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Old Jun 26, 2004, 2:31 PM   #1
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My wife andI are looking to upgrade our digital camera. We have been bird watchers for years and would like to take photos/movies of birds/animals and such. We have about $500 to spend on a camera. I have been reading many web sites and at this point very confused. Can you please recommend camera for around $500. We both are very good a reading the manual on how to use the camera and its features. Thank you
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Old Jun 27, 2004, 1:09 AM   #2
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I just ordered a Canon Powershot A80. I don't know if it would do exactly what you want, but I do know that it is highly revered by almost all of its owners. However, you might want more than 3x optical zoom. Fuji makes decent high-zoom cameras, and Kodak has the DX6490, with 4MP and 10x optical zoom. On top of that, it is compatible with Kodak's highly-acclaimed Easyshare system, so you have fast transfers, battery charging, and dye-sublimation printing on the printer docks.

Good luck!
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Old Jun 27, 2004, 9:55 AM   #3
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We thank you for your input and happy shooting.
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Old Jun 27, 2004, 10:45 AM   #4
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If you look in the wildlife section here, you'll see lots of people (including me) do a lot of bird photography (in fact, it seems to have dominated the forum in recent dats.)

Thanks for listing how much money you are willing to spend, that helps a lot.

The two biggest features you need are: 1) a long zoom. 400mm is basically the minimum for reasonable bird photography. 2) image stabilization. 3) Aperture priority mode.

1) You need a long zoom because birds are often far away (as I'm sure you know.) I have done bird photography with a 400mm and you can do relatively well with it. 300mm is ok, but 400 is better. Now, most cameras list the "x" factor and not the 35-mm equivalent power of the lens. Steve's reviews do list the 35-mm equivalent, so look in his reviews for the larger power cameras and see what the 35-mm equivalent is for the cameras. You have to do this because a 20-280mm lens is"10x", but 38-380 is also "10x" but the last one is better for bird photography than the first. If this doesn't make sense, just say so and I'll explain what I mean.

2) Image stabilization lets you take sharper pictures without using a tripod. Many birds (golden crowned kinglets, most warblers,...) do not stay still for very long. This means that using a tripod is difficult for many types of bird photography. I do it any ways, but I'm interested in the highest quality shots I can get (and I've spent more than the cost of a small car on photography equipment to get them.) Most people don't want to carry a tripod around (and I don't blame them.) If you use a camera with image stabilization, it helps reduce the effect of camera movement and lets you get better hand-held shots.

3) When taking pictures of birds, you almost always want the highest shutter speed possible. You need to stop the action. The best way to do this that I know of is to have you pick the camera's aperture and let the camera pick the proper shutter speed. Then you can look at the shutter speed and adjust the aperture a bit to get something that will stop the bird in motion. Since smaller all-in-one cameras (non-dSLRs) have a large Depth Of Field, you aren't as worried about that.

Other things to consider is size and weight. This is sometihng you'll be carrying for a few hours while you bird watch. You'll want to make sure its something that you'll actually want to carry with you. Not that having a larger zoom lens goes against this because its going to be physically larger than cameras with smaller zooms. Such is life.

But what you really want to be told is what camera to buy. Sory, I but can't help you there. All I can do is give you the info you need to help make a better choice. I purchased something much more expensive than you want to spend. So my choice doesn't apply. Something like the Minolta DImage A1 has too short a zoom lens (28-200) but it has image stabilization. I have no idea how much it costs.

So I'd suggest you take the info I've given below and use that to help narrow your choices.

Eric
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Old Jun 27, 2004, 12:10 PM   #5
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Eric's analysis is good. You have only two choices in your price range if you want stabilization. The Canon S1 is 10X with 380mm equivalent. CF is the least expensive memory and spare batteries are cheap with NiMH AA batteries. It is only 3Mp and large blowups are problematic if you get a great shot you want on the wall.

The Panasonic FZ10 is at the upper end of your price range. It is 12X with a 420mm eq zoom and it is 4Mp. If you are including memory in your price limit the FZ10 will exceed that. You have to buy memory for any camera. I bought a spare battery recommended on the Panasonic board for $20 and it works fine. The camera will fill a 256Mb card without a spare battery but it is handy to have one. SD memory is a little pricier than CF, but it is the least expensive after CF.

I like some of the features better on the S1 better than the FZ10. I have a wide format photo printer and even the 4Mp of the Panasonic is a little limiting for me.
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:12 PM   #6
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thank you for your imput, we will continue our search.
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:14 PM   #7
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thank you
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:29 PM   #8
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I know it can be frustrating but it might be wise to wait just a little longer if it means being able to get more camera for a little more $ that is with in reason for you.If you don't but enough camera you wil be very frustrated.

Good luck!

Trique Daddi
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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:30 PM   #9
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what are you thoughts on this

http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/fz10.html

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Old Jun 29, 2004, 11:30 PM   #10
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how about this one



http://www.steves-digicams.com/2003_reviews/fz10.html

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