Looking for a Superzoom for Yellowstone NP and General Wildlife Photography

Started Mar 5, 2013 | Questions thread
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Looking for a Superzoom for Yellowstone NP and General Wildlife Photography
Mar 5, 2013


I am a college student who got into photography last year. At this point (and for the foreseeable future), photography is simply a hobby that I enjoy, rather than working to become a professional. Over Thanksgiving, I purchases a DSLR - a Canon Rebel T3i. With the two lenses that I have (18-55mm and 55-250mm), I have taken many pictures that I (with my hobbyist perspective) appreciate. The two lenses have been nice to document family events as well as for general use. By adding the "nifty fifty" 50mm f1.8 lens later, I feel that I can round out my DSLR for my purposes – within my budget range.

However, I will be working in Yellowstone National Park this summer, which will give me so many opportunities for photography of landscapes and (more relevant to my interests and this post) wildlife. One of the issues that I have with my current set of lenses is reach – 250mm is a good distance, but certainly not long enough for the wildlife I might encounter at Yellowstone (even taking into account the 1.6x crop factor).

About a month ago, I started looking into long focal length lenses for my DSLR. I quickly found the Sigma 50-500mm lens, after reading reviews and thinking about the general utility of the lens. The problem that I found was that even a used, non-OS version sold for upwards of $700 on eBay. As a college student who is going to be a teacher (with a wedding coming up next year), $700 is quite expensive.

Naturally, you get what you pay for, so I quite nearly purchased one. But then I somehow ended up discovering the superzoom bridge camera category. With focal lengths of 24-1200mm (in the case of the Canon Powershot SX50), it seems like these little wonders could fill my need. There are trade-offs of course: ISO performance is not a great as on a DLSR, smaller sensors, and overall poorer quality images compared to high quality lenses.

Taking into account that I engage in photography for pleasure, rather than as a job, is a superzoom a good way to go? I have shorter focal lengths covered by my DSLR for family gatherings or other events, and a superzoom would allow me to capture shots that would otherwise be quite cost prohibitive (the Sigma lens being one of the cheaper examples). While I understand that quality of a superzoom at extreme focal length will not compare to a properly equipped DSLR, it would be nice to have halfway decent quality pictures.

Assuming I go with a superzoom, what would you recommend? I had planned on the Canon Powershot SX50 – RAW, incredible focal length, and good quality from pictures that I have seen. The constant aperture of 2.8 on the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is impressive, although it does not have nearly the reach the Canon does (and only a bit more than my DSLR with the crop factor taken into account).

For the TL;DR crowd (I don't blame you after looking at my own wall of text): For a hobbyist, can a superzoom replace a long focal length lens for a DLSR? What would you recommend as far as a superzoom camera?

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