Best superzoom/bridge for photography + filming: 450-500USD

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kluulz
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Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:31 pm

Best superzoom/bridge for photography + filming: 450-500USD

Post by kluulz »

Heya guys,

I've spent many hours googling and reading reviews, guides and comparisons of the best superzoom/bridge camera's out there.

From my research, the best are unfortunately out of my budget; Nikon Coolpix p900 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000.

Instead I have narrowed down to:

Canon Powershot SX60

Fuji FinePix S1

Nikon Coolpix p600.

From my research they are all in the top 10 Bridge cameras of 2014/2015, even part of the top 3 in many cases, yet they all have certain downsides and upsides. E.g.:

FinePix S1: apparently the only weatherproof superzoom, but bad IQ

Coolpix p600: the best IQ of them all (?)

Powershot SX60: best filming?

I would love some advice from some people who knows the benefits of the various specs (e.g. sensor size, aperture settings, ISO noise etc. etc.) because I find all the reviews quite technical and I have no idea what techs I should look for.

What I do know is that I want it to be a good investment, i.e. to last many years. I want to be able to use to to film in full HD (under 4k) and of course have good image quality. Whether it is 65 or 50x zoom is not that important. Also if you recommend others?

Thanks a lot for the help!

EDIT:

What I intend on using the camera for:

Photography wise: Macro, wild-life, zooming, landscape. So this could very well be fast-moving animals, such as shooting birds, lions, whales etc.
Filming wise: Exactly the same actually.

I want the filming while zoomed to be as important as the IQ of the photography at zoom, as the zoom is the main reason why choosing a superzoom/bridge.

I can tolerate taking more pictures for the "perfect" one, in terms of focus, however, I do want it to be quick so I don't miss any action (e.g. a humpback whale breaching.)

As I do a lot of video editing, I wouldn't mind editing photos either. However, the best colors (the less work for me,) the better. The quality of the video and images do not have to be at pro-level as the camera will only be used for amateur footage. However, if one of the cameras can be at pro level, in case I do get to that level, then of course that would be a great investment.

EDIT2:

Doing further research, I've found certain dealers on ebay that have some of the better and newer bridge camera's at lower prices. My budget is a big factor unfortunately, but perhaps certain camera's are worth the extra $.

My main options in my original budget are:

1) Fuji FinePix S1 SECONDHAND. With memory card, 2x extra batteries: 255-285 USD

2) Canon Powershot SX50 SECONDHAND with memory card. 220USD

Yes, they are secondhand, but to buy either of these cameras new would be twice the price here in DK. They are as good as new. No issues etc.

Or I can get:

3)Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 NEW 642USD

4)Nikon COOLPIX P900 NEW 583USD

5)Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 NEW 513USD.

Is the 150-200USD leap worth it?

Thanks again!
Last edited by kluulz on Tue Feb 16, 2016 6:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

No no no. The Panasonic FZ300 is much better than the FZ1000.

Check to make sure any camera you choose has RAW, or at least controllable jpg compression and noise reduction settings.

Quality of the lens wide open is very important for our purposes, and there aren't many bridge cameras that pass that test. The Leica and Zeiss lenses on some Panasonic and Sony bridge cameras are pretty good.

But much depends on what you want to do with it.

See my experiment with a Mitu 10x on two bridge cameras here:

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... highlight=

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... highlight=

kluulz
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Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:31 pm

Post by kluulz »

Lou Jost wrote:No no no. The Panasonic FZ300 is much better than the FZ1000.

Check to make sure any camera you choose has RAW, or at least controllable jpg compression and noise reduction settings.

Quality of the lens wide open is very important for our purposes, and there aren't many bridge cameras that pass that test. The Leica and Zeiss lenses on some Panasonic and Sony bridge cameras are pretty good.

But much depends on what you want to do with it.

See my experiment with a Mitu 10x on two bridge cameras here:

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... highlight=

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... highlight=
Heya Lou Jost,

Heya Mark,

thanks for the reply! Unfortunately, the Panasonic FZ300 is above my budget, placed at around 700-750USD here in Europe. On top of that, it "only" has a zoom of 16.

But doing further research regarding your recommendations:
Raw:
Canon Powershot, Finepix S1.

In terms of noise reduction:
It seems the Finepix S1 will be best?
It has larger lens aperture and better ISO.

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

The zoom ratio is often not the proper measure. Need to look at the actual focal lengths. Then you need to look at sensor size, if you are going to use a microscope objective, though you still haven't said what you want this for, so my recommendations may not be appropriate.

Look also for electronic shutter.

You want to be able to turn noise reduction OFF for many applications.

Check for front threads on the lens or, better, on the body for an external tube that you can mount stuff on.

kluulz
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Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:31 pm

Post by kluulz »

Lou Jost wrote:The zoom ratio is often not the proper measure. Need to look at the actual focal lengths. Then you need to look at sensor size, if you are going to use a microscope objective, though you still haven't said what you want this for, so my recommendations may not be appropriate.

Look also for electronic shutter.

You want to be able to turn noise reduction OFF for many applications.

Check for front threads on the lens or, better, on the body for an external tube that you can mount stuff on.
That is correct. I should have been more specific for what I want to use it for.

Photography wise: Macro, wild-life, zooming, landscape. So this could very well be fast-moving animals, such as shooting birds, lions, whales etc.
Filming wise: Exactly the same actually.

I want the filming while zoomed to be as important as the IQ of the photography at zoom, as the zoom is the main reason why choosing a superzoom/bridge.

I can tolerate taking more pictures for the "perfect" one, in terms of focus, however, I do want it to be quick so I don't miss any action (e.g. a humpback whale breaching.)

As I do a lot of video editing, I wouldn't mind editing photos either. However, the best colors (the less work for me,) the better. The quality of the video and images do not have to be at pro-level as the camera will only be used for amateur footage. However, if one of the cameras can be at pro level, in case I do get to that level, then of course that would be a great investment.

So from my newer research:

Fujifilm FinePix S1
Focal length: tele:1200mm width: 24mm
Sensor size: 16MP - 1/2.3" CMOS Sensor
Electronic shutter: Max shutter speed: 1/2000s

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
Focal length: Tele:1365mm width:21mm
Sensor size: 16MP - 1/2.3" CMOS Sensor
Electronic shutter: Max shutter speed: 1/2000s

Nikon P600
Focal length: Tele: 1440mm width:24mm
Sensor size: 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS Sensor
Electronic shutter:Max shutter speed: 1/4000s

So the Finepix does the worse, as
Canon: best focal length width of 21mm, as opposed to 24mm.
Nikon: best focal length tele of 1440 as opposed to 1365(canon) and 1200(fuji)
Nikon: fastest shutter speed: 1/4000s as opposed to 1/2000s.

To me, these seem like minor differences. But perhaps at a pro-level, it means a lot. Except the shutter speed, as the Nikon is twice as fast? Are these stats enough to choose the Nikon over the others, in terms of what I want to use it for?

Cheers!

skrylten
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Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:41 pm

Post by skrylten »

If you are on a tight budget maybe Canon Powershot SX50 could be interesting. Some say that the SX60 is not worth the extra money compared to the SX50.
The SX50 is also possible to combine with CHDK to get a lot of improved features (one example is shutter speed).

/Leif K

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

Much of my advice had assumed you would want to use it with microscope objectives. Since that is not the case, I would worry less about the electronic shutter. That should not be a deal-killer for your applications.

More things that should weigh heavily for your applications are:
1. How efficient is the reduction of camera movement? This is usually measured in the number of stops. With long lenses such as those, this is really important.
2. Weather resistant?
3. Ability to attach Raynox clip-on close-up lenses, either directly or (better) via a home-made plastic tube that can fit over something at the base of the lens on the camera body.
4. Lens sharpness at high zoom setting + wide aperture. This is where most super-zooms fail. Hard to find out about this except by looking at examples.

I have a crew of rainforest reserve caretakers who use bridge cameras daily. We've gone through a lot of them. I have been very impressed with the Panasonic FZ300 as I mentioned earlier, and also one of the Nikon bridge cameras whose model number I cannot now recall, but it might be the P600 that you are looking at. The Nikon colors were very nicely rendered too.

kluulz
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Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:31 pm

Post by kluulz »

Lou Jost wrote:Much of my advice had assumed you would want to use it with microscope objectives. Since that is not the case, I would worry less about the electronic shutter. That should not be a deal-killer for your applications.

More things that should weigh heavily for your applications are:
1. How efficient is the reduction of camera movement? This is usually measured in the number of stops. With long lenses such as those, this is really important.
2. Weather resistant?
3. Ability to attach Raynox clip-on close-up lenses, either directly or (better) via a home-made plastic tube that can fit over something at the base of the lens on the camera body.
4. Lens sharpness at high zoom setting + wide aperture. This is where most super-zooms fail. Hard to find out about this except by looking at examples.

I have a crew of rainforest reserve caretakers who use bridge cameras daily. We've gone through a lot of them. I have been very impressed with the Panasonic FZ300 as I mentioned earlier, and also one of the Nikon bridge cameras whose model number I cannot now recall, but it might be the P600 that you are looking at. The Nikon colors were very nicely rendered too.
Sounds like I need one of the camera's your crew is using then!

Doing further research, I've found certain dealers on ebay that have some of the better and newer bridge camera's at lower prices. My budget is a big factor unfortunately, but perhaps certain camera's are worth the extra $.

My main options in my original budget are:

1) Fuji FinePix S1 SECONDHAND. With memory card, 2x extra batteries: 255-285 USD
2) Canon Powershot SX50 SECONDHAND with memory card. 220USD

Yes, they are secondhand, but to buy either of these cameras new would be twice the price here in DK. They are as good as new. No issues etc.

Or I can get:

3)Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ1000 NEW 642USD
4)Nikon COOLPIX P900 NEW 583USD
5)Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 NEW 513USD.

Is the 150-200USD leap worth it?

Thanks again!

Lou Jost
Posts: 4722
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:03 am
Location: Ecuador
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Post by Lou Jost »

The FZ300 is better, in my opinion, than the FZ1000 for bird and wildlife photography. The lens on the FZ1000 is only a 400mm equivalent, and its max aperture fully zoomed out is f4. The FZ300 has a 600mm equivalent lens and its aperture is fixed at f2.8 even when zoomed out to the max. Though to a certain extent the larger sensor of the FZ1000 might counterbalance the lower magnification of its lens. I have not handled an FZ1000.

Note that the FZ300 is weather-resistant and splash-proof while the FZ1000 is not.

If you don't care about RAW you may want to look at the Sony HX400V, which has a very long Zeiss zoom (1200mm equivalent) with good quality. And it fits your budget. We have one and if it shot RAW it would be a great camera.

kluulz
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Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:31 pm

Post by kluulz »

Lou Jost wrote:The FZ300 is better, in my opinion, than the FZ1000 for bird and wildlife photography. The lens on the FZ1000 is only a 400mm equivalent, and its max aperture fully zoomed out is f4. The FZ300 has a 600mm equivalent lens and its aperture is fixed at f2.8 even when zoomed out to the max. Though to a certain extent the larger sensor of the FZ1000 might counterbalance the lower magnification of its lens. I have not handled an FZ1000.

Note that the FZ300 is weather-resistant and splash-proof while the FZ1000 is not.

If you don't care about RAW you may want to look at the Sony HX400V, which has a very long Zeiss zoom (1200mm equivalent) with good quality. And it fits your budget. We have one and if it shot RAW it would be a great camera.
I've actually found a secondhand HX400V for a smashing 175 usd! It has taken around 900 pictures already though... How is the video quality Lou? And would you say the quality is the same as the FZ300?

Or is it worth paying almost 3x as much for a FZ300?

I assume your HX400V is surviving in the amazon? :)

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

I would say the optical quality of the FZ300 is better. But for bird photography, since the Sony gives you twice the magnification of the FZ300, the Sony makes better pictures of such distant subjects. I think for macro with a Raynox lens, the Panasonic makes better pictures.

I have not tried making videos with the Sony. There are probably example videos on YouTube. The Sony does hold up to all kinds of climates. A friend here in Ecuador always has his Sony with him, in high wet mountains, hot wet climates, and on very rough bouncy long drives in cars, and it has survived. I like that the Sony has an ordinary focusing ring.

Be aware that the Sony's lack of RAW or any way to change compression ratio can be problematic for good focus stacking.

kluulz
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Post by kluulz »

Lou Jost wrote:I would say the optical quality of the FZ300 is better. But for bird photography, since the Sony gives you twice the magnification of the FZ300, the Sony makes better pictures of such distant subjects. I think for macro with a Raynox lens, the Panasonic makes better pictures.

I have not tried making videos with the Sony. There are probably example videos on YouTube. The Sony does hold up to all kinds of climates. A friend here in Ecuador always has his Sony with him, in high wet mountains, hot wet climates, and on very rough bouncy long drives in cars, and it has survived. I like that the Sony has an ordinary focusing ring.

Be aware that the Sony's lack of RAW or any way to change compression ratio can be problematic for good focus stacking.
Sorry but what do you mean by "compression ratio" ? thanks.

Lou Jost
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Post by Lou Jost »

The jpg files are compressed. You have two choices of degree of compression, fine and standard.

In retrospect, maybe the artifacts I was seeing were not strictly due to high compression but could have been due to sensor noise, because of the very small pixels. The sensor noise, which is not smooth, might not play nicely with jpg compression.

The camera manual is online so you can study it:
https://www.sony.co.uk/support/en/produ ... 0V#Manuals

Note that it has many more pixels than the FZ300 (20 Mpx vs 12 Mpx) and this has advantages and disadvantages.

kluulz
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Post by kluulz »

Lou,

I will need your opinion one more time! Especially as you use cameras in the exact environment which I want to use mine for (wildlife photography and landscape photography in thick rainforests.)

1) FZ1000 used with extra battery: 530 USD
2) FZ300 new with extra battery: 494 USD
3) Sony hx400v new with extra battery: 275 USD
3) Canon sx50 with extra battery: 236 USD.

I have never taken pictures with Raw, so that is not an issue. For video recording it would be in full hd, but not 4k (my laptop won't even be able to process such high resolutions!)

Thanks!
Lou Jost wrote:The jpg files are compressed. You have two choices of degree of compression, fine and standard.

In retrospect, maybe the artifacts I was seeing were not strictly due to high compression but could have been due to sensor noise, because of the very small pixels. The sensor noise, which is not smooth, might not play nicely with jpg compression.

The camera manual is online so you can study it:
https://www.sony.co.uk/support/en/produ ... 0V#Manuals

Note that it has many more pixels than the FZ300 (20 Mpx vs 12 Mpx) and this has advantages and disadvantages.

Lou Jost
Posts: 4722
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:03 am
Location: Ecuador
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Post by Lou Jost »

I like the FZ300 best, but if I wanted to do a lot of bird photography I'd choose the Sony. The Sony also has a simpler menu system. If you get the FZ300, and if you are not very familiar with it, its complexity may be frustrating. It is easy to press a wrong button and get lost.

With either camera, I would get a Raynox 150 close-up lens as an almost-required option for good close-up photography. You'll be glad you did.

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