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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 9:54 pm 
I like taking photos of wildlife and also using macro function for insects etc. I am going overseas for 5 wks next year and want a portable camera with a long zoom so I can use it at home for wildlife.

I was very interested in the 35X Canon and Nikon but was told that I would have to use a tripod with them at max zoom. This would be a nuisance. Same rep told me the Panasonic Lumix FZ-150 was the best and most stable. I am not going to use a tripod on my trip I know that and won't use one at home. So what is the best camera? One that won't shake at max zoom?

Also, I live in Australia and have noticed that cameras are hugely cheaper buying online. What are the pitfalls to watch out for in buying a camera online?

On eBay there is a Panasonic FZ-150 free postage for $AU 472 shipped from Hong Kong, from Australia there is one for $609. In the local Camera House shop the same camera is $799 Au. Any advice on buying a camera online? Are warranties and repairs an issue if I but from an o/s location?

Many thanks

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:38 am 
Wildhaven - While the Makers all say in the ads that "they" have the best stabilising - unless you can use very high shutter speeds, none of the 30x / 700mm equiv. cameras can be hand-held perfectly steady at full zoom.

And with Bridge-Zooms - very high shutter-speeds and full-zoom seldom go together - because at full zoom the aperture is a lot smaller than in the same light at nil-zoom. It's just the way the lens assemblies have to be designed to get a "1 lens does all - from Wide End to Extreme Zoom" setup.

Brands might vary a little - but at full zoom in good light you'll have an aperture of f/5.6 or smaller, using a 1/2.3" sensor - about 6.2 x 4.6mm. That doesn't compare too well with even an entry-level crop-body sensor around 12+ times that size....

So the bridge-zoom has to compromise with aperture and shutter speed at full zoom. Meaning - that from about 500mm / very-approx 18x up - a lot of compromising is going on. With a Canon SX10/SX20 (identical lenses) - at 20x, that's 560mm equiv. At that, you can hold quite steady with IS help, and get sharp (for sensor size) images. The current SX40 at 35x / 840mm equiv - needs some stabilising help to get "sharp" images.

My Fuji HS10 - 30x / 720mm equiv. - needs stabilising help in the last quarter of its zoom, even in good light - or you'll at best get "snaps" - not good clear images. As the light level drops - a good rest or tripod is needed at lower zoom levels.

The Shop person who told you that the FZ150 would be "best and most stable" at full zoom was probably right - but they weren't comparing "over 30x zoom" cameras - the FZ150 is a 24x / 600mm zoom device.

600mm isn't at all much over the 560mm of my Canon SX10 (SX20, same) - and being a 2011 camera, might have more advanced stabilising, too.

So if you'll be traveling and can't take a tripod everywhere - the FZ150 might be a good choice - or another, longer-zoom brand - and just use the amount of zoom you'd find by experiment, that you can hand-hold steady enough to get good sharp images.

The FZ150 does also have a mountable option of extension optical zoom that takes it out to 1,020mm equiv. - where you'd certainly need a tripod.

Note: - The Reviews on this site are the best and most comprehensive on the Internet - and Gordon has done a superb one for the FZ150 - including other-camera comparisons. Click the "Camera Reviews" on left of the black bar above to find it.

I also live in Oz - Sydney - and often wonder, from the pricing, if the camera versions we get here have solid gold cases with large diamonds inlaid... Sadly not - it's just us-punters being rorted on "electronics" again...

Sure - you can buy online - or get a friend overseas to buy items to send you. The problem is - Australian Warranty. Not every example of every product is perfect - and that includes cameras.

So sure, you can save a lot buying online or overseas. But work out first where you'd need to post/freight it to for a Warranty Claim. A couple of insured-post "returns" overseas might come to more than the initial savings - plus, you don't know how long that'd leave you without your camera...

PS:- Digital Camera Warehouse - main cities - has already dropped their FZ150 price to $669.00 - and they have reliable extension Warranties at not too extreme prices.

Regards, Dave.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:22 pm 
Thanks Dave taking the time to answer my queries. I am a beginner so didn't understand some of it about shutter speed.

I will check out the Panasonic Lumix 150 which gets a glowing review on this site and see how steady it is at full zoom. I'll steer clear of the Canon and Nikon 30+ zooms as I'll be paying for zoom I'll never use.

Apart from the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 what cameras would you recommend given that I'll be pointing and shooting and don't want to use a tripod. I'd like to get the most zoom and the best quality pictures without a tripod. Don't want much do I?

I noticed that the slightly older models are so much cheaper than the latest ones and perhaps one of these would be just fine. I love taking photos but I'll never be a pro, although with more free time I hope to get better.

I googled around about buying cameras online and want an Australian Panasonic warranty. Camera Warehouse offers this so I'll go with them when I finally decide. Thanks for the tip. I don't like the idea of posting my camera to Hong Kong and wonder about the warranties that are being offered by different sites, how reliable they are given they are not manufacturer's warranties.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:50 am 
Kathleen - It does depend on just what you want to do with a camera. For Wildlife, you do need some reach - but how much can depend on how far you need to be from the creatures, for safety...

The FZ150 is one of the most advanced and well-equipped bridge zooms around, and that shows in the pricing. Are you going to need all of the features? 12fps (frames per second) Continuous Shooting is very good - that is, if you're ever going to use that, as one example.

Panasonic also makes the FZ47 - which has the same body and 24x zoom as the FZ150, but fewer advanced features. It has fewer video options, and doesn't shoot RAW images like the FZ150, so on. You can Google the 'Specifications' sheets of the two and compare the functions.

Ladies sometimes prefer light cameras for ease of carrying - but can also like a reasonable weight balance for holding steady. The FZ150 is just over 500-grams with battery and card, the FZ47, just under. At DCW the FZ47 is about $130.00 less than the FZ150.

If you'd prefer a 'flatter' more compact shape - also a lot lighter at 142-grams - Panasonic also makes the TZ20 - which has 16x (24-384mm) zoom - and is just over $400.00. It does do HD video, and 10fps Continuous.

Note, though, that unlike the cameras mentioned above, it doesn't have a Viewfinder. This is the modern trend for entry to midrange P&S cameras. You have to hold the camera out in front of you and aim with the LCD screen on the back of the camera. Or rest it on something to steady it.

Some people find that easy - others are used to a viewfinder and the "braced triangle" - camera to face, elbows firmly to sides - to aim and steady the camera.

Worth mentioning, particularly if you haven't bought a camera recently, as this trend to "no-viewfinder" on cameras up to quite high in the P&S price-range does catch some folk out... So if your earlier cameras - or family ones you were using - were the viewfinder type, and that's what you're used to - check carefully what you're buying.

Here in Oz - you can pay over $400.00 for a Canon S95 - or Nikon S9100 - and neither has a viewfinder... For the prices in some regions - part-equipped cameras might be a "bargain" - but not for the daft prices we pay here...

Must agree with you about suffering the prices here to get the Australian Warranty. With a camera that you'll want to use for 2 or 3 years, it can be well worthwhile asking about Extended Warranty pricing.

Regards, Dave.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:48 pm 
Whichever camera you buy I would recommend using a monopod at longer focal lengths. They will give you the stability you need and are light and convenient to carry about. Also cheap!

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:01 am 
Dave from Coventry,
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll check out the monopod and see if it is something I would use.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:26 am 
Thanks again Dave, especially for alerting me to the viewfinder pitfall! I am used to using a viewfinder and need to go to the Camera House store and drive them crazy looking and handling what they have and then going to DCH and buying from them. But now I know what to look for and the questions to ask.
ps the wildlife around here are pretty timid, they keep running away, wallabies and goannas etc but I would love to go on a safari in Africa where the added reach would be appropriate.
pps. I think for the extra $130 I'd rather get the Panasonic Z150 than the FZ47

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