Forum member Davidlinehan posted the following question in one of our sticky threads:
"I've started whale watching and am weighing up the Olympus 550 and Sony H9. Is the H9 faster on auto-focus? I reckon that could make a big difference when only getting a glimpse of the subject. But then the 18x zoom is very appealling also! Any help appreciated "
I've started a new thread for this subject because there's a lot of people who've asked a similar question - and also lots of people who I'm sure would like to comment!
In direct answer to David, the H9 sure is much quicker to focus, especially when zoomed-in, so in terms of non-DSLRs, it's definitely the most appropriate for this kind of work. I'd also not get too hung up on the difference between 15x and 18x. Compare the coverage examples in our reviews below and you'll see there's not much difference in practice:
http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Olymp ... age3.shtml
So between the two, I'd go for the Sony H9 for whale watching, but ultimately no compact / superzoom will respond as quickly as a DSLR. So I'd seriously consider a budget DSLR with a big lens - maybe the Nikon D40 with the 55-200 or 70-300 for instance. But then obviously this will be bigger, pricier and heavier than something like a Sony H9...