I'd be interested to hear how you go with this, I'm very interested in small
cameras for bird photography. Having used a Canon S3 IS a few years ago, I
think it should give you good results, although DSLR enthusiasts might disagree
(it depends what you call good).
With the trip so close, I'd be worried that I might not have worked out how to
use it properly by the time I needed it.
I read up on it, and I believe it only comes with a manual on CD, so I think
I'd start by printing it out. I've found that camera manual pdf files work well
on ereaders, if you've got one.
My main objections to the S3 were that manual focusing was painful, the
electronic viewfinder resolution wasn't sufficient to find the bird sometimes,
there was bad fringing when zoomed right in, and ISO from 400 and up was
unusable even by my low standards.
I believe the viewfinder resolution is about 4x what I had, so although only
half or one third of that available in some cameras these days (not many), it
should be very usable. It does take practice though. I believe it has a mode
called Zoom Framing Assist to help you find the bird. I was using it at about
720mm equivalent focal length with an add on lens, so 1200mm might be
Reviews indicate that the fringing problems are mostly solved, so that's good
news. The worst example I took was a very much enlarged photo of a distant
Black-winged Stilt in the sun. There was so much red fringing on it that it
looked like an Avocet.
The high ISO test shots I looked at looked quite good in comparison to the S3,
even at ISO 1600. I would have killed for usable ISO 1600 when I was using that
I haven't read anything about manual focusing. I used to use it whenever the
bird was behind vegetation, which was a lot of the time, and found it quite
hard. It's well worth changing to spot focusing, which won't be the default,
and with 1200mm, the need for MF might not be as high.
Compared to DSLRs, this type of camera uses the battery up quite fast because
it relies on the electronic viewfinder so much. The problem wasn't so much how
many shots I could get out of it, but how much power it used between shots when
I was viewing through it continuously while waiting for a bird to come out. How
are you going to keep it charged in Cameroon? A spare battery might be
I found the S3 much more usable in strong sunlight after I discovered that I
could turn up the EVF brightness, but of course that uses more power. Hopefully
these days cameras have better sleep modes to conserve power. Mine would just
shut down instead of sleeping, so I had to disable that.
> -----Original Message-----
> On Behalf Of
> Frank O'Connor
> Sent: Wednesday, 27 February 2013 10:48 PM
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Canon Powershot SX50 HS camera
> I enquired quite some while ago about anyone's experience
> with this camera, and alternatives.
> Some positive responses, and some maybe still to make a final
> I finally bit the bullet, and have just purchased it. I am
> heading overseas next week to Cameroon (I hope we don't get
> kidnapped .... as happened recently to some people ....), and
> so I will try it out.
> I don't expect to get photos of Geoff Jones' fantastic
> quality (wonderful images of Iron Range). I made the
> decision that a digital compact camera with 50x optical zoom
> with image stabilisation is probably better than trying to
> digiscope, which I have tried and I am very unsuccessful at.
> So I will see how I go.
> Some points about purchasing equipment online. I did a
> search for retailers, and found some with prices a lot
> cheaper than others. Rule #1. Google the company and look
> for reviews. If you can't find reviews, or the reviews are
> mixed (e.g. a delay in delivery), then contact the company
> first with your concerns. Rule #2. The cheaper prices are
> not always what they seem. Some don't include GST (not a
> concern for me, as if it did as in my case then I will claim
> it back when I leave). Some have packages such as a
> protective case, or a second battery, or memory cards, ,
> ..... Rule #3. Check whether the company is based in
> Australia. Rule #4. Leave your decision for a while (say a
> month). You can decide whether you really want the camera,
> and whether the retailer is the most suitable. I did save
> $100+ buying it online.
> Frank O'Connor Birding WA http://birdingwa.iinet.net.au
> Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email :
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