Best camera for wildlife


Larson13 5 1 United States
6 Apr 2014 4:46AM
Hi there,
I am new to photography, and I am wondering what a good camera for wildlife and fast-action sports would be.
I am on a budget, so $600 and down is all I can afford.
Also, what should I consider when shopping for one? What is a good shutterspeed for birds in the air while flying, animal running, skier on a downhill slope etc...
Thanks!

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StrayCat 15 19.1k 3 Canada
6 Apr 2014 7:25AM
Hi Larson, welcome aboard. You are really no different than the rest of us when we started out. I have had about a dozen SLR outfits, and I can honestly say I still don't have a lens for birds on the wing. They're expensive, the cheapest will run you between $1000-1500.00, no kidding; and they're big and heavy. To stay within your budget with an slr, you will get at most a second hand camera and a couple of basic, (read slow) lenses.

However, all is not lost. Your budget sets you up nicely for a high quality bridge camera with a long telephoto capability, and also built-in excellent macro/close-up capability. You will need to shop very carefully for your requirements, because there's quite a bit of difference in cameras in this category. You will need a maximum aperture of at least f2.8, a continuous wide aperture would be best for birds in flight, a minimum telephoto range up to 400mm. Read lots of reviews, and ask lots of questions.

Here is one suggestion from me, and I think it meets and surpasses most requirements for what you want to do.

Panasonic DMC ZS40

And on this site; it is known as the TZ60 in Europe. Look it up on here, and there's a full review. The only thing I would ask for is a wider max aperture, it being f3.3, which isn't all that bad.
Steppenwolf 8 1.2k
6 Apr 2014 7:40AM
That's a tight budget for what you want - good long lenses are expensive. Have a look at the Nikon 1 CSCs. There have been some very good deals on the V1, and the V2 should be available cheaply if you look around, now that the V3 has come out. These cameras are a step up from the bridge cameras because they have interchangeable lenses and PDAF (for fast focusing) - they've also got a larger sensor (CX size) which gives better high ISO.

Alternatively look for a second hand DSLR/SLT with a decent zoom lens (100-400mm ideally). A s/h Sony SLT with a Minolta 100-400mm might just be affordable.
sparrowhawk Plus
11 277 2 United Kingdom
6 Apr 2014 12:06PM
the panasonic g5 might be worth a look too i have one and have various lenses and am very pleased with the results i get ! it is a x2 crop sensor so you double the size of the lens to get the equivalent size relative to the old 35mm scale ,so 10mm lens become a 200 and so on !
Paintman Plus
13 1.3k 177 United Kingdom
6 Apr 2014 12:15PM
Have a look at this photo taken with a Panasonic G3 and a 100-300mm lens.

The G3 is a micro-two-thirds camera, so the lens is equivalent to a 200-600mm lens in a full-format camera because of the 2x crop factor.

The G3 can be bought for around 150-200, second-hand, ( approx. $180-240 ) and you may be able to find one with a half-decent telephoto lens attached for your budget.

This set up is a lot lighter than a DSLR and lens so you may find yourself being able to hike further with it to find quieter areas where wildlife are more likely to be seen.

This camera's auto focus will not be as fast as a good DSLR and Pro lens, but it will give you a good camera and plenty of focal length to play with. Also the lenses for this camera will not have really wide apertures compared with Pro spec lenses so you'll have slightly more difficulty shooting in very low light.

The video output of the G3 is very good if you feel this is of interest to you.

Generally speaking for birds in flight or any fast action, a shutter speed of 1/1000th and faster are needed to stop the action, unless you are going for a more creative action shot where a slower speed will be best.

Here's a lens test of a 45-200mm.

Here's a test of a 100-300mm lens.

Here's a review of the Panasonic G3.
Coast 11 1.6k 292 United Kingdom
6 Apr 2014 1:29PM

Quote:Have a look at this photo taken with a Panasonic G3 and a 100-300mm lens.

The G3 is a micro-two-thirds camera, so the lens is equivalent to a 200-600mm lens in a full-format camera because of the 2x crop factor.

The G3 can be bought for around 150-200, second-hand, ( approx. $180-240 ) and you may be able to find one with a half-decent telephoto lens attached for your budget.

This set up is a lot lighter than a DSLR and lens so you may find yourself being able to hike further with it to find quieter areas where wildlife are more likely to be seen.

This camera's auto focus will not be as fast as a good DSLR and Pro lens, but it will give you a good camera and plenty of focal length to play with. Also the lenses for this camera will not have really wide apertures compared with Pro spec lenses so you'll have slightly more difficulty shooting in very low light.

The video output of the G3 is very good if you feel this is of interest to you.

Generally speaking for birds in flight or any fast action, a shutter speed of 1/1000th and faster are needed to stop the action, unless you are going for a more creative action shot where a slower speed will be best.

Here's a lens test of a 45-200mm.

Here's a test of a 100-300mm lens.

Here's a review of the Panasonic G3.



For me this is the best advice to date in what can be a tough one to work through all the different views and opinions.

On your budget this is a great system to get into and will deliver great quality IQ; certainly for computer/web based viewing and prints up to A3. The only downfall for me of the Panasonic G3 is the autofocus is slower than what you may get with some DSLR's however it is only marginally slower and pound for pound you may have to be spending double your budget at least, if not more. This is not a deal breaker as it will be fast enough for most things.

This is an image I took on an Olympus micro 4/3rds camera with the Panasonic 45-200mm lens that Alan mentions above.

https://www.ephotozine.com/user/coast-74487/gallery/photo/hmmm-can-i-help-you--38865276

I'd definitely recommend you go down the second hand route and investigate the Panasonic G3 system. Here is a current example on the UK Ebay site.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Panasonic-LUMIX-DMC-G3W-16-0-MP-Digital-Camera-Kit-w14-42mm-45-200mm-lens-/141246065898?pt=UK_CamerasPhoto_DigitalCameras_DigitalCameras_JN&hash=item20e2ebecea

Regards
Paul
Larson13 5 1 United States
6 Apr 2014 8:40PM
Thanks for the answers. I was wondering if the Nikon p600 is a good camera for the purpose. It has a min 1/4000 sec shudder speed. Thanks!
StrayCat 15 19.1k 3 Canada
6 Apr 2014 9:04PM
You won't get a s/h G3 and Panasonic 100-300mm lens for 600.00, unless you're extremely lucky. Then, what are you going to do for wide-angle and close-up. Especially if money is tight, by going with a mid-level or high-end bridge camera, you get all of the lenses in one small package, that will be relatively easy to use. Then you begin learning, and deciding what you really want whilst you save your pennies. You will have a range of lenses available that would cost 10s of thousands, albeit not with the same quality, but for posting on the internet and printing reasonably sized pics, it will be just as good as most much more expensive kit, just make sure that what you get has lots of creative control available, so you can develop your ideas, and not feel cramped.


Quote:Thanks for the answers. I was wondering if the Nikon p600 is a good camera for the purpose. It has a min 1/4000 sec shudder speed.


The 1/4000 sec shutter speed is not a feature von which to focus. The important features for wildlife are the max aperture, image stabilisation, and range of the lens. The first time I looked at the ZS40/TZ60 was last night, and I was impressed with the features that camera has; 5-axis image stabiliser, my Olympus E-M5 has that, and I wouldn't want to be without it; programmable ring on lens, which very few bridge cameras have, a viewfinder, Raw image capability, and a metal body. I would buy this in a flash.Grin
Coast 11 1.6k 292 United Kingdom
6 Apr 2014 9:19PM
Review here

http://www.dpreview.com/products/nikon/compacts/nikon_cpp600

Will be a good starter camera for your requirements. Only downside is the small sensor which only becomes an issue if you want to print bigger than A3 or crop into the frame by a sufficient amount during editing. For almost all amateur photographic output it will be great.

Good wide angle lens right through to super telephoto.
sparrowhawk Plus
11 277 2 United Kingdom
6 Apr 2014 10:48PM
sorry read my earlier post and there was a typing error ! i meant 100mm becomes 200 i also have the 100-300 lens which is great ! you might be able to pick up a g5 cheaper now as the g6 is the updated version
Steppenwolf 8 1.2k
7 Apr 2014 7:54AM
The problem with these superzoom bridge cameras, like the Nikon P600, is that lenses with massive zoom factors (60X on the P600) tend not to deliver very good image quality - particularly at the long focal lengths. That's where cameras with interchangeable lenses have the advantage, as the zoom factors are usually kept to low multiples (3X or 4X) so that IQ isn't compromised.

However, on your budget, I don't think it's possible to get a CSC or DSLR kit that does what you want, so the P600 is a reasonable choice.
KarenFB Plus
13 5.3k 174 England
7 Apr 2014 8:04AM
Hi Jonah, welcome to EPZ! Smile

You've had some brilliant advice above, I hope it helps you choose your camera. I'm looking forward to seeing some of your photographs! Smile
Dougs 5 4
9 May 2014 3:16PM
I see some other replies on maybe getting a bridge camera. I myself own a Nikon P500 and can recommend the newer model P600 highly. I actually got the bridge since health issues ruled out carrying a heavy accessory bag around while traveling and hiking. After two years I would never consider a DSLR since this bridge fits all my needs. Learning the camera is essential in getting quality images especially with the long zooms. The wide angle is excellent for indoor and outdoor shots during the holidays since everyone will get in the picture in less than 15 feet. Using a monopod or tripod is important in getting the long shots without softness. I use Cyberlink for editing and a Canon Pro 100 for printing and the images up to 11x14 has been equal to a DLSR at side by side comparisons. Wildlife shots using the zoom is awesome using P my prints have been outstanding. Don't believe the reviews that the bridge cameras are all so soft. Once you master all the features and use a good editor and printer nothing will hold you back from showing off your prints. Good luck.


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