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My crotchety old opinion – wildlife photography for the rest of us

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Jock Elliott, Jul 5, 2015.

  1. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    I have this crackpot theory that I call “wildlife photography for the rest of us.”

    Conventional wisdom says that if you want to photograph wildlife, you need an APS-C or full frame DSLR and a long lens or you need a mirrorless camera and a long lens. We’ll get back to that thought in just a moment.

    Since my purchase of “The two-camera solution” – a Panasonic FZ200 (my long range camera) and a Panasonic LX100 (my see-in-the-dark camera) – I have thankfully not been plagued by gear acquisition syndrome (GAS).

    I like to shoot at the margins of the day. The light is just gorgeous at dawn or dusk, so a fast lens is very handy, and a zoom lens is very helpful for framing subjects at distance when it is impossible to “zoom with your feet.” On my way to purchasing the two camera solution, I tested a number of DSLR and mirrorless cameras in combo with long lenses, and I also like to keep my eye on what’s new, just in case there is something out there that might potentially meet my needs better.

    It seems to me that right now, wildlife photographers with interchangeable lens cameras are faced with choosing a fast (f/2.8 or f/4) fixed focal length telephoto lens or a zoom lens that winds up at f/6.something at the long end. DP review recently published a superzoom shoot-out. Some offer astonishing reach, but all wind up with f/6.X at the long end.

    There are two exceptions to this. The Panasonic FZ200 offers f/2.8 throughout the zoom range and can deliver up to 1200mm (e) if you are happy with the IQ at full optical and digital zoom. The FZ1000 doesn’t offer quite as much reach, but has a much bigger sensor and offers f/4 at the long end. Currently the FZ200 is under $400 in America, and the FZ1000 is well under $800.

    Since I already own the FZ200, I am not tempted by the FZ1000, but either offers an interesting choice if you want to do wildlife photography for your own enjoyment and don’t want the limitations of the current crop of ILC long lenses.

    If I have missed something along the way, I would be glad to hear of it.

    Cheers, Jock
     
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  2. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    right behind you, Jock! I've been seeing some wonderful shots from the LX100 which would potentially cover something like 75% of all the photography I do, and I have been considering the FZ1000 as its companion. I still have my FZ100 but may let that go at some point.
     
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  3. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    Today's superzooms offer probably the best value we've ever seen in digital photography. But for realism's sake, take a look at the actual focal length compared to the "135 equivalent" focal length, and then to get from the former to the latter, shrink the sensor size accordingly.

    In spite of that, modern sensors are closing the quality gap.
     
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  4. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Especially if you never print. Mind you, in 2007 I printed a shot I had taken of a container ship which ended up aground on one of the local beaches, and it did very well on both A4 and A3 size. And that was only 3.2Mp and a 1/2.5 sensor! The only issue was the print quality... I had a fairly ratty old HP inkjet and the colour faded almost away within 5 years. I believe the A3 (printshop) is still in my old office, adorning the wall.
     
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  5. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    I subscribe to the 2-camera solution having given up on the 'arms race' of interchangeable body/lens.

    I don't have your reach Jock but am still enjoying my RX10 + RX100 pairing which minimizes my PS clumsiness.
     
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  6. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    Bill,

    Murphy's Law says that the most extraordinary event of our century will happen while a photographer is attempting to change lenses.

    I've seen news photographers who get around this by carrying two camera bodies, one with a wide angle zoom and another with a telephoto zoom. So they are going with the two camera solution as well.

    Cheers, Jock
     
  7. Kin Lau

    Kin Lau SC Regular

    57
    Oct 23, 2012
    I have both the FZ200 and FZ1000. The FZ200 is a great little camera for sure, it's half the size and weight of the FZ1000.

    The biggest advantage I find for the FZ1000, is that it's fast, much faster than the FZ200.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  8. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I get into a bit of a tizzy about "fast" because my Nikon 1 gear is faster than anything else I have had. I keep thinking I'll sell it, and then I remember that. Sighh.
     
  9. Jock Elliott

    Jock Elliott SC All-Pro

    Jan 3, 2012
    Troy, NY
    That is extremely useful information. Faster in what way(s)? Is the autofocus faster? What are your impressions of their comparative reach?

    Cheers, Jock
     
  10. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    My friend has the 18 on her V2. The AF is stupidly fast.
     
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  11. Kin Lau

    Kin Lau SC Regular

    57
    Oct 23, 2012
    AF, shot to shot, handling, it handles like a dslr.
     
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  12. Djarum

    Djarum SC All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Jason
    Just to play devils advocate here...

    If I'm using the FZ200 camera at base ISO and f2.8 and I'm using an mFT ILC with a lens that is 3 stops slower.....on average the SNR of the ILC 3 ISO bumps higher and dynamic range are almost identical to the base ISO of the FZ200.

    The 1/2.3" sensor of the FZ200 is about 3 stops worse than the 16mp mFT sony sensor used on many ILCs in terms of SNR and in dynamic range.


    In saying that, the FZ1000 would in many respects beats a mFT ILC, especially at the long end, even though its at f4.
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
  13. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    Dear Panasonic:

    Please make an FZ1000 with weather resistance. I promise I'll buy one.

    Love and Kisses,
    Steve

    P.S. Until then, I'll have to get by with my E-M5 with the 14-150 with WR.
     
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  14. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
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  15. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    I am interested in the FZ300, I expect I will get one to replace my aging FZ100 which just isnt up to snuff these days. However, I lashed out this morning and bought a Nikon P610. I was tossing up about the P900, theres a lot to recommend it except for its size. Its bigger than my K5 with a lens and just about the same weight (with lens).

    So the P610 has 24-1440 (equ) and for a little sensor its really not bad. Here's the first ... I discovered a nesting black swan the other day and failed to get a decent shot with the FZ100, hence the sudden *MUST have* longer lens.

    The following review helped my decision a LOT
    http://camerareviewsbysumit.blogspot.in/2015/05/nikon-coolpix-p610-review-camera-worthy.html

    image.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2015
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  16. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    It's doing a nice job Sue.
     
  17. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Thanks, Bill. I was fairly pleased with the end result. Of course this is not sooc, I don't do that, but the shots it produces are good enough to cope with a little post processing and look decent. Its likely it will ultimately be exclusively for birding, but I'll be seeing what else it can do as time wears on and before I wear out!!
     
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  18. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    I guess you missed the Canon g3x, one lens (25x) camera solution:) It is not cheap, but has the 1" sensor with 25-600mm lens. I see that Canon pricing in Jp is much cheaper as the camera comes with free evf. Canon is moist/dust proof, but evf is external, so it beats the purpose esp at long range... A few reviews:
    http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/canon_powershot_g3_x_review/
    http://translate.google.com.au/tran...2015/07/16/recensione-canon-g3-x/&prev=search
    http://translate.google.com.au/translate?hl=en&sl=sv&tl=en&u=http://www.cyberphoto.se/info.php?article=g3x&sandbox=1
    http://translate.google.com.au/tran.../29/canon-g3-x-teszt-baranyborbe-bujt-farkas/
    I also read the rumor that Fuji is also bringing a 1" sensor camera...
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2015
  19. davidzvi

    davidzvi SC Regular

    180
    Apr 18, 2014
    David
    My biggest question about these superzooms is at what point are tripods a must?
     
  20. Biro

    Biro SC All-Pro

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Steve
    I think the God's honest truth is the answer is different for each photographer. Part of it has to do with how steady the camera operator's hand is and the other part of the equation has to do with one's personal image standards and expectations. But I've been shocked at what the latest Nikon and Panasonic superzooms (both bridge and travel versions) can do. In the past I would have put the limit at 600-700mm. Not anymore.