Superzoom P&S vs entry DSLR

Discussion in 'Digital Discussion & Q&A' started by Telex, Nov 30, 2008.

  1. Telex

    Telex TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi everyone,

    I've decided to get a camera for Christmas this year, as I'm going to be taking some trips next summer. Also, I am a casual birdwatcher and would like to try my hand at photographing them. With that in mind, I've been looking at the new 18x superzoom point-and-shoots, like the Panasonic Lumix FZ18, as well as entry-level DSLRs like the Nikon D40. I'm just trying to decide what would be a better fit, and have a few questions:

    1. Is the shutter-speed issue on point-and-shoots a huge deal? I've used my brother's DSLR and some point-and-shoots, but not enough to really decide for myself. I heard that for bird photographs, the pauses between button-press and picture can be rough, but is it worth the extra money?

    2. How much do superzoom lenses cost for DSLR's? I wouldn't want anything fancy, but would like a pretty big zoom, comparable to around a 12x or 18x.

    3. I generally enjoy learning to use new equipment, but also do not want to worry about little settings when sightseeing in Europe next summer. How much of a commitment is it to get confident with snapping photos with a DSLR over a point-and-shoot? And are the rewards of the flexibility of a DSLR worth it if I remain a casual photographer?

    I suppose my biggest concern is getting an ultra-zoom point-and-shoot and then a few months later deciding I want a DSLR... I want to buy a camera I'll be satisfied with for a few years at least, and will allow me to get what I want out of my photos (which I know is a very subjective goal, heh).

    So, to summarize this post: Is the price jump from a superzoom point-and-shoot to an entry level DSLR worth it for someone who is interested in casual photography/vacation pictures?

    (And again, I know this is very subjective, so really any advice regarding the comparison of the two would be very helpful)

    Thanks
     
  2. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Messages:
    7,021
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    1. I would think any sort of shutter delay would be a real disadvantage when photographing wildlife, but I think some of the compacts are starting to address this. You may be able to find a compact that doesn't have much delay.

    3. Entry level DSLRs have all the auto modes most compacts have.

    A DSLR will probably end up more expensive, and you'll be hauling a larger camera bag.

    In bright daylight there will be little difference in image quality. In all other situations most DSLRs would probably outperform most compacts.
     
  3. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Messages:
    7,500
    Likes Received:
    478
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I think a superzoon with wide angle is your best bet.
     
  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Messages:
    9,713
    Likes Received:
    203
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    1. It's not just shutter delay. Remember focusing starts when you depress your shutter. take the delay and add the fact that DSLRs use very sophisticated autofocus systems compared to compact cameras and you will find that the DSLR not just reacts much faster when photographing wildlife, but the wildlife in question will actually be in focus too. I see tourists all the time who have enough of a problem getting focus on immobile objects simply because they are not prepared to wait for their camera and simply depress the button and walk away.

    2. One word: NO. More words: Superzooms are not good. The wider the zoom range the lower quality the final image will be. One of the largest superzooms available is the 18-200mm which is just over 10x. I have it in europe with me at the moment, but I can't wait to get back home and return it to my friend and get my larger but far far better lens collection back. The greatest part about SLRs is that you can pick the lens for the task. If you are really keen about wildlife photography, an entry level SLR with a 70-300mm lens will let you snap up pretty much any piece of nature without getting close enough to spook it. It may only be 4.2x zoom but the point is to get the zoom range that suits your purpose. Everything else is just a compromise.

    To answer your question the 18-200 for instance costs around $900 AUD ($600US if my memory serves)

    3. DSLRs have a little green box or program mode just like any other camera. I can just as easily set my definitely not entry level DSLR in a way that anyone can use it providing they know where the zoom ring on the lens is and where the shutter button is. Learning a camera when you don't want to is not an issue.

    I would make a recomendation though. Consider this carefully. DSLRs are great. They are part of a huge hobby for many of us, but to take advantage of them they need to be taken seriously. A D40 with a superzoom lens that will be used in program auto mode really is not much better then getting one of the Olympus Point and shoots with their large 10x optical zoom lenses. However a D40 with a superzoom can form a massive step up into the wonderful world of photography. Consider if you want to take this further. If you wish to stay with vacation snaps and casual bird snaps then stick with your point and shoot. But if you form a real interest in photography consider getting a DSLR with either a super zoom or a 18-70mm + 70-300mm lens kit.

    Ultimately whether the cost is worth it or not is really something only you can answer.
     
  5. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    Messages:
    1,662
    Likes Received:
    7
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    This is a much bigger disadvantage than shutter lag. I use a superzoom. It is definitely the focusing time that will cause me to miss something.

    I would second this. To me, it sounds rather silly to spend $1000+ on a dSLR and lenses just for using as a point and shoot. The superzooms take quite nice photos. They are very good quality. Granted, you get better general quality out of a dSLR, but that doesn't mean that the quality of lesser cameras suck.

    Vacation and family gathering type photos usually mean 4x6 prints. I'm not sure if there is much of a difference in 4x6 between a superzoom and dSLR used in auto modes. To someone interested in photography over someone interested in just snapping pictures, the dSLR is the way to go and the quality difference would be huge. But, someone interested in photography and knowing how to use a camera, the superzoom will be better photos than someone just snapping in auto with a dSLR. I take better photos with my $200 superzoom than my coworker/friend does with auto mode on his $1500 worth of dSLR and accessories.

    Don't be afraid of the superzooms if you don't want to learn about all the aspects of photography and exposure. Also, don't be afraid of the superzooms if you don't have $1000 to spend. I had $200 to spend and that was a stretch. I originally was in the market for a compact put-in-my-pocket compact until I picked up my Fuji superzoom. I was researching cameras and came across photography sites (like TPF) and went with my Fuji because of the manual modes and adjustments. I'm having a blast with mine and photography. Yes, I wish I could go dSLR, but not everyone is living in good times these past few years.
     
  6. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    May 14, 2007
    Messages:
    5,076
    Likes Received:
    202
    Location:
    Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Well, the Nikon D40 at 6 megapixels with kit lens is certainly far from what I would consider useful for bird photography. The Nikon D60 or better yet the D90 with a better quality telephoto of at least 70mm to 300mm or greater would do the job way better, but you get what you pay for, and this solution is more expensive. Your budget may restrict you from seriously considering bird photography unless you get into rigging up bird feeders with traps that automatically set off your camera that is close by and hidden. Of course unless you are extremely ingenious, that can be expensive too. It could also get your camera stolen, depending on your area.

    skieur
     
  7. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Messages:
    7,021
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Just take photos with both cameras set to ISO 400, and I think the difference is quite clear.
     
  8. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Messages:
    7,997
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Slapamonkey, New York
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    If you are looking to get into birding, even casually you are looking in the wrong direction unless you have some major pocket padding. Given the fact you are even considering the superzoom I have to assume you do not.

    The mere introduction of the word casual tells me you are not looking to spend large amounts of time waiting for your birds to get comfortable and that you will be advantage shooting. I am an advantage shooter when it comes to birding so here is my two cents:

    Super Zoom

    Cons
    Shutter lag of P&S is definately detrimental - you will miss shots

    Super zoom of P&S quick* but is poor quality - increases aberation, amung others

    Sensor of P&S is generally small - this amplifies noise making high ISO intolerable.

    Startup time - This varies from camera to camera but I've seen a few rated in the seconds range, that could cost you the shot

    ---------------------------------

    Pros
    Small go anywhere multifunction

    ____________________________________

    In general birds do not sit still for long and a fraction of a second can be the difference between the garbage can and National Geographic, so you want something that will get the shot when you want it. This points you to the SLR, but dSLR's are not perfect either:

    dSLR

    Cons
    Price tag - big thing to advantage shooting is range after the body you will likely need a lens which has a price tag of it's own.

    Battery life - Dead batteries blow, I'll get more into this later on

    Size - dSLR's are a much bigger peice of equipment, and when you get into big glass they become very difficult to take everywhere.

    Lenses - Pending the lens you get often times the best lenses for this type of shooting are rather limmited and don't work well for alternate applications.

    ---------------------------------

    Pros
    Lenses - You can get what you need and only what you need and more often than not the glass will be acceptable to superb quality.

    Sensor - Sensors are larger in the dSLR and and are less prone to noise in addition to noise reduction opening up some higher ISO for faster shutter speeds.
    ____________________________________

    Well, lets take more detailed a look at the price tags snaffle. The Nikon D40 with it's 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens has an MSRP of $499.95 but I have seen them for sale at half of that so we'll go with $299.00. The 18-55 ain't gonna do you at all for birding of any kind so you will need something else. I use a 400mm 5.6 prime lens....well I will guess you are not ready for a major prime like that so we'll stick to zooms. over my time here I have seen the 70-200 recomended more times than I can count so we'll go with that:

    Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED - $1545.00 - ouch
    Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 II EX DG APO Macro HSM AF Lens for Nikon - $799.00 - it stings a little but might be pullable
    Tamron AF70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) Macro - $699.00 - little better than the Sigma


    Now your casual camera rig is running at a plausable $998.00 and this is before spare batteries, bag, filters and whatever other accesseries you may desire.
    ____________________________________

    I would like you to consider a film SLR as a very real possibility. If your wallet is not willing to permit a grand for a body and additional lens film SLRs are a awesome option.

    SLR

    Cons
    Size - SLR's are a much bigger peice of equipment, More so than dSLR and when you get into big glass they become very difficult to take everywhere.

    Lenses - Pending the lens you get often times the best lenses for this type of shooting are rather limmited and don't work well for alternate applications.

    Film Frame - Full frame lots of space to work with, also changed the way a lens behaves, that same 70-200 that works on the D40 is generally insufficient on a full frame requiring bigger glass to compensate.

    Film grain - You'll have that especailly at high ISO but it is manageable

    Processing and waiting for results - sorry but gotta wait a couple days.

    Additional equipment for digital display - you will need a film enabled scanner to display and edit digitally.

    ---------------------------------

    Pros
    Price tag - big thing to advantage shooting is range after the body you will likely need a lens which has a price tag of it's own. Film equipment is cheap, the more manual it is the cheaper it can be found.

    Battery life - Dead batteries blow, I'll get more into this later on

    Lenses - You can get what you need and only what you need and more often than not the glass will be acceptable to superb quality.

    Film Frame - Full frame lots of space to work with.

    Price Dispursion - You won't need to go into debt to create photos,



    Film equipment is cheap, the more manual it is the cheaper it can be found. Prolly the cheapest you will find is the Canon FD mount bodies and the Pentax threaded mount bodies, the draw back to these is they use manual focusing lenses but getting a body with a split circle focusing screen, even a child can manual focus. Since your Super zoom option and your dSLR option are of different makes I'm going to opperate on the assumption you are not thinking of brand loyalty to Nikon and go with what I know best, The Canon FD.

    I'll suggest the Canon AE-1 Program - Averages around $100, I've seen kits go on E-bay with three or four lenses for around $150 to $200, sets like this one.

    Now the 80-200 that comes with the set I linked will not be enough, I know I have an 80-200, been there, tried that, failed at it. You will want something bigger

    Canon FD 100-300mm F4 Telephoto Zoom - Quick Ebay search provides Bin $56.63 to $150.00 and for a little more money you can go bigger if you want, I paid only $100 for my 400 prime I have seen the same lens go even cheaper, so the price on the longer zooms should be comperable.

    Now there are far more reputable places to purchase equipment but E-bay is ok for quick reference, and if you know how to browse E-bay and pick the frauds out of the line up it is an acceptable source of gear.

    Now your casual camera rig is running at a plausable $300.00 and this is with potentially multiple lenses (mostly manufacturer glass) and accesseries. Yes film processing does have a price but it can wait untill you have the money to pay for it and still continue to take photos in the mene time, unlike digital where if you don't have the money for a component you either go into debt for it or don't get it till you do and obviously if you ain't got it you can't use it. Additionally if you print your digital pictures at a local place you still pay similar fees for prints. As far as scanning goes, film enabled flatbed scanners can be bought at most office supply stores, I've seen them as low as $90 for a Canon LiDE. A film enabled flatbed scanner can scan your negs as well as whatever else you you may need scanned unlike mine as I use more dedicated equipment. This puts your casual rig with digital display at a plausable $400.00 or less not including processing and processing is paid only when needed and that varies from location to location and with an individuals shooting frequency.

    Ah yes, I nearly forgot about the batteries....Battery life is important as you can guess, Modern cameras have so many things running on the battery it is not uncommon to have them go dead. The older the camera the fewer the stresses on the battery, I have had batteries in my film SLR last for over a year and at five bucks a pop I have no problems stockpiling them from radio shack. I frequently walk around with my camera powered on so that I can pull up and shoot imeadiately. My digital P&S however, I am luckey if they last a couple weeks and I barely use it, prolly fewer than 200 shots. Now I have to admit some ignorance on the price of a modern SLR/dSLR battery but I can assure you it ain't five bucks and you will want two, just in case and you prolly would not get away with walking power on with a modern camera for very long.


    Just to show you that I am not blowing hot air:

    All shot at various film speeds with Vivitar 400mm wile out strolling

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I have a better Blue Jay but I'm re-processing it at the moment...
    ____________________________________
    * Quick is in reference to lens speed or max aperture, the smaller the number the faster the lens
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  9. Telex

    Telex TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I want to thank you all for posting such great replies, it's a huge help

    I'm definitely leaning toward a superzoom because of price - if I had the spare money I would love to spend it on a DSLR, but like many of you suggested I really need to think about whether the price is worth it for me. Probably the most responsible idea is to start out with the superzoom and move up when/if I decide its a hinderance and want a DSLR.

    I'm going to check out some cameras at the local shops today, see how they feel etc etc

    Thanks again

    Oh, and the idea of a film camera is an interesting one, thanks for spending the time to explain it... maybe as a later addition as a bird camera, so I could have the convenience of the P&S for vacations etc and be able to scratch the wildlife itch with that
     
  10. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    May 10, 2007
    Messages:
    7,997
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Slapamonkey, New York
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    No problem, I know this was posted in the digital discussion but I got the feeling fairly quickley that you are looking at your first camera and I know from experience that many first time buyers often over look the film SLRs.
     
  11. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Messages:
    9,713
    Likes Received:
    203
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    If you want to take one feature out in isolation, then lets do another. Go skiing with a D40 + 70-300mm lens in your pocket, now go skiing with a point and shoot with 10x zoom. I think the difference is quite clear.
     
  12. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    Messages:
    1,662
    Likes Received:
    7
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    That made me smile :D
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page
compact super zoom
,
difference between super zoom and dslr
,
entry level dslr vs superzoom
,
lenses in dslr compensate optical zoom in p&s ?
,
picture quality between super zoom and dslr
,
super zoom camera vs dslr
,
super zoom point and shoot vs dslr
,
super zoom vs slr
,
superzoom cameras vs dslr
,

superzoom vs dslr