Optical Zoom?

Nov 26th, 2005, 04:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 407
Optical Zoom?

I know there has been multiple discussions on digital cameras but I would like to know how much optical zoom needed for a safari in South Africa/Botswana.Seeing that off road driving is allowed I expect to get close to the subjects.We already have the Sony F828 Cyber-shot and want a second camera.

So my choices are:

1)Sony Cyber-shot® - Pro(The Cyber-shot DSC-R1)
#10.3 megapixels
#5 x optical zoom.

2)Panasonic DMC-FZ30S-K
#8 megapixels
#12x optical zoom.

Would a 5x optical zoom be enough for pics close to vehicle?

I can buy a Sony VCLDEH17R Tele End Conversion Lens
VCLDEH17R ????
This should increase my ''optical'' zoom right?? Is this enough??

This is my first Digital safari and I would really appreciate some guidance.

safarinut is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 06:28 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,391
from what i understand, the higher the optical zoom the better. my camera has 10X optical zoom and seemed to work fine. if you up the optical into the digital zoom when making enlargements it comes out bad. i'd go with a higher optical as in choice #2
matnikstym is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 07:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 407
What about this?


I really enjoy taking videos,maybe I should leave the 2nd digital camera and go with this.
safarinut is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 08:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,062
All things being equal, the higher power optical zoom, the better.


Think of it this way. When you "zoom" in on an animal in the bush, you're taking a part of your field of view and narrowing it down. Things to the side or above or below the animal are excluded from the image.

When you look at a photograph, and want to narrow the field of view, you do it by cropping the picture. You remove things to the sides and above and below the part of the picture you want to emphasize. If you then enlarge the part you've kept to the size of an original picture, you've done the same thing as zooming in on it with a telephoto lens.

However, the catch usually is that the portion of the original picture that you've kept isn't as sharp as the whole image, because, obviously, you've taken a small piece and blown it up. It's like looking at the TV from too close - you realize it's nothing but a bunch of tiny dots; it doesn't resolve into an image until you back up.

When cameras have limited optical zoom and not very many megapixels (the dots) then when you enlarge a portion of the picture the individual dots become too big for the picture to retain its sharpness. So in that case a more powerful zoom makes more sense, because you're able to keep the dots small whilst selecting a small portion of the field of view.

But, when your camera has a lot of megapixels for resolution, i.e., an 8mp camera has twice as many dots in the same area as a 4mp camera, then you can afford to forego a big honking zoom factor, and just enlarge the portion of the picture that you want to emphasize, on the computer later, rather than in the bush.

There are drawbacks to big zoom lenses - a lot of glass means bulk and weight (although way less so on a digital camera than with film); at fully-extended settings (i.e. maximum telephoto) you'll need some sort of "image stabilization" to prevent body shake from blurring the pictures, and, important with auto-focusing cameras, it takes the camera to focus at "long" lens settings than with shorter ones. It's also hard in low-light or glare conditions to focus most digital cameras anyway, and with big telephoto lenses even harder.

Many megapixels also has a big drawback, in that it takes the camera longer to "record" the picture and get ready for the next one (lots of data to store); and of course the memory cards hold fewer pictures if each one is a gazillion pixels.

So to me it's a compromise. I have a 12x, 4mp camera (Lumix) that did very well on safari, although I had way more pictures than I like that were out of focus because the autofocus (in low light - like morning or evening game drives) picked out a branch of a tree rather than the elephant behind it.

My wife's 2mp, 3x (old camera) was too small for closeups, but on many occasions in the evening, her pictures are preferable to mine because mine were a little blurry from shake (even with stabilization) or because my zoom was too busy zooming to focus.

We're going back next year, and this time I'll have my 12x 4mp, and she'll have a 6x 5mp compact camera, and I'm betting right here that she will have as many "keepers" as I will. (In her dreams.) But she can enlarge her pix so that the difference will be lessened.
Gardyloo is online now  
Nov 26th, 2005, 09:20 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 391
I decided to go for digital SLR Camera which has made life much easier. For safaris and wildlife shots generally I use a f2.8 70mm to 200mm sigma lens with a matched 2x teleconverter. Generally I can then frame the subject how I want... and also have the creative flexability of SLR cameras... for example the use of Apeture Priority... as in this shot, throwing the background out of focus (if I want to!!) http://www.simonrushton.com/tsavolions.jpg

Pumbavu is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 10:04 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
"close to subjects" Sometimes you are too close !!!! Then wide angle lens would work best (28mm, 35mm equivalent). Consider smaller and lighter and a bit less expensive cameras like Panasonic DMD-FZ5, Canon S2, Sony DSC-H1. We use the Canon S2, it has a movie mode that is excellent. So you can take both with great results. Don't get hung up with the mega-pixel thing. 5 mega pixels is fine for any print including 11x14 inches. But if $$$$ (and size, weight) is of little concern, I'd go for a Nikon or Canon digital SLR with two zoom lenses for it. (It however won't do movies because it's SLR).
Regards - Tom
ps - hope this didn't post three times like it shows in preview.
cary999 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 11:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

I think you should really go for the 12x optical zoom. I believe your Sony F828 only gets you to 200mm maximum, the equivalent of about 6x zoom. 12x zoom is 420mm zoom on the high end and this will be perfect for when it is not possible to get as close as you would like for your birding photos or for photos of other animals that are not going to allow you too close.
Roccco is offline  
Nov 27th, 2005, 01:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 121

The special thing about the DSC-R1 is that is uses a HUGE sensor, so it can shoot high ISO photos as well as some dSLRs. See the review at:


Jeff (the reviewer) is one of the very best and that page has a useful table comparing the R1 to various dSLR kits. He makes the point that getting a dSLR with a lens as fast as the R1 would cost much more (though stabilization from a Canon 17-85 IS or a Konica 5D w/ kit lens mostly negates that aperture difference).

Having said that, for safari you probably want more zoom and if you're going with a fixed lens camera you probably want a good movie mode as well (R1 doesn't have one).

99mkw is offline  
Nov 27th, 2005, 07:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 407
Wow,thanks for all the excellent advice!

I bought the sony The Cyber-shot DSC-R1 today and will have it by Tuesday!

I weighed all options and although I am going to lack zoom power, picture quality should be great.


<< The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 finds itself in a difficult position: not only is it more expensive than most fixed-lens cameras, but it also costs more than most digital SLR kits. While the R1 has the best photo quality of any fixed-lens camera (by far), the tough competition from digital SLRs makes deciding between the R1 and a D-SLR difficult>>

I will take a few practise shots over the weekend and will count on the experts here for advice.

Again thanks for all the help.
safarinut is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:43 PM.