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I recently got a Fuji S8200 (bridge) camera and I just can't seem to take a decent photo with it at all, and I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.

Here are some examples: http://mariasdesk.co.uk/dscf0198.jpg http://mariasdesk.co.uk/dscf0220.jpg

Can anyone explain why they look like they do? I have a Canon IXUS (compact) and the quality from that seems a lot better than this, and since this is a bridge I think it should be doing something more than it is

Those photos were taken in SR Auto mode, but even in other modes it seems to always come up looking about the same?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated

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Its got a 40x zoom - so already its going to likely be 'soft'. That's why the don't look sharp. With that much zoom, the aperture also end up really small (f/6.1 and f/6.5) on your pictures respectively - so that doesn't let much light down the lens. To compensate for the lack of light, the camera boosted the ISO to 1600.

The ISO 1600 is why the pictures look grainy. The above statement is why it shot it at ISO 1600 (low light because of a small aperture, small aperture because of a 40x 'zoom').

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    So in order to take better pictures I would need to have better light, and less zoom in? Or try to force a lower ISO, as much as possible? – MysMelody May 4 '14 at 18:29
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    For less grainy pictures, more light therefore smaller ISO. For sharper pictures, you'll want to avoid the extreme ends of your zoom range probably. – rfusca May 4 '14 at 18:30
  • Just to throw this out there...to take better pictures, you really probably want a better camera. ;) A cheap low end camera can only do so much. If you NEED to zoom in, then you NEED ISO 1600, it's kind of as simple as that. Better cameras have larger sensors, and gather more light, so even at higher ISO settings they are less noisy. You can push your IXUS compact camera as far as you want, but once you push it beyond the limit's of what it's capable of, you'll always be needing something better. – jrista May 4 '14 at 18:48
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    @MysMelody - as far as 'bridge cameras' go, the S8200 isn't a particularly great one. It's a small sensor, high zoom, slow aperture camera. But thats what that price range typically (not always) gets you. Depending on which particular IXUS you had, you may have ended up with with a worse camera in everything but zoom range. Typically, if you get 40x zoom, you almost must be sacrificing quality. – rfusca May 4 '14 at 20:19
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    @MysMelody: your compact probably can't zoom far enough to take those particular pictures at all, so comparing them with pictures the compact takes at a much shorter focal length isn't exactly fair. – Michael Borgwardt May 4 '14 at 20:22
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Bridge cameras tend to trade off reach for low-light capability. Both of your images look like they were taken in indoor enclosures, and the camera maxed out to iso 1600, which was needed given the small aperture and long shutter speed (i.e., you needed more light).

The high ISO setting with the small sensor of the S8200 (1/2.3" format) is the cause of the noise. But it kept you from having camera-shake blur and underexposure.

If your subjects aren't moving, you could possibly lower the ISO and use a lower shutter speed if you stabilize the camera somehow (tripod, monopod). Or you could add light into the scene with a flash. But if you want to handhold a camera without additional equipment, then the only way to get better low light performance is to get a camera with a larger sensor, use a "shorter" lens (i.e., zoom out); or use a "faster" lens (one with a larger maximum aperture). Obviously, this will most likely call for a different (and more expensive) camera.

If you want to stay with a Fuji fixed-lens bridge camera, the Fuji X-S1 might help, as it (unusually) uses a 2/3"-format sensor (4x vs. 5.6x crop factors), but it will cost US$150 more. And it still might not get you the performance you want. An APS-C sized sensor (1.5x crop) and interchangeable lenses is probably the way to go, but would cost thousands of dollars.

  • I assume that with "thousands of dollars" you specifically mean getting a good APS-C lens with a focal length equivalent to the long end of the bridge camera - that's the only thing that would necessarily take the price much above $500 – Michael Borgwardt May 4 '14 at 23:38
  • Yup. Supertelephoto reach costs big time on the dSLR side. But I also disagree with $500 as sufficient for a basic dSLR setup, even going super-old used (assuming a newb who can't judge condition would go there). $500 for a body, yes. For a body+ twin kit+bag, filters, a flash, and tripod... probably not. – inkista May 5 '14 at 18:42
  • That includes a lot of additional stuff, I was thinking more of a mirrorless body and single decent kit lens - $500 is sufficient for that nowadays. – Michael Borgwardt May 5 '14 at 19:54
  • True, but saying $500 is enough for a system camera is, I feel, misleading. It's enough to obtain a body and lens. But not a system. Nobody I know gets just an interchangeable lens body and a kit lens and then feels they have a sufficiency of gear and won't need to buy anything more. – inkista May 5 '14 at 20:02

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