Bridge camera recommendation for complete beginner

  • In reply to Mike B:

    I've just uploaded a photo taken with my phone at Minsmere this afternoon - a toadstool at very close range. Had to reduce the file size from about 6MB!! Saw 3 separate bitterns flying past Island Mere Hide this afternoon - fabulous! And a Marsh Harrier (female). I would like to take some decent photos of birds, instead of sticking to funghi!!
    Karen B Suffolk
  • In reply to Karen B Suffolk:

    Ahhh, proper Fairy homes - Fly Agaric :-)  Some of my usual fungi spots on the reserve are still too dry, so not seen as many as normal this year so far.

    If you're planning on lots of in-flight pics, get used to using the viewfinder rather than the screen on the back of the camera - you'll find it much easier to track the bird moving.  If you end up becoming an in-flight specialist, you'll probably end up with a DSLR at some stage as well, they're just much faster responding than a bridge camera, necessary with fast fliers.  The good news is that Bitterns & Harriers are relatively slow fliers, so good to practice on :-)

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    Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index

  • In reply to Karen B Suffolk:

    Karen B Suffolk said:
    I've just uploaded a photo taken with my phone at Minsmere this afternoon - a toadstool at very close range. Had to reduce the file size from about 6MB!! Saw 3 separate bitterns flying past Island Mere Hide this afternoon - fabulous! And a Marsh Harrier (female). I would like to take some decent photos of birds, instead of sticking to funghi!!

    Lovely photo Karen.

    While modern mobile phone cameras are very versatile, they do have limitations.

    They're ideal for close photos, like family gatherings, parties and plants, but for the fairer wildlife like birds and insects, while not impossible, the boundaries are being pushed far and wide.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • In reply to Mike B:

    Was walking in the Malverns today and had my TZ90 with me - target was obelisks and scenery. There are always buzzards around but I've got my tame ones at home who are more cooperative.

    Anyway, walking across Castlemorton Common, another bird cooperatively hovered. I flicked my TZ90 into P mode as I have that set up with spot focus and spot metering, and this is what I got:

    All fairly heavily cropped (I've got some others that have remained above 4MB which I haven't bothered to reprocess.

    So able to focus on a relatively stationary bird - most of the time the blighter was flapping and trying to time presses to coincide with gliding hover didn't work too well so pretty good freezing of the wings considering. I took about 10 or 12 pictures in two positions, all max'd out on zoom.

    The above are taken from RAW, no special fiddling in Photoshop Elements, just a process I typically apply to most pictures, increase contrast, then adjust the highlights, shadows, whites and blacks to try and restore the dynamic range that the eye sees, and also add some clarity and vibrance.

    So not up to "on the wall" standards, but good for id'ing and remembering what we saw. 

    Be interesting to see what the other half got on her Canon Powershot.

  • In reply to IanMSpencer:

    They're still smashing shots, Ian. I'd be over the moon with them.

    Another one for Karen to muse over.  Some sunset shots. It was getting very dark as the memsahib and I were on the final quarter mile of our walk - we sort of forgot that sunset was now quite early.

    As usual, I had my Canon Powershot SX700HS with me. It's convenient to carry on short walks. I thought I'd have a crack at photographing the, rather dark, sunset. I too switched to P mode. I normally have the Powershot set to auto, but P mode works better for sunsets and sunrises.

    The results are quite noisy and grainy, but it was getting hideously dark.

    I wasn't able to see much of the sunset as all these naughty trees got in the way.  I thought I'd try and do something a little arty with this one. I just wish I could have been about two feet higher up. I was already standing on tiptoe, with my arms raised over my head due to this large hedge in front of me.

    Now an exercise in what happens if you fiddle about with where you point the camera. I have not moved at all between these next two photos.  The first one has the camera pointing at the dark shrub. It fools the camera into upping the exposure, and probably the ISO and ev.

    The sunset is blown out, but you can see the details in the shrub and houses.  However, swing round a bit and point the camera at a brightish patch of sky and you get this.

    The sky doesn't get over exposed, though by now it was really, really dark. We were wishing we'd brought some torches with us or set out half an hour earlier.

  • In reply to Angus M:

    My wife has a Powershot 720HS which I think is a sort of next year's model to yours. She didn't get usable shots of the sparrowhawk as she didn't switch to program mode where I have set up some form of point focus - it's a little while since I did it, so can't quite recall if it was a point focus or a focus square which I made small - so of course in auto mode it latched onto the background with all those interesting branches, leaves and grass to focus on. It worked in trials, but she doesn't really take an interest in the technical stuff at the moment, she's quite pleased to frame something and have buildings vaguely level!

  • In reply to Angus M:

    Hi Angus. I am almost decided on the Panasonic FZ-1000 which has a good Which review and is within my price range. I'm going to Campkins Cameras in Cambridge next week with my brother (who is more of a techie than I am) to try one out. Very exciting. 

    One question for you, though. I have read and reread your invaluable advice, and I wondered how I find out the sensor size - it doesn't seem to mention it in the Which report, unless they call it something else. I believe that's what effects the ability to take photos in relatively low light.

    Many thanks for all your help

    Karen

    Karen B Suffolk
  • In reply to Karen B Suffolk:

    Larger sensors do give better results in low light as a rule of thumb (bigger area gathers more light).  The Panasonic's is 13.2 x 8.8mm.  In contrast, Canon DSLRs have either a "crop" sensor (22.2 x 14.8mm) or a "Full Frame" one at 36 x 24mm (give or take!). Bigger sensors also need bigger lumps of glass in front of them, which is why lenses designed for full-frame cameras are often large, heavy & expensive.  Your phone's sensor is probably between 4 & 6mm wide (which is why dedicated cameras are still better when the light's poor)

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    Find me on Flickr / All about your camera - The Getting off Auto Index