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Old Nov 17, 2009, 3:00 PM   #1
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Default Need P&S with excellent video & stills for bird photography

Looking for a recommendation for a camera for nature photography – mostly birds. Up to now, I’ve used handheld camcorders, which do very well with videos, of course, but do not produce quality stills. However, since they’ve removed the optical viewfinder from most camcorders, they are frustrating to use.

Must haves:
- high quality video
- very good quality stills
- excellent zoom (camcorders I’ve been using have 37x & 70x optical)
- must be able to zoom while taking video
- fairly compact & lightweight (no changing lenses in the field)
- SD storage is fine
- optical viewfinder
- good battery life (but will buy extra battery. prefer rechargeable)
- quick to focus (birds move fast!)
Nice to haves:
- Manual controls (tho honestly I will use Auto, or programmed settings mostly)
- RAW image mode

Some of the cameras at which I’ve been looking closely are:
Canon SX20
Canon SX1 (better HD vid worth extra $$?)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 (“only” 18x optical zoom – otherwise great reviews)
Pentax X70 (reviews say poor video quality)

Any others I should consider?

Thanks,
Jane
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Old Nov 17, 2009, 3:14 PM   #2
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seejanebird-

Welcome to the Forum. We're glad you dropped by.

I am making this reply based on plce an equal priority of the still image quality, and the video quality. If that 50%/50% split is incorrect, please let me know. Without a doubt, the SX-1 is the top of the heap in terms of video quality, and it near the top in still image quality.

The Panasonic FZ-35 comes next. Without a doubt, the FZ-35 is very strong with its still image quality. The difference between the 20X optical zoom on the SX-1/SX-20 and the FZ-35 is really minimal, and it will be very hard to see.

Next comes the SX-20 camera. It is a very good camera but its video is a step below the video on the SX-1. Still images on the SX-20 are very good but sill a bit behing the still images of the FZ-35.

One Chinese factory produces the Pentax X-70, the Nikon P-90, and the Kodak Z-980, all using the same s4X lens. The Pentax X-70 that you listed, is the least featured of those three cameras. Most reviewers have not been overly excited with these three cameras, and have found the video quality to be definiterly less than the video quality found on the SX-1, the FZ-35, and the SX-20.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Nov 17, 2009, 3:48 PM   #3
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You can lower the resolution on the FZ35 to get up to 24x I think.
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Old Nov 17, 2009, 4:19 PM   #4
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Hi Sarah Joyce,

Thanks so much for your quick reply.

Video has always been a higher priority for me, but I've been using a video camcorder and have not really had a choice. I'd love to be able to do quality stills as well. That's why I'm looking for a new camera.

Do you think the quality of the SX-1 vs the FZ-35 justifies the $200 price spread? I am willing to spend $$ for quality, but I am not sure of the value in this case.

Are there other cameras that I should be considering in this analysis?

thanks much!
--Jane
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Old Nov 17, 2009, 4:26 PM   #5
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You might want to look up the time recording limitations of the canon. With the Panasonic using AVCHD you could record longer and with less space on the SD card (with the audio being Dolby Digital stereo). It also uses the traditional Mov. format for sharing with others.
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Old Nov 17, 2009, 7:19 PM   #6
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jane-

The Canon SX-1 wins with the best resolution, but it does have a 4gb limit which equals about 12 minutes recording time.

Sarah Joyce
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