Prosumer Super-zoom Cameras

April 29, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Over the years I have really enjoyed using prosumer super-zoom cameras by Canon, Nikon, and Panasonic.  Super-zoom cameras feature focal lengths that almost defy belief.  My current super-zoom camera, the Panasonic FZ-300 has a 25-600mm f/2.8 lens that can be expanded to 1200mm.  Lugging around let alone affording equivalent lenses in the D-SLR world is completely out of the question.  Here is a practical example of the focal lengths:


Can you spot the alligator?

24 mm equivalent


Here he is!!

1200 mm equivalent


While no camera system is perfect, I find myself grabbing my super-zoom camera when out photographing in nature.  They have several distinct advantages:


  • They are extremely light

I can hike all day long through challenging terrain and conditions and hardly notice my 21 ounce camera.  All of its accessories fit in a small camera bag and I can place that bag along with a lunch, my rain jacket, etc. in a small backpack.


  • Extensive depth of field

The small 1/2.3" sensor allows for great depths of field making close-up and macro photography much easier.  Often I like to depict elements of nature within their natural habitat and environment.  The small sensor cameras make it ideal - here's an example:

This mushroom is only a couple of inches tall.  Photographing this with a D-SLR would have rendered the background completely out of focus.


  • Impressive stabilization

These little cameras have very good image stabilization systems.  Here is an example of a handheld shot at 1000 mm equivalent at 1/60 second.  Not too shabby!


  • Easy to maneuver 

When I lived in Connecticut, I had a favorite bird photography spot along the edge of a salt marsh.  Getting to this spot was quite an undertaking.  I had to thread myself through patches of thorn bushes and overhanging brush.  Once there, I didn't have much room to work with and maneuver around.  Having a small camera on a small tripod made it much easier to negotiate a smaller area.


  • Silent shutter

I really enjoy photographing birds on a feeder.  With my previous setup, the feeder was about ten feet away from the open window in which I photographed.  A loud shutter would have certainly scared many birds away.


  • Working distance

Having a large working distance from your subject is important.  Many times if you try and approach an animal be it a bird, mammal, or insect, it will usually flee.  Perhaps even more important is avoiding altering the animal's natural behavior.  Many animals have a hard time merely surviving, so giving them space is important.

Using a super-zoom allowed me plenty of working distance with this resting Plover.  These little guys expend so much energy during migration and refueling, and being able to photograph it from a distance allowed it to rest.



All-in-all, super-zoom cameras are a lot of fun to use.  Here are some of my memorable photographs taken with super-zooms:



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