 (barely any difference) and have had the Sony RX10iv since October and really impressed with it, especially birds in flight.

I wouldn't have even attempted some of the shots i've been getting recently with the RX10iv with the SX50/60.

My Flickr with recent RX10iv images (from the blackbird near house sparrows upwards)

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Old Tuesday 30th April 2019, 19:45   #6
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...My Flickr with recent RX10iv images (from the blackbird near house sparrows upwards)
Very convincing, indeed!
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 16:43   #7
Charlie Spencer
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I've had a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 for a few years. The camera actually takes darn good photos in Auto mode, and the 60X optical usually pulls me in close enough for bird ID purposes. However, I have a couple of complaints that are pushing me to look at other hardware.

The first is the camera is programmed to display the image for two seconds after it's captured on screen or viewfinder, whichever is active. You can turn that off in other modes, but not in Auto. As we all know, two seconds is plenty of time for a bird to hop to another branch, if not leave the area entirely, so I rarely use Auto unless shooting something slow to stationary.

My other gripe is during that 20% of the time when auto focus isn't good enough and I need to manually focus. These times are usually when there's something between the bird and I that partially obscures it - branches, vines, etc. The auto focus is just slow, and gets slower the more I zoom in. To make up for that, the manual focus is cumbersome. It shares a wheel with the exposure and the icons indicating which function is active strike me as counter-intuitive. (No, there's no clear guidance in the otherwise satisfactory user's manual.) Once I manage to get the wheel set for the function I want, it's awkward to focus using the wheel or the dial without shifting the camera away from the subject.

Two minor complaints. It can be slow to write to RAM, buffering after only two or three shots. Also, the RAW format it uses (.RW2) is apparently only accessible with the … challenging … 'SilkyPix' app that comes with it. I haven't found anything free or cheap that will open .RW2. Fortunately, I only edit photos a couple of times a year, so I usually work with the .JPGs.

So does anyone have experience with bridges with an auto mode that features a fast auto focus and doesn't insist on showing me every shot in the viewfinder? Or one with an easy manual focus that doesn't require the manual dexterity of a magician? Let's set a a limit of $600; the RX10 is way out of my bracket. Or am I better off moving to a DSLR?

Thanks for any responses.
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 16:51   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxy View Post
I have had a Canon SX50 for about 4 years now and it is a superb camera but showing its age now. I have read a number of user reports that suggest the SX60 is not much of an improvement - many prefer the SX50 and are waiting for the next leap forward by Canon. The Nikon P1000 really appeals but it ha s a very small sensor so limits quality which means the functionality is little advanced from the P900 but that zoom...

I was close to committing buying one when I spoke to a guy using a Sony RX10 last week and he had such fantastic results that I am now torn. The P1000 has the incredible zoom and price on its side, the PX10 a better spec and quality. I would suggest based on his comments that the PX10 is better for birding: he was getting good quality pictures in flight which I have never managed with the SX50 and that could be the crucial point.
I follow someone on Twitter who carries the Sony with him when he's out birding. I must say I'm very impressed with his results.

Rich

PS I'm also grumpy Pete
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 17:25   #9
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I use an SX60 and considered an SX50, and I do catch BiF. You can look at my gallery.
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 17:52   #10
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Charlie, the P1000 has a simple switch to go to manual and then turn a large ring (around lens barrel) to adjust. Also has focus peaking and is very easy to use. I had the P900 before and had the same problems as you with manual focus, but the P1000 is very simple and positive, a real step up in functionality.

Only problem is the price down to about 890 in UK at the moment,



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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 18:58   #11
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Hi Charlie,
If you want the best focusing,bestquality images,in fact the best of everything,you cannot beat a good dslr and lens set up.Even the sony rx10 cant compete with a good quality dslr no matter what you read to the contrary.
Most people who use bridge cameras,including myself,do so because they are easier to carry around due to their size.I've owned both dslr's and bridge cameras and though some bridge cameras are very capable in the right hands they are not as capable as their big brothers at this time.
If you are looking for the very best performance go for a dslr.....you will always be making compromises with a bridge camera.
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 20:37   #12
Charlie Spencer
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Neil, thanks.

I'm not necessarily looking for the best of everything. My goal is sharp images of birds, often at a distance. The camera will used almost exclusively for birding. The images will be used as records of what I've seen, and to help identify unknown birds when I get home. Birds in flight aren't likely subjects since I find I can't track on them anyway. They'll never be printed or enlarged, and they'll likely only be shared with eBird and Macauley Library.

I realize a bridge is a compromise, but lighter weight when I'm in the field for several hours is a big advantage. Battery life is another one, although I admit I have no idea how many shots DSLR batteries are capable of. The Panasonic will knock out 700 or 800 before I have to swap.

I'm certainly not opposed to a DSLR but like many others, I find them intimidating. That's a lot of start-up money to pay for something I have almost no clue how to use. I had hoped using the Lumix would educate me but I find the controls too cumbersome to effectively change on the fly in the field. (Or maybe the things I'm trying to change aren't easy to reach because the manufacturers didn't expect them to be adjusted very often, and I'm overlooking easier, more critical settings in my ignorance.)

I also find the specifications intimidating; I don't understand the technical specifications of what I'm buying or how to compare them. For example, '60X optical zoom' I understand; '70-300mmm with a 2X extender' might as well be in Chinese.

Depending on how much it's going to cost to change hardware, I may live with the Panasonic's limitations, but I don't want to be buying new gear every two or three years. I'm a birder who wants to use a camera as a tool, like a field guide or a pair of binoculars. I'm not a photographer who has chosen birds as his subject.
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 20:38   #13
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Only problem is the price down to about 890 in UK at the moment,

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Yeah, that's about $1050 or $1100 stateside. Thanks.
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 21:18   #14
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I use an SX60 and considered an SX50, and I do catch BiF. You can look at my gallery.
I forgot to mention the SX70 is out, which some say is a better better IQ than the SX60. Wasn't anything there for me to consider the upgrade.

As to our question about x-times zoom, the better data to look at is the "35mm equivalent" numbers, which gives you some comparison to 35mm film numbers. The SX60's zoom range is equivalent to 21mm-1365mm, at least for zoom, and lets you compare apples-to-apples. x-times zoom really doesn't mean a whole heck of lot in my way of thinking because you can't really cross-compare cameras easily that way.

At 1365mm equivalent focal length, I can comfortably take photos of birds at a distance of 50m, can get decent photos out to 80m, and with luck and good conditions, I've reached out to photograph medium-sized birds of prey out to 100-120m. This is handheld, alot of the special motion-cancelling turned-off, and without using the distance-increasing features like digital zoom.

HOWEVER, if that kind of distance is not necessary, there are better cameras in your price range than the SX60. As someone else said, bridge cameras (or Superzooms) are a compromise between sensor size, camera size, and zoom distance.

Heck, I've taken birding photos with an RX100 Mk. III, but only at much closer ranges.
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Old Thursday 2nd May 2019, 21:46   #15
Charlie Spencer
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As to our question about x-times zoom, the better data to look at is the "35mm equivalent" numbers, which gives you some comparison to 35mm film numbers.
Thanks.

I can see that would make for easier comparison but I don't know how to interpret them. I usually see two of them, the first one smaller than the second, but I don't know what they represent, or what they mean in terms of my being able to zoom in on a subject. It's like hearing one guy ran a marathon in "2:20" and the other in "3:30" when you don't know anything about running. What are the units of measure, and is bigger better or worse?

The Lumix has let me take identifiable photos at 100+ meters. Nothing anyone would publish but identifiable is all I'm after. I reserve digital zoom for the direst situations when I just can't pull the bird in any other way. The lens says '20-2000' around the outside circumference, and '1:2.8-5.9/3.58-215 ASPH' around the front face. Can that be translated into something I can compare (and maybe even understand)?

EDIT - okay, the question can be ignored now, except I don't get why there appear to be two sets of aperture ranges.

Sorry, I don't know what a 'RX100 Mk. III' is, although I assume it's a camera.

Last edited by Charlie Spencer : Friday 3rd May 2019 at 11:47.
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