• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

New Camera Advice (1 Viewer)

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Hi all,

Any advice appreciated.

I'm looking to buy a new camera, not just yet, maybe around the end of June; but I'm beginning my research. I currently have an FZ330 which has been an absolute bargain in terms of introducing me to cameras and it's more than exceeded my expectations. There are, however, certain things it can't do, which is not a fault of the camera but more a case of what I want to do with a camera now that I have some experience.

The main things I want in a camera are as follows: I want to take good quality pictures of birds in their habitat, such as streams and the like, with a large number f stop for obvious reasons; I really don't want to be lugging heavy equipment around as I'm quite happy with a camera 'round my neck that gives me more flexibility; I would also like a very respectable zoom feature which enables me to take sharp shots. The FZ330 simply can't get enough light in at a large number f stop.

As an addition but not as important as the aforementioned, I'd quite like a camera that allows me to take decent pictures at night, if possible.

When I bought the FZ330, I had no idea whether or not I'd be able to use it and so I deliberately went for something that was deemed to be a good budget, introduction camera. This time I plan on having this camera for a good few years and I'm confident I'll make the best of it, meaning I'm happy to pay for a good quality camera. Anywhere up to £1,500.

I'm thinking that, based on what I want, it has to be a bridge camera and my best bet is the Sony RX10 mark 4. Is there a better option based upon what I'm looking to do with a camera? And, I'm hoping I'm not going to have to use some sort of extender with this camera: is that a realistic assumption?

Thanks,
Paul
 

MalR

Well-known member
I've been using the Sony RX10 IV for about 10 months now, and I love it. I've had other bridge cameras, the last one being the Canon SX50, as well as a couple of DSLRs. I deliberated for a long time before buying the Sony, mainly because I found it hard to convince myself that such a high price for a bridge camera could be justified. However, in my opinion it can.

The Sony is actually slower at 600mm than the FZ330 (F4 compared to F2.8), but it has a bigger sensor (1 inch) with 20 megapixels (12 megapixels on the FZ330) which will allow for more cropping. Having said that, it still needs good light to be at its best, and I'm not convinced it would fit the bill for taking pictures at night.

I've never used an extender with it. It does have a feature called Clear Image Zoom, which extends the focal length to 1200mm equivalent, although I've never used it, so I don't know if it's any better than just cropping in from 600mm.

It takes a bit of getting used to (or, at least, it did for me) but once you have it set up the way you want and are comfortable using it, it's an excellent and versatile camera.

Malcolm
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I think the Sony is one logical step up. Another would be a camera with an exchangeable lens. Others can come with other examples but a panasonic m43 camera with a 100-300 lens is actually lighter than the sony bridge (remember that when comparing with your FZ330 there is something called crop factor and the 300 end gives the same reach as your FZ330). I expect that the quality of that lens is about par with the sony but you will have to change lens to the kit zoom to have wide-angle /landscape shots if that is also part of what you do. The sensor is larger than the sony and therefore you should be able to do pretty well in lower light.

If you want to step up further, the same camera with a panaleica 100-400 has a longer lens and is a little sharper with the penalty of carrying a little more weight (about 400g more than the sony). I can happily carry my g85/100-400 for a long time.

Niels
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
The Sony is clearly the pick of the current litter of bridge cams, good lens, weather sealed and reasonably robust, sporting a bigger than usual 1" sensor.
That said, the Nikon P1000 has a much larger lens, which should help your night shooting, plus it offers extraordinary reach.
Of course, the Nikon is not weather sealed at all and has a smaller sensor, so there is a cost.
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
I've been using the Sony RX10 IV for about 10 months now, and I love it. I've had other bridge cameras, the last one being the Canon SX50, as well as a couple of DSLRs. I deliberated for a long time before buying the Sony, mainly because I found it hard to convince myself that such a high price for a bridge camera could be justified. However, in my opinion it can.

The Sony is actually slower at 600mm than the FZ330 (F4 compared to F2.8), but it has a bigger sensor (1 inch) with 20 megapixels (12 megapixels on the FZ330) which will allow for more cropping. Having said that, it still needs good light to be at its best, and I'm not convinced it would fit the bill for taking pictures at night.

I've never used an extender with it. It does have a feature called Clear Image Zoom, which extends the focal length to 1200mm equivalent, although I've never used it, so I don't know if it's any better than just cropping in from 600mm.

It takes a bit of getting used to (or, at least, it did for me) but once you have it set up the way you want and are comfortable using it, it's an excellent and versatile camera.

Malcolm

Thanks Malcolm.

I tend to only go out on a day with plenty of light and so what you mention is not much of a factor for me.

The other important criteria I forgot to mention is image stabilisation. I've gotten used to instinctively looking for something to rest on, or even lying on the ground and resting my elbows, but that isn't always possible. I've no desire to carry a tripod or some such around, so a camera with a good in-built stabilisation system would be really useful; and I'm reading that the weight of bridge cameras are not always as light as I'm assuming.

I've also looked at the Nikon P950 and that extra zoom is very attractive at half the price. I've seen pictures the 900 can produce and they look pretty good to me.

What's the Sony like at a large number aperture on a nice day? 'No problem getting a high shutter speed?
 

MalR

Well-known member
If by a "large number aperture" you mean F11 or F16, then I don't ever shoot at those apertures, even in good light. With small-sensor cameras, diffraction, which causes a general softening of the image, starts to occur at much smaller appertures. I usually just shoot the Sony wide open at F4, although I might stop down to F5.6 or F8 for macro-type stuff or for greater depth of field in a landscape image.

I know you've done a lot of research with a view to buying a new camera, but just in case you haven't come across this, here's a link to a video review of the Sony RX10 IV on DPreview. I think it sums up the good and the less good features of the camera very well.


Malcolm
 

MikeInPA

Well-known member
Great, a review on a Sony when he says Sony flew them out to Monterey, California and put them up for a Sony event, hardly going to be objective is it. I'm not saying that the Sony isn't a great camera it's just that I find all these types of reviews have to be taken with pinch of salt. As for the YouTube reviewers they're a total waste of space.
 

MalR

Well-known member
Apologies, Paul, I should have addressed your comment about the weight/image stabilisation. The Sony weighs 1095g (2lb 6oz in old money), compared to the FZ330 which comes in at 640g (1lb 60z). So, you're looking at carrying an extra 1lb around compared with what you're used to.

As Niels has pointed out, you could get a micro four thirds set-up which would actually be lighter than the Sony and which would offer a bigger sensor. However, there are a couple of caveats to that. First, the 100-300 Panasonic lens, while matching the Sony's 600mm equivalent at the long end, is only 200mm equivalent at the short end, compared to the Sony's 24mm. To bridge that gap, you'd have to buy more lenses which would (a) add to the expense and (b) add to the weight you were carrying around. Plus, of course, you have the hassle of having to change lenses in the field.

Regarding image stabilisation, I think the Sony is rated at 4.5 stops. But if your subject is moving, how slow a shutter speed you can handhold your camera is irrelevant. I tend not to push for very slow shutter speeds.

As I'm sure you know, all cameras involve some degree of compromise. It's a question of what is most important to you that should be the deciding factor.

I've attached some images that I've taken with the Sony, just to give you an idea of its capabilities: a static bird, a flying bird, a butterfly, a flower and a landscape. The fact that all of these can be taken with one relatively compact camera without having to change lenses was the deciding factor for me.

Malcolm
 

Attachments

  • Goldfinch.jpg
    Goldfinch.jpg
    442 KB · Views: 34
  • Fulmar.jpg
    Fulmar.jpg
    238.4 KB · Views: 36
  • Painted Lady.jpg
    Painted Lady.jpg
    508 KB · Views: 30
  • Pyramid Orchid.jpg
    Pyramid Orchid.jpg
    347.1 KB · Views: 26
  • St Mary's Island.jpg
    St Mary's Island.jpg
    388.6 KB · Views: 32

MalR

Well-known member
Great, a review on a Sony when he says Sony flew them out to Monterey, California and put them up for a Sony event, hardly going to be objective is it. I'm not saying that the Sony isn't a great camera it's just that I find all these types of reviews have to be taken with pinch of salt. As for the YouTube reviewers they're a total waste of space.
Well, I think the fact that they make full disclosure that they are enjoying Sony's hospitality is a point in their favour. They're not trying to hoodwink anyone. Plus, the video isn't just a grovelling review saying how marvellous the Sony RX10 IV is. Several drawbacks and limitations of the camera are pointed out. Overall, as someone who uses the camera, I think it's a fair and balanced review, which is why I posted the link for Paul.

As for your dismissal of YouTube reviewers (not that anyone had mentioned them), some might be a "total waste of space", as you put it, but not all, in my opinion.

Malcolm
 

MikeInPA

Well-known member
These days with widespread disinformation at all levels of society whoever does the most advertising, pays the most stooges and in certain instances tells the most lies profits the most. No I’m not a conspiracy theorist I just keep aware of the way things are going In the world. I’m sure the Sony is an excellent camera.
 

MalR

Well-known member
These days with widespread disinformation at all levels of society whoever does the most advertising, pays the most stooges and in certain instances tells the most lies profits the most. No I’m not a conspiracy theorist I just keep aware of the way things are going In the world. I’m sure the Sony is an excellent camera.
Fair enough, Mike. I was just trying to help Paul choose a new camera.

Malcolm
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Apologies, Paul, I should have addressed your comment about the weight/image stabilisation. The Sony weighs 1095g (2lb 6oz in old money), compared to the FZ330 which comes in at 640g (1lb 60z). So, you're looking at carrying an extra 1lb around compared with what you're used to.

As Niels has pointed out, you could get a micro four thirds set-up which would actually be lighter than the Sony and which would offer a bigger sensor. However, there are a couple of caveats to that. First, the 100-300 Panasonic lens, while matching the Sony's 600mm equivalent at the long end, is only 200mm equivalent at the short end, compared to the Sony's 24mm. To bridge that gap, you'd have to buy more lenses which would (a) add to the expense and (b) add to the weight you were carrying around. Plus, of course, you have the hassle of having to change lenses in the field.

Regarding image stabilisation, I think the Sony is rated at 4.5 stops. But if your subject is moving, how slow a shutter speed you can handhold your camera is irrelevant. I tend not to push for very slow shutter speeds.

As I'm sure you know, all cameras involve some degree of compromise. It's a question of what is most important to you that should be the deciding factor.

I've attached some images that I've taken with the Sony, just to give you an idea of its capabilities: a static bird, a flying bird, a butterfly, a flower and a landscape. The fact that all of these can be taken with one relatively compact camera without having to change lenses was the deciding factor for me.

Malcolm

Thanks for the information, Malcolm, and great pictures!

I don't know a great deal about cameras and I'm just starting my research, and so at this point I'm making a few assumptions, which may or might not have some basis in reality; but I will be spending time reading reviews and watching YT reviews, such as the one you have posted.

I realised pretty early on that a bird with blurred background, although nice to look at, doesn't quite tell the story of where that bird is and what he/she is doing at that moment in time. At least for me, anyway. I want to try my hand at taking pictures of birds at interesting angles and with streams and the like being as clear as the bird. I'd be hugely disappointed in the event I bought a camera, which I expect to have a few good years, that couldn't manage some crisp scenery while at the same time producing a sharp image of the bird. Perhaps it's not possible with a bridge camera and I'm making assumptions that just aren't there, but that's what is really important to me at this stage.

The extra weight wouldn't be a huge issue providing I could still put the camera 'round my neck, and although I'm happy to pay around £1,500 I'm not wedded to the idea that more expensive necessarily equates to better for my purposes. That said, I am making the assumption that the range of £800 to £1500 will get me an improvement on the FZ330 and the 1.7 extender for which I paid around £400

I fully understand what you mean by not having to mess around changing lenses. I want to be able to take interesting pictures first and foremost and the fewer the restrictions the better to achieve that.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I think physics is going to be a problem for what you want to be able to do. You want a large depth of field (DOF) at the same time as the bird looks sharp. A couple of related facts:
the larger the sensor, the smaller the DOF at the same F# (and the same apparent reach/equivalent focal length). When you get to long lenses and increase the F#, sooner or later you get into diffraction making your image softer. Only you can say when this becomes a problem. However, this part of the argument would indicate you should go for a camera with a small sensor!

The backside of all bridge cameras and especially with those having a small sensor is the quality of the lens. There is simply a limit to how sharp the image can be. Even with larger sensor cameras, there is a limit to how sharp a lens can be if it has a large zoom range. Again, only you can answer where your limit is.

A third take on this is that you could go for actually using less than full zoom and instead use field craft to get close to your targets. DOF is larger with less zoom and everything else being equal. In some cases, this way of thinking will necessitate you to predict where a bird will be and get there before the bird arrives.

Niels
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Agree with what Niels said - physics is not your friend !

If you want the subject bird and the background stream all in sharp focus, then you will need higher f # (though at, around, or under the diffraction limits of the lens) AND a high shutter speed - which means higher ISO and that degrades IQ the higher you go. Larger sensors handle higher ISO better (related to resolution, pixel pitch, and sensor type and design) .... however the larger the sensor the less dof ! (at any given lens f # as Niels said above). Trying to do all of this in low light further complicates the issue - drastically. Throw weight and physical size into the equation and, well ....

QED you end up in a circular loop up the creek without a paddle !

You will mostly be dealing with compromises.

There also seems to be an inverse relationship with the size of the bird and how likely they are to sit still ! 😁

Usually smaller birds (or any birds in movement) require a shutter speed around 1/2000th sec to eliminate blur due to subject motion. This also takes care of the reciprocal shutter speed rule for lens length. Unless you have command of several more dimensions than ordinary folk, you are also going to have trouble convincing a riffle, rapid, or waterfall to sit still. Maybe that blurred water effect is acceptable to you ? Opening yourself to other creative possibilities can provide great (but different) images.

Your best bet may be taking photos of mid to larger size birds in still water/ vegetation backgrounds in reasonable light.

Camera system features like advanced Image Stabilization, advanced Computational Photography Algorithms (put this down largely as future tech rather than something in the here and now) will help shift that physics dichotomy in your favour - but is unlikely to be cheap !

Looking at all the factors, I think the suggestion of the Sony RX-10 IV is a pretty good one. The high quality 1" sensor gives good inherent dof and good (for it's size) IQ. The fastish high quality lens can be stopped down to suit your image requirements.

I think your next stop in the options list is bigger and more expensive - that being the Olympus OM-D MX1 and either the 300 f4 Pro or new 150-400 f4.5 Pro lenses. You could cart these setups around on a sling system - which is preferable to a neck strap anyway.

After that, the under development Canon R3 (with it's computational tricks) and suitable long fast lens (you can stop down to suit) should be better - though at gym substitution weights and nice car prices !

There may also be times of day, lighting angles, or locations /subject behaviours that will work more in your favour too - learn what they are and work with them as much as possible - with any luck that might even correspond with when you want to get out of bed ! 😁


Chosun 🙅
 
Last edited:

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Posted this Sony RX10 IV review in another thread - impressive shots in there 👍



Chosun 🙅

I've been thinking about how much zoom I would like, and I reckon that about 75% of the time 600mm is more than adequate but I would really like that extra zoom for the other 25% of pictures. I appreciate that with a larger sensor comes cropping advantages but my understanding is that larger sensor, shorter zoom doesn't necessarily mean better image quality. I found 600mm on the FZ330 left me short at times. With the 1.7 extender I don't need the full zoom most of the time but around 1000mm is right for me as I'll have the range I need, say 800mm at the most, without having to use full zoom. And I think more zoom equates to less post processing which is perfect for me.

I've been doing a spot of reading today as the weather is poor and I'm heading down the road of P950 so far. The other thing with the Sony is that it may be beyond my skill level and the amount of time I'd like to put into the technical aspects of a camera.

I'd imagine you can tell from my posts that my camera knowledge is marginally better than non-existent, and I don't plan on doing a couple of months intensive training and so in the end I think it will come down to looking at the pictures from the respective cameras and my intuition that 600mm will not be persuasive enough to pay twice the price, despite the larger sensor.

Thanks for the advice everyone.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
As written above, the smaller sensor might make it easier to take the "bird in its environment" pictures you wrote above earlier.

One last thought for you to ponder: when I stopped using a bridge camera, it was due to traveling to a rainforest and not being able to take photos inside the forest - it was too dark. That is the situation where a larger sensor shines. If I recall correctly, you stated you wanted to take photos in good light - and if so, this paragraph will not make any change to what you are thinking.

Niels
 

PaulCountyDurham

Well-known member
United Kingdom
As written above, the smaller sensor might make it easier to take the "bird in its environment" pictures you wrote above earlier.

One last thought for you to ponder: when I stopped using a bridge camera, it was due to traveling to a rainforest and not being able to take photos inside the forest - it was too dark. That is the situation where a larger sensor shines. If I recall correctly, you stated you wanted to take photos in good light - and if so, this paragraph will not make any change to what you are thinking.

Niels

Thanks Niels.

Given the choice between the extra zoom and the larger sensor, I think I'm edging towards the extra zoom. The reason being most of the time I'm not in the woods and I'm happy to go out only on days with decent light. Over the last few months I've realised we get a lot more sunny days than I ever imagined and so I will have plenty of opportunities and on the days of poor weather I can get other things done, and so I'm happy with that balance.

That option of better quality images in the woods is attractive because there are birds in there I'd like to take decent pictures, but I'm rapidly coming 'round to the understanding that I can't have it all ways with the money I'm prepared to spend!
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

Users who are viewing this thread

Top