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Painted bunting123

Looking to upgrade my camera

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Hello! 

I've spent the past 2 and a half years shooting with a point and shoot, and I was looking to upgrade a bit.  I've been shooting on a Panasonic DMC FZ-200, and there are things I like and things I don't like about it.

I've really liked the long zoom. It goes up to 600mm, which is really great for far away birds.  I've also enjoyed the 'manual focus'  which isn't actually fully manual. Essentially it just sets the focus point to the center of the photos, and then Auto focuses there. It's nice for getting little birds among many twigs because you put the bird in the middle, hit the button, move the bird out of the center but keep the focus the same and take the photo. It's really quick, which is good with the little flirty ones.   It's really light, lighter than my binoculars, which is cool, and it zooms about the same as them as well, but you can crop it in farther. Also, you can set the minimum shutter speed, a must for the little ones, and I've been shooting in burst, which is great for BIF. I've gotten some nice (by my standards) photos shooting at ISO 200 and not cropping too far, like this one, although it was actually taken at ISO 400 because I was not expecting the sun to come out!

30359378094_a60c6a4780_b.jpgPacific Wren by Painted bunting123, on Flickr

As for things I don't like, the quality is usually only ok. Get an ISO higher than 400 and it gets really notably grainy, and photos shot in 1600 and higher are basically useless photos. Also, if you want to set the ISO manually, you can only do 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. Auto ISO doesn't work for the little guys though, it's always too low. Cropping only accentuates the graininess, which is rather annoying. It also does horrible in low light situations, and since the winter here is essentially one big low light situation, it's pretty hard to get good photos. Also, the photos could be a lot sharper. 

You can kinda see what I'm talking about with the graininess, to be fair, this was a dark day and he was back lit

25356604075_0e91777eb1_b.jpgMerlin doc shot by Painted bunting123, on Flickr

 

My mom suggested trying a M4/3 camera, because it wouldn't be that much heavier but the quality would be a lot better. We rented a Panasonic GX7 with a 100-300mm lense, and after a bit of messing around I found that the image quality is WAY better, and shots in 1600 ISO look like 200 ISO in my camera. Cons are the fact that you can't set a minimum shutter speed without loosing the ability to have manual ISO. I'm still getting used to the front heavy weight, and it was really windy so most of my photos had a little of blurriness, and I was shooting ducks, not even the little guys. Also, the manual focus is a lot more manual then the one I was using, and I'm sure after getting used to it I'd be able to do it quickly, but right now it takes me a super long time to run the focus ring until it's just right. And Auto Focus is just luck on weather it'll pick the bird or not. 

 

So essentially I was wondering, because I have no clue what I am doing, if there would be a camera out there that was relatively cheap, light, and could do a better job then my little one. 

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lonestranger    2662

There are many websites that have buying guides to help people decide what gear to buy, here's three that may or may not help. While these websites won't tell you specific cameras, they may help you better understand what you're shopping for. If nothing else, be sure to read "The Big Idea" towards the bottom of the first website, that is where the most valuable lesson on buying camera gear is. Hopefully you'll find the rest of the information helpful too. :)

http://photographyconcentrate.com/camera-buying-guide/

http://www.techradar.com/news/photography-video-capture/cameras/what-camera-should-i-buy-our-step-by-step-guide-helps-you-choose-1300667

https://www.cnet.com/topics/cameras/buying-guide/

Edited by lonestranger
Added a third link

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asque2000    933

So there's a lot going on here. First, if you want the best in photo quality you're going to want a DSLR. It all comes down to sensor size, and the bridge cameras have really tiny sensors thus will be limited in overall image quality. If you're just trying to document and/or get an IDable photo they will work well. The Canon SX50 generally gets pretty good reviews (I've heard pros use them as backup sometimes)  and the Nikon P900 (I used one for about 6 months) has incredible with it's 2000mm equivalent zoom, but in low light or at the extreme focal length etc. both cameras will struggle and the photos will turn out like your Merlin shot. 

The mirrorless cameras like you tried have some benefits too. They're light, they often have a CRAZY fps, and I think in the future they may overtake DSLRs, but currently, they still have small sensors (the GX7 is a four thirds sensor I believe) so no matter how you cut it, they will not produce the best image quality. 

So the best option to produce the best photos would be to go the DSLR route. The downside being that they are not going to be as compact or light. Some of the entry level DSLRs are pretty small (like the Nikon D3400) and they usually have pretty decent quality for their price point, but you're limited by the number of focus points, how fast the processor is, other small features. Another downside is that a camera body is only a piece of the puzzle. You would also want to invest in a quality lens as a crappy lens makes a camera body useless. 

So use the links in lonestranger's post above do a little research, and when you think you've found one that seems good for you, be sure to try it out before you buy it. Good luck and keep us posted on your thoughts or decisions 

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Thank you both!!!!! A lot!!!!!

Messing around with the rental camera showed me two things

1. There was a lot about my current camera that I didn't know

2. I needed to mess around with more cameras.

so for now at least I'll stick with mine, but I foresee getting, or a least trying, a new one in the near future. The thing I forgot to say is that my camera has been dropped, gotten soaking wet, and taken way more photos then it's supposed to before giving out, so I'm guessing it's on it's last legs. That's a bit of a motivator for getting a new one.

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