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FZ80/FZ300/SX70 choice - any thoughts? (1 Viewer)

MikeMules

Well-known member
Hi all, with a small but acceptable tax return in the bank and Black Friday approaching, I'm looking at replacing my DSLR with its 300mm lens with a super-zoom bridge camera. I'm not interested in upgrading the lens and the body is having issues with talking to the aperture on my current lenses, so I think it is time to get something new.

My main purpose is to get record shots of interesting/rare/uncertain birds that I see. I'm a birdwatcher first, not a photographer, so as long as it looks fine on the computer screen, I'm not too fussed about noise/bokeh etc...

What do want is something that is lighter weight than my DSLR, has a long (at least 600mm in 35mm equivalent) zoom, reasonable focus speed, and a decent (8-10fps) capacity for multiple shots. All this within a $400-$700 budget. I've narrowed it down to 3 options - the Lumix FZ80/82 (~$440 AUD), the Lumix F300 (~ $740 AUD) or the Canon SX70 (~ $750 AUD).

As much as I would like the constant f2.8 and mic jack of the FZ300, the extra reach of the FZ80 is very appealing. And I just don't know if I can justify the extra $300 cost for the FZ300 when it is also combined with a relative lack of reach (and with the 12mp sensor, even though they are larger pixels, it is still less real estate for cropping). Similarly, there doesn't seem to be much more (apart from a mic jack that appears to be a trade for the FZ80's hotshoe, which I am more likely to use) that I would get for my extra $300 if I got the SX70 instead of the FZ80.

Is there any real reason why I shouldn't get the FZ80? Is there anything stunningly better for record-shot birdwatching about the FZ300 or the SX70 that I would feel the absence of if I didn't have them?
 

Steven Astley

Well-known member
Hi all, with a small but acceptable tax return in the bank and Black Friday approaching, I'm looking at replacing my DSLR with its 300mm lens with a super-zoom bridge camera. I'm not interested in upgrading the lens and the body is having issues with talking to the aperture on my current lenses, so I think it is time to get something new.

My main purpose is to get record shots of interesting/rare/uncertain birds that I see. I'm a birdwatcher first, not a photographer, so as long as it looks fine on the computer screen, I'm not too fussed about noise/bokeh etc...

What do want is something that is lighter weight than my DSLR, has a long (at least 600mm in 35mm equivalent) zoom, reasonable focus speed, and a decent (8-10fps) capacity for multiple shots. All this within a $400-$700 budget. I've narrowed it down to 3 options - the Lumix FZ80/82 (~$440 AUD), the Lumix F300 (~ $740 AUD) or the Canon SX70 (~ $750 AUD).

As much as I would like the constant f2.8 and mic jack of the FZ300, the extra reach of the FZ80 is very appealing. And I just don't know if I can justify the extra $300 cost for the FZ300 when it is also combined with a relative lack of reach (and with the 12mp sensor, even though they are larger pixels, it is still less real estate for cropping). Similarly, there doesn't seem to be much more (apart from a mic jack that appears to be a trade for the FZ80's hotshoe, which I am more likely to use) that I would get for my extra $300 if I got the SX70 instead of the FZ80.

Is there any real reason why I shouldn't get the FZ80? Is there anything stunningly better for record-shot birdwatching about the FZ300 or the SX70 that I would feel the absence of if I didn't have them?

Something I keep meaning to post about from my analysis both real world and looking at online data.

Exactly how much reach if any advantage the fz80 has over the fz300 its nowhere near the twice as much suggested by the 1200mm compared to 600mm in the specifications.

Actual reach and resolution is determined more by size and quality of the lens than megapixels and quoted 35mm equiv.

To put it simply the fz300 will produce a higher resolution image than the fz80 which means it is more cropable.

Also the Fz300 will work better in lower light due to the f2.8 lens.

If I had to choose between the two I would go for the FZ300.
 

Charlie Spencer

Active member
United States
Your description of how you use a camera and what you want from it sounds a lot like what I do, especially the bit about recording rare / unusual sightings for display on a computer monitor. What you have that I lack is experience with DSLRs, so my comments can't take that into account.

I've had an FZ70, the FZ80's predecessor, for over five years now. It's my first camera with any controls beyond a shutter button, and I've learned a lot with it. Still, I have two issues with it; they may not be issues for you, and may no longer be issues with the FZ80.

1) In auto mode, after shooting, the image is displayed for about a second. This is annoying with small, active birds that will move out of the frame while the last shot is being shown. This can be disabled in the other modes but not in Auto. If you don't shoot in Auto, or if it can now be turned off in all modes on the FZ80, then this won't bother you.

2) I find the manual focus mechanism to be cumbersome. The multi-function dial is on the upper right corner of the back. When I rotate it left or right with my thumb, the camera often shifts right or left and off the bird. If you don't focus manually and stay in Auto, or if you're used to manually focusing like this, this won't bother you either.

I'm strongly leaning toward the Nikon P950. If you considered it, I'd be interested in knowing if there were technical reasons it didn't make your short list. At $800 USD new ($1100 AUD?) / $650 ($850 AUD?) used, I understand completely if you never considered it for budgetary reasons.

Thanks.
 

Charlie Spencer

Active member
United States
To put it simply the fz300 will produce a higher resolution image than the fz80 which means it is more cropable.
Steven, can you break this down what this means in terms that I can understand as someone who's a birder first and a photographer second? I don't understand what 'cropable' means, at least not in terms of reach. I admit I'm persuaded by large optical zoom numbers. I've been working on the theory that the longer zoom will give me a closer but less sharp image of my target (and thus more easily identified) vs. a larger sensor giving me a sharper but more distant image (which may not be as easy to make out what the bird is). Am I missing something in my ignorance?

Thanks.
 
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DJRWhittle

Well-known member
I have, and use for birding, an FZ330 which is the UK equivalent of the FZ300 being discussed here. Identical camera just different number for marketing reasons I believe. The zoom is 25-600 but that is at full resolution. By reducing the resolution and fiddling with the menu settings it is possible to push the zoom to 1200mm and beyond, and that is without using any digital zoom. There is, of course, a pay off for this. This cannot be done with the camera set to record in RAW and instead of being able to print to humongous sizes you are restricted to A3 if you want your pictures to retain their clarity. I don’t, and I don’t know anybody that does, print beyond A3 so to me that, and the fact that the ‘in camera’ jpg conversion is excellent, makes it a price worth paying. I have my FZ330 permanently set this way and can get 25-1400 with f/2.8 across the range. As a consequence, with the aperture wide open it is possible to set a fast enough shutter speed to hand hold most of the time. More than enough for record/identification purposes.

There are some of my pictures, taken using this setup, in the Gallery on here if you want to have a look at examples.

Derek
 

Steven Astley

Well-known member
I am curretly not using a superzoom but if I were then the P950 would be top of the list of the ones you mention, it's a good choice. I had the P950 is basically a P900 with a better viewfinder. The viewfinder on the P900 wasn't that good, it needed upgrading.
By 'cropable', I mean you take an image then using a photo editor it can be enlarged by trimming of the edges.
 

tonytoned

Active member
Hello Mike

I had the FZ82 UK / FZ80 USA and it didn't touch the FZ330/300 for resolution and alot of other features mentioned, like the aperture F2.8 throughout the whole zoom range, plus it has an articulated screen which is very handy and much more, the viewfinder is bigger and brighter, it also comes with a rose petal lens hood. Its worth paying the bit extra for the FZ330/300 if can.

Good luck

Tony

Here are a few images taken with my FZ330/300
 

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Charlie Spencer

Active member
United States
By 'cropable', I mean you take an image then using a photo editor it can be enlarged by trimming of the edges.
Okay, you've lost me. I don't understand how trimming can make something larger.

Say I start with an image that 100 x 100 pixels. If I trim 25 off top, bottom, left, and right, I'm left with an image that's 50 x 50. I now have an image that's half the original height and width, and 25% of the original number of pixels. How is that larger?

Thanks to Steven or anyone else who can clarify this for me.
 

nikonmike

Well-known member
Okay, you've lost me. I don't understand how trimming can make something larger.

Say I start with an image that 100 x 100 pixels. If I trim 25 off top, bottom, left, and right, I'm left with an image that's 50 x 50. I now have an image that's half the original height and width, and 25% of the original number of pixels. How is that larger?

Thanks to Steven or anyone else who can clarify this for me.
No you start with the full image dont reduce pixel number you use the programs editing tool and put a square around the section you want to keep then crop it.
Obviously, it has its limits but this is an example of extreme cropping.
 

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Charlie Spencer

Active member
United States
No you start with the full image dont reduce pixel number you use the programs editing tool and put a square around the section you want to keep then crop it.
Obviously, it has its limits but this is an example of extreme cropping.
Thanks! (I think).

Did you do something to the first image besides crop it from the second? I notice it's darker than the second, and the branches on the bank appear less defined. And I still don't understand how you can cut something away and wind up with an image that's the same size as the original. Sorry for being so green.
 

nikonmike

Well-known member
I used it as an example so greyed some out to show the crop.
In the original image you have more pixels than you need to make the image size on your screen, if you crop some away (within reason) you will still have enough to give you the screen size.
You need to be playing with it to start learning, its better that way.
 

Charlie Spencer

Active member
United States
I used it as an example so greyed some out to show the crop.
In the original image you have more pixels than you need to make the image size on your screen, if you crop some away (within reason) you will still have enough to give you the screen size.
You need to be playing with it to start learning, its better that way.
I think this is where we're talking past each other.

I'm interested in the level of detail I can see in a bird at the center of the picture; does it have enough detail for me to say what species it is? If viewing the photo at its full original size means some of it slops off the edge of the screen, that's fine. I'm only looking at it long enough to determine what the bird is. I may attach the better photos to an online birding checklist as a record, or to prove I saw a rare bird. Otherwise, no one else is likely to see 99% of my shots. That's why I don't have much editing experience; my final product is an accurate identification of the bird; the photo is a tool to get me to that goal, not a goal in itself.

(Plus editing frustrates me no end. I don't know what I'm trying to accomplish, or what the finished product is supposed to look like. For example, I know how to crop, but don't ask me where or what to crop. I can fiddle with sliders and setting and cropping and manipulate all the other tools in an application without any problem, but I can't tell what's 'right' or 'finished'. Maybe I'd do more if I could answer those questions. Still, the unedited photos get me what I need, and that's usually enough)

If we're talking at cross purposes, no big deal, and thanks.
 

MikeMules

Well-known member
Thanks everyone for the responses, and it seems that the discussion here is going to help others too, which is great.
In the end though, the amount the canon and the FZ300 dropped by was still outside my budget, and still over $300 more than the FZ80 went to, so I now own an FZ80. It was either that, or own nothing (a hard budget limit is a hard budget limit after all). And of course, all the ways to eke out extra zoom by lowering resolution/cropping/using 4K etc... also apply to the FZ80, which potentially increases its reach further (not that I feel the need - I have a scope for that).

I've only had a tiny, tiny play with the camera so far (3 photos yesterday and 5 today), but so far so good. I've attached shot #3 - taken 10 minutes after sunset, straight out of the box (P-mode and no parameters fiddled with), full zoom on a singing blackbird 91m away (according to google maps). But I wasn't aiming at the bird, because I couldn't actually see it with the naked eye and didn't know it was there - I was aiming at the top of the roof it was on. focus lockon was faster than I thought it would be too.
Really, that's more than I was expecting (or needing). A close crop shows its poor noise and the fact it was probably focussing slightly off the bird and handheld to boot, but it's clearly identifiable. If it works that well in low light from that distance, then it should be fine in any daylight I get in Australia.
 

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Charlie Spencer

Active member
United States
Thanks everyone for the responses, and it seems that the discussion here is going to help others too, which is great.
In the end though, the amount the canon and the FZ300 dropped by was still outside my budget, and still over $300 more than the FZ80 went to, so I now own an FZ80. It was either that, or own nothing (a hard budget limit is a hard budget limit after all). And of course, all the ways to eke out extra zoom by lowering resolution/cropping/using 4K etc... also apply to the FZ80, which potentially increases its reach further (not that I feel the need - I have a scope for that).

I've only had a tiny, tiny play with the camera so far (3 photos yesterday and 5 today), but so far so good. I've attached shot #3 - taken 10 minutes after sunset, straight out of the box (P-mode and no parameters fiddled with), full zoom on a singing blackbird 91m away (according to google maps). But I wasn't aiming at the bird, because I couldn't actually see it with the naked eye and didn't know it was there - I was aiming at the top of the roof it was on. focus lockon was faster than I thought it would be too.
Really, that's more than I was expecting (or needing). A close crop shows its poor noise and the fact it was probably focussing slightly off the bird and handheld to boot, but it's clearly identifiable. If it works that well in low light from that distance, then it should be fine in any daylight I get in Australia.
I hope you enjoy the heck out of it! My FZ70 would definitely get some birds.
 

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