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This is my first question in /photography. I'm a very amateur photographer, doing things wrong and by eye with lots of trial-and-error all the time.

I currently own a reflex Nikon D70 my uncle gave us after he bought a better one. It has some nice settings, and he bought a a Nikkor 28-80mm F/3.5-5.6 zoom lens for it. It behaves nicely, but it's getting old (it has those old cartridges before SD cards existed) and every new charge takes longer than the last.

I'm planning to upgrade to a better camera, and there are some neat offers on a nearby superstore (MediaMarkt), this one catching my eye:

Sony DSC-H400 63x, Sensor Super HAD 1/2/3 CCD 20.1MP -> for less than 300€ taxes included

I don't have any type of extra information aside from that, all I can get from the official site is clinical data from other cameras that I suspect it's not 100% accurate, and there's no photography expert on the store to ask.

The common things I use my D70 for are: taking pictures of scenery (castles, towns, forests, waves hitting rocks, etc...), nearby (<5m) persons and objects, and well, things where I want to save a memory in digital format, not for professional purposes at all.

Being that my objective is to have a decent, good-zooming (superzoom looks awesome), amateur (but with manual settings) camera, is this Sony a good replacement? Will I miss any features? Is there any better, similarly-priced alternative you know of?

Basically, I want to know whether I will get better quality photos than I currently do, given the examples, with any averagely-priced bridge camera similar to that Sony, and if it's worth it.

examples of current camera results

Full zoom-out of town at night, bad quality I know; notice the pink blur at the left.

night shot of town from bluff

Maximum zoom on that pink blur from almost the same spot:

zoomed in shot of building

Daylight, cloudy, modified with Adobe Lightroom, scenery:

beach scene, with sensor dust

Same day, same beach, different settings:

ocean scene

Same day, same beach, rocks:

beach scene

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    What kind of "cartridges" are you refering to? Do you mean compact flash cards? You mention that they are longer in existence than SD cards, as if that means they are worse than SD cards. The majority of top of the line camera models always relied on CF cards. If anything, they will change to CFast, not SD. At least not as the primary memory. Other than that, your super zoom requirement makes no sense for the things you want to photograph. – null Aug 29 '16 at 10:55
  • i didn't expect CF to be a standard right now, althought my camera's version must be of the firsts. one would expect that such a bulky, IDE-like hard drive device would be outdated, but it seems it's still rolling with these new (CFast, new types, etc..) versions. my zoom requirements are there because i like to shoot things far like "that castle above that cliff" and the D70 & the phone run short on most distances. i surely don't need x63 but looks neat for the price. – CptEric Aug 29 '16 at 11:06
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    What lens or lenses do you have with your current camera? – mattdm Aug 29 '16 at 13:11
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    @CptEric the larger form factor allows more total storage capacity without needing to swap memory and the potential for higher sustained write rates due to being able to multiplex the writes over more total flash chips inside the package. Over the years SD cards have improved enough to take over a large portion of the market from CF; but at the very top end of the market the advantages of CF will probably allow it to continue to remain for an extended period of time. – Dan Neely Aug 29 '16 at 14:21
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    I'd suggest you really want to be assessing how good your current lenses are and consider upgrading the body to a newer one. Even a bottom of the range Nikon should be a significant improvement on your 12 year old model. If possible get down to a local specialist camera retailer and ask them to tell you about your lenses and ask them to advise on new body verses bridge camera. If you decide to stay with an SLR also ask them about sensor cleaning so you no longer get dark spots like in the sky of your beach photo - it's harmless to the sensor if done gently and easy to do yourself. – Mr_Thyroid Aug 29 '16 at 14:40
20

In general you will find a great deal of distaste for bridge cameras here and on most photography forums. In a few unique circumstances they can be good options (very inexpensive super zoom) but for most people they aren't recommended.

Sensor size is a big deal

Why not get a bridge camera? Since they were introduced and became somewhat popular, the market has generally moved past them for one main reason. The sensors that most bridge cameras have are tiny and not well suited to the demands of today's digital photographers. The sensor that you will find in a standard bridge camera is similar in sized to what you will find in a regular smartphone of today. In other words, beyond having a physical optical zoom and some dedicated buttons, you really aren't getting much else beyond what most people already carry in their pockets.

You are right that the Nikon D70 is showing its age. But it still has the ability for interchangeable lenses which makes it somewhat capable even compared to a bridge camera of today.

To compare, the Sony bridge camera you are looking at has an image sensor of 6.17 x 4.55 mm (1/2.3") in size. The Nikon D70 has an image sensor of 23.7 mm × 15.6 mm.

What I would recommend

If you really want better quality, but can't spend much more, you are going to be severely limited in your options. I would advise a used model that is 2-3 generations old. The D70 is 7 generations old currently so it is showing its age. If you don't feel the need to stick with a DSLR(which I don't think you necessarily need to either), I would advise looking at mirrorless camearas such as the Sony RX-100 (1st generation), which you can get in your price range and still take excellent shots with. Note that some but not all mirrorless cameras do offer much larger sensors compared to the bridge camera you are looking at, plus of course could be purchased with features of a much newer camera.

Conclusion

So, in the end; only you can determine what is the best camera for you and your budget. But be aware that you will find a largely negative impression of bridge cameras here and on similar websites when comparing these two cameras due to the sensor size.

See also:

Note: some people consider mirrorless cameras bridge cameras too. In my answer I am considering them separate lines.

  • darn. how can a bridge camera have over 21Mp with such a tiny sensor? so basically i will get (quality-wise) similar or slightly better than my smartphone pictures, so similar to my D70, but with some more zoom. damn. unfortunately, the used market where i live is crap, devices available are older and worse than my D70 or as expensive as a modern reflex monster, and i don't have access to most amazon's UK/US retailers or used sellers. would a Canon EOS 1300D or similar behave extremely better? 50-60€ more isn't that much. – CptEric Aug 29 '16 at 13:16
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    @CptEric - The Canon EOS 1300D has an APS-C sized sensor (a big one). So it can be expected that it will outperform most small sensor cameras in a variety of situations and tests(exceptions exist of course). It certainly will outperform the bridge camera you suggested and the older D70 in many regards. – dpollitt Aug 29 '16 at 13:22
  • The sensors in superzoom bridge cameras may be closer in size to the sensors in phones than the sensors in most ILCs, but the lenses sure aren't. – Michael C Aug 29 '16 at 14:37
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    Sensor size and density are only loosely related; my wife has the 42 megapixel Nokia Lumia. – pjc50 Aug 29 '16 at 15:39
  • With lots of light (i.e. at base ISO) a 1/2.3" sensor can give similar results as the D70 sensor. dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/… – Carsten S Aug 30 '16 at 9:37
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I'll offer a slightly different take:

Your current camera is dated, but not really bad. The problems you're having with it, judging by the pictures, are:

  • excessive post processing
    • brightening, which increases noise
    • colour
    • saturation
    • contrast
  • camera shake
  • sensor dirt (visible in the sky on the beach picture)

In fact, technically, i like your last picture, of the ocean spray, the most.

A new camera won't help much with any of these. Newer cameras offer higher ISO modes for night photography, but a bridge camera with its small sensor will invariably produce either noisy or smoothed-to-death pictures.

If you want to increase the quality of your pictures, i recommend, first, to clean your sensor, and, second, to start shooting in RAW (which the Sony DSC-H400 doesn't do), which will give you more leniency in post processing. It may also help with those high-contrast situations, like the "into the sun" picture, where you will be able to recover much more detail from a RAW than from a JPEG with extreme contrast settings.

For examples of what your camera is capable of, i recommend a look at https://www.flickr.com/cameras/nikon/d70/ ...

I understand that you want to replace you old camera, but i think it's better to focus on your technique first, and upgrade when you can afford something better, and have a better feeling for your requirements. 300€ isn't really that much, although it could get you a decent used camera.

Lastly, if you like to do portraits, with a soft background (bokeh), i can guarantee you that you'd be disappointed with anything with a small sensor!

  • this is a nice approach , the excessive post processing was done on purpose because i like to mess with it, and all of those were RAW (compressed into big jpg's) before facebook compressed them at ridiculous levels and made them worse, but i truly understand that my skill is far from good. i posted them precisely to point that out, because a super professional well-knowing photograph might notice "that small difference of quality on the sensor during night takes with X shutter speed" while i hurt myself with the basics :P – CptEric Aug 29 '16 at 13:59
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    Well then if you like to use RAW, you will miss that, as i said, with the bridge. – ths Aug 29 '16 at 14:02
  • damn. that's a good point to save for a decent reflex, i love postpro and color correction tweaks, even when they look weird. – CptEric Aug 29 '16 at 14:04
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The common things i use my D70 for are : taking pictures of scenery ( castles, towns, forests, waves hitting rocks, etc.. ) , nearby ( < 5m ) persons and objects

Being my objective to have a decent, good-zooming (superzoom looks awesome), amateur ( but with manual settings ) camera,

What do you need a zoom lens for if you want to photograph people nearby? Or broad landscapes scenery? Are you sure you are sold on the good look? Or is it rather that you are sold on how much you can zoom?

You have no real need for the zoom, because your main uses for the lens are at its extremes: wide angle for landscape and normal/tele for portrait.

I'd say:

  • Keep your Nikon camera
  • Before buying anything of the following, rent it to see if it really is what you want.
  • Buy a wide angle prime lens for it. (Something in the range of 21mm to 35mm) This will be great for landscapes and could also serve as a portrait lens showing more of the surroundings. (environmental portrait)
  • Buy a macro lens for it. These come in various focal lengths. Something like 100mm sounds like a good starting point for your needs. This will allow you to photograph objects close up, but due to the focal length also serves as a tele lens for things far away. It will create great looking portraits.

This will also allow you to keep using whatever lens you currently have on your Nikon camera. Eventually, you want to upgrade that dated camera body, too. If you then buy a newer Nikon body you can reuse all lenses that you bought for the current one.

The advantage is that you don't have to make one huge investment but can gradually build your equipment as you need it. You don't have to buy a whole camera either every time. You also have the option to rent speciality lenses for special occasions (like holiday) that are compatible with your existing camera.

comments

i like to shoot things far like "that castle above that cliff" and the D70 & the phone run short on some distances.

Then why not just get a different lens for the camera? See suggestions above.

i surely don't need x63 but looks neat for the price.

Looks like marketing got you and you're sold on some number. It also looks like you are confusing zoom with focal length, too. Check this question: Difference between zoom and focal length? You don't need any zoom at all. What you need is a long focal length lens.

more comments

thing is, i'm an amateur and almost illiterate camera-wise

Hence my recommendation not to buy an entire camera. With the Nikon system in place, you can take small steps towards exploring your needs. By renting parts of the system (either camera body, lenses or even accessories) you cannot make huge mistakes. If it works for you you can decide to buy it if you want to keep using it. If you don't like it, you paid the renting fee for this experience, which is certainly lower than buying it.

most lenses are over 1/3rd of a new camera price

Do you think that's a good thing or a bad one?

and i don't have the technical expertise to understand how they work and/or purchase correctly and accordingly

Then what exactly is you technical expertise on super zoom cameras? As far as the information you provided goes, you have some experience with the D70. By switching to an entirely different system, you throw away that experience to some degree and start from scratch. Either camera could be the right one for you, but the Sony is an all or nothing decision. If you find it to be inadequate in the future, you'll have to buy another whole package again.

so that's really a brick wall. "Eventually, you want to upgrade that dated camera.." i feel that the nikon is already outdated with only 6MP (3008 x 2000 at max settings)

You feel like it? Do you feel that way when looking at large prints of your images? Because this is pretty much the only reason when you really need more megapixels. If you only publish your images to the web, 6MP is enough.

and i want to find a decent replacement for it , wether it be the example shown, or any other, that matches or approaches the sony's price.

Get a cheap 50mm 1.8 for around 100€ or less and your D70 easily beats the Sony. It sounds like you got caught up on the shiny 63x and 20MP features of the camera in the store. It sure must be good and in every way superior to what you currently have. Yes, it has more zoom and more mega pixels. That's what you want. I doubt that it is what you need.

Try to pinpoint down exactly what you dislike about your current gear other than "there's one at the store that is better at feature X".

i won't have 700 to spend a new reflex anytime soon.

And depending on how you are using your images (which you haven't mentioned so far), you likely won't have to either.

even more comments

also, @null , as the linked answer says, zoom It's often interpreted as "how much larger than the naked eye can the lens show something," , that's what i interpreted as zoom.

And you should not rip that quote out of context, the second part goes like this:

but that is only true if the lower end of the focal length range is equivalent to the angle of view that the naked eye has, which is equivalent to what a full frame camera shows with a 50mm lens.

And that's not the case for the Sony. As you state yourself now (and as I previously suggested above): you only care for the extreme ends of what the zoom lens provides. Whiyh you achieve jsut the same with a fixed focal length.

my current D70 shows things slightly smaller than the human eye with all the zoom / maginifcation / whatever full out, and when zoomed in i'd say it's okay ,

No not the D70 shows things this way, but the lens attached to it.

better than any phone because it's optical and not digital, so images aren't blurry,

The blurryness in your examples is due to the long shutter speed caused by the low light situation. Any cheap tripod will give much better images. Even a small compact one.

summary

As said before, it looks like you are caught up on the idea that buying a new camera will fix all of your problems. It won't. Learning the proper techniques will. You can do so with the D70 better than with the Sony, because it gives you more freedom to change things around as it is a modular system.

And last but not least, there's your uncle:

he bought a better zoom lens for it, it behaves nicely

Maybe you can ask him to borrow that or another of his lenses occasionally. They will be compatible with the D70, but not with the Sony.

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    thing is, i'm an amateur and almost illiterate camera-wise , most lenses are over 1/3rd of a new camera price, and i don't have the technical expertise to understand how they work and/or purchase correctly and accordingly , so that's really a brick wall. > "Eventually, you want to upgrade that dated camera.." i feel that the nikon is already outdated with only 6MP (3008 x 2000 at max settings) , and i want to find a decent replacement for it , wether it be the example shown, or any other, that matches or approaches the sony's price. i won't have 700 to spend a new reflex anytime soon. – CptEric Aug 29 '16 at 12:00
  • also, @null , as the linked answer says, zoom It's often interpreted as "how much larger than the naked eye can the lens show something," , that's what i interpreted as zoom. my current D70 shows things slightly smaller than the human eye with all the zoom / maginifcation / whatever full out, and when zoomed in i'd say it's okay , better than any phone because it's optical and not digital, so images aren't blurry, but not enough good to, for example, take a good quality photo of the big ben clock full-zoomed from parliament park. – CptEric Aug 29 '16 at 12:21
  • added some example pictures. – CptEric Aug 29 '16 at 12:37
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    I don't have a full answer, but I wanted to add a detail that should be in here somewhere: you should be able to buy third-party replacement batteries for ~ 10€. This should solve your charging issue, should you decide to keep your current camera as this answer suggests. – mattdm Aug 29 '16 at 14:41
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    @progo because as I stated in my answer, you'd be only using the zoom at its extreme ends. Why bother spending money for the focal lengths in between? Dedicated prime lenses at either end deliver better optical performance at a similar price. – null Aug 29 '16 at 17:48
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Conclusion (and response)

Following dpollit's great answer, i decided to switch to a newer, better performing sensor-wise DLSR,a nikon D3300, the results (given that i believe my photography skill hasn't changed greatly since my last "trip" with the D70, with the pics i shared on my OP) is really noticeable, using all the different manual settings and with the bundled-in 18-55mm and my old d70's 28-80mm lenses.

I Compared them with some friend's pics who owns a Bridge camera, and the quality and editability were greatly noticeable with my new camera.

My 3300 captured pics public album

So kudos dpollitt for his awesome answer, and to all other answers,and the conclusion is:

A current generation (2015-2016) bridge can't for sure beat any modern(>2013), similarly priced (>250, <450) DLSR in most environements and fields.

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I recently bought a camera and was seriously considering a DSLR as well. In the end, I picked a bridge camera with a moderate superzoom (24mm - 600mm) and a constant f/2.8 throughout. Panasonic DMC-FZ200 is the model I bought, second-hand. It's highly rated on Flickr. This is something you have to pay more than €1000 to get in a DSLR lens, let alone a new body which, as you say, you need.

Compact and bridge cameras have made huge strides in sensor quality and lenses, so you may find that the 1/2.3" sensor in the Sony is good enough, and the extra zoom gives you possibilities (especially in daylight) that you otherwise wouldn't have had.

  • 600mm f/2.8 means an aperture of more than 200mm. How on Earth does a bridge camera manage that? – Peter Taylor Sep 12 '16 at 13:35
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    @PeterTaylor 4.5-108mm with 1/2.3"-format's 5.6x crop factor (i.e., 24mm-600mm equivalency). 108/2.8 => aperture diameter of 38.6mm. Much more doable. :) – inkista Sep 12 '16 at 19:46
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If you want a bridge camera I would choose either the Panasonic Lumix FZ2000/FZ2500 or the Sony RX10 IV. The have 1" sensors and moderate zoom. The lenses are high quality and they bot record 4K. The results they produce will rival most DLSRs around the same price.

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You might want to check out the reviews on dpreview website, for the specific model or models you are looking at. I personally prefer DSLRs.

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