SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera

Started 7 months ago | Questions
Verulanium
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SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
7 months ago

Hi,

I have an A65 and my longest lens is a Minolta 100-300 or a manual focus 500mm mirror lens.

I am looking at getting a longer AF lens for bird/animal pictures etc. I am on a limited budget so would be looking at something like a Sigma 150-500.

Just wondering if I would get better results with a Bridge camera with a 1000mm+ lens, a Fuji HS50 or Sony HX300 etc.

Anyone with practical experience of similar systems?

Thanks

Tim

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Anderton
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

Verulanium wrote:

Hi,

I have an A65 and my longest lens is a Minolta 100-300 or a manual focus 500mm mirror lens.

I am looking at getting a longer AF lens for bird/animal pictures etc. I am on a limited budget so would be looking at something like a Sigma 150-500.

Just wondering if I would get better results with a Bridge camera with a 1000mm+ lens, a Fuji HS50 or Sony HX300 etc.

Anyone with practical experience of similar systems?

Thanks

Tim

Hi Tim,

Bridge cameras have come a long way in the last couple of years in adding PASM modes and +1000mm focal range.

You can use the Clear Image zoom or Photoshop to extend the zoom further with a slight loss of image quality, though less if you would use digital zoom.

The Sony a65 will have a slight edge in image quality due to sensor size.

Good luck!

Anderton

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Chimere
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SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

Have been pondering the same question: the HS50EXR shows very good picture quality, has good close-up performance, and besides being a valuable long distance option, it would be a good back-up camera, and a travel light companion.

Visit the Fuji forum to get some specific feed back. Besides being a Sony fan, I would / will prefer the Fuji option as I like the manual control of the zoom.

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Neeyon
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

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

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Dodge_Rock
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

Verulanium wrote:

Hi,

I have an A65 and my longest lens is a Minolta 100-300 or a manual focus 500mm mirror lens.

I am looking at getting a longer AF lens for bird/animal pictures etc. I am on a limited budget so would be looking at something like a Sigma 150-500.

Just wondering if I would get better results with a Bridge camera with a 1000mm+ lens, a Fuji HS50 or Sony HX300 etc.

Anyone with practical experience of similar systems?

Thanks

Tim

I have the HX300 & just recently purchased the A58 and use Sony 55-300 lens. Normally, the A58 produces higher quality jpeg images, but not always.  If by better results, you mean higher image quality(pro level), I think the Sigma 150-500 would be better, but I haven't used that lens so cannot definitely answer your question.  I think most high zoom cameras of similar sensor size produce images of about the same quality, but might give the edge to the Panny FZ200(24x) due to the constant 2.8 aperture and RAW availablity(HX300 is jpeg only).

I can tell you that you'll be frustrated at first over how slow bridge cameras function compared to SLT's.  Bridge cameras advantages are size, focal length range, cost and video capabilities.

Best of luck with your decision.  If you want, browse some of my images on Flickr. They'll give you an idea of the image quality, but probably won't help you make up your mind. I bought the A58/lens off ebay, but it was a tough search/wait to find equipment at a low price and you take a risk buying used stuff.

Hope this helps.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dodge_rock/

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

With bridge camera, you may be able to get the reach, small package and for a fractionof the cost but you will not get matching IQ much less better. And IQ will also include optical compromises of a "highly versatile" lens that tries to do it all. In fact, even with the same camera body (A55 in my case), my travel zoom Sigma 18-250 HSM OS has slightly greater reach but doesn't come anywhere close to Minolta 200/2.8G APO HS.

Remember, the farther you go, the more you may end up relying on higher ISO too which may be okay in very good light conditions but anything less and you may be out of luck.

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TAGRIFFIN
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

Hi

I have the Fuji HS50EXR and Sony A57 with Sony 18-250. I may Kijiji the Fuji as I believe the Sony gives better results even with the optical and digital zoom engaged. Still using one lens and the Sony isn't that much bigger, really.

Thanks.

Tim

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NPPhoto
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Short answer? No...
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

If you plan on any kind of action or moving shots, a bridge camera is not for you. If you plan on shooting moving cars, BIFs or any similar subjects with a bridge camera, there is a lot of frustration in your future.

I have extensively used the A65 and currently own the SX50 and I can tell you first hand, you will be frustrated. Yes bridge cams have come a long way but they still have tiny sensors and are limited in their AF abilities to track, etc.

I had purchased a cheap Sigma 170-500mm APO lens and even that lens being very slow, I still got some good shots with it. The ones below are all shot with the Sigma 170-500mm and the A65.

The SX50 is good for still subjects and the reach is handy but it or any bridge camera cannot do what the A65 can. Someone might post a picture or two of action shots but those would be at a very low keeper ratio.

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Nick P

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seilerbird666
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

I have used both types of systems and I doubt you would be happy with the bridge camera. I know I sure wasn't. I wanted to be happy but the IQ just isn't there on a bridge camera. Not to mention the shutter lag is horrendous on a bridge camera, so what you see is not what you get.

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Atgard
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to seilerbird666, 7 months ago

I agree… probably the single biggest factor in upgrading from a compact to a DSLR was the responsiveness/quick PDAF. I got frustrated with how slow the point & shoot was, where I'd miss any kind of action shot or quick candid moment like a smile or cute expression on a kid. I distinctly remember a situation years ago with dolphins jumping out of the water, and I couldn't get the shot because once  they breached the surface, by the time the camera could focus and shoot, they had disappeared underwater again.

And that wasn't even TRYING to get birds in flight, where quick focus and responsiveness is even more important!

Certainly the lower cost, smaller size, etc. is a great benefit, and for many types of shots those cameras may do OK. But we all know that in challenging situations is when you need a DSLR … and BIF is one of the more challenging ones.

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Kurt W
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

I have the Panasonic fz200 and its my daily camera why it does have a great IQ it doesn't match my a77. Its 600mm but i find it very close to the same reach as my 70 to 400 g. Its my daily camera I always keep with me for the just encase. I got my mom the sx50 why it has a really long zoom i didn't care for it at all. maybe it just takes getting use to it and how it performs but the viewfinder is crap and often shooting in manual is difficult at best. There are some images in my gallery that you can look at and compare. But i love my fz and it will always be in my bag

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Verulanium
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

Hi,

I would like to thank everyone for their considered and helpful replies.

Guess the consensus is don't get a bridge camera. I will probably look around for a second hand Tamron 200-500 as I don't think I can stretch to a 70-400G.

Thanks

Tim

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Anderton
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

Verulanium wrote:

Hi,

I would like to thank everyone for their considered and helpful replies.

Guess the consensus is don't get a bridge camera. I will probably look around for a second hand Tamron 200-500 as I don't think I can stretch to a 70-400G.

Thanks

Tim

Take a look at the Panasonic DMC-FZ200, except for the relatively small sensor and price tag, it is a lot of camera for what it can do though the focal length tapers out at 600mm.

http://500px.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&page=1&q=DMC-FZ200&type=photos&media_type=any&category=Animals&order=votes&license_type=-1

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Verulanium
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Anderton, 7 months ago

Hi,

I looked at the pics and they are very good.

I did a few comparisons myself with my A65 + 100-300, 500mm mirror and my WX300.

My simplistic conclusions are:

The WX300 is a very good camera for the size and price. The IQ does not match the 100-300 but is not bad. surprisingly at 500mm the size is roughly the same as the A65+300. The digital zoom degrades the image too much to be very usable.

The 500mm mirror lens is somewhat in-between (though bigger). So a better bridge camera like the one you suggested may be a good compromise between IQ and price/convenience.

I am going to have a good look at the second hand lens market and see if any bargains are out there, if not I may revert to the bridge camera option, I have a feeling I would be more likely to have it with me anyway.

Tim

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Anderton
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

Verulanium wrote:

Hi,

I looked at the pics and they are very good.

I did a few comparisons myself with my A65 + 100-300, 500mm mirror and my WX300.

My simplistic conclusions are:

The WX300 is a very good camera for the size and price. The IQ does not match the 100-300 but is not bad. surprisingly at 500mm the size is roughly the same as the A65+300. The digital zoom degrades the image too much to be very usable.

The 500mm mirror lens is somewhat in-between (though bigger). So a better bridge camera like the one you suggested may be a good compromise between IQ and price/convenience.

I am going to have a good look at the second hand lens market and see if any bargains are out there, if not I may revert to the bridge camera option, I have a feeling I would be more likely to have it with me anyway.

Tim

That is a good point. One thing I do like about the a55/a65 is the relatively small size that is competitive with other 4/3rds and smaller APS-C cameras, but as soon as you add a telephoto, such as the 300mm, that goes out the window.

It is amazing how far bridge cameras have come recently. Just check out the little things such as battery life. Bridge cameras may need a few spares handy/

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Michael Fritzen
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

Hi,

you pretty much summed it up already. The main question is what results you are after and under what circumstances you'd likely want to get the shots.

For occasional use, under good lighting conditions (not inside dark forests for example), essentially static subject and finally, if you're not that picky about noise, detail rendition then one of those modern bridge cameras with their extreme zoom range may provide you with a pretty satisfying solution.

If you're aiming however at the highest IQ levels and trickiest shooting conditions then your bar may rise almost as much as you want, being the mark of 20,000$ for one of the top bodies + long/fast tele prime + tripod + head a aproximated reference. So inbetween the range of some hundert bucks up to that stratospheric values everything is possible and only you and your needs decide.

From a practical POV for example, a substitution of your MF 500mm reflex by an AF version from Minolta or Sony may represent already a substancial upgrade. A relatively low cost, low weight and low bulk solution. A zoom may provide more flexibility - but I'd say they are mostly used at their long end.

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Michael Fritzen

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Aberaeron
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Michael Fritzen, 7 months ago

The image quality of better bridge cameras is very acceptable unless the light is very poor while at the long end of the zoom. Sure it isn't as technically good as a very bright and very expensive and large zoom on a APS-C or full frame camera, but for the most part the atmosphere and light will be the limiting factors for all at various levels. The good operator adapts to get the best from the available tool.

I have a bridge super-zoom [800 equivalent] and an A57 with 300mm zoom [450 equivalent] and a M4/3 camera with a 280 equivalent zoom. All also have digital zooms that double their focal length equivalent when appropriate. None of these will satisfy the zealots but all can produce very good quality photos that are perfectly acceptable to 99% of the population who are not pixel-peepers but who appreciate a good image for its own sake.

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Aberaeron, 7 months ago

Ultimately, a super zoom camera is about compromising IQ for that extra reach without the size/weight and cost. Prioritizing what one needs more, is ultimately the determining factor for a purchase. For seven years since getting my Sony F828 in 2003, I was fine with its bright (f/2-2.8) 28-200mm (FF equivalent) lens. And since getting back into the ILC mode (with A55 and also NEX-3), I have found wider angles and all around performance especially under adverse conditions to be far more useful than telephoto reach. In fact, my longest lens is my travel zoom on either cameras: Sigma 18-250 HSM OS. I also have Sony 55-210 OSS to go on NEX (plus a 1.7x Sony teleconversion lens), Minolta 70-210 f/4 (the beer can) and Minolta 200mm f/2.8 G APO HS (a lens I LOVE on either camera).

I briefly had an excellent, relatively small and light (but noisy and slow AF) Cosina 60-300, and a 2X TC, but sold both from non-use.

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Aberaeron
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Verulanium, 7 months ago

A bridge camera should be viewed as being a bulkier version of an advanced compact super-zoom, with which it shares sensor size and similar zoom range and features in most cases. Examples are the Panasonic TZ series or the Sony HX. Personally I like both formats for different reasons but sometimes there is no substitute for just carrying a camera in one's pocket. Bridge cameras can be just as light but they will seldom be pocketable.

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Aberaeron
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Re: SLR+ long lens v Bridge camera
In reply to Aberaeron, 7 months ago

I mean the sony HX20 or HX9V range of compacts.

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