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FZ-80 Upgrade Advice (1 Viewer)

bmangus

New member
United States
I have been using the FZ-80 to see if I would get into bird photography. I have loved it! The only downside is that grainyness i get when I have to zoom above 30x. My hooded merganser photos look like Bigfoot sightings! I am looking to upgrade and was wondering what you believe the next step would be. I am willing to spend up to $1000 but would like to know what the next natural step or 2 would be. Nikon 3500 or 7200? Canon eos 77d? IDK :).
 

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njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Two answers to your question.
Part one: given where you are, the next step up would be a Panasonic (or perhaps Olympus?) m43 camera with the panasonic 100-300 lens. It will not give you quite the reach as maximum on the FZ80, but it will give you the same reach as the 30x zoom you say you are able to use. Considering the larger sensor you should be able to crop a little more afterwards and get the reach you need. The lens is about $500 (if you want, you can upgrade to a better 100-400 when you get the money), and you can get cameras (even if they are yesteryears model) within your total budget. This should not be too much heavier than your current setup.

Part two: are you sure you have used the camera you have now to its fullest? you did not show the image you complained about and do not say under which conditions/settings you have that problem. One of the problems with the current camera is that the lens become gradually darker as you zoom, and if you have a short shutter speed, you get high iso which leads to that effect. However, you should be able to not see that in good light, and even in poor light, some good postprocessing can improve a lot if you are shooting raw. The images you show are good enough that I would not give up on the camera without trying further. (in fairness, the lens becoming relatively darker with zooming is true for most budget lenses, you would pay thousands of dollars for one that does not do that).

Niels
 

bmangus

New member
United States
Two answers to your question.
Part one: given where you are, the next step up would be a Panasonic (or perhaps Olympus?) m43 camera with the panasonic 100-300 lens. It will not give you quite the reach as maximum on the FZ80, but it will give you the same reach as the 30x zoom you say you are able to use. Considering the larger sensor you should be able to crop a little more afterwards and get the reach you need. The lens is about $500 (if you want, you can upgrade to a better 100-400 when you get the money), and you can get cameras (even if they are yesteryears model) within your total budget. This should not be too much heavier than your current setup.

Part two: are you sure you have used the camera you have now to its fullest? you did not show the image you complained about and do not say under which conditions/settings you have that problem. One of the problems with the current camera is that the lens become gradually darker as you zoom, and if you have a short shutter speed, you get high iso which leads to that effect. However, you should be able to not see that in good light, and even in poor light, some good postprocessing can improve a lot if you are shooting raw. The images you show are good enough that I would not give up on the camera without trying further. (in fairness, the lens becoming relatively darker with zooming is true for most budget lenses, you would pay thousands of dollars for one that does not do that).

Niels
Thanks for the advice! I likely haven't tapped it's full potential and should spend more time learning its intricacies. However, a con I consistently see with the camera is that in any other lighting than a sunny day the image quality struggles greatly. I find that my best pictures are ones where I have to sit with the subject for a long time taking photo after photo and then come out with one that isn't blurry. Attached below are subjects I had for over a minute a piece and could not get anything sharp out of it. The furthest being the merganser but the other were within a stones throw.
I am also just feeling more confident in my abilities with photography overall and am hoping to get a camera with better imaging and autofocus. I'm not necessarily looking for action shots but I would like some consistency in lighting other than the sunny day.
Thanks again! I'll take a look again at some features of the camera.
 

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njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I would like to know a little bit more about what you have set the camera to and what it decides for itself. For example, the heron is at 1/125s while the woodpecker is at around 1/20. For a really long lens this is loooong exposure, I am actually impressed that the woody looks as good as it does.
The image of the coot/gallinule is overexposed, so that is a different problem. I remember trying with similar images in Florida and have the metering struggle. Using exposure compensation to lower the exposure would likely be necessary in this situation.

So recommendation, try some shorter exposure, allow the iso to increase if it has to and see if you can live with the result.

Niels
 

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