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Kitsafari

Invest in another bridge or get DLSR on auto for amateurs

34 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

@Kitsafari I think the method @Jochen posted is very useful.

 

To answer you question regarding the light meter, I'm adding some photos below.

 

Looking at the bottom of the screen you can see a series of numbers and then a thing with bars.  Reading from the left, the first number is 4.2.  That is the fstop.  The next number 3.2" is the shutter speed and next is the light meter.  In this shot, the light meter is reading overexposed by +3.

 

in the second photo, the light meter is reading underexposed by -3.

 

The third image is just the dials on my Panasonic for fstop and shutter speed.

 

the fourth image is the correct exposure.

 

It's  not an exact science and sometimes the camera gets it wrong.

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Edited by Tulips
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@Kitsafari

 

Hi, I also have the FZ200 and if it is any consolation I have this same dilemma every time I think about buying a new camera.  So far each time I have come down in favour of the bridge, pretty much for all the reasons mentioned plus we are regular walkers both at home and on safari and I just don't think I would enjoy carrying the extra weight and have to 1. purchase and 2. carry extra lenses.  

 

I have tried to learn the basics and always use the camera on either P or A (aperture priority) mode or use one of the 'scene' modes, usually 'landscape'.

 

The article by @Jochen really makes a lot of sense and for me has given me a bit of a 'lightbulb' moment re understanding ISO and shutter speeds.  It really would be worth just trying out some of these settings before deciding which way to go.  I have been pretty pleased with the Panasonic since I have had it and I just think I would be quite miffed if I spent a lot more money on buying a dslr and lenses just to find out the quality of pictures isn't exponentially better as well.  So I am trying to get as much out of the bridge as possible by learning as much as I can.  Also I think good composition is nearly as good as quality of image and you don't need a dslr for that.

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2 hours ago, Zim Girl said:

It really would be worth just trying out some of these settings before deciding which way to go. 

 

I think you hit the nail on the head here!

 

If you go to a shop without knowing what you need, no salesman can help you. Ah, scratch that. These days, no salesman really helps you. He will "feel" what your budget is, and gently push you above that while at the same time pushing the box over the counter that's giving him the biggest profit margin. 

 

 

Yes, looking at some performance indicators is important (lowest F-value the lens can go, what zoom level it has, how high it can go in ISO, ...), but beyond that testing the camera before buying it is the only way to assure yourself that you got the right tool. If you buy a camera where you have to go through 7 menus to change the ISO then you can forget about using my method, for example.

 

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@Kitsafari

 

Based on everything you've said, not the least of which is that you've been happy overall with a bridge camera, it seems to me you should stick with a bridge.  I wouldn't switch to a DSLR unless there is something specific you know the DSLR will offer that you can't get with your bridge. 

 

You mention poor low light performance, but you're going to have that same challenge with a DSLR unless you get into all the things you say you want to avoid: ISO, aperture, shutter speed. 

 

We took a Nikon P520 bridge with us for our first safari to South Africa 4 years ago, and were generally happy with it, but I wanted something faster for action shots and also something that performed better in low light, so I bought a Nikon D5200 beginner DSLR for our next trip. 

 

My big mistake was thinking that, simply by my virtue of having a DSLR, those issues would be magically resolved. The result was 2 weeks of sheer frustration and a bunch of memory cards filled with garbage photos.  

 

These days, I'm one of those bores lugging around multiple DSLRs and heavy lenses, sacrificing clothes in my luggage for camera equipment, talking about things like optimal ISO ranges to anyone who will listen, and so on and so forth, but that's because I wanted to learn all that stuff. I ended up taking photography classes at a local university's night school program. It's become a passionate hobby.  I enjoy it. 

 

If that's not for you, then why not stick with what you know and generally like?  There's something to be said for being reasonably happy. 

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@Alexander33

 

7 hours ago, Alexander33 said:
7 hours ago, Alexander33 said:

My big mistake was thinking that, simply by my virtue of having a DSLR, those issues would be magically resolved. The result was 2 weeks of sheer frustration and a bunch of memory cards filled with garbage photos.  

 

I think this is pretty much also hitting the nail on the head.  My worry was if I got an entry level dslr but didn't do anything different then it was unlikely the pictures I took would be any different.  So the extra expense/weight etc wouldn't be worth the difference in quality in picture (if any)

 

@Jochen

 

17 hours ago, Jochen said:

If you buy a camera where you have to go through 7 menus to change the ISO then you can forget about using my method, for example.

 

The Panasonic FZ200 that both I and @Kitsafari own has the ISO button on the back of the camera (not in menu) so can be easily changed, which is why I thought Jochen's method sounded easy to do.

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@Kitsafari I think you made a really important comment earlier on about how you found the DSLR and lens of your other half too heavy. If you combine that with the learning curve likely to get the most out of DSLR then I would question whether the best quality bridge camera you can get might be the best option? In the end it's all a compromise - yes a bridge camera will be compromised by shots in extreme conditions as you mention above but then so is my setup of a good SLR and good lenses compared with others with state of the art camera bodies and fast but very heavy lenses.

I'm happy with my compromise and if the situation I'm in exceeds my technical ability (common) or the camera capabilities (less common) then I sit back and observe the moment.

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@Tulips  The light meter you refer to in your pictures in post 26 is actually the exposure compensation metering. When the relevant dial is twisted ( maybe rolled is a better description) you are making the shot lighter or darker. I use this all the time with both my point and shoot and my DSLR's. You can use it in "P" mode  with your Bridge cameras to make life simple.

 

Getting back to the subject of Bridge or DSLR here's a couple of extremes!

On the left of the shot is my Canon 7D with a 100-400mm zoom lens attached, the middle one is my Olympus Tough and the one on the right is my Canon 1DX with a 600mm f4 lens and a 1.4 teleconverter attached.

Each has their merits but the one with the most features is the Olympus but it isn't the most capable. I tend to use that in P mode for landscapes or to take as an unobtrusive pocket camera if I'm going out for dinner or a family gathering although I find my other half's iPhone is just as good provided there is no need for flash.

The 7D combination is fairly lightweight by any consideration and easy to hand hold all day if you have a degree of physical fitness. The 1DX and 600mm lens is the recipe for back problems in later life. ( Believe me!)

IMG_3683.thumb.JPG.333a51c94e21fb26d88d0eb643bc1c16.JPG

 

A Bridge camera on the other hand has roughly the same bulk as the camera body on the left and not the sort of thing to slap on the dinner table when out for a meal.

So, I would suggest that the best use of a Bridge is that zoom capacity to take photos of wildlife. My Olympus only zooms to 4x so is pretty much useless for wildlife photography unless it's very close ( or underwater where it also scores over the other gear )

My conclusion would be that if you are looking for something not too expensive that takes decent photographs where the subjects are fairly slow moving or static then stick with a Bridge. Use P mode and the EV+/- buttons. You can also try the various scene modes too. I use Sunset mode to enhance the colours when using the Olympus. Sports mode would be best for action.

 

If you are looking to go a bit further with your photography look at a DSLR which despite all the jargon thrown about is quite easy to use. You can stick that in P mode too but really, if you are interested enough to buy a DSLR you probably want to get a bit more out of it. You wouldn't by a bicycle with 21 gears and just use the one in the middle all the time.

When I moved from a Bridge to a DSLR which was 10 years ago the reason was purely about image quality. The Bridge, a Lumix just didn't hack it compared to the shots I was seeing on line in my more specialist field of bird photography. Technology moves on of course but that applies to both Bridge and DSLRs.

You will have read about the basic three principles of photography ...shutter speed, aperture and ISO ( the ability of the cameras sensor and it's use of light) and the basic principals are reasonably easy to grasp.

The question is how efficient is your camera at using those three features?

Basically the more you pay the more you get but you have to say is it worth it? 

My own view is that Bridge cameras are very good value, capable of taking excellent photos but can't compete with a DSLR when it comes to producing specialist images where speed or low light or even image detail are the priorities. A lot of them only produce a Jpeg image too so what you can do to change the image in post processing on a computer is more limited too. 

Post processing is a whole new world though and I won't go down that route because my abilities are limited to a few basic steps but it's amazing what can be done to turn something you thought was a disaster into something quite viewable.

If you do decide you want to get in to photography a little bit more, most DSLR's whichever the manufacturer are very similar in the way they are built.

They have a top dial on the right ( next to the M-Fn button on this one)

IMG_3686.thumb.JPG.f12a25c2c05ab5f0a9b7867e2b10a369.JPG

and a main dial on the back ( the one that says "set" in the middle.

IMG_3687.thumb.JPG.810859ae0358428b61a448e2d95d072a.JPG

 

You can decide which dial controls shutter speed and which dial controls aperture depending on personal preference. That means without taking your eye away from the viewfinder you are in complete control of the main functions of your camera just using a finger and thumb.

The other thing to consider was.....ISO. You can use auto ISO but then you are giving up some control and letting the camera decide for you. 

Lets just say that you know your camera is capable of producing noise free images at ISO 6400 ( that's likely much higher than a Bridge camera but maybe not if you are using a 7D2, this was the 1DX purely as an example of what you are looking at) It's a dull day so that's the setting you'll use to try and get the best out of aperture and shutter speeds.

I recommend manual settings to give maximum control, you select that on the top dial ( it's actually set for AV in the first  picture of the 7D2 body above).

You look through your view finder and what you see is something like this

IMG_3685.thumb.JPG.daeaaf677a0ac9db448bf08a5ffca13d.JPG 

 

You won't be looking at some leaves through a double glazed window hopefully, you'll looking at a Cheetah stalking it's victim!

 

Looking at the information in the screen you can see you are in M setting, manual.

Next to that you have your shutter speed of 640th of a second and aperture of f5.6. The row of indicators next to that tells you if any EV has been applied. It hasn't as it's bang in the middle, neither + nor - to make it brighter or darker.

918 is the number of images that card can take and iso 6400 is the current ISO the camera will use to achieve the shot with what it perceives to be perfect exposure, shown by the indicator up the right hand side ( that's the light meter) which is again bang in the middle and always will be if you use auto iso an the camera thinks it's perfect.It's not of course, it's too over exposed in the middle so maybe that's where you need to apply some EV- to darken the image.

You half press the shutter button to achieve focus, fully depress it to take the shot.

Suddenly the Cheetah breaks in to a run for the kill. 1/640th is too slow so with a twist of the dial with your finger you can pump up the shutter speed to whatever you think is necessary to freeze the action. 1/4000th perhaps. In this case the auto ISO would shoot up the ISO to achieve the same level of exposure.

Alternatively you could change the aperture with your finger or thumb when the cheetah is standing still to make the background "bokeh" softer or more detailed depending on the depth of field.

It's pretty simple really. I have chosen a dull day and terrible light to demonstrate what you are looking at through the camera but in reality hopefully you have bright sunshine. You can use a fixed ISO at which you know the camera can produce noise free images and you twiddle the dials to change shutter speed and aperture until the light meter on the right hand side indicates the level of light you want for the shot. It should be somewhere near the middle but not necessarily bang on. I deliberately over expose my shots a fraction as I can darken them later if needed without the darker areas of the shot becoming noisy.

 

I don't know if my explanation of the basics cuts the mustard so to speak but it really isn't too difficult. All you need is a finger, a thumb and the light meter to tell you if the picture will turn out reasonably well.

There is a bit more to it than that but you can learn all that with practice.

If you look at some Flickr pages where the exif (camera detail) is shown you can see how people have put different things in to practice, changing speed or aperture depending on what they are trying to capture

My own recent images have a Gannet in dive mode. I applied a much faster shutter speed to freeze the action than in the static Owl where the low light was the issue.My aperture of f4 gave a nice soft bokeh for the Owl so you are left with the main subject in isolation. In the Gannet shots the aperture of f5.6 shows how the depth of field becomes more apparent with that lens as it gets nearer the water.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/131256186@N04/with/35191278724/

Anyway, hope it helps you decide and make more sense of a camera. I am certainly no expert but hopefully can show you from a layperson's perspective.

cheers

Dave

Edited by Dave Williams
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@amybatt @Tulips @Alexander33 @Dave Williams @Zim Girl @pomkiwi @Jochen

and everyone else I may have missed out!

 

thanks for the advice and tips given. having read all the invaluable guidance and advice given here, I think I will stick to a bridge camera. I'll upgrade to dslr when I retire (which isn't that far off) and have more time to attend classes and play around with the features!

 

and @pomwiki you are right about one thing - if the camera operator (Me!) can't cope, I should just sit back and enjoy the moment rather than be fixated if the settings are correct for a perfect shot ,and then miss the sighting altogether. the safari is after all not a photography journey but a wildlife journey. even a bad shot is a good reminder of the sighting. Now, I only have to remind myself of this. :P

 

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@Kitsafari have you ever thought about a FZ1000 or so as a second camera? There is not so much different to the FZ200 in using. I have both but now use the FZ1000 for 99% of my pics. In the beginning you will struggle a bit with the lesser zoom but you can have a cropp afterwards. 

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