Bridge Cameras


Link Posted 12/02/2014 - 18:33
My main photographic subjects are wildlife especially birds and have a RSPB reserve close by and I am a member of my local bird club.Whilst checking the clubs website there was a post by a bloke who had taken a few photo`s with his new Panasonic FZ200 and I have to say they were very good and very sharp.He said it had a 25 to 600mm equivalent focal length lens that stays at f2.8 all the way up to 600mm. He also said,and I have heard the same,that a lot of hardened DSLR users are now carrying a bridge camera around the reserve, so I thought I would come on here and ask what other people feel about bridge cameras and what are the major things that a DSLR has over a bridge.



Link Posted 12/02/2014 - 18:56
I have one, but I am not allowed to tell you what I have


Link Posted 12/02/2014 - 19:04
I've come from an early Panasonic Bridge camera for birding and wildlife. It was a great introduction and they are miles better now. The one you mention is right up there but there are others that are pretty good with even more reach but you would need a tripod which straightaway negates one advantage. Without going into too many details here is a summary of what I think the advantages and disadvantages are (For wildlife ):-
1.Light and easy to carry, no need to carry or change lenses.
2.AF pretty fast and snappy
3.Can give very sharp images and excellent results (See disadvantages as well)
4.Much cheaper and orders of magnitude cheaper for extreme long telephoto.
5.Quiet in operation
6. Great for macro and video
7. Possibly easier to get steady shots hand held with shake reduction because camera is lighter
8. F2.8 throughout range - what can I say!

1. Not as good Bokeh and DOF is high so difficult to get uncluttered background
2. Noise levels are high and will get noticable on cropping
3. Requires good light to keep ISO low to minimise above.
4. Will rarely give the ultra high quality appearance of a DSLR shot due to much smaller sensor size which is responsible for much of above
5. I gather EVF's are much improved but doubt they can match the super optical view of a modern DSLR.

For sheer class the DSLR will win but if I were starting out I would still start with a Bridge camera because the outlay is so relatively low and you will be very happy till you have exhausted all possibilities. In fact I am very likely to get a new Bridge camera for the times where, as I get older, I can't carry all my K3 gear around.


Link Posted 12/02/2014 - 19:39
I carry a Pentax X5 in my works kit bag. Very light and not bad on the batteries. Good image quality and the colour rendition like all Pentax cameras is excellent. Not the quality of a DSLR but on a budget well worth it. As DCWeather i agree using a tripod or monopod. As the camera is light you could get awy with a lighter support but then that opens a can of worms. Don`t go for the cheapo ones and make sure you are comfortable with the locking system for the legs. Below are a couple I took with the X5.

Enjoy life


Link Posted 12/02/2014 - 19:49
I had an X90 for a while, but there's the real drawback of speed. The zoom lenses may be long, but the focusing, lock on and shutter response can be quite slow. The EVFs tend to be poor as well, the worst ones having quite a lag.

You can't beat a DSLR for speed and ease of use, there's no real getting away from it.

There can be a case for using a Pentax Q with long K fit lenses, getting amazing magnification, but the manual focusing needed can be tricky and it takes a bit of practice and skill to get the best out of it.
Best regards, John


Link Posted 12/02/2014 - 21:31
I like using a viewfinder, especially with longer lenses as that's a way to get more stability on occasions when you don't want to use a tripod. WIth one or two notable exceptions (not the FZ200, sadly) nearly all bridge cameras come with EVFs that I find verge on the unusable - small, slow and laggy, nowhere near as good as an OVF.

If I had lots of spare cash, I'd be sorely tempted by the new Sony which addresses many of the issues about bridge cameras, but that's rather unique and not really designed for the wildlife applications that you have mentioned. It's also the best part of a grand, more than I paid for my K-5iiS and a few lenses - I think I got the better deal.

Some occasional random stuff at The Photographers Block: link


Link Posted 13/02/2014 - 00:43
Yeah I think the opinion of EVF's will change over time, as the concept and technology improves. By all accounts some of the newer cameras are doing it right, but obviously the cost a lot.

The model mentioned by the OP is notable for extreme reach all at F2.8 which is impressive. I haven't read up on it much, but I'd question the lenses CA, sharpness and distortion characteristics along the zoom range though, as something has to give in a setup like this. CA is the bane of my life, as in small doses it can be corrected nicely, but it can blow a shot really if not controlled enough.

Also stabilisation at those lengths may require a tripod, and I'm not yet convinced on electronic stabilisation personally. I'm experiencing this on video on the K-30 and I believe the MX-1 may have taken this approach to video stabilisation also, despite both cameras having mechanical stabilisation built in?!!!

And the K3?!

The smaller sensor of bridge cameras etc can be of benefit to the likes of Video. Full HD video is 2MP resolution, so there is an awful lot of information to be junked from a 16MP or greater DSLR sensor. This is one of the reason you can get 120fps video on a cell phone and a bridge camera but not on a DSLR. Likewise with 4k video coming along now.


Link Posted 13/02/2014 - 18:01
I upgraded to DLSR from a Panasonic bridge-camera and this was done because when out with the family trying to get the shots of the bairns running about ended up with alot of feet or hands just at the edge of frame down to the shutter lag and evf lag, very frustrating.

At the long of the lens I did suffer CA and the smaller sensor not quite as crisp but it was great for 10" prints.

Just realised I wanted more from the whole experience, and still realising my ambitions far out-way ability.
Pint o' rough & a game o' darts anyone


Link Posted 13/02/2014 - 19:41
If it is predominantly wildlife Graham I would take views from specialist wildlife forums and those who specialise in wildlife but have experience with Bridge cameras. The requirements are so specialised and comments on general use may be mis-leading. By the way, my previous two Panasonics, the latest being the DMC FZ7 had incredibly sharp Leica lenses.


Link Posted 13/02/2014 - 20:01
Once again great input from everyone.I am going to stay with a DSLR ( I am going to buy a K5ii ) and stick with my 50-500 Bigma.I suppose I have slightly different criteria with being in a wheelchair ( the weight aspect is not a problem ) and not able to get to certain vantage point compared to others so probably the DSLR and large zoom lens combo is more beneficial to me compared to a bridge.I have recently attached a hide clamp to the seat of my chair I am using my Manfrotto monopod and 393 head and I am knocking up a couple of steady bars to attach to the monopod and then onto the chair to make it as steady as possible.Just waiting for the weather to pick up and then get out again.
Once again thanks everyone for your input


Link Posted 14/02/2014 - 21:18
Nice one Graham - I don't think you'll regret it. Look forward to seeing some shots. I have the opposite issue in that because of my dodgy knees I can't bend down and get those eye level wader shots! Let's hope the weather picks up soon!
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