are plenty of options when it comes to taking those all important bird
photographs - and superzoom compact cameras are one of them. The
superzoom I have is a Fujifilm Finepix HS10 (24-720mm). Digiscoping,
digibinning and DSLR photography are covered
elsewhere on this website (see the links below).
cameras are quite a contender for bird photography
and a number of serious birders use only such cameras for securing high
quality documentation. The results they achieve are impressive and more
than good enough for the purpose of identifying and documenting birds
they find - the main motive for many, if not most, birders.
The main advantages of these cameras are:
1) they are relatively small and light compared to the equipment
required for digiscoping and for DSLR + telephoto lens.
2) they are relatively cheap
3) As the name suggests, they have a wide range
of zoom meaning that one can take landscapes and all kinds of other
and below: Two
pictures illustrating the range of zoom available - the sign is only
just visible in the landscape image above
No sharpening or any other adjustments of any kind have been done -
ONLY a resize for web viewing.
easier to take pictures such as this Emperor moth caterpillar with a
Compact super zoom - no backing off to more than 3m with this camera!
Again nothing other than a resize has been done here (no cropping or
The only real disadvantage I have found is that these cameras suffer
from the same problem as other compact cameras - shutter lag. Obviously
this makes things like flight photography something of a challenge.
Otherwise the quality of the pictures is not as good as a DSLR - but
for the size and price the images are quite acceptable and fit for
camera The main use I have had
for my superzoom is as a second camera - enabling me to take
photographs of things other than close-ups of birds without having to
change lenses on my main camera. Changing lenses in the field is not
always something that is easy to do and each lens change is just
another chance to let dust and water into the camera so I try to avoid
this as much as possible.
I would have to have been
a lot further away to take the above picture with my standard DSLR and
Another good reason for taking a superzoom along on a
holiday or other trip is that you then have a back-up camera in case
something goes wrong with your main camera - the timing
behind me buying my superzoom was for just this reason.
longspur resting onboard a ship on the Shtokman field in the Barent's
As the above picture indicates - the superzoom can take good
Although I in no way consider myself an expert with the
superzoom I have (I haven't even read the manual properly yet!) there
are a number of things worth pointing out.
1) This camera seems to be really heavy on battery usage - so
take PLENTY of batteries.
2) I have yet to find out how to have the flash switched on without
having the annoying electronic noise on. Switching the camera into
"silent" also disables the flash. This may just be "finger trouble" but
is worth finding out about
Due to the lower resolution of these cameras compared with many DSLR
cameras (at least to my "main" one) the zoom does not seem to be as
fantastic as it sounds. Yes, the magnification is there, but when one
looks at how many pixels there are in an image you can achieve the same
amount of detail using a less powerful lens on a DSLR.
The following comparsion was undertaken on a cloudy day in September
(same day as the signpost pictures above were taken). The supeezoom is
zoomed up to maximum and compared to the fixed 400mm and DSLR (not a
full format camera)
At first glance both pictures are quite similar - a reasonable picture
of a Ruff.
and 400mm telephoto lens
Superzoom Ruff at the same distance
cropped images with no sharpening or any other adjustments are also
quite similar although the image from the superzoom seems a little
softer and has less contrast:
+ 400mm cropped and reduced
Superzoom cropped and reduced
Cropping a 440x440 area out of the original images really starts to
show the differences. Some of this will be due to the different depth
of field and some of it directly due to the quality of the lens etc. No
adjustments have been done to either image, just a crop of 440x440
pixels...These images are just a guideline - in good light and with
more experience with the superzoom the results may have been different.
& 400mm - obviously a sharper and cleaner image
Superzoom. At this level
there is obvious noise and rather less detail
worth some serious consideration as an only camera for birders wanting
to take documentation pictures of their sightings. Well worth having as
a second camera even if you already have a digiscoping setup or a DSLR
and a telephoto lens.