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GopherAdventure
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12/03/2020 09:39AM  
I have a question for those of you with some wilderness photography experience.

First off, I want to make it clear that I have zero experience or know-how in photography. However, my old digital camera has zero zoom ability to capture wildlife photos so it’s time to be replaced. Is something with a 40x optical zoom sufficient for wildlife/wilderness photo capturing?

I’m looking for a “point and shoot” camera that can get closer images of loons, bald eagles, moose, otters, etc., from farther away. I don’t want to break the bank, but I’m willing to spend the money to get something that will do the job and last a while. I’m not trying to win the BWCA.com photo contests or make it on the cover of the BWJ. However, I would like to take some better quality images to add to my photo albums.

Thanks for your help!

Tony
 
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12/03/2020 11:49AM  
Gopher, I'm still carrying an ancient Canon SX20is P&S (not to be confused with POS!) with 20x zoom. It also has good macro modes, and uses AA batteries. Don't think it's available new any more, but cameras from Canon SX series (more zoom, more pixels, dedicated batteries) are used by a couple friends with better than average results, and don't break the bank. Photos below were taken with my Canon.

TZ



 
mschi772
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12/03/2020 01:24PM  
GopherAdventure: "I have a question for those of you with some wilderness photography experience.

First off, I want to make it clear that I have zero experience or know-how in photography. However, my old digital camera has zero zoom ability to capture wildlife photos so it’s time to be replaced. Is something with a 40x optical zoom sufficient for wildlife/wilderness photo capturing?

I’m looking for a “point and shoot” camera that can get closer images of loons, bald eagles, moose, otters, etc., from farther away. I don’t want to break the bank, but I’m willing to spend the money to get something that will do the job and last a while. I’m not trying to win the BWCA.com photo contests or make it on the cover of the BWJ. However, I would like to take some better quality images to add to my photo albums.

Thanks for your help!

Tony "


Photography is very much a get-what-you-pay-for area. Zoom does tend to be pretty important for wildlife shots. If a DSLR or mirrorless with a good lens isn't in the budget, how about a camera from the "superzoom" category? They look at a glance like DSLR cameras, but their lenses are integrated and operate like point-and-shoots.

In addition to my mirrorless Panasonic GX85, we have a Panasonic FZ80 superzoom that we also use which is super affordable and offers up to 1200mm (60x zoom). It can struggle with getting great quality in tough conditions like really low light as it has a small sensor like regular point-and-shoots. Nikon B500 or Cannon SX70 HS are comparable options.

If you really want to stay away from DSLR and mirrorless but can afford it, the Panasonic FZ1000 is worth it. It doesn't have quite as much zoom as the FZ80, but it has more than enough for wildlife photography (up to 400 mm or 16x zoom), and it has a MUCH better/larger sensor which is very important.

If it is a smaller, lighter body you're after, Panasonic ZS70, Cannon SX740 HS, or the Sony WX350 might do the trick, but if quality photos are what you're after, these are my last picks.

Bottom line, if you're not looking to get fancy and your budget is tight, I strongly recommend the Pana FZ80. If you still want to keep it simple but have more room in the budget, the FZ1000 is worth the extra dough. If you're not going to stress about having 100% perfect quality shot every single time and just want to zoom zoom zoom, the FZ80 or Canon SX530 HS are the way to go.

These are a few examples shot with our Panasonic FZ80 on a trip to the BWCA this August (East Bearskin to Alder Lake base camp & Johnson Falls)




 
lindylair
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12/04/2020 08:18PM  
Gopher, glad to see a burgeoning interest in photography, it is a great hobby and incredibly fun to review photos of the trip upon your return to relive the great moments.

For the last 3 or 4 years I have brought a DSLR to the BWCA which theoretically gives me better image quality compared to a superzoom. Many if not most of the photos in my photo library on this website were taken with a superzoom and the quality is mostly pretty decent. My problem with a DSLR with a wide angle lens and a zoom lens is if I have the zoom lens on I see great scenic landscapes and if I have the wide angle lens on i see awesome bird or wildlife photography opportunities - and I have the wrong lens on. Superzooms give you a ton more versatility without having to change lenses - you are ready for anything from landscapes and sunrises to bird and eagle shots to the moose on the other shore or a wolf across the bay. My last superzoom, as i said, was 4 or so years ago, I suspect the quality has improved since then. If you are going to be mainly viewing them online, or perhaps printing them to 8x10 or even 11x14 the quality should be fine with images from a superzoom. Anything beyond that and you will begin to notice a difference.

But getting the shot is the first and foremost thing and superzooms are really good at that. A 40x zoom would be plenty adequate for some great wildlife or birding shots. But don't forget the other end of the spectrum, you also want a wide angle option for those river, waterfall, sunrise and sunset shots. Most good cameras in this class will provide both. A lot of superzooms also provide a very good Macro mode for closeups if you are into mushroom, flower, insect or spiderweb type shots. they often turn out pretty cool. I had a Sony and a Panasonic and I would not hesitate to recommend either. Lots of options, research the quality versus price equals value equation and i suspect you will find a great camera for your trips. It's a lot of fun, hope you enjoy it.

Superzoom shots:























 
12/04/2020 08:53PM  
I do some nature photography, but my biggest interest is photographing vintage/historic race cars. I'm retired so $$$ are important. I bought my 3rd Olympus OMD. Had an E5 that went swimming and didn't survive, insurance paid the full purchase price. Now an E10 and E1. All purchased used on Ebay, all around $400 each 1/2 price for the E5 and E1, 2/3rds the E10. Lenses also came used and I can swap them with my larger E3 lens via an adapter. The micro 4/3rds is compact and easy to use. Whatever brand you choose (most all major brands are good), the turnover to new models happens often and very good deal are easily sourced. All my cameras and gear were purchased used, and I've had very good results, no failures.
The insurance is cheap, I carry $5000 worth of coverage for around $50 per year. P&S cameras are good, just not as good as a digital SLR with interchangeable lenses. Do some research and learn about basics, the cameras are not as fussy as many think. The biggest advice is to shoot lots of frame and sort them out for use latter, memory chips are inexpensive use the storage! this was from 200 yards and he's moving about 80 mph not much time to fiddle with settings. With nature photography you have much more time to adjust and compose (most of the time) for stuff like this, shot with a P&S 2006, my buddy Paul paddling out.

butthead
 
sedges
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12/04/2020 09:40PM  
I think a 40x zoom PandS is a good choice for you. Look for deals for older models. Currently the Nikon B500 is going for less than $300. I think it uses 4 AAs, which I like as I use rechargeable for flashlights, gps and bike lights. Wish it had a viewfinder, but cameras with them are usually more expensive.

I also enjoy the macro capability of the PandS zooms.
 
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