Several events have conspired to result in my purchase of this camera. It is what is known as a ‘bridge’ camera, also sometimes referred to as a superzoom.
The bridge bit comes from it being a bridge between the simple point and shoot type of camera and the more complex DSLR (digital single lens reflex ) cameras which cost a lot more and are more complicated to use.
The superzoom comes from it having a lens which will magnify up to 60 times. Superzooms are lenses which will achieve anything from 40 to 60 magnification.
So why have I bought one when I already have some quite good Canon DSLR cameras?
First of all my camera equipment weighs a ton and when I am out and about for a day or on holiday then being weighed down with a big heavy rucksack does detract a bit. And as I am shortly going on a trip to Canada the thought of lugging all my gear half way across the world was not something I was looking forward to.
Secondly my big heavy telephoto is a 100mm to 400mm zoom which is quite good, but this is as nothing to the lens on the Panasonic which is 20mm to a massive 1200mm lens. To achieve a comparable magnification with DSLR gear would need an investment of well over £10,000 and a wheelbarrow to move it round.
Thirdly I have been recommended these bridge cameras by ‘experts’ from a camera club which I have recently joined and by a friend in Charente Maritime who has a similar model but of the Canon make.
The down side, first of all you will not get the same quality photo as with the expensive gear. All the photos in Wildlife Photographer of the Year are taken with gear costing anything fro £2,000 to £20,000. This camera costs about £250. However if you are not entering prestigious competions or wanting photos which can be blown up for use on advertising hoardigs then it is not important.
Also when you are taking pictures at 60X magnification you really need to hold the camera still and that means a tripod.
So I have had my camera a few days and here are some photos and comments about them.
This is a Hedge sparrow taken at 60X mag and with the camera on a tripod. The bird was about 20 meters from the camera. The quality is OK, but if you look closely or zoom in on the original photo then it does lack some definition.
The camera will extend the magnification to 120X but this is achieved digitally. The photo above was at about 80X. It seems difficult to prevent zooming past the 60X optical limit which is to my mind a waste of time as you significantly loose quality and can always crop your photos afterwards.
I took some close ups and they seem quite good and seem to maintain better definition when you zoom in on the picture, this one of some moss shows this quite well.
This is a very small hunting spider, the body is probably less than 50mm long, I took this with the 20mm end of the zoom less and then I have cropped it to bring it up to the size you are seeing. Still the definition is good and it will even crop some more, so am quite impressed with this aspect of the camera.
I will put some of the other photos into a slide show presentation so you can see what else has been achieved.
I think this is excellent value for money, and if you want to spend a bit more (£600) then Panasonic have a new bridge camera out with a much larger sensor. This is the element of all cameras which controls the quality of the photo, and which is the main limitation of all bridge cameras.