Birding with the SX30 - 6 months later

Started Apr 15, 2011 | Discussions thread
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kenn threed
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Birding with the SX30 - 6 months later
Apr 15, 2011

Hi all,

It's been a few weeks since my last birding post here, and six months since we began photographing our birds with the SX30. So I'd like to share some of our latest shots now, and follow-up this series with a few reflections on our experiences using the camera.

First I want to say again that we use the SX30 almost exclusively for bird photography, which means that nearly all our photos with it are taken at the long end of the lens. Also, as I've said before, we shoot in Manual mode and set reduced in-camera processing parameters (Sharpening -2, Contrast -1, Saturation 0), preferring to process all our images in post. So before anyone asks... none of our posted photos are sooc .

There are strengths and weaknesses with all small-sensor cameras of course, and sure the compact superzooms have their share. The SX30 is no exception I think. It's EVF is tiny, and cluttered with the needed info it displays. Overall performance is fairly slow... Startup, AF, and Continuous shot to shot speed, all try our patience at times. High ISO performance? ... you might want to look elsewhere... we shoot at or below ISO200 99% of the time, and find both noise and NR artefacts unacceptable above ISO400. The camera's size, controls and overall handling may not please many users. I find the grip somewhat cramped, and the parameter dialswitch both fiddly and imprecise to use. Many reviews and users have bemoaned the CA (purple fringing), and I've seen it too mostly in wide-angle shots from others. But I must say again that at the long-end and for our work, this has not been a problem at all... actually much less so than with the S3 and S5.

Otoh... The SX30 autofocus once locked is sharper, and detail resolution is better, at all distances, than with our S3 and S5 cams (which we also still use daily). The 840mm eq is phenomenal, mainly because the lens is sharp at full reach and the excellent image stabilization actually allows it to be hand-held at these extreme focal lengths. Not many rigs of any make or class can say that. The bokeh of the lens is very nice imo, and we've found DOF to generally be quite excellent for taking portraits of our birds. And finally, despite it's poor high-ISO performance, the noise (and the in-cam NR) is actually quite good at the low ISOs... noticebly better than in the Sx-IS cameras.

Sooo... The SX30 is a camera which might be easy to hate I guess. And we do sometimes kinda hate it too. But it's giving us the best overall image quality and more gallery shots than we've ever gotten from its predecessors. I'm actively researching a "next camera" for us, and hope to find one we'd love more and that would give us better quality images... But from what I've seen so far from the other current megazoom offerings, I think we'll need to go outside the SX30's class to a larger sensor to find anything that meets those criteria.

Hope this is helpful to someone, and we hope you enjoy the photos.

Kenn

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Kenn & Temple - Backyard Birders in St.Louis, MO USA
http://kenn3d.smugmug.com

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