I need a camera that is not so bulky (even though additional lens is fine with me — not more than one extra lens). Also, I am not looking at those high-end camera such as Nikon or Canon Mark III.

Plus, I need to take photo of animals that might be a at least 1 metre to 300 or 500 metre away from me. It should also be able to take macro photo and able to take HD movie too.

The picture quality need not be very good but definitely should not be less than average. The camera should not make unnecessary or loud noise when taking photo too.

I am looking right now at few Superzoom and DSLR cameras and I have a headache over which to choose since a DSLR would give me quality images and allow me to take good-to-great shots at night. However, a Superzoom would allow me to take photos of far away objects and those are not as bulky since no additional lens is needed. (Sometimes, I wonder why we can't get a camera that contain all the great features of all type of camera — also known as The Perfect Camera. Sigh.)

  • If you go for a DSLR, you need more than 3 expensive and heavy lenses to do what a superzoom does out of the box. The up side? Image quality. Ask yourself if the image quality of a DSLR is killingly important. Most people over-estimate the importance of image quality. A good photo is a good photo, pixel-perfect or not, it really doesn't matter. – Gapton Apr 24 '12 at 3:50
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    @Gapton Hi Gapton, maybe I am just too greedy - I want a camera that have all the upside without any downside - probably, I will not be able to find one in my lifetime. Sign. – Jack Apr 24 '12 at 5:07
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    What's the point of taking photos if the image quality 'need not be very good'? – ElendilTheTall Apr 24 '12 at 17:57
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    A brilliantly composed shot taken in superb light at just the right moment is ruined if it's noisy as all hell because the camera's sensor is the size of a pinhead. – ElendilTheTall Apr 26 '12 at 6:22
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    Usually, the better the capability of the camera the better, BUT, never lose sight of the fact [tm] that the greatest photos are far more than the sum of their technical parts. A photo with some or all of poor focus, bad exposure, subject and camera motion blur, poor composition and worse CAN win you a Pulitzer prize. The required brilliance of the photos goes up as quality goes down :-). | Real photo - not mine here and at end of my answer. – Russell McMahon Apr 26 '12 at 7:19

Consider a micro 4/3rds (several manufacturers) with near APSC size sensor.
Or a Sony NEX-xxx series with 'full' APSC sensor size.

Checklist based on your requirements:

Not so bulky (even though additional lens is fine with me - not more than 1 extra lens).

Reasonable match.

Plus, I need to take photo of animals that might be a at least 1 metre to 300 or 500 metre away from me. It should also be able to take macro photo and able to take HD movie too.

1 meter no problem. NOTHING works really well at 500 metres for animals BUT you can add as long a lens as meets your spec. A teleconverter would help & still keep quality wll above a point-and-shoot. Most of the ~= APSC sensor compacts now have HD vodeo.

The picture quality need not be very good but definitely should not be less than average. The camera should not make unnecessary or loud noise when taking photo too.

Picture quality may be too good for you ! :-).
If you REALLY don't care then an ultrazoom may be better. Mirrorless cameras are "quiet enough". When it really really really matters you can "muffle" a mirrorless camera and get near perfect quiet. (My A77 Sony can be muffled to concert hall acceptable level if needed. Looks bad though :-).

I am looking right now a few Superzoom and DSLR and I have a headache on which to choose since DSLR give me quality images and allow me to take good to great shot at night. However, Superzoom allow me to take photo of far away objects and are not bulky since no additional lens is needed.

hese cameras are definitely larger than compacts - but smaller than any DSLR. Well worth a look. Quality of the eg NEX7 is better than the A77 DSLR as they share the same sensor but NEX7 does not have part silvered mirror "in the way".


eg Sony NEX-7, 24 mp, APSC, mirrorless, external lenses.
This camera will 'photographically' outperform almost and APSC DSLR on the market.
For less $ and less specs and less size and weight you get the NEX3 and NEX5 which are still "reasonably good".

The NEX-7 has 1080p video and the 3 & 5 have 720p AFAIR. (Maybe 1080i)

It's not an SLR. But it does much the same job. That's an 18-55 lens in the picture.
Or 27 - 82mm 35mm equivalent.
If desired, with an adaptor you cn add any Minolta or Sony AF A mount lens.

As it's a 24 megapixel camera you can crop the middle of the image down to 6mp and call it an 27 - 164mm equivalent.
ie 27 mm/24 mp down to 164mm / 6 mp.
Plus variants in between.
So say 164/27 = 6:1 optical zoom. Lower than most SZs but sill very useful.

Using 1/4 of the sensor it still has more sensor area than any superzoom
Typically MORE than 3 x as much area at 6 MP and 20x as much area at full frame!.

NEX7 120 x 67 x 43mm
BUT this is body only

353 grams with battery and card = 54% heavier than Pansonic SZ below 23.5 x 15.6mm sensor - area = 367 mm^2 24.3 mp

enter image description here

Sony NEX-7 review

Exception that proves the rule?
I didn't take this. I wish that I had.
Subject is of Bryan, a friend of mine who they thought may die, lying in a small hospital in a small African town some years ago. He lived. I've little doubt that this effect was intended but, even if not, the strictly camera-technical quality of the photo are transcended by the overall result. I think :-).

enter image description here

  • Would the phantom down-voter care to explain their reasoning? – Russell McMahon Apr 27 '12 at 23:06

I was recently in a similar situation as you. I purchased a superzoom as I wanted to save money but still have the ability to take photos of wildlife. I tried it out for a few weeks and it took good quality images (my uses were for web not print I will add) and I enjoyed the camera. However, when I was zoomed out I had to almost always have a tripod because I could not take a shot without blurring (the camera had image stability). A higher end Superzoom might remedy that, I am not sure.

In the end I returned it because I wanted more control and more power for what I was trying to shoot. I decided to save up and purchase a DSLR camera. When I purchased one with a standard 18-55mm kit lens and another 55-200mm zoom lens (the 2nd lens had an instant rebate if bought at same time as camera). This camera with the two lenses is a bit heavier and more to carry around than a superzoom but frankly I love it. Look at what you want to do with the camera and the photos you take. Also think about what and where you will be in a year. Will be you be wishing you had spent a bit more money and bought the DSLR vs a Superzoom? That was the key factor for me in the end. I needed (and wanted) the power of a DSLR much more than what the superzoom could offer. If you do not want to carry two lenses you could always look at a lens for a DSLR like the Tamron AF 18-200mm. that runs about 300 dollars. There are much higher quality lenses out there for more money but this is just an example. (I do not have this lens and cannot comment on quality.)

Hope some of this information helps and ask yourself what would make you the most happy and what is important the most to you.

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    Hi @Lynda, I agree. Everybody who bought SLR, including me, tend to fall in love with it. Not that people cannot fall in love with high-quality point and shoot. But I never heard of people saying this. Of SLR, I hear it time and again "I loved my SLR from the first shot. Right after I opened and unpacked the box, there were electric sparks between me and that black body of glass and metal". MAGIC. So. If his requirement is "I need to fall in love with my camera", SLR is recommended, right. – Andrei Apr 25 '12 at 13:37
  • @Andrei - I bought a 5mp Minolta 7Hi in 2003 - a very high spec (for the day) point and shoot. It cost me $2500 at the time and I could not afford a DSLR then as they were subsantially costlier. I loved that camera with a passion. It did a fantastic job and produced some great photos. It was more compact than any DSLR. I now have a number of DSLRs - but a while ago I bought a cheap used 7Hi as well. It is nowehere near as good image wise as a DSLR BUT it is still a great camera and still useful. I am not recommending anyone buy one nowadays - but all your sparks and metal comments apply :-). – Russell McMahon Apr 27 '12 at 23:11

Go for a high-end super zoom. Among modern ultra-zooms, I recommend the Fuji X-S1. It is bigger than most but still compact compared to an equivalent zoom on an interchangeable lens camera and will give you better quality than its peers. Smaller you can get a Nikon P510 which reaches even further but drops image quality one notch. You can see the difference side-by-side here.

In your requirements, you have made the key decision to not require top quality and have said nothing about low-light capabilities. This means that the primary advantages of DSLRs are not priorities to you.

You have also stated that size is important and you want a great reach for your subjects. Using a DSLR system this would be very heavy but with a super-zoom you can this for less than 1kg and even close to 0.5kg, depending on the model.


If you like the Superzoom you have seen, buy it.

The reason you buy a DSLR (or even a film SLR) is that you need the flexibility that being able to change lenses brings. If you don't need that, don't buy one.

Most DSLR and many superzooms and even point-n-shoots take HD movies. But making movies that people will actually want to watch is much harder than buying a camera that can record them.

For me, a DSLR is the "perfect" camera. You may have other beliefs.

  • Actually DSLR is not yet the perfect camera as it is still bulky and the cost is consider quite high. The only thing I like of DSLR is that it can take night shot well without losing quality. – Jack Apr 24 '12 at 5:06
  • Some DSLRs have high prices, but entry level DSLR cost only a few $100 more than superzooms. – Pat Farrell Apr 25 '12 at 17:35

If image quality is not your important requirement, but budget considerations are, then: forget DSLR (including those new mini changeable lens cameras).

This unambiguously follows from your requirements.

Hence superzoom is your choice. I recommend that you define your budget, and based on the budget, choose the best superzoom point-and-shoot for your needs. Without defining the budget, chances are that you will never be able to come to a decision, going circles "yes but this camera has more pixels. But that camera has longer warranty".

My experience shows that defining one's budget limit narrows the selection and helps to come to the buying decision in reasonable time. Even if you actually can afford to spend more money, it helps to set a fixed a amount.

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