I’ve been shopping for a new camera. This has led me back to a website I have previously recommended. I’ve found a couple of others that are a bit more technical but worth digging through.
Each of these sites takes you deep into specifications and lets you compare two cameras side by side.
With the first few cameras I bought, my interest was in an ever-longer zoom lens. I started with the earliest superzooms, jumping from 5x to 10x, then 20x, 30x, and stopping at 50x (though the market has gone on to 60x, at least).
Be wary of the ‘x.’ While it is likely that a 20x camera zooms closer than a 10x, two 20x cameras might actually zoom differently. A safer comparison is the 35mm equivalents of a given camera, which compares newer cameras to the older film standard.
Two cameras ago, I hit the limits of zoom with the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS . Everyone but me loves this camera. It is particularly popular with birders. Its 50x zoom is comparable to a 1200mm in the old film realm. If those numbers don’t click for you: that’s a big-ass lens capable of getting you amazingly close to a distant subject. Despite this, the camera itself is rather small and very lightweight. I had trouble framing a moving subject with such a powerful zoom and holding the framing, though the Canon has a cool zoom-assist feature poorly place on the barrel of the lens. Moreover, like most superzooms, the lens is electric, making it noisy and hard to stop short of extremes (all wide or all zoom).
At that point, a couple of years ago, I could tell that a 60x, 70x, etc, wouldn’t improve my shots unless it was on an articulating stalk that followed subjects on its own. Most people who ring all they can out of the consumer all-in-one cameras move on to DSLRs — cameras with interchangeable lenses and other more-advanced and expensive features. I took the intermediate step with the Fujifilm X-S1. This was the first camera I bought with less zoom than the previous one — only 28x (roughly 640mm, half as powerful as the Canon). What possessed me? The Fuji has a much larger body, like a DSLR, which isn’t a plus for most people but which means it’s very stable and the weaker zoom meant I was less likely to lose my subject by over-zooming. More importantly, the camera zooms (or focuses) with a twist of the barrel, like an old-school film camera — quiet, quick, precise and stays where I leave it, even if I turn the power off. (Electric zooms retract to starting position.)
But the kicker is that the Fuji has a larger image processor than any other consumer all-in-one. That suggests it will perform better in lower light, among other things. So, the Fuji *should* take better photos than the Canon, just not as zoomed in. That is debatable.
Now, after so many years and so much money spent on high-end consumer-level all-in-one cameras, I’m ready to move up to DSLR. I want sharper images under a wider range of conditions. An even larger processor should make that possible. But this opens a new can of worms: the lenses are separate and not interchangeable among brands (with some exceptions). So, you buy a body and a lens, sometime separately. It does not make shopping any simpler. (Use the sites above plus various review sites, including Amazon.) And, ironically, I can’t afford a lens as powerful as the one built into the Canon or even the Fuji, so once again, I’ll sacrifice zoom for other features. It’s a new direction for me.
Here is how each of the sites above compares the Canon and the Fuji:
See Why does a larger camera image sensor capture better images?