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Old Apr 2, 2003, 6:55 AM   #1
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Default Zoom for birdwatching?

I am looking to buy a digital camera for a budding junior photgrapher. After all my research there are still too many options and I need a more informed opinion to my specific requirements. My daughter has been using my Canon 500 EOS SLR with zooms etc and does not seem to mind the weight. However, the cost of printing all her "experimental" ideas is mounting up! I would like to buy her a digital camera that will last her for 3 - 4 years. The quality of the prints must be great as she enters them in Wildlife competitions and they often need to be enlarged and cropped. I would like an opinion on a camera that would fit the following :
easy to use with a little practice
x8 zoom or better (unless she can use my EOS zooms, they are original Canon but not the expensive L range)
fast and accurate autofocus (I see some cameras take 3 photos of slightly differing focal lengths - this sounds great)
an optical viewfinder (easy to compose shot and less battery?)
5 megapixel or more
hopefully not over $1500

This is the general idea - what do you suggest? She isn't a professional but once you choose the high megapixel and need a good zoom, the choices are narrowed down. Should I compromise on some areas? She spends hours outdoors with her camera so I don't want to make a mistake, thanks.
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Old Apr 2, 2003, 11:51 AM   #2
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Default OK

I use an Olympus C-2100UZ 10x zoom with a B-300 Olympus tele and a Olympus FL 40 flash that will zoom with the lens. This gives 17x plus another 2 and 1/2 times digital and I can hand hold the whole system. Most photographers turn digital zooms off. I like to open the aperature and put the spot focus right on the head and sometimes the digital helps get the photo framed up. The zoom indicator is in the viewfinder and you can choose to use digital or not at the time you take your shot? The problem is to get close and not have to crop much. The flash will sharpen up a lot of otherwise poor photos.

There are likely better systems but this is realatively low cost and works ....for me.
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Old Apr 2, 2003, 1:16 PM   #3
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The Nikon 5700 looks like it might be suitable. I've never used one but did a lot of research into them because it was an option when I was choosing a camera, I only turned it down in the end because it was too expensive for my budget. It is 5MP with an 8 zoom and it can take certain add-on lenses for extra zoom.

I'd stear clear of a C-2100UZ although no doubt a few people will recommend it. For a start it' only 2MP, and there seems to be an increasing number of people saying that there's has died recently. It'll never last 3-4 years according to this.

$1500 is a good budget though, and I'm sure you'll find a very good camera for that price. If you want to know more about the Nikon 5700, there's a very good review on www.imaging-resource.com
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Old Apr 2, 2003, 2:23 PM   #4
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I use a Canon Powershot Pro90 with a 10X stabilized lens (same lens as the Oly 2100UZ). Just ordered a TCON-17 1.7X teleconverter. This will give a 35mm equivalent of a 629mm zoom capability.

There are reports of failures of the 2100UZ when the battery is run flat, but it's not a terribly common problem. Canon fixed a similar problem with a firmware update about a year ago. The Canon problem didn't damage the camera, but rendered the battery unuseable.

I can't emphasize the value of the lens stabilization too much. These two cameras have a very strong following and have retained their value because of their unique lens. The user's manual states that stabilization is good for up to two f stops.

The Pro90 (2.6 MP) and 2100UZ (2.1 MP) are both out of production but are available on the web as refurbs or even sometimes new.
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Old Apr 2, 2003, 2:49 PM   #5
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Instead of a camera, think about a tripod. Even with image stablized lenses, a tripod will help a great deal with a long lens.

If she is going to do a lot of photography, someday she will want a tripod to go with pretty much any camera she uses. A good tripod will outlast several cameras.

A tripod will also slow down her picture taking rate. One of the big advantages of a tripod that isn't often stated is that it forces you to think about what you are doing. That makes for better pictures at least as much as the increased stability.
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Old Apr 2, 2003, 3:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildman
I use a Canon Powershot Pro90 with a 10X stabilized lens (same lens as the Oly 2100UZ). Just ordered a TCON-17 1.7X teleconverter. This will give a 35mm equivalent of a 629mm zoom capability.

There are reports of failures of the 2100UZ when the battery is run flat, but it's not a terribly common problem. Canon fixed a similar problem with a firmware update about a year ago. The Canon problem didn't damage the camera, but rendered the battery unuseable.

I can't emphasize the value of the lens stabilization too much. These two cameras have a very strong following and have retained their value because of their unique lens. The user's manual states that stabilization is good for up to two f stops.

The Pro90 (2.6 MP) and 2100UZ (2.1 MP) are both out of production but are available on the web as refurbs or even sometimes new.
Totally agree with you. Peeps seem to pay more attention the negatives of the C-2100, but fail to see the photo quality of what the C-2100 can produce. Its amazing that a 2.1 mega-pixel camera can take such great photos. Cameras with high power zoom like the C-2100, Canon Pro90, and C-730 can fit the bill for photographing wildlife or birds.

BTW..it is not recommended to have IS on if using a tripod. The photo may blurr. The IS must sense some movement in order to work proplerly.
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Old Apr 2, 2003, 6:26 PM   #7
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Default Not for me?

Tripods and monopods are great tools but most often the bird will be long gone before you can get it all set up. The higher resolutions are much harder to hold steady at longer zooms so the decision is to crop out a blurred image or frame it larger in the first place? If you must use a tripod get a ball head.
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Old Apr 2, 2003, 7:21 PM   #8
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Default Don't forget Minolta.....

The Minolta Dimage D7i is a great camera with a 28-200mm equiv. range and big 5MP sensor. Too many options to list, but the online price of around $650 dollars at www.buydig.com (where I got mine from) can't be beat.

Leaves a lot of room for external flashes, tripods, compact flash cards and some photography books. Don't forget batteries (get the Digipower DPS-9000)

I love the camera, has its pros and cons, but way more pros than cons.
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Old Apr 3, 2003, 6:58 AM   #9
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Just to throw in another angle you could look at a lower power camera zoom and add in something like the EagleEye 5x telephoto. This could bridge the gap between unassisted camera and future Digiscoping.

Even with this set-up I'd agree with BillDrew and say "get a tripod". Also consider a remote release.

While it is true that you will miss oportunities using this method the results that you do get will be sharp.
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Old Apr 3, 2003, 9:08 AM   #10
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Why has no one s****ted the Canon 10D? It fits just within the price range and will let her use all those lenses she already has and work for her. At reputable places is $1,500, if you really look around you can find it for about $100 less at place which are not a rip off (like Dell.)

On the plus side, it has all the controls she knows from an SLR, magnifies the lens length by 1.6x (longer zooms are good for reaching out and getting that animal), takes very nice picutres with low noise.... Fits the other listed criteria listed in her post too.

The downsides are that the camera is a little new and so Canon's quality control seems to have been reduced to allow them to ship more cameras. It also has a 1.6x lens magnification, which means that wide angle lenses are not wide angle any more (landscapes become harder.) And, well... it's lots of money (but within the range.)
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