SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera

Started Sep 11, 2013 | Questions thread
Neeyon
Contributing MemberPosts: 972Gear list
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, Sep 11, 2013

Hi Tim

Tricky dillemna, and speaking as someone who tried both approaches, there are pros and cons each way.

This has turned into a bit of a long-winded response (I haven't posted for a while so there must be months of pent up opinions just waiting to spill out ), but hopefully it is of some use...

I used bridge cameras for years, the most recent of which was the Fuji HS10 which has a 30x lens. Upside is the lightweight / portability factor, as well as the fact that you don't have to change lens (saves time and means you don't have to worry about getting dust on your sensor). Downside has to do with IQ...basically it's difficult to get the same sort of resolution as you would for an SLR because of the small size of the sensor, particularly as light levels decrease and ISO has to increase to compensate. Plus if you're shooting handheld at the long end you often have to up your ISO anyway just to reduce shake. Once you're shooting at anything above ISO 400 the difference in IQ between an SLR and a compact is very noticable.

Other downside is just quality /sharpness of the lens - to get a lens with such a wide zoom range you need to make a lot of optical compromises, and there's a tendency for superzooms to get softer as you mover towards the long end (not to mention often not being as sharp as a high quality SLR zoom lens to begin with).

So I made the jump to SLT a couple of years back and haven't looked back. The IQ I get with my A55 and interchangable lenses is just light years ahead of what I could achieve with a bridge camera. The improved sharpness of the lenses and better high-ISO performance of the camera mean that there are situations I can get good shots from that I couldn't have dreamt of with my HS10. And if you're a fan of bokeh (which I am) then there's really no contest between an SLR and a compact

Having said that, there are the downsides: a lot more gear to lug around, a lot more expensive, and the inconvenience of having to change lenses. Where I used to take just a camera and charger with me on holiday which took up minimal space, my camera gear (camera, flash, lenses etc.) now takes up most of my cabin baggage and is a significant amount of extra weight (not to mention the extra insurance costs). And there are definitely times when I miss a good shot because I'm fiddling with lenses.

So at the end of the day I think it depends on what's most important to you. If you need portability then by all means go with a bridge camera - there are some very good options on the market at the moment which are capable of taking great images in a variety of situations. But if you value IQ above all else and don't mind the cost and extra gear to lug around, grab a long lens for your A65.

Having now made the jump I don't think I'll ever go back to a bridge as my primary camera, however having said that, if cost wasn't a concern I would consider buying a bridge camera in additional to my SLT so that I could take it with me on those occasions where I needed a good zoom range on my lens, but had to pack light (e.g. if doing an overnight hike somewhere). My current pick would be the Panasonic FZ200 - even thought it has "only" a 24x zoom, having an F2.8 constant aperture (even at the long end) would really reduce the need to push ISO

One more thought to share is about choice of lens. I use a Sony 70-400G as my long zoom, and can't speak highly enough about this lens - if you're open to buying 2nd-hand you may be lucky enough to find one at a good price. If you prefer to buy new, my personal opinion (and this is based only on looking at comparative photos rather than 1st-hand experience so take it with a big pinch of salt) is that sharpness on the Tamron 200-500 is generally better at the long end than the Sigma 150-500. Have a look through some of the previous weekly wildlife threads...there are good examples of images taken with both lenses

 Neeyon's gear list:Neeyon's gear list
Canon PowerShot S100 Sony SLT-A55 Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro Sony DT 50mm F1.8 SAM +1 more
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