Long(?) Overdue Bridge Camera Upgrade Advice

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rock_hound New Member • Posts: 5
Long(?) Overdue Bridge Camera Upgrade Advice

Decently-long time reader, but first time poster looking for some advice. I have come to the sad conclusion that it is probably about time (if not overdue) for an upgrade.

I have relied on my Kodak Z712 IS most on hiking/camping trips for landscapes and wildlife over the past decade, so I have been quite content to use bridge/SLR-like cameras for the portability although I know I am losing quite a lot in the IQ department. With smart phone cameras outright starting to nearly outpace my old camera's IQ capabilities (save for the zoom) in recent years it has begun to feel a bit redundant when I bring it along on trips.

For my next camera, I'm trying to keep the price tag to ~$550 if I can. I care primarily about IQ and portability, with significant less concern regarding video & sharing capabilities. I do see rocket launches often, and I would like to try to see if I could capture pictures of them. The cameras that I have currently looked into are: 1.) Pan. FZ300, 2.) Pan. FZ80, 3.) Nikon Coolpix P610, 4.) Fujifilm Finepix S1, 5.) Olympus Stylus 1, and 6.) Canon SX50. Obviously this list is too long; I know the FZ1000 and Coolpix B700 could also work if they were used versions.

While I've been reading over the numerous online comparison tools, it would be great to hear suggestions from people who may have experience with the models. My current thoughts are:

1.) The Olympus Stylus 1 has great IQ, but a narrow view and short zoom. Could a good teleconverter possibly bring it up to par with other models without losing its quality?

2.) Would the P610 be a reliable replacement for the B700 as I typically don't need high quality videos?

3.) It sounds like the Fujifilm Finepix 1S has slightly better outputs than the SX50 outside of the macro range (I know that will be controversial or maybe just wrong) and I feel like its rugged design puts it a slight step over the FZ80.

4.) Within my budget, I could afford either the FZ300 or the FZ1000, and it sounds like they have great quality. Would a 16x-24x zoom, reach far enough for wildlife shots? I get the impression the answer is yes, and that greater zooms are more for birding-type hobbies. However, I do live in a unique area within driving distances of rocket launches so perhaps that should be treated as mechanical birding?

With that in mind, I'm leaning towards the Finepix 1S, FZ300, or the P610. Does one of these drastically stand out over the others? It would be greatly appreciated if anyone had differing thoughts on the models or could correct any misconceptions that are apparent. Thanks for any advice!

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