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Kitsafari

Invest in another bridge or get DLSR on auto for amateurs

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Hello Photography gurus!

 

I need advice on this. My current Panasonic Lumix DSC FZ200 is showing signs of stress no thanks to impatient me overworking it. I'm thinking I should get another one - a backup in case the lumix dies on me while I'm taking a picture of an aardvark cuddling up to my leg in the Kafue park (i have big dreams). I love my Lumix and it had not failed me, until Guassa when the cold froze it and in South Africa when I oversnapped pictures in one second.

 

So i'm torn between taking another bridge camera and or upgrade to a beginner's DLSR. I won't and never can learn to use how to manually adjust the camera for the ISO, or shutter speeds or apertures. My Lumix was fixed at auto permanently and come night time, I don't even recall how to get the flash to work. I'm that challenged. the book on "how to use the flash, Dummy" is made for me. 

 

For a bridge, I'm looking at Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III which I think @amybatt had invested in and loves, and has a larger sensor but same zoom as my current Lumix. but i'm wondering if I should just upgrade to a beginner's DLSR like Canon EOS70D. of course, DLSR will cost a leg and an arm, while the bridge is far cheaper. but it seems silly not to upgrade, and at the same time, I would be leaving the DLSR in auto so it may sound silly to use DLSR in that case....

 

you see the dilemma i'm in.... please, anyone, help me out? 

 

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@Kitsafari

I am not a photography guru, but I will have a first go! (I have never used a Bridge Camera so am speaking from ignorance!)

Firstly, you say you love your Panasonic. Have you listed what you love about it? That may help to clarify some of the important features. I presume that one of the things you are happy with is the quality of the photos (they always look good in the trip reports). The Sony appears to be well reviewed (after a quick glance), and you can talkt to @amybatt about it, but I imagine that as it has a bigger sensor than your Panasonic then the picture quality will be at least as good as your Panasonic.

 

So what are the general advantages of an SLR? Bigger sensor, good quality viewfinder (you are largely seeing what you will photograph), changeable lenses, more control over the settings, probably faster focus (but I don't know about the Sony). (The are probably others I cannot think of at the moment). These are general advantages, but are they important advantages to you?  For example, if you want to use Auto all of the time, some of the control the SLR offers you will not be an advantage to you.

 

You mention the Canon 70D as a beginners camera - I am not sure if you mean that model - Canon's beginner models tend to be numbered like Canon 700D or 750D. The 70D is a bit bigger and heavier than these. If you go down the SLR route, then you would need to think about lenses. To match the range of the Bridge camera, then I imagine that you would need at least 2 lenses. This would obviously add to the cost (I think this is where your arm and leg come in) and to the weight. If you have 2 lenses then you have to think about when (and if) to change them. I never change the lens on a game drive because of all of the dust that can get in the camera. (So do you take a spare with the other lens on......or just not take wide views?)

 

What do you want to do with your photos. Do you do a lot of large prints, do you view on screen, illustrate trip reports? Upgrading is always tempting, but are the "upgrades" improvements that you want or need. 

 

I think that one of the most important features of a camera is that it does not get in the way of your experience and enjoyment of whatever it is you are watching. You don't want to worry about the camera, you want to enjoy the wildlife and have some nice photos to remind you when you get home. Either camera can do that (both have Auto), but to get full advantage from the SLR probably requires a bit of work.

 

I am sure more knowlegable people will chip in, but I think listing what you like and value about your current camera, and thinking about what you want from the photos you take is a good starting point

 

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I have two Panasonics.  An FZ1000 bridge camera which has a fixed 25 to 400 lens.  It's great although heavier.

 

i mostly use my G7 mirrorless though.  It is very lightweight.  On safari, I used my 100-300 lens.  I mostly shout in manual, but there is no issue if you want to shoot in auto.  I also have a 40 to 150 lens and a 12 to 40 lens.  The camera came with a 14 to 42 kit lens.

 

I've noticed locally, at least, that many are unloading their heavy DSLRs and going to the lightweight mirrorless.  They are just so easy to travel with given all of the weight restrictions.

 

Photography is a hobby of mine and I'm happy with my photos, though I admit, I've seen some absolutely spectacular photos on here that I could only dream of.  I think that had more to do with the operator, (me not being as talented),  than the camera.

 

I've seen your photos in your Zakouma trip report and they are lovely.

 

 

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If you do decide to move to DSLR, you might consider Pentax as well. A few years ago I went from an old Lumix bridge camera to DSLR, and the Pentax K-50 with 2 kit lenses provided all that I wanted at a much lower cost than Nikon or Canon. The biggest factor for me was low light sensitivity, as the old bridge camera just didn't have enough sensitivity for the early morning and evening game drives. I know that bridge cameras have greatly improved, but the larger sensor of the DSLR will always be a huge advantage. If I was more serious about photography I would have gone mirrorless, but they cost more than I was willing to spend. Of course now I'm looking for a longer lens for the next safari....

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I think @TonyQ especially gives great advice.

 

I think DSLR's are for people who are relatively serious about photography, as although most of them do have auto modes, they are still a lot more work, being larger, heavier and requiring lens changes.

 

Your current camera has a really nice range of focal lengths for most safari situations. Getting the same in a DSLR willmmean a much bulkier, heavier and more expensive setup.

 

The primary advantages with DSLR's are speed (of reaction, focus, and changing settings) and improved image quality. But the image quality of bridge cameras is more than good enough for web sharing or small prints in albums or photo-books.

 

That's my two cents.

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@Kitsafari

Both @TonyQ and @Peter Connan give sound advice.

 

There is no doubt that a DSLR set to Auto will be as simple to use as a bridge camera. 

However, the big advantage of a bridge camera is that you do not need to acquire interchangeable lenses because bridge cameras have a built in zoom lens.

There are several now which have a fantastic zoom range which is the equivalent of lenses from 28mm to 1200mm on a DSLR. I won't even try to suggest how many separate lenses you'd need to buy to replicate that range.

 

Although, as Peter Connan says, a bridge camera is not ready to use quite as instantly as a DSLR, you will save time elsewhere by not having to decide which lens to use in any given situation and you won't have the (considerable) extra weight of carrying those lenses around with you.

 

If you have been happy with your bridge camera up to now, then I see no reason to switch to a DSLR. Bridge cameras have improved a huge amount since you got your last one and there are plenty of good ones to choose from.

 

The big question you will have to address is what zoom range is going to meet your needs. 

The Canon Powershot SX60 is a terrific camera with a huge zoom on it.  2 of my friends are using this Canon and the results are great.

The Sony RX10 III is very good indeed but it is pricey.

Perhaps take a look at the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 which is about half the price of the Sony.

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Stick with the bridge cameras would be my advice too. There is still so much more to get out of them for you I'd guess.

 

Note the Sony might not focus quite as accurately as your Panasonic with moving subjects, especially if there is a lack of contrast, but it'll give you much better pictures in low light and I believe it has much better sealing - so for those reasons  it should be better for safari and allow you to get sharp shots in situations where they were previously blurry - provided you steady the camera properly of course. That's if you don't care so much about the money.  

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I moved from a Canon SX bridge to a Nikon DSLR in 2014. I ended up with the Nikon primarily because my brother was upgrading his and I bought the old body off him. I do think the Nikon takes great photos (we have a D5100 and D5300 between two of us). Despite my brothers best efforts to get me up to speed with the basics I'm not really that interested/able to retain the info. He ended up showing me how to shoot in manual using the light meter only and not worrying about anything else. He said "if you don't like the images, flick it to auto". Shameful I know and although I do prefer the DSLR as the digital zoom on the Canon wasn't as good. I do find shooting in manual using the meter very easy and the DSLR was a must trying to catch the northern lights. I don't like the video output anywhere near as much as the Canon and find it tricky to start fiddling with the controls trying to switch to video - especially lying face down in the dust in front of a pack of wild dogs! So much so that for our forthcoming trip I'll be dusting off the old Canon to shoot video as well.

 

In short stick with a bridge 🙂

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After one safari, I can confirm that I'm glad I upgraded, I just wish I had more use for it outside of safari.  A word of caution though, it is heavy and large.  Probably not as heavy or large as a DSLR and some lenses, but enough that when I went to Paris in May, I left it at home.  There is no way I'd lug that around all day for a week.  But to carry to the safari vehicle and back to the tent again, it's just fine.

 

I'm beyond pleased with my photos, thrilled is more like it.  I feel the combination of the upgrade and my practicing incessantly with it paid off.  I only made enlargements (11x14 max) and made a coffee table book out of them, but I'm happy.  The lens reach was actually a downgrade for me from the Nikon I replaced, but I didn't try for and miss the longer length once with the Sony.  Maybe I was blessed with sightings but everything I wanted decent photos of was well within reach.  The most noticeable improvements for me were pre-dawn and as the sun rose.  Some of those shots don't even look like it was as dark as it was.

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16 hours ago, TonyQ said:

@Kitsafari

I am not a photography guru, but I will have a first go! (I have never used a Bridge Camera so am speaking from ignorance!)

Firstly, you say you love your Panasonic. Have you listed what you love about it? That may help to clarify some of the important features. I presume that one of the things you are happy with is the quality of the photos (they always look good in the trip reports). The Sony appears to be well reviewed (after a quick glance), and you can talkt to @amybatt about it, but I imagine that as it has a bigger sensor than your Panasonic then the picture quality will be at least as good as your Panasonic.

 

@TonyQ good point - the Lumix FZ200 has a good reach, quality is sharp and colour vibrant (assuming the operator, ie me, holds it steady. It is light in weight! easy to click on the video button. 

cons are: photos in first light and last light of the day are grainy and fuzzy, forget about night pix. zooming has a little time lapse and in action shots,that can be bad. 

 

 

 

16 hours ago, TonyQ said:

You mention the Canon 70D as a beginners camera - I am not sure if you mean that model - Canon's beginner models tend to be numbered like Canon 700D or 750D. The 70D is a bit bigger and heavier than these. If you go down the SLR route, then you would need to think about lenses. To match the range of the Bridge camera, then I imagine that you would need at least 2 lenses. This would obviously add to the cost (I think this is where your arm and leg come in) and to the weight. If you have 2 lenses then you have to think about when (and if) to change them. I never change the lens on a game drive because of all of the dust that can get in the camera. (So do you take a spare with the other lens on......or just not take wide views?)

 

oh i didn't know that! i just googled and found this : http://blog.creativelive.com/best-dslr-camera-for-beginners/

which I thought was pretty useful. but you are right, i forgot the weight factor. and since I often travel on my own, I don't have my OH to lug the heavy cameras. and certainly don't even want to be arguing that in my mind which lens to use when the lion is charging us (for instance) although at that moment I'll probably be thinking step on the that reverse pedal!

 

16 hours ago, TonyQ said:

 

What do you want to do with your photos. Do you do a lot of large prints, do you view on screen, illustrate trip reports? Upgrading is always tempting, but are the "upgrades" improvements that you want or need. 

 

hmmm unlikely to do large prints as of now, and it's mainly for my own viewing,and sometimes for trip reports. So a bridge would nicely meet this factor I guess.

 

 

16 hours ago, TonyQ said:

 

I think that one of the most important features of a camera is that it does not get in the way of your experience and enjoyment of whatever it is you are watching. You don't want to worry about the camera, you want to enjoy the wildlife and have some nice photos to remind you when you get home. Either camera can do that (both have Auto), but to get full advantage from the SLR probably requires a bit of work.

 

 

I like how your "requires a bit of work" is starting to make me worry about SLR (which I had wrongly written LSR) and everyone was too kind to correct me. 

Thanks much TonyQ, good questions to ask myself to really see what I need, not what I want. 

 

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@Tulips i saw a mirrorless SLR and it was as you said so light and compact! I was surprised by it

 

@jeffb  that's exactly one of the reasons I'm wondering if I should get something with a higher sensor. It was pretty frustrating when taking pictures when the light was low at pre-dawn and twilight hours, and the photos come out fuzzy.

 

@Soukous  thank you for the specific cameras I can check out! the weight of the SLR is a major consideration - and I wonder if it should outweigh the quality of the photos that I can get from SLR. I didn't know that the zoom of bridge has gone so far - so I'll need to check them out. The sony has the same reach as my Lumix FZ200 which was a reason I held back although its sensor is larger. 

 

@pault @ld1 thanks for the advice.  Nothing to be ashamed of, ld1 - i'm exactly like that and it's because this brain of mine never was able to compute maths or economics or science and hence can't grasp the logical aspects of  ISO, aperture and shutter speed. :wacko: 

 

@amybatt your recent photos at the Mara were good, that was why when my OH suggested Sony RXIII, it landed on my shortlist.

 

I keep vacillating between the bridge and SLR. what I'll need to do is do a spreadsheet listing the features of both bridge and SLR and measure that against what I want and what I need. I'm going to check out the cameras suggested by Soukous and will report back! hopefully soon as I'll need to practice with the new camera before the next trip. 

 

Thanks so much everyone for the great recommendations and guiding me to the right direction I have to go in. :wub: 

 

 

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I would strongly recommend going to one of the bigger camera shops in your area and handling a DSLR with one of the new crop of 150-600mm lenses (Sigma or Tamron) before putting that on any shortlist.

 

I suspect the weight might put you off completely.

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Thanks @Peter Connan for the advice .i missed you out earlier -my apologies. 

 

My OH has a canon 7D SLR with 70-300mm lens (dictated by the OH) and he complains it's  heavy. Thats going to be a big no-no for me given my bad back and now bad wrist. And really im not sure I would ever learn to use all the other features. After hearing all the great advice from you all,  im leaning towards a bridge (for now) but it'll have to be a significantly improvement on my current one. So more googling for me.

 

 

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@Kitsafari I found this review site very helpful when I was looking at Bridge cameras some years ago. http://www.digitalcamerareview.com/

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@Peter Connan is right. A dSLR and the lenses that go with it (for a safari this is from wide angle to a good zoom) is a lot of weight to carry around.

 

If you're just going to use "auto" mode on your dSLR your end results are not going to be much different from what you'd get out of a bridge camera.

 

However, I don't understand why you would not try other modes on any camera. Seriously; there's lots you can achieve by using non-auto setting, and actually, for wildlife photography in particular, it's actually not that hard at all. There's a simple method I use for more than 90% of my shots. Maybe I should do a post on this. 

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@Jochen  I use the light meter to tell me where to set the aperture and shutter.  I would be interested to hear your method.

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If it helps the conversation for @Kitsafari, I used the light meter to determine where to start (like @Tulips) with Aperture and then shot almost all of my recent photos with the Sony on Aperture priority.  I never had opportunity (or reason?) to use Shutter priority.  I only fell back to Auto when I wasn't able to tweak on Aperture to get something decent.

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Not all DSLR's are as good as each other so for things like low light performance it's not just a case of saying I need a DSLR. My Canon7D2 isn't in the same league as my 1DX2 but neither should it be as its about 15% of the selling price.

If you just want to take simple snaps go for a Bridge but discount digital zoom just look at the optical zoom performance and when you get a camera switch the digital zoom off. Picture quality goes down the tube with digital and when it's gone you can't get it backr. Digital can be achieved on your computer when you get home just as well as in camera .

I think the merits of both systems have been covered already, a Bridge won't do what a DSLR can but do you really care? You have already said you are not that interested in learning how to make the best use of your camera and that is your perogative but that is in my opinion a shame. A little bit of knowledge might improve your photos by a disproportionatley high level . Cameras are very clever in auto mode but they don't know what you are trying to achieve, they have to guess. Tell them what you want and they will give better results. The same applies for both Bridge and DSLR. 

Good luck with your choice.

Oh and make sure you have some spare batteries too, bridge camera need more than DSLR's  and you will run them flat quicker as they tend to be smaller. Turning off GPS if you have it inbuilt will help

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A very timely discussion from my end as well.  I appreciated each response.  We are in the same boat, @Kitsafari

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I find my bridge camera  great , going from wide angle to far telephoto ,very easy to use and light

 

I get to see a whole lot of things at the far end of the high zoom I could not see otherwise

 

 

if you  go to places on a light plane having a DSLR will mean that there is a whole lot more weight ,meaning  you  have to leave other things behind or pay an excess charge

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@ld1 thanks! will check it out

 

 

@Tulips @amybatt i'm at sea as to what a light meter is. is that the ISO? to let in more light?

 

@Atravelynn You are way ahead of me. you know all the specs of your cameras!

 

@COSMIC RHINO I know what you mean about the weight. i look in horror when I see the photographers carrying bags of gigantic lenses but their pictures are just awesome. 

 

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20 hours ago, Jochen said:

However, I don't understand why you would not try other modes on any camera. Seriously; there's lots you can achieve by using non-auto setting, and actually, for wildlife photography in particular, it's actually not that hard at all. There's a simple method I use for more than 90% of my shots. Maybe I should do a post on this. 

 

@Jochen having seen some of the stunning photos in ST by those using dSLR, I can believe that almost perfect photos can be achieved by non-auto settings. I've tried and tried, and others have tried (my OH and safaridude) to teach me but I just can't wrap my head around using ISO, aperture and shutter speed or any other features. 

so I'll be very interested to hear your method Jochen! hopefully you can do the post before I end my vacillation and decide on either bridge or slr. 

 

@Dave Williams thanks for the good tips. It's not that i'm not interested. I am! i want to make my pictures better, but the technical stuff of DSLR is like mathematics to me. I just can't compute. in other words, I'm just dumb on technical

stuff and I can't handle changing a few settings like adjusting ISO or shutter speed, etc when I want to take a quick shot. but if dslr is on auto but gives me better reach and better light (i suppose this is where the sensor or ISO comes in?) during low light, that would be better than a bridge, wouldn't it? 

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when I was at Lewa last there was a Chinese group who had not been told about luggage requirements

 

they all came with suitcases . 

 

the man with the big lens came with his camera kit only

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19 hours ago, Tulips said:

@Jochen  I use the light meter to tell me where to set the aperture and shutter.  I would be interested to hear your method.

 

1 hour ago, Kitsafari said:

 

@Jochen having seen some of the stunning photos in ST by those using dSLR, I can believe that almost perfect photos can be achieved by non-auto settings. I've tried and tried, and others have tried (my OH and safaridude) to teach me but I just can't wrap my head around using ISO, aperture and shutter speed or any other features. 

so I'll be very interested to hear your method Jochen! hopefully you can do the post before I end my vacillation and decide on either bridge or slr. 

 

All right, I'll put it in a post later today. 

You'll see it's really really simple.

 

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5 hours ago, Kitsafari said:

@ld1 thanks! will check it out

 

 

@Tulips @amybatt i'm at sea as to what a light meter is. is that the ISO? to let in more light?

 

 

I** don't know how others do it, but the way I was taught is to put the camera in P mode and look at the little set of dashed lines at the bottom of the viewfinder.  That's the "starting point" of where the camera thinks this photo ought to be taken from an Aperture and Shutter speed priority.  I then switch to A (Aperture priority), get the adjustment to that starting point if it's not already there, and use the aperture adjustment wheel to let in more or less light to my liking and the camera adjusts the Shutter for me.  You could instead go to S (Shutter priority) and set that to what you want based on the conditions, and the camera does the Aperture for you.  OR if you're really adventurous you could go to full M (Manual mode!) and adjust both yourself.

 

Re: ISO I think I left it on 200 most of the time, except early morning and the one night drive when I bumped it up.  I wanted less noise in my photos so kept the IOS low.

 

@Kitsafari see if you can find a camera shop near you, or hopefully the one you buy it from and see if they either offer classes or will do private instruction.  I find it easier to learn from strangers in an organized setting.  I took the "Beginners" class twice, once with each camera, and they were two completely different instructors and experiences.

 

**Still very much a newbie, so take this all with a grain of salt.

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