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Micro Four-Thirds With 600mm Vs. Superzoom With 1200mm

Discussion in 'Photography Techniques' started by Biro, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Inspired by many of the images posted by my fellow Serious Compacts members, I've been threatening to turn my attention to wildlife photography. Now, I don't think anything like a Sigma 150-500mm lens on one of my Pentax DSLRs is going to be a practical solution for me - in terms of both price or ergonomics. But I do have my Olympus E-M5 and the Panasonic 100-300mm zoom (600mm equivalent at the long end). So here's my question: Based on your experiences, is it better to go with this set up for things like birding (and other skiddish animals) and cropping my images... or opting for one of the better superzoom bridge cameras, be it an Olympus SP-100 (1200mm equivalent at the long end) or something like a Fuji HS50, and not cropping? Did I mention that I can get a refurbed SP-100 for under $300 during Oly's current sale along with an extra discount coupon that I have?
     
  2. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen SC Regular

    110
    Jan 10, 2014
    If I were REALLY serious about birds and wildlife, I'd get a Nikon V2, and the 30-110mm and 70-300mm native lenses. The first lens is equivalent to 80-290, and can be bought for around $100-125. The second lens is brand new, and costs $1000 and is getting really good reviews. The V2 seems finally to be getting discounted, and can now be gotten for around $400 for the body in mint used condition, or for under $500 CDN, shipped to the U.S.
     
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  3. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    Do you want to "hand hold" the camera most of the time?

    what's your budget?

    The bigger the sensor the better

    All you are really getting with a smaller sensor is a "digital" crop ….pixels on the image is important plus good glass

    primes are better than zooms …. the IQ of some zooms at the "long" end is not good

    quality glass is needed and it is not cheap …….

    for Birds, the starter for me would be the AFS Nikon 300mm f4 plus Nikon TC14Ell on a DX body, plus a Manfrotto 393 and good used Gitzo tripod

    Super zooms are OK for ID if that is what you need
     
  4. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Virtually all of the time with only a few exceptions. I already own my micro four-thirds so there'd be zero expense. A good superzoom can be had for about $300 U.S. I'm open to suggestions but $1000 expenses are out. That's the price of a Sigma 150-500 for APS-C and Nikon's new 70-300 for the One series.
     
  5. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    Hi Steve,

    Unless you are taking "captive birds" you can never get near enough

    Hand held, you probably need VR ……….light is v important, so high ISO quality needs to be considered …….. consider the settings in the body that you buy ……. I find spot focusing and spot metering are good for small birds.

    I think that Barrie uses a super zoom …. have a look on the "birds" thread at some of his images

    I have never had much success with super zooms ……. and even with an AFS Nikon 300mm f4 stuck on the end of a Nikon V1 I do not get many "small" bird keepers - it is great for Dragonflies and the like …… but not, IMHO, for small birds
     
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  6. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Steve, my 2 cents is that up to and around that 600mm mark, the m43 cam are appreciably better (maybe considerably better depending on your level of pixel peepery). Of course, if you need longer and are going to start cropping, the superzoom will start to close the gap, but not eliminate it.

    You may want to consider if you'd prefer to have a separate camera (the superzoom) that sits in your bag ready to go at a moment's notice or if you'd prefer to carry fewer bodies and have the option to switch out your lens when you need the reach. The superzooms of today are good enough compromises and the IQ is good enough for most photography (except when the light isn't there......above ISO1600 is still nothing I would use on the small sensor cameras). Having said that though, I opened a package yesterday that arrived at my house and using all my might I lifted out the mint, used Sigma 50-500 in Pentax mount. My first test shots this morning have my Fuji HS50EXR nervous. I need to check out the finances to see if the Fuji stays or goes. But I think that more than likely, as much as I enjoyed the results of the Fuji, it may end up in the classifieds. The APS-C IQ is intoxicating..... and I could use the workout as well.

    So, I think it comes down to how you weight IQ vs. versatility. The all-in-one superzoom means travelling light....and that is a treat sometimes. Good luck with your choice.
     
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  7. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin SC Top Veteran

    682
    Nov 15, 2011
    Dublin, Ireland
    considering that everybodys expectations and requirements on photographing wildlife are different... maybe just give the equipment you have a try before investing in new gear?
    You'll miss out on the current Olympus deal, but the next deal will come around in two or three months anyway ;)

    I've got some nice results with the 75-300 in our "backyard" (not much of a yard, more patio... or slab of concrete :) )
    "In the wild" it might be a different story... but I got lucky a few times too... :)
     
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  8. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    Birding - there is no real "inexpensive" way, sorry

    what Luke said is good - the Tamron or Sigma zoom

    but buy used, maybe

    Nikon V1 + FT1 + Nikon 70 300mm f4.5/5.6 VR = 2.7 x 300mm = up to 810mm

    maybe £500 used
     
  9. demiro

    demiro Serious Compacts For Life

    527
    Dec 15, 2011
    Check out this link for what can be done with the Canon SX50: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53772289

    Many outstanding superzoom bird photos are on display at dpreview, among other places. Not saying they are better than a dedicated long lens on an APS-C camera, but they are pretty damn good. They drive me to the conclusion that a superzoom in my bag is way more valuable to me than a bigger, more expensive and less versatile lens. But if birding/wildlife were a priority of mine I'm sure I'd be willing to invest more money to get better and more consistent results.

    As it stands I have a very cheap Nikon P510, that does wildlife in my back yard, macro, goes to the beach (not too worried about ruining a $125 camera), etc.
     
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  10. Garylh

    Garylh SC Veteran

    I have tried bridge cameras w/ super zooms and have never been that happy about the results. Some shots have been fine but others not so. I have not tried the Nikon One V for this yet.. I have thought about it.

    Currently, I have an Olympus em5 w/ a Panasonic 45-200 for this. The Olympus 5 axis stabilization really helps a lot when u zoom out like that. However, as I have gotten older, I can't hold a long lens as well as I used to. I am tempted by going longer, but the reality is that 400 is my hand held limit these days. I also use a Leica 90f2.8 sometimes as well as well as a mirror Nikon 500f8 on a tripod.

    Those shots (front page feature) using the Nikon one and the cx tele zoom do tempt me into getting considering an upgrade..

    Gary
     
  11. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    BillN's done all the research already (with his wallet).
    I bought into m43 in order to have a portable birding kit rather than a huge dslr+long tom that I thought I'd end up always leaving at home.

    However ... what I discovered is that If you are really serious about bird photography and want to do it in the field and get really top notch results ... you have to be prepared to spend the big dough, get the big camera + lenses and carry the big tripod

    If you want those jaw-dropping deadly sharp, frame-filling BIF shots, or anything sharp at a distance at the times birds are most active (remember this is early and late in the day) then you'll need a big fat sensor with lots of pixels, lightning quick focus, very low noise at high ISO (early and late remember) and some long fat fast glass.

    If you don't want more than record shots from the field and the rest from the garden, then a superzoom or m43+zoom is fine, and will often produce excellent results.

    Sorry to sound a wet blanket, but this is one area of photography where the kit really can make the difference.
     
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  12. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Oh god I've just agreed with Bill about something haven't I?
     
  13. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I sense a disturbance in the Force.
     
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  14. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I fear something terrible has happened.
     
  15. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    I was going to comment on this topic in what has now become a rare visit to this forum for me, but Paul has said it all. Serious bird photography is a hobby in itself. My aquisition of an FZ200 was as a means of taking a record shot should I come across a rare bird whilst out otherwise bird watching in the hope that it would act as a back up to my written description. It has limited potential for producing good shots and won't come close to the results obtained by serious bird photographers.

    Barrie
     
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  16. Garylh

    Garylh SC Veteran

    Well said.. It really does get down to intent vs what is acceptable vs how much weight u are will to carry in the field and we all have different requirements.

    Gary
     
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  17. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen SC Regular

    110
    Jan 10, 2014
    I don't really agree. The Nikon 1 V2 or V3, with the Nikon 1 native 70-300mm lens is a good enough rig that many professional Bird and Wildlife photographers are moving to it. Depending upon which of those 2 bodies you're talking about, that's between a $1500 and $2200 investment, for a rig that is no bigger than a Micro 4/3 body with the 100-300mm lens attached to it. But it gets you to 810mm equivalent full frame focal length, and the continuous tracking AF capability is at the level of Professional DSLRs. The low light sensitivity of the sensor is not as good as DSLRs (I'd say about 1.5 EV less capable than the current Micro 4/3, or 2 EV below a good DX sensor DSLR), but that's a small price to pay for the otherwise reasonable size, price, and reach of the rig.

    Unfortunately, these are very specialized cameras, that, for general purpose work, are not at the level that a good Micro 4/3 system is. But for birding, well, that's really what they are made to do. Check out The Smoking Camera's series on Herons in flight, shot with a Nikon 1 70-300 rig on the front page of this forum for an example of the capability of this system.
     
  18. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I think Barrie's comment was in regards to using a superzoom compared to a DSLR. The Nikon 1 system has the reach necessary for birding and the IQ is good enough....if the light is good. Even Joe (The Smoking Camera) has been up front about the limitations of the set-up when the light is not enough. The small sensors just produce noise earlier than the big ones. And the 70-300 lens is great, but at the long end, wide open is f5.6 and to keep your shutter speed up, you need lots of light.

    The Nikon 1 is likely the sweet spot for most when judging the trade-offs of IQ and camera bulk.

    But to the OP, he is considering a superzoom or a lens for the m43 system he already has, so the Nikon is out of the picture.
     
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  19. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    I'll assume m43 and superzoom are the only options. In terms of focus, m43 us the way to go. in terms of resolution, i'm not so sure. if you crop the m43's 600mm equivalent down to 1200mm eq., your 16mp is reduced to 4mp. These 4mp will be sharper than the superzoom at 100%, but will they be sharper than a superzoom downsampled to 4mp? I dont know. As for noise, the same basic principle applies. Assuming a 16mp superzoom, downsampling it to 4mp gives it a 2 stop noise advantage over its normal output at 100%, if my math is correct. Not quite enough to overtake the m43, but much closer than normal. ofcourse if you use the m43 at less than 1200mm equivalent its advantage is maintained to a larger degree.
     
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  20. ivoire

    ivoire SC All-Pro

    Dec 3, 2011
    chicago burbs
    mike
    You might try your longest lens on the em5 with the digital teleconverter turned on to get a feel for it