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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Should I keep my Lumix ZS70 or get a DSLR? (1 Viewer)

bbbird

Member
Hello everyone. I know this kind of question gets asked in a lot of different ways so my apologies for being redundant. Since COVID I have missed going birding with my local club not only because they are cool people but I always learned something from them. Now that I've been birding solo and don't have anyone else there to help ID a bird I often wished that I could have a little camera to take pictures of birds I didn't know so I could look them up later.

Well, a few weeks ago I bought a Lumix ZS70 and let me tell you that this is a really great little camera. I basically just leave it on all the time and I have found a way to hold it in my right hand so that I can still easily help hold my binoculars up mostly with the thumb and index finger. I leave the camera at maximum zoom and have gotten pretty good at quickly sighting things I want to photograph through the viewfinder. (I don't use the LCD screen to take pictures) I can take a lot of photos while walking around and the battery seems to last around three hours or so before I have to swap it for a freshly charged one. More often than not I can get a good enough picture to ID birds far away and I can even get great (well I don't know, great looking to me anyway) pictures if they happen to be rather close. This is only if the light is pretty good of course which leads me to my question.

I like this camera a lot but I am starting to wish that I could just take better pictures of birds farther away and in lower light. I have a little while to still be able to return this and get something else and so I have been reading around a lot checking out my options along with my rather limited budget.

I think that I have found that the best option I can afford is a Nikon D3500 which Adorama is selling with an 18mm-55mm lens and 70mm-300mm lens for just under $600.

What do you think? Should I get this Nikon or forget about it until I can afford something else? Maybe I've completely missed something different that would be better?

Thank you so much for your feedback. I really do appreciate it.
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Hi bbbird,
You've developed a good technique to make the Lumix work for you, but which is unlikely to carry over to a big SLR such as the Nikon D3500.
Plus you note that you want better pictures of birds further away and in lower light. That is a tall order.
Your Lumix has a 720mm equivalent zoom, more than twice the 300mm you show for the Nikon package.
Of course the Nikon has a much bigger sensor, 24x16mm versus 6.2x4.6mm for the Lumix, so you can crop to get more zoom effect, but the setup will not deliver simultaneously better, further, in lower light, only perhaps one of these at a time.
My $0.02 would be to relax and enjoy the birds and the Lumix. I have the earlier ZS50, it is an amazing little powerhouse whose capabilities are nowhere near fully used because the manual is not very helpful. Learn to get closer to your target birds, it is the best and cheapest way to get better pictures.
Over time, if your interest drives you more to photography, you will gradually find yourself wielding a camera rather than binoculars. At that point, a big camera will be a natural step. Meanwhile, please post some of your pictures and let us know what you decide.
 

bbbird

Member
Hi bbbird,
You've developed a good technique to make the Lumix work for you, but which is unlikely to carry over to a big SLR such as the Nikon D3500.
Plus you note that you want better pictures of birds further away and in lower light. That is a tall order.
Your Lumix has a 720mm equivalent zoom, more than twice the 300mm you show for the Nikon package.
Of course the Nikon has a much bigger sensor, 24x16mm versus 6.2x4.6mm for the Lumix, so you can crop to get more zoom effect, but the setup will not deliver simultaneously better, further, in lower light, only perhaps one of these at a time.
My $0.02 would be to relax and enjoy the birds and the Lumix. I have the earlier ZS50, it is an amazing little powerhouse whose capabilities are nowhere near fully used because the manual is not very helpful. Learn to get closer to your target birds, it is the best and cheapest way to get better pictures.
Over time, if your interest drives you more to photography, you will gradually find yourself wielding a camera rather than binoculars. At that point, a big camera will be a natural step. Meanwhile, please post some of your pictures and let us know what you decide.

Thank you very much for your replying to me. I appreciate the wisdom of your advice. I should probably just relax and get the most out of the ZS70 for now. It's just that I have so many pictures that would have turned out to be amazing if only they weren't out of focus too noisy. I guess simply getting the first DSLR I can afford at the moment is not going to necessarily solve these things. I am quickly finding that rather than just getting some sort of a picture to find out what bird it is, I'm trying to get the best picture I can of every bird I can. whatever it is. I have to remind myself that I have binoculars around my neck and I should put down the camera from time to time.

I really do like the ZS70 though and I'm sure I'm probably not getting the most out of the settings and stuff. I began shooting 4K video with it which was fantastic. Great for at least ID-ing birds and it is really interesting to be able to advance and reverse frame by frame to see how the birds move. A few days ago I started shooting in RAW and then trying to learn how to make things look better in Lightroom. I'll post some of the better pictures I have made recently. I am figuring this all out by myself so please forgive my hack chops.

https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyPi
https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyCM
https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyGu
https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyJy
https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyU8

Thank you again!
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
Good advice from Etudiant :t:

If you are getting results like that I'd stick with it. The entry level rig you mentioned won't appreciably increase the capability. You certainly won't have the flexibility of carrying a DSLR around like that (held at the same time if I'm reading you correctly ?). It's a dedicated process with a more photographic oriented setup - probably as a minimum involving a harness, and maybe monopod type setup, a rest, or even tripod. The lenses are key for bird photography and they can be big or heavy or expensive, and maybe all 3 !

Keep learning with what you've got, and refine "how" to position yourself for the photos, and how to process the RAW files for a final image.

Take your time and investigate what photographic system to get into - DSLR or Mirrorless, what format, and how much you want to carry, and how much you want to spend. I would say as a minimum you would want something like a Nikon D7500 and Tamron 100-400 lens - but weights and/or $ increase from there.








Chosun :gh:
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Thank you very much for your replying to me. I appreciate the wisdom of your advice. I should probably just relax and get the most out of the ZS70 for now. It's just that I have so many pictures that would have turned out to be amazing if only they weren't out of focus too noisy. I guess simply getting the first DSLR I can afford at the moment is not going to necessarily solve these things. I am quickly finding that rather than just getting some sort of a picture to find out what bird it is, I'm trying to get the best picture I can of every bird I can. whatever it is. I have to remind myself that I have binoculars around my neck and I should put down the camera from time to time.

I really do like the ZS70 though and I'm sure I'm probably not getting the most out of the settings and stuff. I began shooting 4K video with it which was fantastic. Great for at least ID-ing birds and it is really interesting to be able to advance and reverse frame by frame to see how the birds move. A few days ago I started shooting in RAW and then trying to learn how to make things look better in Lightroom. I'll post some of the better pictures I have made recently. I am figuring this all out by myself so please forgive my hack chops.

https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyPi
https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyCM
https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyGu
https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyJy
https://flic.kr/p/2jXRyU8

Thank you again!

I think you are well ahead of many of your contemporaries, shooting RAW.
The performance of most cameras is just crippled by the universal use of JPEG, it is a deliberate Lowest Common Denominator approach that squashes all the image peaks of color and light into average mush.
RAW is different, you need to learn color and light, but it is depressingly time consuming. Digital photography allows us to take oodles of pictures, but they need to be optimized one by one in RAW. If you take 500 shots, will you be happy spending time optimizing one?
If the answer is YES, I's recommend Raw Therapee, (http://rawtherapee.com/)
a free and open source photo management software. It is world class, without the lock ins inherent in Photoshop and its peers.
Do note that photography is morphing totally, the ability of cheap processors to either maximize or to fake images is mindblowing to us older guys who thought that pictures don't lie.
 

bbbird

Member
Good advice from Etudiant :t:

If you are getting results like that I'd stick with it. The entry level rig you mentioned won't appreciably increase the capability. You certainly won't have the flexibility of carrying a DSLR around like that (held at the same time if I'm reading you correctly ?). It's a dedicated process with a more photographic oriented setup - probably as a minimum involving a harness, and maybe monopod type setup, a rest, or even tripod. The lenses are key for bird photography and they can be big or heavy or expensive, and maybe all 3 !

Keep learning with what you've got, and refine "how" to position yourself for the photos, and how to process the RAW files for a final image.

Take your time and investigate what photographic system to get into - DSLR or Mirrorless, what format, and how much you want to carry, and how much you want to spend. I would say as a minimum you would want something like a Nikon D7500 and Tamron 100-400 lens - but weights and/or $ increase from there.








Chosun :gh:

Thank you Chosun. In researching my question(s) here I have found many of your posts and they are always filled with great information which I really appreciate. Your recommendation of the Nikon D7500 plus a Tamron 100-400 lens sounds like a great place to get to someday. Just pricing those out new right now comes to around $1,800 together before tax. A lot more than I can afford at the moment but maybe someday I'll come across a good deal at the right time for me. Thank you again for your advice.
 

bbbird

Member
I think you are well ahead of many of your contemporaries, shooting RAW.
The performance of most cameras is just crippled by the universal use of JPEG, it is a deliberate Lowest Common Denominator approach that squashes all the image peaks of color and light into average mush.
RAW is different, you need to learn color and light, but it is depressingly time consuming. Digital photography allows us to take oodles of pictures, but they need to be optimized one by one in RAW. If you take 500 shots, will you be happy spending time optimizing one?
If the answer is YES, I's recommend Raw Therapee, (http://rawtherapee.com/)
a free and open source photo management software. It is world class, without the lock ins inherent in Photoshop and its peers.
Do note that photography is morphing totally, the ability of cheap processors to either maximize or to fake images is mindblowing to us older guys who thought that pictures don't lie.

I know what you mean about the technology. The last camera I used besides an iPhone, was a medium format Bronica more than 20 years ago when I also developed my own B&W film and made my own prints in my kitchen. I loved how that camera felt and sounded when you took a picture. Like dry-firing a cannon. Now I've been shooting RAW at fast-burst for days and the SD card in my camera is only about half full.

I've been using Lightroom Classic (tried Lightroom and didn't like it somehow) because I have a free Adobe Cloud account through the institution I work at otherwise I'd check out the open source options available. I enjoy going through all the pictures I've taken actually. It's like the birding doesn't stop when I get home; it just turns into something different. When I see a photo I like; I have Lightroom auto adjust it and then play around with the sliders and see what happens and if I can make it better. I have no idea what I'm doing for real...I just kind of stop when I think the bird looks the best.

I'm always open to suggestions of tutorials or better software though. Thank you for your reply.
 
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
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