[Tweeters] Responses to question about best ultrazoom camera

Jane Hadley hadleyj1725 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 27 18:28:35 PST 2017

Hello Tweetsters - On Nov 21, I asked for opinions or suggestions on
what is the best ultrazoom point-and-shoot camera these days. I have a
Canon PowerShot SX-40 camera and have been wondering if there is a newer
ultrazoom out there that would be a noticeable improvement over my SX-40.

The main challenges for ultrazooms in my experience are poor performance
in low light; difficulty focusing on the bird rather than on surrounding
wires or vegetation; and shutter lag. So I am always interested in new
cameras that improve in these critical areas, rather than just adding
new features to the hundreds of features the cameras already have.

I received a number of helpful responses to my question, though many
were people asking me to let them know what I heard.

Here are the suggestions and opinions I received and thanks much to
those who provided them!


I suggest you go to Kenmore Camera and ask that same question.  I have
found the staff to be very knowledgeable and they won't try to over sell
you on something you don't need.



I used the SX-40 followed by the SX-50 followed by the Canon G3X.

They all have the problems that you mention.  If you do nothing else, I
would recommend getting the SX-50 because it is noticeably better than
the SX-40 and is relatively inexpensive since the SX-60 came out.

I like the G3X better than either of the other two because it has an
electronic viewfinder so I can find and photo the little birds that
eluded me with the other two.  It has less zoom, but that is for the
most part offset by the fact that the photos are more croppable.

A low light trick that has worked for me is to turn the exposure
compensation dial anywhere from +2/3 to +2.   Also, sometimes I focus on
a large object that is the same distance as the bird, hold the shutter
button partially down, shift to the bird and then take the photo.  Often
I can't get the bird in focus and mutter something as it flies off.

I wish someone would make an AARP camera and eliminate all of the fancy
buttons that I never use.  Maybe they could make them like autos.  You
order a camera with the features that you want.


I'm on my 3rd Sony Superzoom, this one a DSC-HX400V.  I have many of the
same problems as you do with low light.  And every time I take it out of
my camera bag, the dial has turned and tricks me into taking pics in the
wrong mode.  It does 50x.  Sony also has one with a longer zoom, but
it's a lesser camera.  This one has wi-fi GPS and a hot shoe for
attaching a flash (good for taking pics in large gatherings where the
built-in flash won't reach far enough, esp not when zoomed).  This one
also has threads on the lens so I can attach a protective filter (my
last camera was abandoned because of a scratched lens and didn't have

Why I chose Sony:  Fastest shutter lag.  Not many reviewers even mention
shutter lag, but I got burned years ago with an Olympus, where you focus
& get ready, then press the shutter, then you wait while the camera gets
around to taking the picture.  So press the shutter when the bird flies
into view, then get a picture of nothing but blue sky.  Sony's shutter
lag specs are the best that I could find, but I couldn't find them for
all competitors.  Wish it was more widely reported.

One thing I've noticed with all 3 Sony's is that the plastic parts wear
out, and it's nearly all plastic.  I always have an electrician-tape
patch somewhere on the body, especially the battery compartment.  This
one came with a cord for charging the batteries inside the camera.  I've
never used it.  I bought 3 chargers and 6 extra batteries for it, and
I'm happy with that. I'm just mad that every brand has their own
proprietary battery, so you can't just go down to the drugstore for a
battery or share with others.

I also never use Best Of lists, since they're not written by birders. 
Any camera can do fine with a perched bird posing for the camera. 
That's not what we care about.


I use Nikon Cool Pix P900  with 83x zoom, P700 is 60x zoom, Excellent
photos.16 Megapixel. But the quality is lost with zoom.
I am not a camera nerd. I keep the settings in auto. But in case of low
light, there is a cool knob to increase exposure in case of low light (
may be all cameras do ? ). I found it very helpful.

check out this Minnesotta birder who put a comparison table for all the
best cameras for birding.


Look at the Nikon P900


My current camera is only my second-ever digital camera, a Canon SX-50
HS, which is a miraculous improvement, as far as I am concerned.
Finally, a klutz can take identifiable bird photos.

That said, there is the exact problem you describe--needlessly
complicated menu nightmares that lead one into inextricable settings. A
friend of mine tried to "improve" my settings a few weeks ago, and I
took a week to get out of them and back to normal.

For me, the biggest problem with the camera is focusing on songbirds in
the bushes, where the camera wants to focus on the foreground herbage.


Though I primarily use a dSLR these days for birds, I am a big fan of
superzooms. I own the Panasonic FZ200, FZ70, and FZ80. I also have the
Nikon P900. Each one has their strengths.

The Nikon P900

    - 2000mm reach
    - Great focusing
    - Great image stabilization, amazing at 2000mm
    - Very good image quality throughout the zoom range
    - Articulating LCD

    - Awful interface - a chore to change settings when speed matters
    - Slow processor, small buffer - means you get blacked out after
taking shots, have to wait, wait, wait before taking more pics and you
lose sight of the bird you are following. VERY FRUSTRATING!
    - Video is strictly automatic, no control, audio is not good
    - Kinda big with that lens
    - No raw, strictly JPEG

from what I've read from actual users, the B700 also suffers the same
interface, buffer/processor issues.

The Panasonic FZ80

    - Excellent user interface
    - Excellent focusing
    - Very good image stabilization
    - Excellent buffer, processor, never have to wait, never blacks
out, never lose sight of the bird
    - Very good video, can control settings, better audio
    - Better feature set
    - Can customize buttons
    - Can customize controls on the LCD
    - Can attach a teleconverter to increase reach (I use one making
the reach 2000mm)
    - Can shoot raw

    - Softer images
    - Fixed LCD

I am very partial to Panasonics. They make really great point and shoots
for enthusiasts. Most of have Leica branded lenses, but unfortunately,
the FZ70 and FZ80 do not and thus their image quality is not as good as
it could be.

If you want you can take a look at my pics and videos

Nikon P900 pics and videos

FZ80 videos all taken using a teleconverter - sorry no stills

FZ70 pics and videos all taken using a teleconverter


Maybe this can help.

The best mirrorless camera you can buy (and five alternatives)


I bought my Nikon P520 just about two years ago when the B700 and B500 I
think just got on the market.

From the general handling perspective and photo quality I love my P520.
It is a little smaller and lighter than the P900 model, the bigger
brother with larger zoom at the time.  But I pay for it with a lesser
zoom and a little less light sensitivity.

It seems like the B500 and B700 have almost the same dimensions and
weight now.

From birding with experienced birders I feel that at high magnification
the image quality very much depends on your steady hands or the image
stabilizer function of the camera. And I've seen photos from friends w
lesser zoom that were still very sharp or sharper than mine. The Nikon
image stabilizer is supposedly great. But I've had cases where someone w
Canon camera (don't remember the model, sorry!) got sharper photos than
I did.

It depends on what your priority is regarding handling and/or image
If I would go shopping again, I would bring my own SD card and go
outside to try the cameras on some birds around the parking lot. Then at
home look at the real quality of the shots I took w different cameras.

Another thing to consider is capability to hold filters in front of the
lens. I have grown fond of polarization filters during bright daylight
and those weren't easy to find for the P520. But the daylight colors
come out super nice w filter.

I bought mine at Kenmore Camera and with my ID in the store they let me
try them out outside for quite a while. And that was really helpful for me!


The new Sony RX10 IV is highly touted for shooting well in low light and
shooting moving targets like birds. Both Gary Luhm and Dan Streiffert
liked the camera when they tried it out. So, I bought one three weeks
ago.  It’s been fun to use and I’m getting some nice photos. There are
many buttons and I have to spend more time with the manual to learn more
of the functions. I had been using a very small point and shoot camera.
So it is a big step up for me.


I rely on Dpreivew for camera info when I am shopping for something new.
They just came out with their new buying guides. Here is the link to the
‘enthusiast super zooms’.

I have used the older Lumix that goes to 600 and have liked it but I see
the new one is much shorter.


I have a Canon SX-50 that I really like, but at some point I would like
to replace it.  Like you I would want something that does good in low
light with a good auto-focus.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx   THE END OF SUGGESTIONS AND OPINIONS  

In my query to Tweeters, I included a link to Wirecutter, which has its
own recommendation of best superzoom:


I haven't yet decided what, if anything, I'm going to do. I may stand
pat with my SX-40 or opt for one of these recommendations. A number of
people like the SX-50, but I kind of hate to pay $700 for a 2012 camera
that isn't the most recent model.

Jane Hadley
Seattle, WA

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