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digital camera recommendations?
Old 12-05-2019, 11:08 AM   #1
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digital camera recommendations?

I'm not a photography enthusiast, nor am I particularly knowledgeable about cameras, but I do like to take pictures of wildlife when hiking, visiting parks and even looking out from the back patio or windows. In other words, I need some decent zoom capability. On the other hand, I am not interested in manually focusing, setting f stops (whatever those are) or fiddling with all the other settings that real photographers love to play with. What I am looking for is an affordable (less than $400?) point and shoot that won't take weeks to figure out. Anyone out there of a similar mind that has found their perfect camera?
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:23 AM   #2
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Get answers at DPReview.com
Or Fujifilm FinePix XP140 for $230 USD.
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:46 AM   #3
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I haven't had a P&S for years since phone cameras do the trick now. But phones rely on digital zoom which isn't great. I used to like the Nikon Coolpix line if that's still a thing.

With a $400 budget, any entry point Canon Rebel D-SLR will go further, and still be simple to use, if a bit larger to carry.
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Old 12-05-2019, 12:07 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by whitet View Post
I'm not a photography enthusiast, nor am I particularly knowledgeable about cameras, but I do like to take pictures of wildlife when hiking, visiting parks and even looking out from the back patio or windows. In other words, I need some decent zoom capability. On the other hand, I am not interested in manually focusing, setting f stops (whatever those are) or fiddling with all the other settings that real photographers love to play with. What I am looking for is an affordable (less than $400?) point and shoot that won't take weeks to figure out. Anyone out there of a similar mind that has found their perfect camera?
I can't offer any specific recommendation as I haven't bought a new camera in years. However, there is no perfect camera for all needs. DSLR's, point and shoots, and action cameras all serve different functions.

If you plan to do a lot of hiking and outdoor photography, you may want to look at waterproof cameras such as the Panasonic TS7 and Olympus TG-6. They're built to take a beating and can work fine out in the rain, snorkeling in the ocean, tossed in a backpack, or a few drops onto the ground. You won't get the zoom range or image quality some other cameras may offer, but they're more rugged for outdoor use.

On the other hand, if you're primarily bird watching or photographing wildlife from a distance you'll want to limit your search to cameras with a large zoom range.

Most point and shoot cameras have tiny image sensors, but you'll get better quality from larger sensors if you can find them.

If you plan to shoot any video, I would look for a camera with 4K capability. Even if you only need 1080P HD, the 4K gives you resolution to stabilize, crop, and resize without losing too much detail.

There are tons of camera guides out there. Just search Google for "best camera for...".
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:00 PM   #5
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It is kinda like asking for a vehicle recommendation. You will get recommendations from a Miata to a 3/4 ton pickup regardless of your stated preference. I have two cameras, a Canon Elph that fits in my pocket and I use 99% of the time and a Powershot ultra zoom which is easy to use but bulky.


I've found that the camera I have with me is the one that takes the pictures and the Elph slips right in my pocket.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:11 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by whitet View Post
I'm not a photography enthusiast, nor am I particularly knowledgeable about cameras, but I do like to take pictures of wildlife when hiking, visiting parks and even looking out from the back patio or windows. In other words, I need some decent zoom capability. On the other hand, I am not interested in manually focusing, setting f stops (whatever those are) or fiddling with all the other settings that real photographers love to play with. What I am looking for is an affordable (less than $400?) point and shoot that won't take weeks to figure out. Anyone out there of a similar mind that has found their perfect camera?
Modern cameras have incredible auto focusing zoom lenses built in which makes SLR's almost a thing of the past for most camera users.

But don't think that you'll ever master photo techniques on any modern cameras in your lifetime. Cameras' owners manuals now are online because a paper manual might be 1000 pages. The trick is just finding out how to let the camera make its own focus, F stop and shutter speed decisions. They're capable of making photos (and movies) with special effects that most people don't use.

I was an excellent photographer back in the 35 mm days. I'm still trying to learn the basics. I bought a Lumix (by Panasonic) FZ80K camera for about $300. Canon, Nikon and Sony all have comparable cameras that are very good too.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitet View Post
I'm not a photography enthusiast, nor am I particularly knowledgeable about cameras, but I do like to take pictures of wildlife when hiking, visiting parks and even looking out from the back patio or windows. In other words, I need some decent zoom capability. On the other hand, I am not interested in manually focusing, setting f stops (whatever those are) or fiddling with all the other settings that real photographers love to play with. What I am looking for is an affordable (less than $400?) point and shoot that won't take weeks to figure out. Anyone out there of a similar mind that has found their perfect camera?
As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you .

A few months back I got a Panasonic Lumix FZ300 bridge camera (range from about 28 mm - 600 mm, then even more with digital zoom). Priced as I type, right at about $400. Has decent zoom and the "dummy, non fiddle around" mode works pretty well. It isn't point and shoot as is more shaped like a built-in SLR with a zoom lens.

Check out the customer images reviews of the camera on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/PANASONIC-Fea.../dp/B011PKJI2Y

There are some people there (not me) who've used the camera for wildlife and on safari's.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:24 PM   #8
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I bought DW a nikon coolpix A900. I loved it so much I bought one for myself.

We take them traveling as they are relatively small and are 20 Mega pixel with 35x actual zoom (not the fake digital zoom, although adding that makes it 70x).

It does 4K videos at 30 fps.

Only issue has been since the zoom is so great, I'm always tempted to take photos of far away things, even when I don't have a tripod.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:44 PM   #9
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http://www.steves-digicams.com/ has reviewed thousands of cameras, with comparison photos, details, etc.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:47 PM   #10
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Might want to take a look at the Cannon SX740 at Costco. $350 and it has a 40X optical zoom. Also, it seems very compact which would be helpful if you want to hike with it.
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Old 12-05-2019, 02:51 PM   #11
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I've been able to surprisingly good wildlife pictures with my late model iPhone, but sometimes I too like to zoom in on a bird or other animal to help identify them.

A long time ago I had a nice Canon Powershot SD800sx and I got some great Safari pictures and videos in South Africa back in 2010.

But that camera was getting a little long in the tooth, so I picked up a Canon Powershot SX740hs last year. Having 40X zoom (with optical image stabilization) has been very nice (the SD800 was 15X).

At about 10 oz. it's pretty light too and at around $350 it's a good compromise of price and zoom features. There's no way I want to lug around an expensive SLR with big lenses on hikes.

Of course, camera's are about tradeoffs and you have to decide what works best for you. I'm very happy with my Canon SX740.
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:36 PM   #12
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Along with ballpark budget (which OP already stated) couple of questions to consider too I think are:

1) Do you prefer portability like a small point and shoot or larger camera so easier hold?

2) Will you use camera indoors without flash?

Answering those questions can narrow things down more.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:26 PM   #13
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Thank you for all the great input. Have I mentioned that I really love early-retirement.org?
To prioritize my needs:

1. 25X optical zoom or better. My old Powershot had 12X, which was good, but now I'd like to upgrade.
2. Not bulky, meaning dSLR is definitely out, but obviously the zoom requirement will likely cost me some amount of portability/size.
3. Ease of use. Since I have owned 2 Powershots in the past, Canon has a decided edge here due to my familiarity with their general operation.
4. Good low light performance, but indoor shooting is not a big consideration. Sure, it'll probably get used for this, but not the primary reason for this camera.

Will be looking closely at all those mentioned above that meet these requirements in my price range.
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Old 12-05-2019, 04:50 PM   #14
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As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you .
This is very true and as I've gotten older I'm less and less willing to lug a big DSLR and herd of lenses around. Current cellphones do surprisingly well and that's often all I carry, but when I encounter far away wildlife I do understand the OP's desire for more zoom than a phone camera provides.

So for nature hikes my wife and I often compromise on a compact superzoom like the Canon SX 60 (now replaced by the SX 70) or a Nikon B500. We've had both and both work fine. They're not tiny like a phone but they're smaller than a DSLR and work decently for everything from landscapes to birding. No, they're not going to replicate the output of a full frame DSLR with a a monster telephoto lens - but the results are surprisingly close at a small fraction of the weight and cost.
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Old 12-05-2019, 05:58 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by whitet View Post
I'm not a photography enthusiast, nor am I particularly knowledgeable about cameras, but I do like to take pictures of wildlife when hiking, visiting parks and even looking out from the back patio or windows. In other words, I need some decent zoom capability. On the other hand, I am not interested in manually focusing, setting f stops (whatever those are) or fiddling with all the other settings that real photographers love to play with. What I am looking for is an affordable (less than $400?) point and shoot that won't take weeks to figure out. Anyone out there of a similar mind that has found their perfect camera?
You should consider a bridge camera like the Lumix FZ1000. They are going for $447 as part of a holiday bundle with extra batteries, bag, memory card, software at Focus Camera (including tax and free shipping).

https://www.focuscamera.com/panasoni...ay-bundle.html

That camera takes great photos and videos and has a decent zoom. It also sells on Amazon for $530 plus tax (camera alone).

The other option is the superzoom Lumix FZ80 (60X zoom) which is now selling for $297 or less.
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Old 12-05-2019, 06:30 PM   #16
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If you like Canon cameras, I'd recommend their refurbs for example: https://shop.usa.canon.com/shop/en/c...hs-refurbished
I got a GX1 MkII that way and I couldn't tell it from new.
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Old 12-05-2019, 06:58 PM   #17
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I was an excellent photographer back in the 35 mm days. I'm still trying to learn the basics. I bought a Lumix (by Panasonic) FZ80K camera for about $300. Canon, Nikon and Sony all have comparable cameras that are very good too.

Seconded. I have a Lumix, too, the DMC-FZ47K, and I only use it as a point-and-shoot. It has an excellent optical zoom; my mother-in-law has a really nice camera, and she was envious of the shots I got on our vacation!
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Old 12-05-2019, 11:01 PM   #18
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I'd recommend the Canon SX60 HS or Canon SX70 HS....both have 65X zoom. The SX70 is the newer version of the SX60. I have the previous version (SX50) to both of them and that one has 50X zoom. I like that camera a lot...great pictures and many versatile features. If something happened to my SX50, I'd replace it with the SX60 or SX70. You can use the totally automatic setting and it works great or you can set it manually if you want to. They're priced in the $400-500 range.
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Old 12-06-2019, 07:24 AM   #19
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I have carried a Canon G11 and a previously a G9 on bike trips for years. I like to hang it around my neck and snap pictures at will. I like having an optical viewfinder in addition to the camera back screen. Screens can be difficult to see in sunlight and the optical viewfinder works great. I'm torn now because it's time to replace my G11 (I don't know what the current version is) but I want a waterproof P&S because I am going on a Grand Canyon raft trip in May. There are a lot of good waterproof P&S cameras available but I haven't found one with a viewfinder. If anyone knows of one, please let me know.
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Old 12-06-2019, 08:57 AM   #20
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... I want a waterproof P&S because I am going on a Grand Canyon raft trip in May...
We rafted the canyon a few years ago and I bought a waterproof case for my P&S, rather than a w/p camera. Can't recommend it. Though the camera stayed dry while taking some very cool whitewater shots and video, keeping it that way while opening and closing the case was just a pain and darn near mission impossible.
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