DSLR to Superzoom - If you could, would you?

Started Jun 25, 2013 | Discussions thread
gardenersassistant
Contributing MemberPosts: 860
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Re: No + detailed explanation
In reply to John Miles, Jun 29, 2013

John Miles wrote:

This 'who among you' questions has drawn a couple of 'maybe' results, so in this small sample thread there is evidence of a two way transfer between Bridge and DSLR.

My experience is not quite in line with your exact question, to do specifically from moves from dSLR to super-zoom, but the discussion has widened and my experience might be of mild interest to some. Only mild interst I suspect, because my own needs/preferences are rather specialised - large-dof close-ups/macros of flora and fauna often using available light/in relatively low ambient light in the shade/under overcast skies/in breezy conditions in my own garden and at several local nature reserves. My target outputs are (1) mainly images for display on screen, and (2) printing from time to time of mainly A4 prints, occasionally 16” x 12”. I do capture some skyscapes and sunsets (I live beside a wide estuary which is nicely postioned for sunsets and has good topography for creating interesting cloud formations), but for me that is very much a minor issue. It is the small stuff that continues to fascinate me. (More on some other people's needs towards the end of this post.)

I started out six years ago with a bridge camera, a Canon S3is, and a couple of years later moved on to another bridge camera for a couple of years, a Canon SX10is. With both of them I used achromats.

Over that period, and subsequently I have kept asking myself whether a larger sensor camera and specialised prime macro lenses would better meet my needs, all the way through to full frame. I mulled over some core technical issues, some of which have been discussed in this thread I think, to do with tradeoffs involving sensor size, dof, and ISO under constraints of light availability and aperture and shutter speed requirements. There were other issues to do with usability for my preferred working methods, issues for example of viewfinder versus LCD, live view or not, focusing modes and methods, LCD articulation, LCD viewability, x-sync speeds and flash synchronisation at faster than x-sync shutter speeds, flash delivery mechanisms, remote shutter release capabilities, cropping practicalities, ability to capture images for constructing composite images e.g. for noise reduction or dof enhancement. And there were related software issues. And the issue of capture format (now firmly resolved for me in favour of RAW).

I simply couldn't make my mind up by study and asking questions of those who knew more about these things than I did. So a couple of years ago I decided the only practical way forward was to use a camera with a larger sensor. I chose micro four thirds, a G3. To start with I continued using achromats. I did consider prime lenses but I couldn't find one that met my working method preferences, so I stayed with achromats (which do actually have some advantages, but that is another issue!)

I got some nice (to my eye) results from the G3 (as I did from the SX10, and to a lesser extent from the S3). But three weeks ago I borrowed an FZ200 for a couple of days. As a result, I bought one. My early experience with it (discussed in some detail in this thread) leads me to think that I may be on my way back from micro four thirds to using a bridge/super-zoom as my main camera for photographing small things.

I have made another discovery recently about fitness for purpose of different types of camera. Not long before I bought the FZ200, I bought a little Canon SX240 travel camera of “point and shoot” size but with 20x zoom, with PASM modes and able to shoot RAW (if you use the CHDK utility). It has turned out to be a rather interesting proposition for garden photography. My wife, the gardener, says it (never mind the photographer you understand!) takes much the best garden photographs of any of my cameras to date. This is because it can't take the sort of close-ups that I usually do, and I have been getting into some less close-up shooting, which is precisely what she needs for her, garden observation and design, purposes. In this thread I discussed and gave examples of some of the (to me) surprising results I was able to achieve at the larger end of my more favourite close-ups, of flowers, and perhaps as important, how using this tiny camera unemcumbered by all the ancillary equipment I normally use, made it a joy to use.

For me at least, image quality is but one factor in a complicated mix of factors which contribute to my feelings about what equipment best suits my purposes.

This extends to others I have been observing recently too. I run several small “Photographing Nature” groups for older people like myself, mostly people who are as yet making scant effective use of the cameras they do have, and in several cases need to get different cameras which give them (e.g. through PASM modes) the greater flexibility they need to move on from capturing the snapshots that their cameras' auto modes see fit to deliver to them. We have discussed various types of camera that they might like to use, and they are gravitating towards bridge cameras and, for those who don't want the bulk, travel cameras. And in one case this has involved a move from a dSLR to a bridge camera (and much better photographs as a result), and I think another of them has started to seriously consider the same move.

No, I am not saying bridge cameras and/or travel cameras are better than dSLRs. I am saying that for me and some other people I know, on balance bridge cameras and/or travel cameras seem like the best route to greater photographic happiness and satisfaction.

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