Darren J Callesen wrote:
> As they are trying to cover huge zoom ranges something has to
> be compromised, or else DSLR's and big heavy hugely expensive
> lenses would be on the scrapheap instantly.
> So what's the compromise? Usually auto focus performance
> (usually very sluggish and they tend to hunt around a bit)
> and their ability to work at high quality at either end of
> the focal range, IE. full wide or full telephoto. Also check
> the frame rate FPS Frames Per Second, usually way behind
> their bigger brothers.
The main reasons I changed to a DSLR were:
- lack of usable manual focus
- poor high ISO image quality
- bad fringing at full zoom
- grainy electronic viewfinder
I believe that all of these are much improved in more recent cameras than my
Canon S3IS. Still not as good as a DSLR, but possibly good enough for me not to
have changed over if I'd had something like the SX50.
> Don't ever use the digital zoom on these cameras either if
> you want a good image, as it pixilates very quickly and so
> diminishes quality. Much better to crop the image afterwards
> if you want it bigger/closer!
Agreed, although there is an advantage to digital zoom. It can sometimes allow
more precise autofocusing if you can zoom in enough to get the AF rectangle to
fit between the branches it might otherwise try to focus on.
> Now more megapixels doesn't always equate to a better image.
> The most important factor is the output file size, the bigger
> the output file size the better the quality normally for a
> given amount of megapixels. So work out the ratio of
> megapixels to kb's. This will give a good idea of image quality.
Good point. Some cameras over compress the file and lose quality.
> But the only real test is to take them in hand shoot a few
> frames and do some trial prints. Now here is where buying
> from a store rather than on the internet comes into its own.
> Go to a shop that stocks all your desired choices, take them
> outside, yes they will let you do this, if they don't keep
> trying until you find one that will (but most serious camera
> shops will bend over backwards to get your business), check
> the focus performance and the zoom capabilities on a given
> subject at a fixed point and then pay for some prints
Good in theory, but I've found that unless the person you deal with knows that
camera well, you'll walk away with photos taken with the camera on the default
settings, or whatever the last customer set them to. It's a good idea to
download the camera manual first, and work out what settings to check.
> One last thing, if you wear glasses make sure it has a
> dioptre adjustment to allow for the strength of your
> prescription glasses, most important.
This is assuming you need glasses but don't wear them? If you wear your
glasses, then barely any dioptre adjustment should be necessary. Everyone needs
a little adjustment, so it has to have it available. If you don't wear your
glasses while using the camera then you need to check that it has enough
adjustment available for you.
I don't think I've seen a camera that's suitable for bird photography that
doesn't have any adjustment, but one should check.
> But if you are really serious about birding photography, go
> for a DSLR and a prime lens for the ultimate sharpness. My
> pick and what I use, even though I have a Canon EOS 5D mkiii,
> is Canons EOS 7D, at 8 frames per second it's pretty hard to
> beat at the price point, very reliable and tough as nails,
> mines been dropped heaps of times. Combine this with a Canon
> EF 300mm f4L lens and you've got a quality combo, need more
> reach add an extender either a 1.4X or a 2X, remember though
> with the 1.4X converter you have centre point focusing only
> and with the 2X manual focus only.
There's no doubt that such equipment will produce much better photos that any
compact camera, but there is a big price to pay. Apart from the cost, it will
be much bigger and heavier. Depending on the kind of photos you want to take
and the minimum quality you're prepared to accept, a DSLR might just be a
burden that makes your birding less enjoyable.
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