Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

New Camera

Most photos posted on this blog over the last four years, and virtually everything over the last two, have been courtesy of the Panasonic Lumix FZ45 14 megapixel bridge camera that I bought in August 2010. When I bought it, it was to replace the second-hand Canon EOS 350D I'd been using with a 90-300mm zoom lens, and also my old Nikon CoolPix 4500 that was about dead and only usable indoors for moth shots. The flexibility of the Lumix was soon put to good use, with 24x optical zoom, HD video and anything from macro to panoramic on consecutive shots. I was a little disappointed with the noisy sensor that meant that anything over ISO 200 was not great, and the in-built macro zoom was also a bit noisy. When I got hold of a Raynox DCR-250 macro conversion lens in May 2012, the quality of the macro shots improved dramatically and since then it's been a brilliant tool out in the field. It still works perfectly with no dead pixels, battery life is brilliant and I'm happy with the macro shots. But it's four years old and things move on.

I've been grappling with the idea of going back to a DSLR for a few months, with the main objectives being to get better image quality at higher ISO and to try and get a few more bird shots. Main reason I haven't gone for it was down the same old problem of needing various lenses to do everything I want to do whilst out in the field - and that means ridiculous cost. I very nearly went for it though, with a Canon EOS 70D the likely target. But I then started thinking about other stuff I'd like to try, like underwater photography/video. So I finally decided that rather than spending the best part of £800 on a DSLR and basic lens (for which I'd then have to spend another couple of grand on proper lenses) I would upgrade my bridge camera and also go for something completely different to play with (I'll come back to that).

So for the bridge. My first decision was that it woudn't be Panasonic. The Lumix is great, but I want a cleaner shot at higher ISO for birds. I considered the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS - it has a 50x optical zoom but is only 12.1 megapixels. Looking at a few other options, I decided to go for the Nikon CoolPix P600 - 16.1 megapixels, 60x optical zoom and given the long happy experience I had with the 4500 it felt right going for another Nikon. I bought it this week - £299.00 - significantly cheaper than a DSLR option and cheaper than the Lumix when it was new.

Been out today having a quick play with it. I've proven it with the Raynox DCR-250 both with and without flash, checked out the in-built macro and had a play about with various different settings. I've got a few shots of bits to post separately, but the main thing I managed to try out was getting a few bird shots. Helps when there is an obliging subject but first impressions are that I am going to get what I wanted from this camera.

This Grey Heron was knocking about along the dam at Swithland Reservoir. The lighting wasn't great but all of these shots were taken with the ISO set to auto 100 - 400, and all shots are either full width or height crops (resized for the blog).

The next three are all at the full 60x optical zoom (35mm camera equivalent is a 1440mm lens!).

Pretty pleased with these to say the least, far better than I've ever managed with the Lumix or any previous camera I've owned. I shot a few other birds as well .....




Pied Wagtail

This last one is actually a quite heavy crop from a shot at 60x optical zoom.

I mentioned another camera which I am going to get. I'm going for one of the new GoPro Hero 4 cameras, just trying to decide whether to go for the silver version with built-in LCD or the black edition which will have much higher res video options. Main reason I want to get one of these is that they come with a waterproof housing and I can stick it in rivers and rockpools to try and get some nice video of stuff that is off-limits at the moment. Plus they are quite funky little cameras anyway. I'm away on holiday after next week so would be good to have it available for then. I'll have two excellent cameras for different things, at a total cost of less than the DSLR option which wouldn't do half as much.


Steve Gale said...

Mark - a few questions....

I am thinking of a bridge camera as I do not use my DSLR and want to be able to get at least some usable 'bird' images. Were your Heron shots taken with just the camera, or did you have any additional lenses added? What is you new camera's macro facility like?

Cheers, Steve

Skev said...

All the bird photos are with the in-built zoom Steve - no additional lens. I did try a 1.7x converter on the Lumix but never got any decent results, which was another reason why I opted for a new bridge as they all seem to have bigger optical zoom these days.

The macro on the Nikon seems pretty good - I'm posting a few more shots this evening including a Grey Shoulder-knot taken just using the camera without the additional Raynox macro. Looks like it should be good for anything macro-moth sized, but I'll still use the Raynox for smaller stuff.

colin said...

Got some great images with your new toy mate!!