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Old Aug 11, 2013, 7:38 PM   #1
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Default I need a super zoom camera that can take stills during video

Hi all. New to the forum - seems like a great place to get info.

We have a very old digital camera, and it is time to upgrade. We are new to the all great features on the later cameras, and mostly want something to take pictures of grandkids, and for vacations. As long as I am doing it, though, I want to get this camera for a special occasion.

I am traveling to Florida later this year to watch the launch of a spacecraft that I have been working on for several years. The observation area is 10+ miles away from the launch pad, so a big zoom is important. In addition, I would like to record video of the launch, but also snap some stills that I can keep, and even blow up to 8x10 or 10x13. I am looking at 4 cameras right now, and am not sure if any will fill the whole bill.

Olympus SH-50 iHS. This one has the stills-during-video that I need, according to all the reviews. But it only has a 24x optical zoom. Compared to some of the big zooms, this is only about half. It also has a 2x "Enhanced Digital Zoom" to go with its 4x standard digital zoom. Will this Enhanced Digital Zoom make any difference (it would put me right back up to 48x), or should I just consider this to be an 24x optical with 8x digital? At 12 miles or so away, am I gonna be sorry if I use 24x when 40x-50x is available?

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX300. This one has the big 50x zoom, and one review implied that you can take stills during video, but there wasn't much info. Does it halt the video (like the Canon, below)? Is it seemless? Nobody has said. Probably most people don't use that kind of feature very often. I was also concerned a bit when they described a slow "refresh", especially in burst mode - take 10 quick pictures and you wait 10 seconds before it is ready to take another one. Ouch. This is also the most expensive.

Canon Powershot SX50 HS. Top of the line in almost every feature. Has the big 50x zoom. Has great picture quality. Has quick refresh. Great video quality, and even decent video sound. But the consumer reviews say that if you are shooting video, and then capture a still, it essentially pauses the video, and you get blackout for half a second to a second. That would pretty much ruin a video of a rocket launch, when I am taking stills at exactly the moment of takeoff. If this is true, then I don't think that this camera will work. Shame. Everything else (including the price) seems perfect for me.

Nikon CoolPix P520. This one gets mixed reviews, so I am a little worried. Some say it takes great pictures for a beginner - that the bad reviews are just people looking for a higher end camera. But others give direct examples of where the CoolPix just isn't as good. I also don't know if you can take stills during video with this camera. The price is great. It has a 42x zoom, which is right where I need it to be. I just don't have as much confidence in this one - but that is based on reviews. It may be great.

I would appreciate any info on these 4. Or, if you know of another camera that I have overlooed with big zoom (40x or more, probably), where you can seemless take stills during video (like the Olympus - they call it multi-recording. Others call it Stills-in-video), I would appreciate the heads up.

This trip to see the launch is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me. I can't tell you how important it will be to capture and record it, and how grateful I would be for info to help me get the right camera to do it.

I should add - I know it would be better to have 2 separate cameras. One for stills and one for video. But I just can't afford to buy 2 of them. My wife is being very kind to let me spend $1000 on the trip to Florida and $300 - $500 on a camera. I know better than to ask for anything more :-)

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Old Aug 17, 2013, 1:10 PM   #2
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My old Panasonic FZ-150 can shoot stills in video mode- with no break in the video- albeit 3.5mp stills. I would imagine that the FZ-200 does also... though maybe not the BIG zoom you want- unless you add Panny's 1.7 tele-converter...!
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Old Sep 1, 2013, 4:07 PM   #3
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Given the distance you will be from the actual launch, it is going to be difficult to impossible to get much detail. For example, a 747 at 30,000 feet and nearly overhead is about or a bit less than the distance you are talking about. Try searching for photos of aircraft at altitude taken from the ground, to see what you are getting into.
Photos with as much zoom as you are talking about, even with image stabilization, are going to have some motion blur if you try to take them hand held. Not too much of a problem for video, but your stills may suffer. At the least, you should have a monopod.
I think, if I were in your position, I would go with a Fuji XS-1. Although it has only 26x zoom, the larger sensor should provide as much or more detail than one of the smaller sensor cameras with more zoom. There is also a menu option to give priority to video or stills when shooting stills during video, so you would be able to prevent the pause for the still pics. They are a bit over your stated budget, but a used one is right in line:http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...era_black.html

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Old Sep 2, 2013, 4:18 PM   #4
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G'day Martin

Have you considered hiring a dSLR + say, a 1000mm lens + solid tripod for the task?
After all - if this is even slightly work related, surely you can put it down as a business expense ... ?

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Old Sep 6, 2013, 10:16 AM   #5
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I had the Nikon P510 and thought it was a good camera for the price. However, I am not sure you will get the details you want in an image taken of an object (albeit a huge object) 10 miles away. Seattle's Space Needle (600 feet high) is about 10 miles from the school where I work. From the top floor of the school's garage, you can see the top half of the Space Needle. I have taken pictures of it. They are OK, if not blown up, but I think you might be disappointed by them.
Have you thought of getting a decent camcorder with a big zoom and using that instead? I think some of them have still image capacity.
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