I am planning to buy a Superzoom point and shoot camera and my goal is to get maximum telephoto zoom. I have ended up in Nikon Coolpix P1000. I went through this article: The 20 Best Superzoom Cameras as of July 2019. Is there any better point and shoot camera which offers more telephoto zoom?

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    \$\begingroup\$ According to that article from only last month the Nikon Coolpix P1000 already offers the most telephoto zoom you can get. That camera comes out top in the "Cameras with the longest telephoto reach" list. Do you doubt the article? Not sure what you are asking. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ See photo.stackexchange.com/q/99906/57929 for what it might not be as great a deal as you first imagined. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Is there any better..." - how do you define "better"? There's a camera for every use case and, in looking at all of them, there will be pro's and con's to all of them for any given use case. If you don't know what you're looking for or what to ask, then start by describing what you like to shoot, when you shoot it, how you shoot it, and any aspirations or photo goals. \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 20:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ "... my goal is to get maximum telephoto zoom." That's all well and good, as long as you realize you must make significant sacrifices in image quality to get all of that Zoom, Baby! in a single lens at a consumer level price. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please make up your mind. Do you want better or do you want more telephoto zoom? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 21:19

2 Answers 2

Basically, my requirement is to shoot some birds and flowers

For flowers, you benefit from a macro lens. Not very expensive. Even a basic DSLR / mirrorless camera works. Even a point/shoot camera could be enough. Image stabilization can be beneficial for macro shots because to make depth of field less thin, a small aperture is required which requires long shutter speeds. For macro image stabilization, such systems that compensate for camera shift in addition to camera rotation are preferable.

For birds, the requirements are stricter. You require:

  • Camera that is comfortable to be used for long periods of time, so that you can easily hold it in your hands steady
  • A long telephoto focal length
  • Ability to set very fast shutter speed (1/1000 s - 1/2000 s)
  • Big enough aperture opening and big enough sensor that you can obtain enough light to have a non-noisy image in typical shooting conditions. Later generation sensors are better than older generation sensors in avoiding appearance of noise.
  • A camera+lens system that has very fast autofocus with focus limiter and option to avoid hunting for focus when focus cannot be found
  • Some means to find focus when the bird can be anywhere on the frame. Mirrorless caneras can have object detection to select the focus location, good DSLRs allow selecting multiple focus points so that aiming the camera precisely is no longer necessary.
  • Burst shooting with good frames per second figure on the camera body, with servo autofocus

Note image stabilization is not in this list for bird shooting requirements. The reason is simple: you probably want to use so fast shutter speed anyway that image stabilization would be of marginal importance. When shooting birds in low light, image stabilization could benefit you because you might want to use a slower shutter speed then because of necessity.

No way could you achieve all of the bird photography requirements with a point and shoot camera. You really benefit a lot from an interchangeable lens camera.

For birds, get a telephoto zoom / prime lens on an interchangeable lens camera. Some good choices for Canon:

  • Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 ($250 new)
  • Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 ($1500 new)
  • Tamron EF 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 ($800 new)

For Nikon, the Tamron 100-400 is available and I recommend it. Nikon 300mm f/4 + teleconverter could be another prime lens option. The closest lens to 55-250mm in the Nikon world is 70-300mm.

For Sony, lenses are expensive and the Tamron 100-400 is not available. Sony 100-400 is available, and 200-600 could be another option. There is no cheap 400mm prime for Sony. The Sony 70-350mm lens could offer lots of focal length for crop sensor cameras.

Full frame lenses are better than crop lenses, delivering far superior image quality. For serious shooting, I recommend the full frame lenses over crop lenses. Example:

Canon EF-S 55-250mm on crop sensor:

crop sensor moon

Canon EF 400mm on full frame:

full frame moon

Yet, with EF-S 55-250mm you can get adequate shots. The lack of focus limiter annoys me:

crop sensor bird

The reason why I got such a good shot with the poor EF-S 55-250mm lens was that I saw a bird on a fence. I took a picture (requiring some time to obtain autofocus), took a step closer, took another picture, took a step closer, etc. until I was so close the bird started to fly. Then I took a picture of the flying bird. The autofocus was already very close to being in focus due to using it repeatedly while stepping closer. So, I was able to have a picture of a flying bird.

I would say that for someone who regularly takes pictures of flying birds, a focus limiter is a must. It is available in Canon EF 400mm and Tamron EF 100-400mm but not in Canon EF-S 55-250mm.

The 35mm equivalent focal length 400mm is in my opinion a bit short. But, longer focal lengths may get you into more expensive + more heavyweight lens territory. You could consider adding a 1.4x teleconverter if using 400mm on full frame, or shooting 400mm on crop sensor so you don't need a teleconverter.

Then, what camera to get? My recommendation would be a ~$1000 high end crop sensor camera. The crop sensor is better for bird shooting because it has a "built-in 1.6x teleconverter". It's hard to recommend a Canon mirrorless camera for birds in flight right now, because the RF cameras have poor frames per second and a slideshow-like viewfinder when shooting in burst. Sony could be better, but then again I know nothing about Sony lenses + cameras other than the fact that Sony has better fps.

Oh, and also this advice is for shooting birds on a budget in bright conditions. Near sunrise or sunset, the conditions are not bright and you'll probably need a ~$10,000 lens plus the muscles to haul it around.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sure about the IS being unimportant/uninteresting for plant/leaf/flower shots? Unless you have really bright light (which is often not the case in interesting lighting situations), handheld flower/leaf macros can be a darn struggle about getting enough DoF and sufficiently fast shutter speeds.... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 12:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't say anything about IS + plant shots, I said about IS + bird shots. I agree, macro shots can benefit from IS, especially if the IS compensates for camera shift in addition to camera rotation. \$\endgroup\$
    – juhist
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 18:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ The OP was clearly asking about superzoom point and shoots and not interchangeable lens cameras. You may want to suggest that only ILC's are capable of providing what the OP wants, but otherwise this doesn't answer the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric S
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did say that point and shoot could be enough for flower photography (small sensor could actually be useful then), but I just wanted to underline that point and shoots do not fulfill the requirements for bird photography. \$\endgroup\$
    – juhist
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 18:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ The OP did note in a comment that he owns a Nikon D3400, so perhaps you could adjust your recommendations to Nikon compatible lenses. Otherwise I fully support your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eric S
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 19:38

In a comment you state that your requirement is to "shoot some birds and flowers". The zoom length of the P1000 is ridiculous for that and comes at a considerable cost in price, weight, and image quality in direct conflict to your comment-stated requirement of "maximum possible quality photos in a less investment" [sic]. The P1000 is far too heavy to handle birds in flight reasonably and the lens is pretty slow on most focal lengths, too. The image quality is that of a small sensor.

Superior image quality for a compact but comparatively large weight and size and hefty price will be the Sony RX10IV with a 1" sensor. Panasonic has the DMC-FZ330 in its lineup which also has 600mm equivalent focal length but a 1/2.3" sensor that is kept down to 12MP while the lens has f/2.8 over its entire zoom range. That's good for a lot of keepers in reasonable quality at moderate size and weight. The longer range DMC-FZ80, in contrast, has a slower lens and 18MP on a same-size sensor. People are generally in agreement that it's not a good deal for image quality unless you absolutely need the zoom range.

For flowers, 600mm is excessive (you'd usually use a closeup lens in order to get reasonable focusing distances) since flowers don't scare easily. For birds, it will still accomplish a lot.

A P1000 is not useful for much more than moon shots or capturing static wildlife from a distance (and we are not talking zoo distances here but countryside), using a tripod. Maybe try renting one for a week or so to get a hang of what it is or is not good for.


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