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Thread: Superzoom compact for birdwatcher

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Akersberga (near Stockholm) Sweden
    Real Name
    Lennart Elg

    Superzoom compact for birdwatcher

    My wife is a keen birdwatcher, and she wants to document her sightings as well. However, for health reasons she is not able to lug around - or handle - an SLR with a heavy zoom attached, so the second-best option is a long-zoom compact. She is currently using a Nikon P90 but is looking to upgrade. The main use of the photos is to make a positive ID of the sightings, and - of course - to claim bragging rights on birding websites.

    For this particular application, the most important qualities to us are
    - image quality at the longest zoom (where a lot of the alternatives seem to fall by the wayside..)
    - autofocus and IS performance
    - decent noise at high ISOs
    - wake-up speed
    - firing rate at continous shooting
    - light weight

    After having looked through a number of tests, our front runners seem to be the Sony DSC-HX100V and the Panasonic FZ-150 or FZ-48. Any handling issues which are not apparent when you look at spec sheets, or any other worthy competitors to consider?

  2. #2
    PhotoRob's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    Tampa, Florida
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    Robert Farkas
    Popular Photography had some good things to say about the Fuji FinePix HS20/22 EXR.

    OEM Website:

    (and gets good customer reviews):


  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    May 2008
    Windsor, Berks, UK
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    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Superzoom compact for birdwatcher

    Hi Lennart,

    Looking at the spec for a P90, I see the focal length range is 26 - 624 mm equiv. (24x zoom)

    There are now many cameras which are approx. 27 - 810 mm (30x or more zoom).

    Exactly how good the AF, Image Stabilisation and lens quality is at those extremes is difficult to judge, as I doubt if anyone tests that aspect.

    Is RAW unnecessary?

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    South Devon, UK

    Re: Superzoom compact for birdwatcher

    This same question is being discussed on this wildlife site

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Southern California, USA
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  6. #6
    Black Pearl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Whitburn, Sunderland
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    Re: Perhaps this will help...

    I sell this sort of camera for this particular reason every week and my customers are getting fantastic results.

    The most popular is the Canon a SX40is as it has the highest magnification. The Fuji HS20 is very good but at 'only' 720mm it packs less punch than the Canon's with their 24-840mm optics. Image stabilisation is a tricky thing to quantify but from experimenting in my store I'd again go for the Canon as the winner as it just seems to product a more stable looking preview. Image quality there is little in it. The SX40is has the edge over its older sister as there are less pixels meaning significantly improved performance. The HS20 has a great EXR system so runs about an equal.


    SX40is if your budget will stretch

    What I would say is you need to go have a play in a local camera store as they have VERY different handling properties and that more than anything maybe the decider. Your missus will either like the manual zoom of the Fuji or she will prefer the power zoom on the Canon - regardless of any other factor.

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