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Bridge camera help!

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Showing 1-13 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Sep 2013 16:10:20 BDT
Thayet says:

I am a keen but definite beginner in the world of photography, I love taking photos of everything and anything using my current point-and-shoot Panasonic Lumix SZ1. I however would like to upgrade this to a bridge camera, superzoom style (with them being like smaller DSLRs). I don't feel ready to take on a DSLR yet, but want more manual control over my shots.

I would like to be able to take it out and about when on holiday, as well as portrait photography and some macro photography of products (to use on my blog). I am of genuinely limited means and can only really afford to spend around £200 (which is rather a lot of money to me), preferably less to be able to account for case, batteries etc.

Someone suggested the Pentax X5 because of its CMOS sensor, EVF and articulated LCD, but I have noticed it doesn't seem to offer a great deal in manual controls, and is lacking Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes, which somebody else said would be good to look for. My mind is now boggled by these various suggestions and I'm not sure what I should really be prioritising when looking. I have also looked at Fujifilm Finepix S4800 & S6800 and Canon Powershot SX500.

Can anyone suggest any cameras to look at or at least what I should/should not be bothered with? I've seen many different suggestions on different review sites and even after looking at videos on YouTube and a few visits to Curry's to play with the cameras, I am still mighty confused.


In reply to an earlier post on 14 Sep 2013 16:22:30 BDT
You could try looking for a used camera, or even better try Ebay for 'refurbished' cameras. I have had one or two cameras indistinguishable from new this way and at huge savings.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Sep 2013 16:26:29 BDT
Thayet says:
Hi, yes I meant to say I'm happy to buy second hand from a reputable source for the right camera.

Posted on 14 Sep 2013 18:50:54 BDT
I've seen some excellent pics taken with Fujifilm FinePix S100FS. (see Flickr)

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Sep 2013 19:48:41 BDT
Thayet says:
Thank you! I will check it out!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Sep 2013 20:35:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Sep 2013 20:37:42 BDT
T.J.Byford says:
Panasonic should also be on your shopping list. They've been in the superzoom business more or less since the inception of this category of bridge camera.

The latest models will be out of your imposed spending limit, even used, but you should find some bargains in their earlier models. I've owned several, starting with an FZ7, then the 8, the FZ38 in 2010, and last year I bought the FZ200. So you may gather that I rather like them. Many of the more recent models may stretch past your £200, but in my opinion you could do worse than look at the FZ38 as this will be available comfortably within your budget. I'd suggest around £125 for a very good one. I'd avoid the FZ45 as this has a 14meg sensor which is not as good as that in the smaller, 12 meg, sensor of the FZ38. This has full P,A,S,M and a full auto mode if you want to be lazy and simply let the camera do the hard work. Otherwise it will be as responsive to your needs as you require. Optical quality is good as is image stabilisation which is a must for super zooms. To give a balanced view, despite my being a Panasonic fan, the sensors do have slightly more noise than some of the competition at the higher ISO settings, but for general use you shouldn't find this a problem unless you are always shooting in low light levels.

The FZ38 does have a slightly smaller zoom range, 18X, but this should be more than enough for your purposes. Generic batteries are available cheaply. Check out the reviews on Amazon, and it may just sway you. But don't restrict yourself to Panasonic, Canon do some good super zoom bridge cameras as well. It could all boil down to which you prefer in your hand, or one may have a particular feature you want that another brand doesn't.

If you haven't come across it, dpreview, is a good review site where you can see how different cameras and brands perform and you can do a comparison with up to 4 cameras at one time. I would suggest, though, that whilst it is useful to see how a camera performs at the pixel level, these comparisons are more technical than we often need as it is unlikely you'd ever print out an image at 100%.

Posted on 16 Sep 2013 16:29:39 BDT
Thayet says:
Thanks for the advice folks, have been having a little look at the Nikon D3100, any thoughts?

Posted on 16 Sep 2013 18:06:04 BDT
T.J.Byford says:
Well, it's not a bridge camera nor will you find it within your set budget.

Perhaps it would be better not wasting people's time in suggesting options for a specific type of camera and then asking about one that you discounted in your original post.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Sep 2013 18:39:12 BDT
Thayet says:
Yes I had noticed, and actually a used one (as I said I would happily buy second hand) is within my budget.

I completely appreciate all the advice given, on several forums, but so far I've mainly encountered criticism for not wanting a DSLR. I have actually listed all the cameras suggested to me and am working my way through the list in order to find the best 'fit' for me.

I thought I would ask this on here as you guys seemed to be the most helpful I've encountered, actually offering advice rather than criticism. I'm sorry you feel like it was a waste of your time; I was under the impression that this was a safe place to ask for advice.

I ask about this (despite discounting it in my original post) because of it's entry level status and the guide mode. It has been pointed out to me that if I get a bridge camera now, I might want to upgrade to a DSLR pretty sharpish whereas even an entry level DSLR will provide much better results than a bridge from the get go. You seem to know what you're talking about and I thought you might be able to offer your own 'two pence worth' on whether it was a good idea or better to stick to looking at bridge cameras.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Sep 2013 23:38:43 BDT
I suppose it comes down to your expectations for your photography. A bridge camera will have a long zoom lens and a small sensor; a dSLR will have a large sensor and a zoom of about 3:1 as standard. Personally I find the 17mm to 50mm lens on my dSLR to be fine for the vast majority of my pics but maybe you want to take lots of long range shots? Are you prepared to stump up for the inevitable extra lenses you will doubtless want? Do you want image quality above all else? Or convenience/range? What stage are you at as a photographer? Do you find your phone is adequate for most shots?
The dSLR will be a lot bigger and heavier than most bridge cameras. Had you considered a compromise - like a s/h 4/3s or a s/h Nex? Maybe worth looking at a Nikon V? Basically i think TJ's point is that a fairly specific request has now become more or less totally open ended. Only you can decide the general format you want - there is no absolute advice on whether a bridge is better for YOU than a dSLR or vice versa. I have a dSLR but also a carry around Panasonic LX5.

Posted on 16 Sep 2013 23:51:49 BDT
Thayet says:
I just want to learn more about using manual settings to get desired effect and get better photos than from my point and shoot which is generally pretty decent but not fantastic by all means. I want to be able to get some depth of field as well. My phone camera is pretty shoddy considering, and awful in anything but bright sunlight, though I think this is largely software based. I've had so many people telling me to ignore bridge cameras and to go to a DSLR instead that I don't know what to think anymore. I'm not overly fussed on the zoom, it's not the most important aspect, I do however like the range without having to buy more lenses. I've never owned anything more technical than a point and shoot so that's pretty much where I'm at with my photography.

Posted on 18 Sep 2013 00:06:37 BDT
Zelazowa says:
I think it'd be best to do it the old fashioned way... go to some camera shops and try some cameras... it'll really help you make up your mind and there'll be some surprises!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Sep 2013 00:15:45 BDT
T.J.Byford says:
Hi, Z,

I think in this case this is the only way forward, otherwise Thayet could end up with something he didn't really want because others told him what he needed. We've been there and done it. :-) And as Dr. A said, only he can decide what is best for him.
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Total posts:  13
Initial post:  14 Sep 2013
Latest post:  18 Sep 2013

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