See all Safaritalk Special Offers

plambers

camera suggestions

31 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

I am amazed at the quality photos I view on this site. We are heading on our first safari to Kenya next July. I am hoping for some camera suggestions. I am an amateur so think a superzoom is best for me but I read about stability/shaking issues.

 

Currently I am using a Sony Cybershot 2012 version DSC - HX200V 18.2 mp with 30x optical zoom.

 

Can you please suggest some basic (read: easy to use) cameras with superzoom capacity. Thanks so much.

Edited by plambers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recommend one of new 1 inch sensor bridge cameras, specifically the Sony RX- 10 III. Google the name and DP review for a good unbiased review.

You will get good to great pictures in good light, average to good in low light, marginal at night. No 1 " sensor will match a full frame but a 600mm zoom on that ( actually not available) will be a monster. A DSLR with an APS-C sensor will also do better in low light and in challenging focusing conditions such as predator chases, but for the weight and $$ in my opinion the one I recommended above is the best compromise for someone who is not prepared to invest big bucks in DSLR quality ( as opposed to junk kit) lenses. The Sony RX -10's lens alone is worth the cost of the camera.

In the end, you need to have practiced with the camera and have a basic understanding of photography to get good pictures. Modern cameras auto functions have improved but rarely get great shots by themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with a bridge camera. It's a cut above a standard point and shoot, allows you to shoot manually if you're so inclined and has great zoom. I have used the Nikon Coolpix P510, but would not recommend it due to some mechanical issues that keep cropping up. But yes to a bridge camera as a start.

 

And also agree with @@AKR1 on practicing. I took a class at my camera shop so I could understand Aperture, Focal Lengths, etc. I always go to zoos or animal farms ahead of my safaris to practice on animals. You really need to know the camera inside and out before you go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what is a bridge camera? AKR1, thanks but $1600 is more than I want to spend.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bridge camera is so called because it's the intermediate step between a point and shoot and a full DSLR with interchangeable lenses. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but that's it in a nutshell. It's a bigger camera than a P&S and you can shoot full auto, or full manual, controlling light and shutter speed and all that, and it generally has more powerful lens than a small P&S. If you walk into a camera store and ask for a bridge camera, they'll know what that means. I don't think you want a full-on DSLR. My Nikon 3 years ago was about $600. The latest edition of that same model is about $400 from what I can see online.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am by no means an expert (or even really a good amateur), but I took a compact Panasonic (lumix zs20) superzoom on my first safari and got awesome photos that printed out well with minimal processing. My mother had a larger Panasonic superzoom and also got great photos.

 

The next safari I bought an entry level dslr and was dissapointed in the quality of my photos. The zoom and auto on the Panasonic made things pretty dang likely that my photos would be better than if I fiddled around with the manual settings and wrong lens. If you want easy use with a high probability that your photos will look great no matter what you do, go w/ a superzoom.

 

Otherwise, take digital photo classes before you go :)

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This link should get you started.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Amy, a bridge and superzoom seem to be the same. I have been using the link you sent me and will check out the lumix, the #1 choice. It has to be easy to operate bc I intend to keep it on auto the whole time! Thanks all.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The bridge camera sensor size is the heart of what you will get in terms of Image Quality. Just remember 1 inch sensor. Cameras with smaller sensors are just not comparable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The bridge camera sensor size is the heart of what you will get in terms of Image Quality. Just remember 1 inch sensor. Cameras with smaller sensors are just not comparable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@plambers Panasonic and Canon have historically made the best affordable safari-friendly superzooms and Sony the best in terms of picture quality but a bot shorter on the zoom (really generalising)..You'll have to make a choice between image quality (1-inch sensor) and reach with the zoom. I'd assume that at least 50% of the extra reach is achieved at the expense of a corresponidng decline in image quality. You should look at capability in low light since you will be shooting very early morning and evening. So you ideally want either a constant f/2.8 or f/2.8-4 aperture on the lens or a very good high ISO performance - look for praise at ISO 3200, not merely "not bad". Any camera that noticably smears shots to deal with noise at high ISO should be avoided for safari.

 

One more thing is to decide whether you want a decent viewfinder or are happy to just look at the back of the caamera to compose your shots. Some cameras that have a viewfinder have such a poor viewfinder (i.e. can barely see what is going on) that they may as well not have one - you'd need to look to see that.

 

As for stabilisation, you should always get a camera that fits you well, so you can hold it steady. Five way stabilisation is good. Sony have the best current in-camera stabilisation system I think (they did last year but all changes so quick maybe they have been overtaken now) but I don't know if they put it in their superzooms. A viewfinder will help you to steady the camera as you press it against your forehead. I see people waving their camera around like divining sticks while they themselves are also swaying. That's not something any stabilisation system can handle. If in a vehicle a beanbag will make a noticable difference -again, if you keep it steady.Many safari vehicles have tables for beanbags now and so a little gorilla pos might be helpful too.

 

If you are yawning or screwing up your face as you read the above then upgrade to an HX300V or a Lumix FZ72 and save a lot of money. You'll even save enough to be able to afford another, really big upgrade if you find yourserlf getting keen enough to go off full auto sometimes.

 

And whatever you do, don't ask @@amybatt If you follow her you will end up taking the one you have now and complaining about it for months and months. :D

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used a NIKON P520 which has a 42 optical zoom (24 to 1,000 mm ) for a number of years and taken good images. I take extra generic spare batteries and a battery charger

 

it is important to get a charger, rather than plug a cord into the side of the camera to recharge the battery

 

I find it very easy to use and the instruction book is detailed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

And whatever you do, don't ask @@amybatt If you follow her you will end up taking the one you have now and complaining about it for months and months. :D

 

HA!!! :D @@pault This thread actually kicked me in the butt and I'm looking to upgrade for Feb 2017. Now's the time to do it while I have time to play with it!

Edited by amybatt
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my experience, NO sensor smaller than 1" can remotely provide good IQ in low light or with 3200 ISO. Even the Sony with the 1" sensor and a 600mm F2.8- 4 lens shows deterioration in IQ at 3200. However 1600 ISO can generally get you decent IQ In low light and 3200 can be usable, if shot in RAW.

Amy, the Sony is likely the camera for you! Maybe worth renting for a few days to see for yourself.

Edited by AKR1
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I advise my safari guests on their camera options, but the questions you really need to ask yourself are:

  1. What is your budget?
  2. Will this camera be primarily used for wildlife photography, or is that just for this trip. If only this trip, what would the primary use be at other times?
  3. Do you have any interest in becoming more involved in photography in the future, or is point and shoot all you ever really want? (And that's OK)

If you won't need the super telephoto at other times, then you might not want to pay for it.

Basic DSLRs can be set on a fully automatic mode and not be complicated.

I have a source in Nairobi for renting a Nikon 200-500mm lens, which on a crop sensor DSLR would give you a 300-750mm equivalent with better image quality than the superzooms which are optical and have a shutter lag which can be very annoying when shooting wildlife. And their electronic viewfinders can be less than optimal.

 

Feel free to message me if you want.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're right @AKR1 I am trying to think relative though. The reviews of theses cameras are probably not going to give a verdict based on what you or I would. Maybe I am being too optimistic thinking there could be anything but creamy smearing at ISO3200! Perhaps I should have said ISO1600 - and actually on full auto the camera may well not go over that anyway - so double the reason to look there instead of ISO 3200..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have got perfectly good results with my Nikon P520 using only programme or night landscape setting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I may be hijacking this discussion, but then again it might be useful to @@plambers. I know enough to be dangerous (I can shoot with manual settings with reasonably good results) but not enough to know the answer to this question:

My Nikon P510 has a 24-1000 mm (41x) lens and F3-5.9, but a 1/2.3" sensor.

The Sony DSC-RX10 III has 24-600mm (25x) lens and f 2.4-4 but a 1" sensor.

 

To my untrained mind, I have these questions:

1) Am I not losing both reach with the lens as well as aperture with the Sony? Does the 1" sensor make up for that somehow?

 

2) If I bought the Sony will I not be able to zoom like I'm used to on three safaris so far with the Nikon?

 

Like @@COSMIC RHINO, I've never been in a safari situation where I couldn't do what I wanted to (other than night drives with red light which I think is rare and hard to accomplish anyway), but my Nikon lens malfunction continues to be a concern.

 

Sorry if I'm being a simpleton on this, I just can't wrap my head around this transition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would simply say the answer lies in your expectations of image quality on safari. If you are happy with the IQ of your current pictures with a 12/3rd "sensor why change cameras. If you want superior IQ make the move. I am fairly certain there will be no comparison in IQ between the Sony and your camera. Whether you think so is the question.

As for 1000mmvs 600 mm note no professional photographer uses lenses longer than 600mm. Yes an APS-C sensor will get you 1.6Xmore reach but at a loss of IQ compared to full frame.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A larger sensor will allow you to crop in further in PP and will usually give a less noisy exposure when using in low light.

 

A much fuller explanation from @@AKR1 and he types faster. :)

Edited by Big Andy
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you both...

 

How much of IQ is the operator's skill though? Shooting both the Nikon and the Sony on automatic or Program mode, will I experience a difference? I mean, I look at some of the photos on here that I can tell are significantly better than mine, then I read in a thread like this and can tell that photo belongs to someone who is extremely knowledgeable about shooting manual mode on a DSLR with a range of lenses, which I doubt I will ever be, and wonder what my end result on something like the Sony will be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The lower the f number, the wider the aperture so you're not losing it on the Sony, you're actually getting a wider aperture. I.e. letting more light in.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you both...

 

How much of IQ is the operator's skill though? Shooting both the Nikon and the Sony on automatic or Program mode, will I experience a difference? I mean, I look at some of the photos on here that I can tell are significantly better than mine, then I read in a thread like this and can tell that photo belongs to someone who is extremely knowledgeable about shooting manual mode on a DSLR with a range of lenses, which I doubt I will ever be, and wonder what my end result on something like the Sony will be.

 

 

Most of what you see as better images are not down to using manual settings, they can help in some situations but it's more about slowing down and making sure the camera is steady when you squeeze the shutter button not just point and press. Learn to support the camera from below not with a hand on either side as tends to happen if there is no eye piece and/or you rely on the rear screen. Get the fastest shutter speed you can when not using a tripod or some other support to assist in getting sharp definition then learn a little about post production to make the image pop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you both...

 

How much of IQ is the operator's skill though? Shooting both the Nikon and the Sony on automatic or Program mode, will I experience a difference? I mean, I look at some of the photos on here that I can tell are significantly better than mine, then I read in a thread like this and can tell that photo belongs to someone who is extremely knowledgeable about shooting manual mode on a DSLR with a range of lenses, which I doubt I will ever be, and wonder what my end result on something like the Sony will be.

 

To use a DSLR, youve got to learn about exposure. That is shutter speed, aperture and ISO and what each one does inside out. To fully use a DSLR you've got to be able to manipulate these three to get the desired results.

Many DSLR's have a full auto mode, but IMO it doesn't work as well as in bridge and P&S cameras.

 

Photography is all about composition (perspective and everything that goes into making a photograph) and light. A properly framed photo with brilliant composition will always be pleasing. You cannot fight the light. It can work in your favor or not. Studio work is obviously all about manipulating light. I am talking about safari photos.

 

Finally the equipment. Fast, good quality lenses help once you've mastered the above. Fast lenses (low aperture number, f1.4, f2 and even f2.8) in amateurs hands will create worse pictures than P&S. You've got to be able to control depth of focus with those.

 

Then finally the camera. Print size plays a huge role in what size sensor size you need. I like to blow up my best pictures to about 24X24 or slightly larger and prefer not to hall around a FF camera, and I find APSC size is fine. Any smaller will not suffice. For 5X7 prints and computer viewing 1" sensor should be fine. P&S cannot even get proper isolation and thus is not suitable for any artistic work. They are great for snap shots to document things and so are today's phones.

 

So, IMO. The equipment doesn't play much role in why the photographs you like are that way. It only played a small role. So, you cannot buy your way into good photography. However, like you said, if you do not want to spend your time, get yourself a good bridge camera and if you are skilled in composition (which is natural for some.....my wife who is not into photography has a better eye than me) your images will be nicer than average.

Edited by Gilgamesh
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


© 2006 - 2017 www.safaritalk.net - Talking Safaris and African Wildlife Conservation since 2006. Passionate about Africa.