Current cameras
Home Page Up Early hardware In the field Using the PC Quality Settings A new camera Current cameras Batteries Moon images iPad3 samples


A longer zoom - the Nikon Coolpix 5700

Our 30th Wedding Anniversary cruise in 2003 on the Norwegian coastal voyage suggested that a longer zoom than the Nikon Coolpix 990 was required.  OK, so you can get a telephoto add-on for the 990 but it unbalances the camera and would have to be taken on and off.  We bought a "shared" 5700, although it seemed to stay with David most of the time!

35 - 280mm f/2.8 - f/4.2 zoom, 5MP

Nikon Coolpix 5700 review

(now sold on)


Image Stabilisation - the Panasonic FZ20 & FZ5

Cecilia's forthcoming retirement treat trip to Antarctica suggested an even longer zoom than the 5700 for snapping those penguins, and she was lucky to have image stabilisation as a new option to help reduce camera shake in that cold and windy environment.

36 - 432mm f/2.8 zoom, 5MP

Panasonic Lumix FZ20 review

FZ20 moon shot
Hand-held moon shot [well, braced against a window ledge] from the FZ20.  Spot metering and exposure compensation applied.

Once I saw the capabilities of Cecilia's camera, I knew I had to have one to improve on the long zoom performance of the Nikon 5700.  Having image stabilisation at its maximum 432mm focal length does make a real difference.  I ended up getting the slightly lower specification FZ5 which had just been released, as the only limits were the slightly slower lens (f/3.3 at longest zoom rather than f/2.8) and no flash hot-shoe or manual focus, but it is quite a bit smaller and lighter.

36 - 432mm f/2.8-3.3 zoom, 5MP

Panasonic Lumix FZ5 review

FZ5 moon shot
Hand-held moon shot [well, braced against a window ledge] from the FZ5.  Spot metering and exposure compensation applied.


Wide-angle - the Nikon Coolpix 8400

David decided that, after looking at his Prague pictures taken the 5700, that a wider angle than the 35mm would have been welcome, although not with the bulky and cumbersome wide-angle adapter offered for that camera!  Unfortunately the Nikon 8400 does not offer image stabilisation, so he can already see the next upgrade!

24 - 85mm, f/2.6 - f/4.9 zoom, 8MP

Nikon Coolpix 8400 review


A compact shared camera - the Panasonic TZ3

Compact as the Lumix cameras are, there is still the need for a camera you can take anywhere, and with the move to DSLRs, I felt the need to retain some ability to capture short movies - particularly with our interest in motor racing!  The camera which fills this need for us is the Panasonic TZ3.  Very compact, and yet it still has a 10:1 image-stabilised zoom covering 28mm wide-angle to 280mm telephoto.  With such a compact design there is, understandably, a slight compromise in image quality.

28 - 200mm, f/3.3 - f/4.9 zoom, 7MP

Panasonic TZ3 review


Moving up in quality - a DSLR each

When DSLRs first came out, they were very expensive devices costing thousands of pounds, but now as the development costs have been recovered and sensor quality improved, they are readily affordable.  As I had sold up all my 35mm SLR equipment some time back, I was able to choose which of the SLRs suited me best, and I ended up with Nikon as it felt more natural to control.  Initially I bought the D40, with the "kit" 18 - 55mm lens and 55 - 200mm VR zoom, but I later upgraded to a D60, then a D5000, with 16-85mm and 70-300mm VR (image-stabilised) zooms.  The extra speed of operation of the DSLR and its ability to work well at higher speeds (e.g. ISO 3200 compared to ISO 200 on the compact cameras - this is because the larger sensor captures more photons), increase our chances of getting a good photo, and the quality is superb!  I recently bought a compact 35mm f/1.8 lens especially for low-light operation - it allowed me to capture real-time video of the Northern Lights.

Cecilia has also upgraded to a Nikon D60 DSLR, with the single walk-round 18-200mm VR lens, so she is less bothered by dust getting onto the sensor, as there is no lens changing required.

Cecilia: 18 - 200mm VR zoom

David: 16 - 85mm VR zoom, 70 - 300mm zoom

Nikon D60 review
Nikon D5000 review

(Photos from the manufacturer's Web sites - yes, I could take my own but most likely they would not represent the cameras as favourably as the manufacturer can...)

Copyright © David Taylor, Edinburgh   Last modified: 2015 Jan 18 at 09:32