superzoom or advanced compact for nature photography?

Discussion in 'Ask B&H Photo' started by buffy1270, Jul 2, 2011.

  1. buffy1270

    buffy1270 Rookie

    Jul 2, 2011
    Hi. I am trying to decide between a superzoom or advanced compact. I have had a dslr and sold it because I ended up never taking it with me. I like the idea of the superzoom for the zoom range but hear the image quality is bad. I had looked at the Panasonic fz100, Fuji Finepix HS20EXR and Sony HX100V. I like the advanced compact for the image quality (with APS-C sensor in small body) but realize it probably won't have the zoom I need. I do bird and macro photography for fun and may end up printing some prints larger than 8 x 10 if I get a really good shot. I am also not averse to considering a micro four thirds or older cameras too. The only thing with micro four thirds is it involves carrying around lenses like the DSLR but the small size would make that easier. What would you recommend for me? Thanks.

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  2. Herman

    Herman The Image Stimulator

    Jul 11, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Karen, I feel like you, I'm addicted to long zoom, to a compact with EVF, I may end up with Nikon, Fuji, Canon, Sony or Pan. As I prefer manual zoom Fuji has a pro.
  3. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
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  4. Country Parson

    Country Parson Top Veteran

    Apr 5, 2011
    North Carolina
    Karen, I tried the Fuji Finepix HS20EXR and just could not be satisfied with the only fair image quality. You might want to see what happens with the NEX 7. The image quality will be equal to a DSLR as it already is with the NEX 5. They do have a zoom lens that goes out to 200mm (300mm equivalent on 35mm frame). The lens is heavier and larger than the camera, but the image quality is excellent. I have done a lot of nature photography with Nikon DSLRs and a wide assortment of lenses. It is not realistic to expect good quality pictures that will still look good larger than 8x10 and expect to have a camera system that you can use without multiple lenses. Already you need a macro lens and a telephoto lens, and then if you want landscapes some sort of wide angle. If you can be satisfied with the only fair image quality from a superzoom that is about the only way you can avoid carrying 2-3 lenses with the camera.
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  5. Bugleone

    Bugleone Regular

    Jun 1, 2011
    Well you could opt for a compact AND a decent zoom like this;


    ....This is my new NEX 3 with a Canon 70mm to 210mm 'FD' lens from the 1980's. This lens is superb and fits to the NEX with a Chinese adaptor. You can buy both on ebay for 'not very much'. The lens also has a 'macro' facility when used at 70mm,....this gives a dragonfly sized image at a range of about 10 inches. The whole rig is about 9 inches in length with the lens hood reversed for carriage.

    So far I have only shot 6 images with this and none are nature subjects but this is what it will do at 200mm hand held in casual shooting mode;


    ....From the other side of the valley,..the church is a small block with the kit lens.
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  6. I bought an FZ100 for the times I couldn't be fussed taking the dslr with me. What a PoS! The image quality is nothing like that of its predecessors, and I haven't used it much at all since the purchase... maybe 50 shots at most. Just have not been happy with it, which is a real surprise...I have a TZ7 and the IQ is fine (bearing in mind we are talking really small sensors here, and 10MP as opposed to 14 crammed into the same area). I have been tempted by the HS20 with its manual zoom, and if I was going to choose a superzoom instead of a dslr, the HS20 would be the one... I've been reasonably happy with the IQ from my F550EXR, and the HS20 has the same 1/2" sensor.
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  7. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    I've read a lot of good things and seen some great images made with the Sony HX100V. I think Panasonic used to be the one to beat in this class, but no longer. On the other hand, the Sony doesn't have RAW, which would bother me a lot. If you shoot JPEG, it seems like a great choice!
  8. texascbx

    texascbx Veteran

    Jul 10, 2010
    Canton Texas
    I had a FZ100 for a week. The image quality was terrible. I sent it back and got a Sony SLT-A33 and the Tamron 18-250 lens and am pretty happy with it. Someday I'm getting a Tamron 200-500 to go with it.

    The image quality was bad and the contrast focus was fairly slow too on the FZ100. 400 ISO was totally useless due to all the noise. Heck that camera had noise at 200 ISO that was just annoying.:confused:

    I've read the FZ40 is just as bad.
  9. Lili

    Lili Hall of Famer

    Oct 17, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    The best superzoom I have seen for IQ was the Fuji S100/200 series. Of course they are getting close to DSLR size albeit with a 28-420mm Zoom the the size of an 18-55!
  10. buffy1270

    buffy1270 Rookie

    Jul 2, 2011
    Thanks everyone. Looks like I will need to rethink and look at either a micro four-thirds or a small DSLR for the image quality --- or maybe a APS-C sensor compact with a telezoom. Any suggestions?
  11. Being a Pentaxian I would suggest the Pentax K-r with its kit lens initially, and if you are really serious about birding, you'd be wanting a tripod and a longer lens. I understand the Sigmas are pretty good. I used to have a Tamron 70-300 and sold it with my K200D but have decided I want it, again. For a LOT of money you can get a long prime, but they will cost lots (thousands) whereas something like a 70-300 doesn't. You can get into the swing of it at low cost and then if you get really serious, you'd be wanting to upgrade your gear anyway.
  12. pictor

    pictor All-Pro

    Jul 14, 2010
    You mentioned that you like to do bird and macro photography. In my opinion µ4/3 is the system which offers you the optimum balance between size and image quality. You might need a macro lens and a telephoto lens like the Olympus 75-300mm or the Panasonic 100-300mm. You can use a manual focus macro lens for macro like the Canon FD 100mm macro, which I use, or any other manual focus macro lens via an adapter.
  13. Djarum

    Djarum All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    I was a long time FZ shooter. When I moved up to micro-four thirds, I found many compromises when it came to the things the FZ could do, such as Macros and the long end, and the ability to switch easily between both wthout having to change lenses. Most of the superzooms have better sensors than the old FZ I have, but most have worse lenses because they are pushing the 20x-30x zoom mark. If they'd put a HS20 sensor with a really good 12x lens, I might have not moved up to mFT.
  14. I loved the old superzooms. I still have my Oly C760uz. Great glass, teeny sensor, and amazingly good pix because it was only 3.2Mp. I took my FZ100 which I dont much like, the other day, just to see how I would go with birds and really, its not that bad. Naturally the shots cannot possibly compare to those which might be taken with a MFT or APS sensor, but still, better than I expected, given that I haven;t shot with it much at all

    Here's a little corella, which was having his breakfast. He was on the side of the road, maybe 10 feet from me, and the shot is cropped, I cant remember what length it was at and I'm not on the right computer to check..

    The photograph has been abused with Alien Skin's Bokeh as well, was just playing with it. Bear in mind that it was just after sunrise and this little guy was in shadow, and I was shooting from inside a car.

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  15. jonoslack

    jonoslack Veteran

    May 6, 2011
    I've been using an epl2 with the Zuiko 14-150. It seems to me to be a pretty good compromise, and not much larger than one of the supper zoom cameras.
  16. Lili

    Lili Hall of Famer

    Oct 17, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    I use my E-PL1 with the VF-2 and the 14-150mm Zuiko as well; it does wonderfully
  17. rgonzale

    rgonzale Rookie

    Mar 1, 2011
    Newark, DE, USA
    Lumix superzooms

    Another vote for the Lumix FZ series. My mother has a FZ-35 which she uses for macro photography of small insects. She's gotten very nice enlargements. The only problem she's had is that for extreme closeups the lens sometimes blocks the built-in flash. She has some workarounds, but newer FZ cameras have a hot shoe so this won't be a problem for you.

    A long tele/macro lens for a camera with APS or micro 4/3 sensor will dwarf the FZ-100, so if you want something compact you may have to go with a small sensor superzoom...