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Best Birding Bridge Camera (1 Viewer)

Equipaje

Member
United States
I wish there was a general photography camera section, but since there isn't I am asking the question in one of my top picks for a camera.

Basically, I am looking for the golden unicorn. In this order....weather proof, quick focus, low light, zoom, megapixels, stabilization.

What do you think? Is this the right order? I live in west Michigan. Probably the only place cloudier than Seattle, except for the summer when we have bright conditions. I

Does this seem like a good priority list for features? If so, what would you recommend for a good camera for capturing bird photos? A couple of caveats: I'm never going to print and sell photos...I want to be able to ID birds using the camera and, maybe, add the pics to a website. It would be really nice to have a camera that can snap a shot that would save me from having to fill out the rare bird documentation form on a bird count. A picture is worth a thousand words and the like.

Also, we do have a lot of cloudy days and conifers. Quick birds in low light are possible. We also look for shorebirds on broad beaches, where long zoom will be helpful. Am I asking too much?

Due to rain, snow, cold, etc. of west Michigan, weather proofing would be nice, but could be mitigated by a camera condom/case that protects the camera.

Based on these wishes/wants, I'd love to hear what you have to recommend.

The Nikon P1000 sounds awesome with the zoom, but lack of weather proofing and the weight sound horrible. The Canon SX 70....ugh, maybe I'll just request that the forum provide info....I am a newbie at this. I apologize if this isn't your jam. Please skip if you don't want to help a new photographer.

Due to the lack of a general camera forum, I am going to copy and past this into the other camera forums. I apologize if this is annoying. I just don't know what other method to hit all of the camera models. I have no fave and what objective info.

Equipaje
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Basically, I am looking for the golden unicorn. In this order....weather proof, quick focus, low light, zoom, megapixels, stabilization.
Only you can decide if the order is right. With the order you have chosen, look at the Sony Rx10 thread in the sony section.
Niels
 

Equipaje

Member
United States
Thanks for sorting out the general camera posting issue I had.

I ended up pulling the trigger on the Canon SX70. Since I'm just getting into recording birds via camera, I got a bit gun shy of spending $1700 for a camera. I feel like the sx70 will give me a decent, affordable baseline to experiment with photobirding. It may not be the best, but it has to be better than my iphone + Alpen scope. It was a tough call. So many articles and videos to watch....total paradox of choice! Do SX70 users have any good recommendations for good learning tutorials or books for this camera? I saw that the Sony rx10 mark iv had some. I was curious if the Canon did.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Thanks for sorting out the general camera posting issue I had.

I ended up pulling the trigger on the Canon SX70. Since I'm just getting into recording birds via camera, I got a bit gun shy of spending $1700 for a camera. I feel like the sx70 will give me a decent, affordable baseline to experiment with photobirding. It may not be the best, but it has to be better than my iphone + Alpen scope. It was a tough call. So many articles and videos to watch....total paradox of choice! Do SX70 users have any good recommendations for good learning tutorials or books for this camera? I saw that the Sony rx10 mark iv had some. I was curious if the Canon did.

When I was looking for a camera, I found the reviews weren't consistent in terms of which bridge cameras they ranked best. Sometimes, the Canon SX70 was preferred to the Nikon bridge cameras. I concluded there probably isn't that much difference between them and what matters in the end is what you make of whichever bridge camera you have. I went for the zoom because my experience with the FZ330 was that I was just out of range at times.

As for the weather, I live in the North East of England, which obviously isn't basking in year long sunshine with streets lined with palm trees; but since I've had cameras, and as a result I've taken more notice of the weather and forecasts, I've been surprised at just how many sunny/bright days we have. You may find the same!
 

Deans Sanctuary

Well-known member
United States
My first bridge was a Nikon P1000 and just added the Cannon SX 70 HS. My birding site is roughly 10 thousand sq ft which means there is way to much area to cover with just 1 or 2 cameras. Lately its' been 4 cameras at one time. I use elevated observation benches with camera hard mounts, all covered. Obvious difference in price but the outcome in quality video is stark. At this time I'm left wondering where the Cannon can be used because of the poor quality video/stills.
 

glennmanc

Well-known member
Can anyone tell me if the Canon SX70 has a manual, or battery-operated, zoom? Electric zooms drain the battery too fast. I have a Finepix HS50 with manual zoom but it is both no-longer-made and on its last legs, though it was great! Any other bridge cameras with MANUAL zoom?
 

Deans Sanctuary

Well-known member
United States
Like so many do if you're taking hikes looking for photo ops then those opportunities can disappear quickly. Not so if your using feeding stations. In the wild most people rely on those cameras that are hand-held long lenses while shooting single frames. However your chances of getting that one great shot becomes more difficult. That is why I shoot video only then have hundreds to thousands of frames to choose from to pull that one image to edit. A proper edit is just as important as getting the image.

The P1000 and the 125 Zoom you reference is the optical range, it goes well beyond that. And the weight you or someone else mentioned is a factor if it's a hand-hold situation. But as with any camera in the field a camera pole eliminates the many issues that most encounter.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Can anyone tell me if the Canon SX70 has a manual, or battery-operated, zoom? Electric zooms drain the battery too fast. I have a Finepix HS50 with manual zoom but it is both no-longer-made and on its last legs, though it was great! Any other bridge cameras with MANUAL zoom?
Do you truly need a bridge camera? with that I mean: how often do you switch from zoom to wide and back again when using the camera? Or are you a birder that almost always use a long-to-longer setting?

If the latter, consider a yesteryear version of a panasonic m4/3 with a 100-300 lens (manual zoom) for a combo that will cost similar to a new bridge camera, and have a reach that when you consider improved pixel quality allows you to crop enough. (your HS50 has a 1000 mm equivalent reach and the combo here would have a 600 mm reach). If you find this not long enough, there are other, more expensive, lenses for a system such as this.
Niels
 

glennmanc

Well-known member
Thank you both for the advice. Re: weight, my old Finepix HS50 is already 2lb, while the P1000 is specified as 3lb, which is lighter than I expected from the size. Actually, Neil, I'm not sure what a "bridge camera" is - I meant something like my old HS50 as opposed to those enormous telescope-like cameras with big heavy lenses. I like the idea of the P1000 having a "birdwatcher" setting - sounds like my sort of camera!! I suppose I could always remember to carry spare batteries to solve the non-manual zoom problem.
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
The Nikon P950 might be a reasonable step up from your Fuji, it is an improved version of the original Nikon P900, same optics, better settings and software.
It is 'only' 83x optical zoom, vs 125 for the P1000, but also lighter and smaller than the P1000.
Not weather proof though unfortunately, afaik only the Sony offers that, at a premium price. Do note the Sony has a much larger sensor as well, so better light sensitivity.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Thank you both for the advice. Re: weight, my old Finepix HS50 is already 2lb, while the P1000 is specified as 3lb, which is lighter than I expected from the size. Actually, Neil, I'm not sure what a "bridge camera" is - I meant something like my old HS50 as opposed to those enormous telescope-like cameras with big heavy lenses. I like the idea of the P1000 having a "birdwatcher" setting - sounds like my sort of camera!! I suppose I could always remember to carry spare batteries to solve the non-manual zoom problem.
A bridge camera has both wide angle and tele in the same lens and the lens cannot be exchanged.

What I was talking about was for example a panasonic G85 at 1.11 lbs + a 100-300 lens at 1.15 lbs for a total of 2.26 lbs which does have the manual zoom you started the thread wanting. The combo will go from a short to a long tele but not to quite the same reach that your old rig has. You could have a separate shorter lens in a bag if you need that when you are out.
Niels
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Do you truly need a bridge camera?

Assuming the owner is looking for decent quality pictures I reckon there are more important considerations than the technical aspects. I messed around with the science of the P950 and arrived at the conclusion that the settings are best left on neutral and any adjustments for vibrance, sharpness, contrast etc are best done through photo editing. I never mess around with the settings when I'm out, there's just not enough time. I take a couple of practice shots when I first get somewhere, adjust any settings and leave it at that.

To make the most of a bridge camera, I reckon the following are most important:

1) We get enough sunny days in the North East of England, but you need to be free to down everything on those sunny days. In the event you have the odd few hours here and there, then more often than not those few hours are not going to be when the sun is shining. These cameras need good light.

2) All things being equal, you cannot replicate what the more expensive cameras will give you. But, bridge cameras do have one advantage: due to their portability you can get yourself into positions that would be impossible with the bigger, heavier equipment; providing your agile.

3) Lying down with your elbows resting on the floor or sat down with your elbows resting in your thighs, will keep the camera steady.

4) The type of bird you like to photograph. These cameras are not built for waders and owls and the like. They're built for the little song birds who will perch in areas where you can find yourself a bit of cover and sneak into position.

I think these cameras are best served for the type of person who walks, sees a bird and then gets into position. I've been on twitches and they're not good cameras in that situation: there are too many people stood around and you simply cannot get yourself into a decent position, and with bridge cameras you're relying on being sneaky and unseen by the bird to get yourself close enough to get a nice picture.

Anyone who takes their pictures standing up, or goes on twitches to photograph birds, or can't get close for whatever reason, or likes photographing waders, owls the like, or only has a few hours to spare and isn't free to drop everything and get out on sunny days; I would advise against buying a bridge camera. You'd be better off saving up some money and getting some more expensive equipment. Ideally of course you'd have both types of camera and use them depending on the situation.

I know people with some of the more expensive equipment and some of their pictures are outstanding. There is a clear difference in detail. But, I would say with the P950 I probably get more pictures of an acceptable quality than them. When everything lands right for them, however, their pictures are really right and it doesn't matter how sneaky you and how close you are, the bridge camera can't match the quality of their pictures when everything lands right for them.
 

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