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Thread: How I am coming to like bridge cameras

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    Former Username : Wetpixels Dazz1's Avatar
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    How I am coming to like bridge cameras

    I probably mentioned this when I joined, but ages ago, I used to be, what I suppose was, a typical amateur, with a 35mm camera (Pentax in my case) and a bag with various lenses and filters and stuff (80-200 zoom, Cokin filter system, TTL flash etc). Wasn't very good at it as I didn't use it nearly enough, especially due to the cost of film processing. Digital cameras, and a busy life, caused me to buy a P&S and sell my old 35mm gear.

    I had a few different P&S cameras, until I bought my current Fuji s2500HD. I bought this because it was going very cheap secondhand, and it looked cool However, I also bought it because it gave me back a little of the manual control I had with the 35mm Pentax camera and more than replaced all the macro and zoom capability I used to have. Also, importantly, it gave me a viewfinder I could use in bright sunlight, even if it is electronic. To be honest, there are really 2 more things I REALLY wish it had - proper aperture control and manual focus.

    I am currently reading reviews of new cameras, DSLR, compact system cameras, and bridge cameras. I know I will just have to upgrade sooner or later. I keep being attracted to the bridge cameras because of size, because of not having to spend more to get lenses, and because they seem to be adding ALL the things I might have wished for. I know Fuji doesn't feature high on the list of the big names like Nikon, Canon, etc, but yet I see so many things to like about the Fuji HS30/35/50 cameras for example.

    Maybe I will buy an entry level DSLR next, but it's not such an easy decision as I thought it would be. I thought I would post this, and see what others think. Are bridge cameras a real alternative, these days, for the budget conscious amateur?
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Me, speaking for myself, in my opinion, I think (and a heap of other redundancies) that I would not go to a bridge camera.
    In fact, to me, it appears, I think, and occasionally opine, that if you are at a compact/P+S state now, the next step is a DSLR.

    Main reason why: SENSOR SIZE. Second reason: lens quality. Explanations follow:
    Sensor size ~ light gathering efficiency of the pixels, GENERALLY requiring less gain applied to the unit area of sensor ~ less noise (or, better s/n ratio).
    and therefore less need to de-noise the image.
    Lens quality: often, the lenses in such cameras are "designed to do everything" - at least hoped they will. No single lens can do everything.
    (Check out the threads here about suitable lenses for cameras. There's at least one a week.)

    If you use such cameras to shoot jpegs only, a heap of corrections are done on each one. If used to shoot raw, you have to apply a heap of corrections.

    The selling point of these cameras is mainly as an implied "convenience" camera - "capable" of doing many things (except deliver top IQ).

    I think that if you are getting your eye in with what you've already got, and that you're finding the limitations of your present gear, then don't bother
    with an intermediate type of camera. You'll soon outgrow that, too.

    NOTE. These are all my opinion. Modicums of veracity may be accidentally strewn throughout, but basically opinion.

    Am(opinionated).
    Last edited by ameerat42; 07-06-2013 at 7:39pm.
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    Have to agree with AM on this.

    if you have any of that Pentax Glass lying round you could pick up a Pentax K series DSLR and make use of it.
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    Nikon D7000
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    Former Username : Wetpixels
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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    Me, speaking for myself, in my opinion, I think (and a heap of other redundancies) that I would not go to a bridge camera.
    In fact, to me, it appears, I think, and occasionally opine, that if you are at a compact/P+S state now, the next step is a DSLR.

    Main reason why: SENSOR SIZE. Second reason: lens quality. Explanations follow:
    Sensor size ~ light gathering efficiency of the pixels, GENERALLY requiring less gain applied to the unit area of sensor ~ less noise (or, better s/n ratio).
    and therefore less need to de-noise the image.
    Lens quality: often, the lenses in such cameras are "designed to do everything" - at least hoped they will. No single lens can do everything.
    (Check out the threads here about suitable lenses for cameras. There's at least one a week.)

    If you use such cameras to shoot jpegs only, a heap of corrections are done on each one. If used to shoot raw, you have to apply a heap of corrections.

    The selling point of these cameras is mainly as an implied "convenience" camera - "capable" of doing many things (except deliver top IQ).

    I think that if you are getting your eye in with what you've already got, and that you're finding the limitations of your present gear, then don't bother
    with an intermediate type of camera. You'll soon outgrow that, too.

    NOTE. These are all my opinion. Modicums of veracity may be accidentally strewn throughout, but basically opinion.

    Am(opinionated).
    Sensor size and quality of glass are indeed reasons to go straight to DSLR. Bridge cameras are starting to get larger sensors, but the funny/unfortunate downside of that, is that larger sensors mean they lose their super zoom capability to a large extent. That leads to the same expensive glass requirements, so, now we are talking mirrorless system cameras.

    The selling point of bridge cameras is indeed convenience and alsobudget. A worthwhile aim is to get best bang for buck that can be afforded at the time. There is another factor working here as well, and that is that the secondhand market for these cameras is poor for the sellers, but great value for the buyers. A camera about 2 years old can be had for way under half new price.

    I am not sold either way yet, btw. Just airing my current thinking

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by mechawombat View Post
    Have to agree with AM on this.

    if you have any of that Pentax Glass lying round you could pick up a Pentax K series DSLR and make use of it.
    Sadly I sold the whole kit. At least that leaves me free to choose any brand I want if I eventually go DSLR.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    If you want the convenience but don't mind a slightly large size, consider an entry level DSLR with a super zoom such as an 18-270mm. Don't take that lens off and its essentially like one of those bridge cameras. You get a smaller zoom range (although still quite considerable) but gain in image quality, speed, battery life and all the other DSLR goodies. Although some of the bridge cameras do have f2.8 constant in its entire range which makes up a little bit of the larger sensor DSLR advantage.
    Small DSLRs like the Canon 10D really aren't much bigger than a bridge camera.


    Alternative 2: a Nikon V1 with a 10-100 lens (27-270mm equiv) will also act like a bridge camera. Again, you gain in image IQ, focus performance but loose out on the zoom range.

    Or just get a bridge camera. They all serve a different purposes and a bridge camera may indeed fit your needs the best.
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    Quote Originally Posted by swifty View Post
    If you want the convenience but don't mind a slightly large size, consider an entry level DSLR with a super zoom such as an 18-270mm. Don't take that lens off and its essentially like one of those bridge cameras. You get a smaller zoom range (although still quite considerable) but gain in image quality, speed, battery life and all the other DSLR goodies. Although some of the bridge cameras do have f2.8 constant in its entire range which makes up a little bit of the larger sensor DSLR advantage.
    Small DSLRs like the Canon 10D really aren't much bigger than a bridge camera.


    Alternative 2: a Nikon V1 with a 10-100 lens (27-270mm equiv) will also act like a bridge camera. Again, you gain in image IQ, focus performance but loose out on the zoom range.

    Or just get a bridge camera. They all serve a different purposes and a bridge camera may indeed fit your needs the best.
    Thanks for the suggestions. I will check out those Canon and Nikon models. I am not rushing into a purchase, and I'll just try to keep up with developments and see what happens. I do get the feeling that the lines are blurring between bridge, mirrorless compact system, and DSLR

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    If I were in your dilemma, this is the camera I would buy:

    http://www.dpreview.com/products/Son.../sony_dscrx100

    IMHO it is a true "bridge" camera because with its 1" sensor it sits above the crowd yet below the APS-C entry level and so still offers a decent zoom range with better IQ and low light performance. I'm considering one for my wife, who isn't interested in lens swapping, etc. but does want to share my passion (when she finds the time).

    In the end, it's all about what suits your path in photography. From what you've said I think this may be the answer. I hope so.
    Waz
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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Some remarks about the foregoing...
    1. Wetps. You "lose" the "superzoom feature" because it is easier to implement that feature in a camera with a smaller sensor than in ones with larger sensors.
    You still could "get" a superzoom, but it would be big and cost heaps. Looking into a bit further, the feature is only possible because the lens aberrations will
    not be noticed as much in the resulting image. EVEN WITH superzoom, the resulting image would be of questionable quality compared to one obtained with
    a combination of better optics and larger size camera. Think of film days. There is an analogy with film (alluded to in my earlier post) whereby the smaller the
    initial image the poorer the quality. (I've probably 4-gotten something else, but...)

    2. I tend to agree with you, Swifty.

    3. Waz. Although that camera looks interesting, ONE THING that the specs "tout" is a 1" sensor. Do the Σums on it and you find it comes out at 18.66mm diagonal.
    That's NOT EVEN 3/4 of an inch and it [edit: is] way less than APSC. I agree with your conditional "IF". I am wondering if Wetps is in a dilemma. If he is, it must be that
    he has not yet been bitten by the IQ bug. There's no cure but a "good system".

    Am(somewhere).
    Last edited by ameerat42; 08-06-2013 at 9:37am.

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    Former Username : Wetpixels
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoDo View Post
    If I were in your dilemma, this is the camera I would buy:

    http://www.dpreview.com/products/Son.../sony_dscrx100

    IMHO it is a true "bridge" camera because with its 1" sensor it sits above the crowd yet below the APS-C entry level and so still offers a decent zoom range with better IQ and low light performance. I'm considering one for my wife, who isn't interested in lens swapping, etc. but does want to share my passion (when she finds the time).

    In the end, it's all about what suits your path in photography. From what you've said I think this may be the answer. I hope so.
    Looks like a very capable camera. The large sensor makes it attractive. That zoom is only 3.6x though, and it's a pity they have gone for the plain rectangular slab shape. I know it's a petty thing, but the way a camera looks also makes a difference for me.

    I notice this one shoots raw too. Are there any issues with RAW format from different manufacturers with regards to software support for processing them. I mean, are all manufacturer's formats well supported?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    I am wondering if Wetps is in a dilemma. If he is, it must be that
    he has not yet been bitten by the IQ bug. There's no cure but a "good system".
    I may not have been bitten properly yet. I do look with envy at some of the images I see here, and fully understand what type of gear I would need to be able to do the same - to say nothing of the skill )

    I see my next step as only going part of the way there. Maybe I can stay a step behind the pack, buy secondhand, and reap the benefits of the huge depreciation of value a camera suffers due to technology moving so fast. Do I sound like I am on a budget? Yes I am, and $1000 cameras are out of the question I am afraid.

    Would there be any sense in buying an older DSLR, something about 6 to 10 megapixels if I got it at the right price? I'd have to be careful that lenses remain compatible wouldn't I? But would I get better, or even equivalent, IQ than I have with my current cheapie Fuji S2500HD with it's small sensor.

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    Your story sounds quite similar to mine. I started with a Pentax ME Super SLR years ago and loved it. Then when digital came in, I looked at a DSLR but decided to go with a Canon Proshot 1 as it had manual capability and some telephoto capacity and was a couple of hundred dollars below the cost of a DSLR. It took excellent shots but I became disenchanted with the inability to get real zoom to capture birds and to get a range of photos that wide angle and macro lenses allow, especially after seeing some of the photos posted on AP. I spent my whole tax cheque on a Canon 7D, 100-400mm telephoto and 50mm prime lens about 2 years ago. It has been a sharp and often frustrating learning curve trying to pick up all the 'tricks & knowledge' necessary to get proper functioning out of it and I still have to conquer low light conditions and effective post-processing but I now feel that I am starting to get the type of photographs that I have always wanted to take. I would therefore recommend a second hand DSLR like a Canon 40D (I don't have much knowledge about the Nikon etc equivelents) if you can't afford new...although TVSN does often sell NIKON DSLRs where you can purchase using part-payments each month. I have heard that you can use your old manual lenses still with Pentax if you get a PENTAX DSLR so you could check that angle as well. Good luck with your decision making!

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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    You could always get a Fuji X-Pro1 or the like, they use an APS C sensor and have excellent results:

    http://www.dpreview.com/products/fuj...fujifilm_xpro1

    A friend of mine has a Nikon D800 and many lenses and he also uses this camera as his walk around when he wants to go light. He loves it and from the results I have seen from it, it is excellent.

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    also the X-E1 from Fuji. A friend of mine has one and loves it. He has the 18-55 lens on it. He also has Nikon gear...lots of it. Also what about the Sony Nex 6 or so? They are a great kit also. But you are looking at at least 1K and probably 1.2K for the Fuji. What about buying a s/h Nikon D80 and the 18-135 lens. Probably only cost you 3-400. I`ve got this setup and it works well...gives great pics.
    Graeme
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    Quote Originally Posted by old dog View Post
    also the X-E1 from Fuji. A friend of mine has one and loves it. He has the 18-55 lens on it. He also has Nikon gear...lots of it. Also what about the Sony Nex 6 or so? They are a great kit also. But you are looking at at least 1K and probably 1.2K for the Fuji. What about buying a s/h Nikon D80 and the 18-135 lens. Probably only cost you 3-400. I`ve got this setup and it works well...gives great pics.
    A secondhand Nikon would be nice (or Canon - not brand phobic yet ) I briefly looked at a secondhand Nikon D3100 recently for example. Just waiting for the right deal to come along, and exploring the options.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    Do you have a budget, Wetpixels?

    It appears here are some of your criteria in no particular order:

    1. Portable but not necessarily pocketable.
    2. How the camera handles is important
    3. Convenient with large zoom range
    4. Improved IQ (than previous camera)

    Unfortunately there are some contradictions to your ideal camera.
    If you want 1, you potential loose out on 2,3, and 4.
    If you want 3, you either give up 1 or 4 or both.
    If you want 4, you give up either 3 and/or 1 as well.

    So you need to rank your priorities and it becomes a balancing act.

    1. The portability of a camera and/or camera system boils down to the sensor size. Not so much in the body but the lens size will correspond accordingly when comparing like for like lens specs. There are a few exceptions.
    2. Every model has different design goals and one size doesn't fit all. How big are your hands. Some control layouts are better/more intuitive.
    3. Usually, the larger the zoom range, the poorer the image quality, particularly at either end of the zoom range. Unless of course you make the lens larger, with more exotic elements which will increase bulk, weight and price. How big a range do you realistically like.
    4. Generally speaking, given like for like sensor technology, the larger the sensor the better the image quality. From 1" to m4/3 to APS-C to FF, you gain approximately one stop for each successive sensor size. But of course technology varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and sometimes one may be ahead or behind the curve.
    The question is what is good enough for you. If you only shoot up to ISO 1600 most of the time then you're giving up big weight/bulk/price penalties for selecting FF. If you shoot in low light most of the time, you may not be very happy selecting a 1" sensor camera or system.

    Add more criteria to your list if you like then rank them.
    You'll come to a very logical deduction at the end of that process I'm sure.

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    Former Username : Wetpixels
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    Quote Originally Posted by swifty View Post
    Do you have a budget, Wetpixels?

    It appears here are some of your criteria in no particular order:

    1. Portable but not necessarily pocketable.
    2. How the camera handles is important
    3. Convenient with large zoom range
    4. Improved IQ (than previous camera)

    Unfortunately there are some contradictions to your ideal camera.
    If you want 1, you potential loose out on 2,3, and 4.
    If you want 3, you either give up 1 or 4 or both.
    If you want 4, you give up either 3 and/or 1 as well.

    So you need to rank your priorities and it becomes a balancing act.

    1. The portability of a camera and/or camera system boils down to the sensor size. Not so much in the body but the lens size will correspond accordingly when comparing like for like lens specs. There are a few exceptions.
    2. Every model has different design goals and one size doesn't fit all. How big are your hands. Some control layouts are better/more intuitive.
    3. Usually, the larger the zoom range, the poorer the image quality, particularly at either end of the zoom range. Unless of course you make the lens larger, with more exotic elements which will increase bulk, weight and price. How big a range do you realistically like.
    4. Generally speaking, given like for like sensor technology, the larger the sensor the better the image quality. From 1" to m4/3 to APS-C to FF, you gain approximately one stop for each successive sensor size. But of course technology varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and sometimes one may be ahead or behind the curve.
    The question is what is good enough for you. If you only shoot up to ISO 1600 most of the time then you're giving up big weight/bulk/price penalties for selecting FF. If you shoot in low light most of the time, you may not be very happy selecting a 1" sensor camera or system.

    Add more criteria to your list if you like then rank them.
    You'll come to a very logical deduction at the end of that process I'm sure.

    You summarise the issues well.

    Do I have a budget, yes. Not well defined, but I'd start by saying less than $500. I wouldn't feel uncomfortable paying more at this point the hobby for me.

    1. Improved IQ (than previous camera) - including shoot in RAW and jpeg.
    2. Must have real Manual mode, as well as Aperture and Shutter priority modes, with full range of adjustment of Aperture (which current camera does NOT).
    3. Convenient with large zoom range. Portable but definitely does not need to be pocketable.
    4. Mirrorless is OK, but must at least have electronic viewfinder for use in sun.
    5. Ability to add filters to lens would be nice.
    6. How the camera handles/looks is important.
    7. Would like it to use AA batteries.

    Compromises WILL be made if the right deal comes along in a secondhand camera especially 5, 6, and 7. I think there is a decent range of cameras out there that will fit the criteria close enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ameerat42 View Post
    Waz. Although that camera looks interesting, ONE THING that the specs "tout" is a 1" sensor. Do the Σums on it and you find it comes out at 18.66mm diagonal. That's NOT EVEN 3/4 of an inch and it [edit: is] way less than APSC. I agree with your conditional "IF". I am wondering if Wetps is in a dilemma. If he is, it must be that he has not yet been bitten by the IQ bug. There's no cure but a "good system".
    A 1" sensore is small by APS-C standards but very large by P&S standards where most use a 1/1.7 or 2/3 sensor I believe. I was trying to put WP into an affordable camera that shoots RAW format with reasonable IQ and low light performance compared to his present P&S. No questchun that going for one of the APS-C sensors will give him the IQ, but it won't give him the zoom capability he seeks; consider the Nikon Coolpix A (28mm fixed lens), Fuji X100s (fixed 35mm), and Ricoh GR (fixed 28mm). He likes the super zoom and I was suggesting something that will transition from that while giving him RAW format and manual modes without losing too much zoom capability. I now also know that WP needs it to look pretty, too! Can't help with that I'm afraid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wetpixels View Post
    ..... Bridge cameras are starting to get larger sensors, but the funny/unfortunate downside of that, is that larger sensors mean they lose their super zoom capability to a large extent. .....
    Not exactly!

    They may lose(or lessen) the super telephoto end of the focal length spectrum, but the superzoominess is usually about the same.

    That is, it'll be a 10x or I think 20x zoom capability .. or something like that.

    Superzoom usually refers to the focal length multiplication factor. ie. 27-270mm(10x) or whatever ...... as opposed to 200-400mm(2x).
    The 27-270 is the superzoom lens, the 200-400 is the super telephoto zoom lens.
    For years Nikon had as their largest superzoom a 28-200 zoom lens for full frame, and then for Dx they produced an equivalent ... ish 18-200mm
    Not exactly the same type of lens, but similar.
    They then produced a 28-300 for full frame cameras a couple of years ago.
    Then a few years ago they introduced their 18-300mm superzoom lens(for Dx) too.

    As time goes on, you can clearly see a pattern emerging that superzoominess of lenses gets bigger as each manufacturer pushes the other to greater heights.

    Also don't let these focal length figures(or specs) fool you into thinking that just because you have super telephoto capabilities, that you miraculously get good images at these super tele focal lengths!

    As certain as taxes and death, the bigger the superzoom factor, the worst the quality that this lens will produce(compared to the lesser zoom type lens .. of equal technology)

    The other disadvantage of going with the larger sensor with respect to superzoominess, is that the lens is almost certain to be a lot larger for the larger sensor camera.
    ie. bulk becomes a factor


    Make no mistake: The only advantage that a smaller compact type camera will have over a larger DSLR type(in fact doesn't even have to be DSLR!!) is simply size. This also equates to convenience(but they are basically one and the same thing).
    If size minimisation is important then a bridge/compact is the way to go. In all other respects the larger camera is going to produce better results.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhoDo View Post
    I now also know that WP needs it to look pretty, too! Can't help with that I'm afraid.
    I promise not to get hung up on that too much

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Not exactly!

    They may lose(or lessen) the super telephoto end of the focal length spectrum, but the superzoominess is usually about the same.

    That is, it'll be a 10x or I think 20x zoom capability .. or something like that.

    Superzoom usually refers to the focal length multiplication factor. ie. 27-270mm(10x) or whatever ...... as opposed to 200-400mm(2x).
    The 27-270 is the superzoom lens, the 200-400 is the super telephoto zoom lens.
    For years Nikon had as their largest superzoom a 28-200 zoom lens for full frame, and then for Dx they produced an equivalent ... ish 18-200mm
    Not exactly the same type of lens, but similar.
    They then produced a 28-300 for full frame cameras a couple of years ago.
    Then a few years ago they introduced their 18-300mm superzoom lens(for Dx) too.

    As time goes on, you can clearly see a pattern emerging that superzoominess of lenses gets bigger as each manufacturer pushes the other to greater heights.
    I certainly can. I see them advertising 1000mm equivalent zoom.

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Also don't let these focal length figures(or specs) fool you into thinking that just because you have super telephoto capabilities, that you miraculously get good images at these super tele focal lengths!

    As certain as taxes and death, the bigger the superzoom factor, the worst the quality that this lens will produce(compared to the lesser zoom type lens .. of equal technology)
    Probably why I haven't been too unhappy (yet) with my older model, which only goes to 500mm equ. or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    The other disadvantage of going with the larger sensor with respect to superzoominess, is that the lens is almost certain to be a lot larger for the larger sensor camera.
    ie. bulk becomes a factor
    Yes, and I don't really want one of those super huge lenses hanging around my neck. That's the conveniently portable part of my wish list.

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Make no mistake: The only advantage that a smaller compact type camera will have over a larger DSLR type(in fact doesn't even have to be DSLR!!) is simply size. This also equates to convenience(but they are basically one and the same thing).
    If size minimisation is important then a bridge/compact is the way to go. In all other respects the larger camera is going to produce better results.
    ... and it's that "(in fact doesn't even have to be DSLR!!)" part that caused my current thinking - at least at the start of this thread. Now, well, I still have lots more thinking to do.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swifty View Post
    ...Do you have a budget,... end of that process I'm sure.
    I clicked this "Thanks useful information ameerat42 thanked for this useful post"
    but thought it needed more acknowledgement.
    Am.

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    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    OK.. so I'll go with your top 4 priorities.

    I wrote this for another friend recently so I'll cut and paste the info and adapt it to your needs:
    I've bolded ones to consider and crossed out the ones that don't fit.


    Some systems/cameras to consider:

    -------------
    Camera systems

    (FF) Canon/Nikon/Sony DSLR/SLT- best in IQ. Heavy and pricier. Roughly 28-300's your biggest range. Way out of budget.

    (APS-C) Canon/Nikon/Sony DSLR/SLT - probably best value for money. Big range of options. 18-270/300 (27-405/450 equivalent)'s probably the biggest range zoom. Within budget if you consider second hand.

    (APS-C) Fuji X - arguably IQ close to FF. Small range of lens currently but all good quality. Known more for their prime lens. Only zoom's an 18-55 f2.8-4 (27-82.5 equiv). Too expensive and no zoom lens of your liking.

    (APS-C) Sony NEX - very small bodies for APS-C, relatively large lens. 18-200's the biggest zoom range I believe (27-300 equiv). Getting a lot of third party support as its an open system. Out of your budget but otherwise it may fit your specs quite well. The better models have built in EVF but costs more. The cheaper models need external EVF attachments which puts the price up to ones with built-in EVFs.

    (APS-C) Samsung NX - 18-200's the largest zoom range (27-300 equiv). Competent system but sensor tech currently lags a little behind market leaders Sony. Higher end models have built in EVFs. Worth considering but out of your budget and limited lens support.

    (APS-C) Canon EOS-M - camera system only in its infancy. Wait and see. No suitable lens and no built in EVF.

    (APS-C Fovean) Sigma - intriguing part is the Fovean sensor. Big range of Sigma lenses including the 18-270's (27-405 equiv). Similar to APS-C Canikony (Canon Nikon Sony) but with a Fovean sensor. Tends to be expensive new but prices fall quickly. Not as safe a bet as the the big 3. RAW software support is not as good.

    (Micro 4/3) Olympus, Panasonic, Kodak, Blackmagic - biggest lens range in mirrorless/CSC systems and growing with more third party support. Think the Panasonic 14-140 is the biggest range zoom (28-280 equiv)
    Most have at least external EVFs as options with the higher end models having built-in EVFs. To keep within budget, best bet is a second hand model or run out sales. I've seen a GH2 with 14-140mm for $500USD new.

    (1") Nikon 1 - Fast AF. Biggest zoom is 10-100 (27-270mm equiv).
    Only the V models are suitable with built in EVFs. Pricey when new but cheap when on run out sales. The twin lens V1 kit was/is going for $300AUD at some Dick Smith stores (ex-display models I believe). But for your criteria you would want the 10-100mm lens instead which would push you well over your budget.

    --------------
    Individual cameras:

    1" Sony RX100 - only camera that's pocketable with a relatively large sensor. Quite expensive in relative terms. May be replaced by a RX200 soon.
    No EVF and lens zoom smaller than your requirements.

    Bridge cameras - small sensors, massive zoom. Some eg. FZ200 has a constant f2.8 in its entire focal length range. Many advance bridge cameras shoot RAW.
    Because of the large zoom range, not necessarily smaller than CSC systems depending on body/lens combo. But of course no CSC lens can match the zoom range.

    Only problem is IQ may only be marginally improved. They are still largely small sensored cameras so only you can say whether its good enough for you. Also only certain models shoot RAW.

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