Which Long-range Zoom Camera?
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.