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Camera advice for Kenya safari: point and shoot variety

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Sep 11th, 2015, 01:02 PM
  #1
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Camera advice for Kenya safari: point and shoot variety

I use my iphone 6 for everyday photos, it is better than my Canon Powershot SD980 - 12megapixels -except for zoom, where the iphone camera quality is poor. The Canon, though better on distance, is only 5x. I am going on my first safari soon and just realized that my camera is probably not adequate.

I'm no camera expert, point and shoot is all I am interested in - no camera bodies and multiple lenses for me. After taking my camera to a camera store to see if there might be other functions that I was missing on my current camera or add ons, etc. they offered 3 other camera options:

Two Nikon Coolpix cameras, both 16 megapixels:
- the L840 38X zoom, about $220, a at Costco with a bundle
- the other S7000 with a 20X zoom and digital zoom to 40X although I don't know if that is tricky to switch over to the digital zoom. $200 at Costco, also with a bundle of stuff. The camera store was slightly more, without most of the bundled accessories from Costco


The camera store recommended: Panasonic Lumix ZS40, 30X zoom, 18.1 megapixels, for about $350 with two batteries, although I found this on sale at Costco for $300, but with just one battery and some other accessories). I did see some review complaints about picture quality in low lighting, although other reviews mentioned that it was user error.

Any recommendations among these cameras? I am assuming that I will be disappointed in my pictures if only using my iphone or current camera.
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Sep 11th, 2015, 05:31 PM
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I use DSLRs but many safari goers seem to like the Canon SX50. I think it's worth taking a look at. Goes for ~$350 but you may do better at eBay.
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Sep 12th, 2015, 01:29 PM
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I'd compare optical zoom and ignore digital zoom. 5x on your current camera is not enough. I used a Canon Powershot with 12x optical prior to switching to DSLR.
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Sep 12th, 2015, 05:10 PM
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You might want to look at a "bridge" camera which has functionality of both a point and shoot as well as a DSLR, without the removable lens. Two years ago for my first safari, I went to the local camera shop and told them what I wanted it for. They said they recommend the Nikon Coolpix P510 at the time as the "safari camera" and then they convinced me that I should take a class there to learn how to shoot manually rather than just leave it on Auto (which would be exactly the same as using a point and shoot). I took the class and then practiced a ton, shooting animals at zoos and also sunrises and sunsets using the manual settings. I'm so glad I did. I am incredibly happy with my photos from both safaris I used it on (both manual and Auto settings) and I'm taking it on my next one. Canon also has bridge models, but I really only know Nikon. I liked that the menus on the Nikon bridge were pretty much the same as the Nikon point and shoot I had before this camera. Since you're already familiar with the Canon model generally, it might be less of a learning curve for you to move up to a bridge model.

I agree with Patty though, you need more than 5x zoom and practice with it. You don't want to be learning to shoot while you're in Africa.
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Sep 12th, 2015, 05:53 PM
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The Canon SX50 mentioned above is considered a bridge camera and is a much newer version of what I had. I agree about practicing!
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Sep 13th, 2015, 11:11 AM
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Thank you all so much for the recommendations so far. I agree that I will need to practice! We have many birds in the backyard on our feeders so I will practice there as well as a trip to a local zoo to practice on the animals. Great idea about sunrise and sunset pictures! Thanks!

Now to decide on the camera .... checking prices...
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Sep 13th, 2015, 02:43 PM
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If I were to share one photo tip I learned, it would be to figure out how to set your shutter button to take mutliple frames per second. That way, you hold the button down, it keeps taking photos. You will never, ever, get that leopard jumping from branch to branch, or the perfect lion yawning shot if you just try to time it with one shot. But if you hold the button down for the entire action, you'll get it in amongst a couple dozen shots.
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Sep 14th, 2015, 01:09 PM
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Just went through this very process. Bridge cameras are the way to go. After a lot of research I settled on the Nikon P610. Though on paper it was not the best I found a great article were they went out and did real world test with several bridge cameras.

Give yourself lots of time to get familiar with the feature of you camera especially the non auto modes. We are going to Africa in a month and I wish I had more time to play with the camera.

Canon SX50 is a great camera but is not available new. It's replacement the SX60 is suppose to be a step down in picture quality.
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Sep 14th, 2015, 05:55 PM
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The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Digital Camera can be purchased new through Amazon or Adorama, both good sellers. As well, a new camera could also be purchased at eBay.
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Sep 14th, 2015, 09:33 PM
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I used a borrowed Canon SX 50 last year when I went. I think my pics turned out better than another safari member who had a more expensive camera with an array of lenses. Not to mention the load she had to carry around with her every day.


Another member of our group had a small Nikon I think with a 20x zoom. Camera fit in shirt pocket and he got some great shots. I mean, they might not be professional enough for National Geographic but they were great for the average photographer.
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