Which Long-range Zoom Cam­era?

Smart Photography - - Ask Uncle Ronnie -

Af­ter us­ing a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W530 for two years, I want to in­vest in a long zoom cam­era. My choices are the Sony HX300, Fujifilm Finepix SL1000 and Canon Pow­erShot SX50 HS. Please help me find the best. Ku­nal Nanda, via email It is al­ways bet­ter to be spe­cific about your re­quire­ments. What is your area of in­ter­est? Is there any par­tic­u­lar fea­ture that you must have in your cam­era? How large are your prints likely to be? Do you re­quire a cam­era that is suit­able for low/light pho­tog­ra­phy? What is your bud­get? In spite of the ter­rific fo­cal length that th­ese mod­els of­fer, I am not a fan of such mod­els. Let’s con­sider a few im­por­tant fac­tors: There are al­ways other fac­tors to con­sider but we shall limit our dis­cus­sion con­sid­er­ing only the above fac­tors. The Sony model would of­fer you the largest print with­out any in­ter­po­la­tion. The Sony model of­fers the long­est fo­cal range. Con­sid­er­ing the aper­ture range, there isn’t much to choose from. Con­sid­er­ing the megapixel rat­ing, the Sony model is likely to have more noise, es­pe­cially at higher ISO sen­si­tiv­i­ties. Sen­sor sizes are iden­ti­cal. The Canon is likely to have the low­est dig­i­tal noise due to its lower pixel rat­ing.

Re­mem­ber that there is no such thing as a free meal in life! Con­sider the fol­low­ing: 1. You might be drool­ing to own a cam­era with such a wide fo­cal range. Note that, in spite of the im­age sta­bi­liza­tion, you are un­likely to get sharp re­sults (on reg­u­lar ba­sis) at the longer fo­cal lengths if you hand-hold the cam­era. At 1200 mm equiv­a­lent set­ting for ex­am­ple, your im­age on the sen­sor will be 24 times larger than what would be recorded us­ing a ‘nor­mal’ 50 mm lens (equiv­a­lent). This is fine, but have you con­sid­ered that your hand-shake will also be mag­ni­fied by the same amount? Yes, the im­age sta­bi­liza­tion will help to a cer­tain ex­tent, but reg­u­larly get­ting sharp pic­tures via hand-held may not be easy. 2. When us­ing the tele­photo range, the widest aper­ture amongst the three mod­els is f/6.3. If your sub­ject is in shade, you are un­likely to get a rea­son­ably fast shut­ter speed for hand-held pic­tures at f/6.3. This will force you to use this fo­cal range only in bright light con­di­tions and/or force you to use higher ISOs (or use a tri­pod). Con­sid­er­ing that the imag­ing sen­sors are very small (which in­creases noise lev­els) and us­ing higher ISO sen­si­tiv­i­ties (which also in­creases noise), will you be happy with the amount of dig­i­tal noise in your pic­tures? 3. Zoom lenses are com­plex by de­sign. In a strict sense, any zoom lens that is over 5x is con­sid­ered as a com­pro­mise in im­age qual­ity. In my opin­ion, qual­ity is more im­por­tant then the longer fo­cal reach. If I were you, I would re-con­sider my de­ci­sion and try not to go in for such a su­per-duper fo­cal range. If you still want to go ahead, do give a thought to the Pana­sonic FZ200 which has a 25-600mm equiv­a­lent zoom at a con­stant aper­ture of f/2.8 through­out the zoom range.

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