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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 3:32 pm
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Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Hello everyone!

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: ... 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...


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:03 am 
If whale watching is anything like birding, the 70-300 will be at the lower end of the useful focal range :)

OTOH, both the Sony H9 and Oly 550 are soft at full zoom...
Haze might also be a problem, so regardless of what you end up buying, a circular polarizer could help.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:14 am 
Gordon and Darrin
Cheers for the replies. A dSLR (even a budget) is probably a little out of my price range and I only ever used a compact before so that would be a big jump. H9 looks a good start but I will certainly look into everything you mentioned.

Thanks again,


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