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best camera for semi-novice for safari in tanzania & kenya (nikon p500)

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Jun 25th, 2011, 02:23 PM
  #1
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best camera for semi-novice for safari in tanzania & kenya (nikon p500)

have had several recommendations for the nikon as one of the better point and shoot camera's...known for its 36x zoom.....and 3lb weight...for only $372...any thoughts pro & con?...advice?...allen
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Jun 25th, 2011, 03:18 PM
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A "super zoom" camera is very good for safari. We use them, a Canon, along with Nikon DSLRs. For most safari photos you can't tell whether the photo was taken with a super-zoom or a DSLR. Super-zooms such as the P500 also have a very good movie/video mode which you might learn to love.

I'm sure the P500 would be fine for you but you should also check out similar type cameras from Canon, Sony, and Panasonic. If you can find a store that stocks them, try each for how you like the feel, controls, operation and probably most important the viewfinder. It is the viewfinder that you will use to see to shoot the photo, it is important.

If you can wait a couple of months, all of the newest models from Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic, etc. should be out and there will be a review comparing them all on dpreview.com. FWIW, here is the dpreview comparison test from a year ago (July 2010) -
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/Q110superzoomgroup/

regards - tom
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Jun 25th, 2011, 04:16 PM
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3/lbs. Wow... heavy. I could use that in place of my exercise weights.
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Jun 25th, 2011, 04:27 PM
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The Nikon P500 weighs not 3lb, just a bit over 1 lb. Maybe 3lb is the shipping weight???

regards - tom
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Jun 25th, 2011, 04:40 PM
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"I'm sure the P500 would be fine for you but you should also check out similar type cameras from Canon, Sony, and Panasonic. If you can find a store that stocks them, try each for how you like the feel, controls, operation and probably most important the viewfinder. It is the viewfinder that you will use to see to shoot the photo, it is important."


That's what I say. Be sure you are comfortable with the camera you buy and that you take lots of photos before leaving home.
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Jun 25th, 2011, 07:30 PM
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Sandi, ha! I feel like I could use my digital SLR with my 80-400 lens attached as an exercise weight for sure but not any of my point and shoot super-zooms. I'm sure Tom is correct - it cannot weigh 3 pounds...

But as far as recommendations go...I have to tell you that the people I have been on safari with have been very envious of my camera if all they with them is a point and shoot (as good as some of them are these days...I'd use them for just about anything but a safari). Plus, the "beep, beeps" are really annoying to others who might be with you in your safari vehicle with you so please do turn off that sound feature if you go with one of those. Whatever you end up getting, it might be helpful to get something where you can adjust aperture and ISO in the event you plan to take photos in the morning or low light in the evenings. Also, look for something that doesn't have a huge shutter-lag or you may really miss quite a bit with it.

No matter what camera you end up with, you'll have a fabulous time in Tanzania and Kenya! Enjoy your trip!
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Jun 25th, 2011, 08:02 PM
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""beep, beeps" are really annoying to others"
No more so than a DSLR "machine gunning". Especially while you are taking a video. So you DSLR folks should also look around to see if anyone is videoing. The natural sounds are wonderful and really help a video. Thank God for audio editing!!

Now, my dearest Carolyn had her Canon P&S set to bark like a dog at ever shot!! It took me very little time to change it!!!

regards - tom
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Jun 25th, 2011, 11:30 PM
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u r so right about the 3 lbs!...is only 17.6oz's!...sounds like we have some canon fans out there...believe the canon 30sx is the closest competitor to the nikon p500...for safari shots...any advantages of one over the other...and btw...like the "beep beep" comments...will be sure to turn ours "off"!...any pro's/con's of one over the other appreciated...or just tips in using the point and click vs. the dslr...tom, sandi, et al...tks 4 the comments!...allen
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Jun 25th, 2011, 11:59 PM
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How soon do you need the camera? You will need to get to know it, practice with it. Do you have a pond or lake nearby with ducks/geese? Taking bird shots, especially birds-in-flight (BIF) is a good (and tough) way to practice for safari. You will learn a lot for sure!!

Again I would consider the Nikon, Canon, Sony and Panasonic. Try to handle them all. And don't let the sales kid try to tell you one is much superior to the other. And of course you will need memory cards and extra batteries. How much of each? Depends.

You must already have a another camera, be sure and take it also. You don't want to fuss with sharing only the new one. And of course the -man- uses the biggest, biggest-zoom camera because it's the more manly one!! . (Same holds true for all cameras and binoculars and guns)

regards - tom
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Jun 26th, 2011, 02:38 AM
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My wife is a pro www.southernartgallery.com

She loves the new light Nikon Coolpix all the great features

free shipping tax free from the late $200s on Amazon Shopzilla

Being the designated heavy lens camera lugger I love it too...

http://www.steves-digicams.com/camer...-review-2.html

She actually won one in competition recently.

Makes our camera safaris a lot lighter these days...
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Jun 26th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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If you have always thought you'd like to invest in a DSLR and want to spend some time learning the craft of photography before departing on your trip, then getting the more expensive digital camera body with interchangeable lenses makes sense at this time.

Otherwise go with one of the high end P&Ss. Note Tom's suggestion to go with one of the major brands of P&Ss and he personally uses the fancier equipment.

If you'd like to put out a request for albums of photos taken with P&Ss or with DSLRs, you'll find many obligers. Maybe even the award winner from Qwovadi's wife. Then you can see for yourself.

What also helps create good photos is your post production process. Do you have software that will crop a photo or change the settings to optimal brightness and color? No need to go out and buy an expensive suite of photo software. Picasa is free and offers what you need. You will probably get a free program with one of those high end P&S cameras.

Definitely practice up front and take the manual with you. Now most manuals are digital. That's fine if you're taking a laptop (which I never do. Otherwise just print out the key pages.

I go overboard and take 4 batteries, just in case. I have gone places where there is no electricity or it is out for some unknown reason or my charger always blows the fuse for the whole facility and I can't charge. That's why I like 4 batteries and try to have them ready to go, but 3 should be fine. I'd take more than 2.

I also go overboard with the charger, taking 2. What if one malfunctions, or something else happens to it? Same for the adapter.

I don't want to have something as inexpensive (relatively speaking) as a battery or charger be the weak link of the chain in a several thousand dollar trip in which getting nice photos is a goal.

I take about 4x the memory that I think I'll need. That also means I don't feel the need to do a lot of editing/deleting of photos on the trip. You especially do not want to be focusing on your little screen trying to get rid of bad pictures so you have adequate space, while a once-in-a-lifetime scene is unfolding around you. It's hard to judge good and bad photos on that little screen anyway, except the obvious blunders or where you missed the subject entirely. Of course many people take a laptop, notebook or other device for midday editing and really enjoy that. I prefer to maximize my time being in/at the destination and engage in the electronic manipulation stuff back home.
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Jun 26th, 2011, 08:02 AM
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You can see where this is headed of course....your entire carry-on will be your camera and back-up equipment! Lynn is very correct about making sure you have enough memory and also back-up batteries, battery charger, adapter, etc. Sometimes the places you stay will have an adapter plug you can use, but I would never count on that so I always bring two of those as well. I personally really love my Panasonic Lumix P&S and I got some great photos with it when I was in Italy, but I think it only has 24x optical zoom and what you're looking at has better zooming capability which can be a plus in Africa. I did take my Lumix to Africa on my last trip as a back-up camera and took some video with it as well as some photos around Cape Town. It's a great little camera with really top-notch picture quality!
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Jun 26th, 2011, 08:57 AM
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u guys are awesome..info on panasonic lumix good...anyone with experience on canon 30sx (cs?)...compared to nikon p500?...how do u best deal with the safari "dust"...allen
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Jun 26th, 2011, 11:02 AM
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I have Lumix FZ40. Very happy with it.
Except for the Kalij pheasant and the wild boar, these were taken with Panasonic Lumix 40. These are from India, not Africa. I did not have these cameras for Africa.

http://www.kodakgallery.com/gallery/...hotos-_-Sharee

I also have Sony HX1 that I like too. IMO the picture quality is slightly better with the HX1 than the FZ40. HX1 zooms to 20, not 24. HX1 does faster continuous shoot but longer recovery between fast spurts than Fz40. That gives FZ40 an edge.

That is an important feature. You want to be able to click, click, click several shots in a row. Then click, click, click some more. The DSLRs are definitely superior for continuous shooting. But Fz40 did great, especially on the moving ele herds.

There is now a new Lumix model (has 100 in the title) and a new Sony (hxv with 100 in the title) as well, I think. Hard to keep up with all the letters in the models.

You can drive yourself nuts trying to compare Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, Canon, maybe even Olympus and Fuji. Far more influential on your shots than the slim difference between these cameras is the eye and skill of the operator.

Be sure you are comfortable with the one you get and I am sure you'll be thrilled with the photos.

If you try the continuous mode in the store, unless you have a memory card in there it will be super slow. The internal memory that stores a few photos works very slow and does not give you the true experience.

To minimize dust, using a P&S instead of changeable lenses helps. Keep your camera covered with your jacket or a special cloth when riding around. You want be storing it back in the camera bag because that makes it too hard to access.
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Jun 26th, 2011, 12:09 PM
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As lynn says, keep the camera(s) covered when in dust. And careful clean off the lens every night. And model numbers change yearly so there can be great deals for the "old" one at model changes. (Carolyn uses a Canon S5IS which is 4(?) years old).

"...is the eye and skill of the operator."
Or - it's the Indian, not the arrows, that counts!

regards - tom
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Jun 26th, 2011, 07:46 PM
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lynn...your work is incredible!...felt like could just take a bottle of wine and enjoy...keen eye & composition...tom...tks for the practical tips!...just made the plunge to the nikon 500p...now we get to know each other!...allen
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Jun 26th, 2011, 08:28 PM
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Thanks, you and your 500p will probably do similar.
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Jun 27th, 2011, 01:19 PM
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Hi

i'm a DSLR big-lens owner, still i think that a good P&S will do the job (unless one wants to publish in a magazine)

nowadays for most tours i take the compact light-weight P&S
no more carrying the heavy gear, as i used to, even up high mountains...
i love my Lumix (Panasonic) with the Leica lens & the results are really fine.

before buying a 35X i would read a test report
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Jun 27th, 2011, 01:23 PM
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the P&S has also an incredible MACRO capabilities.
if you wanna get as close with a DSLR you'll spend >1000$ just for the macro gear
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Jun 28th, 2011, 03:54 PM
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Here are some other options. Most are around 30X with good reviews and in your price range.

Canon SX30IS: http://www.camerastack.com/canon-sx30-B0041RSPR8
DSC-HX100: http://www.camerastack.com/sony-dsc-hx100-B004H8FND0
and a bit older and cheaper (around 200$) Kodak Z981- http://www.camerastack.com/kodak-z981-B0031RGGFM though its only 26X (similar to the Nikon P100). In deciding also look at the HD video and low light quality besides just the optical zoom. Best of luck!
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