So have you decided to step out of your comfort zone and explore the world? Good for you! With all the trekking and hiking you will do, you will need the best compact digital camera. Having the right camera is vital to helping you immortalise birds and wildlife, and epic natural landscapes. To help you make the right decision, we’ve put together a list of the best cameras for birds and wildlife photography.
Generally, people who decide to buy their first Digital camera for a few hundred euros, so they would buy an entry-level Reflex. This is typically an 18-55mm, F3.5-5.6 series lens with an expense that generally ranges from 300 to 500 euros, depending on the model and the offers of the moment. You should know that for the same amount you can buy an advanced compact camera that has similar characteristics and qualities to an entry-level SLR but with many advantages, such as:
Many people who bought a Reflex in the end have used it very little apart from the first period after the purchase. A Reflex, even if entry-level, still has a certain size and weight that can make it uncomfortable to carry around in many situations. Many photographers say they end up leaving it at at home most of the time. A compact one, on the other hand, has much smaller dimensions. Some are almost pocket-sized and, therefore, easier to always have with you.
Finally, a reflex is usually sold with a standard lens. Generally the standard lens is the 18-55 mm, and if you need other lenses, like a telephoto lens, they must be bought separately. This creates an additional expense, weight and size. Compact cameras, already have an integrated zoom that often covers a wide focal range, from wide angle (generally 24-28 mm) to telephoto (200-300 mm). Some recent compacts can even reach 600 mm. All of this is integrated into a relatively small and portable body compared to an SLR.
Here are the best point and shoot cameras for birds and wildlife photography:
Advanced compact cameras have similar characteristics, or sometimes even superior to entry-level reflex cameras of the same price range. This applies to the light sensitivity (ISO), the autofocus, the burst capacity. In addition, more advanced compact digital cameras have the same methods of use as DSLRs. For example the manual mode (M), and can be used as “school” cameras to learn the basics of photography exactly as you would with an entry-level DSLR camera.
So: the choice of an advanced compact camera or bridge is ideal if you are passionate about photography, you want to improve the quality of your photos and your technique, and shoot in the most disparate situations, from landscapes to trips, holidays etc. If, on the other hand, you want to deal exclusively with pure nature photography, apart from landscape photos, you will need a dedicated macro lens and a telephoto or super telephoto lens. In this case compact cameras are not for you.
Although it must be said that:
- Even for naturalistic applications compact cameras can play very important roles.
- Superzoom compact cameras, already have an integrated zoom lens and can provide an excellent solution even for those who want to practice birds and wildlife photography. They are equipped with zooms that reach considerable focal lengths (from 600 to 2000 mm).
1. Canon IXUS 190
The Canon IXUS 190 is the cheapest and best superzoom Canon compact camera. It allows even those without a big budget to start experimenting with the possibilities offered by a camera of this type, without sacrificing extreme portability. To amortize the costs and size of the camera, the manufacturer had to keep the optical zoom down to 10x, while exploiting the potential of digital zoom with Canon’s exclusive zoom plus technology to double the focal distance. However, this camera really has everything you need to photograph and get great shots right out of the box, but its real strength is in its simplicity.
The Canon IXUS 190 integrates a 1 / 2.3-inch 20 megapixel sensor that uses a 10X Canon Zoom Lens, that therefore offers an equivalent coverage of 24-240mm, extendable up to 20X thanks to the combination of optical and digital. On this model we also find a VR system to reduce vibrations and shake. The processor that supports Canon IXUS 190 is a DIGIC 4+, which allows you to ensure good bursts of shots and push the camera’s ISO up to a maximum of 6400.
The autofocus system is TTL type and integrates 9 points plus a fixed central AD point, the camera is really great for macro shots since it allows you to focus on the subject at only 1 cm away. The screen on this model is a simple 6.8 cm TFT LCD with 230,000 definition points, bright and easy to use even in direct sunlight. As for the video part, this little Canon is able to record movies in Full HD 720p at 25 fps. Finally, the WiFi chip could not be missing, also flanked by NFC technology to be social in a simple and fast way.
- Not many manual options.
- Not the highest image quality.
- Short battery life.
The strength of the Canon IXUS 190 as we said is its extreme simplicity which makes this model really easy and practical to use, suitable for both beginners and anyone who needs a small superzoom compact camera to take on trips. The Canon IXUS 190 is among the cheapest models of compact superzoom cameras, which allows you to always have a small and handy camera with you, useful in many situations.
2. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ90
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ90 is the result of the travel-zoom line designed by Panasonic and is designed for those who need excellent performance and a superzoom on a small and manageable body. With this model you’ll get an excellent value for money. You can benefit from its compact size and, at the same time, the fantastic 30x optical zoom, without giving up the possibility of shooting spectacular videos.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ90 integrates a 20.3 megapixel sensor flanked by an excellent Leica f3.3 – 6.4 lens with a 30x optical zoom that can be extended through Intelligent Zoom technology up to 60x. On this model there is a beautiful reclining monitor ideal for selfies and vlogs. As for the video quality on this model it is excellent. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ90 is able to shoot in 4K and it’s very smooth thanks to the integrated 5-axis HYBRID O.I.S stabilizer.
You’ll also find a WiFi chip that has now become indispensable on the latest generation cameras. Among the exclusive Panasonic features we find the 4K Photo mode, the post focus function and the DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology that makes this model the best among the compact mid-range superzoom cameras as regards the video part.
- Reclining display.
- 4K videos.
- Slow autofocus.
- Performance decrease with low light conditions.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ90 is among the compact mid-range superzoom point and shoot cameras the best model for those interested also in videos.
3. Nikon Coolpix A1000
The Nikon Coolpix A1000 is a compact superzoom camera with many interesting features. In this model there is a 1 / 2.3 ″ CMOS sensor with 21 megapixels. It’s just enough to have a good level of performance without having to spend too much and without having a very large body. The optical zoom reaches 35x, with an equivalent coverage of 24-480mm and a maximum aperture of f / 3.4-6.9.
Thanks to this lens it is possible to take pictures even to very distant subjects as it’s often the case in birds and wildlife photography. One of the most important innovations of this model is certainly the electronic viewfinder (which was not present on the previous model). It goes alongside an excellent flip-up TFT LCD display. Another important feature is the ability to take pictures in RAW format, making it possible to have more freedom to edit in post-production.
There is a 5-axis hybrid VR image stabilizer, the ability to record videos in 4K at 30fps and Nikon’s SnapBridge technology to quickly and easily transfer your files to a mobile device via WiFi and Bluetooth.
- Ability to shoot in RAW format.
- Reclining display.
- 4K videos.
- Not so bright when zoom fully extended.
Nikon Coolpix A1000 is among the best superzoom compact for quality / price ratio. It is perfect for approaching photography with a larger lens, whether you are a photo or video enthusiast.
4. Sony DSCHX99
The Sony DSC-HX99 is a recent superzoom compact camera that integrates good quality features. The sensor is an 18.2 megapixel Exmor R CMOS, while the image processor is a BIONZ X. These components allow you to take high-quality photos and record videos in 4K at 30fps. In addition there is a 180 ° flip-up touch screen display and an EVF OLED viewfinder hidden in the upper part of the body. It also features Sony’s SteadyShot proprietary stabilization to ensure stability in videos and photos.
The lens is a Zeiss with a 28x optical zoom capable of covering a focal distance of 24-720mm and an aperture of f / 3.5-6.4. It is not a very bright lens but it allows you to get close to even the most distant subjects. Finally, the DSC-HX99 features capability with WiFi and Blutooth NFC to connect this point and shoot camera to your mobile devices.
- Flip-up touch screen.
- 4K 30fps videos.
- Powerful zoom lens.
- Not the brightest lens.
The Sony DSC-HX99 is certainly one of the best choices if you are looking for a superzoom compact camera with a good quality / price ratio.
5. Nikon Coolpix P900
Nikon’s Coolpix P900 is a very special camera since it allows you to cover a monstrous focal distance of 83x. This makes it the ideal compact camera for sports and wildlife photography and, even if a little dated, it is still one of the best superzoom compact cameras in the mid-range segment.
The Nikon Coolpix P900 has an internal 16 megapixel CMOS image sensor flanked by the image processor and EXPEED C2. What makes this model stand out is the 83x focal range obtained totally in terms of optics. This translates into an equivalent distance of 24-2000mm; the highest value among the superzoom compact cameras featured in this guide. There is also a vibration reduction system that reaches up to 5 stops, support for GPS, GLONASS and QZSS for locating and writing the position of the photos taken. Finally, there’s a WiFi module flanked by NFC technology for quick and simple sharing with your devices.
- 83x focal distance.
- Doesn’t shoot in RAW format.
- Short battery life.
The Nikon Coolpix P900 is among the best superzoom compact cameras. It is the only model capable of covering the highest focal distance, especially useful in birds and wildlife photography.
Let’s assume that it is better to choose a compact digital camera rather than a smartphone. This is because compact cameras have: a sensor larger than the cameras of a smartphone, the ability to shoot even in low light, the ability to use the zoom without compromising the quality of the photos you take.
Since the compact camera market offer such a wide variety you can get lost in the compact camera market. We’ve highlighted the main features to consider when choosing the best compact camera. To summarize, when you are looking for your point and shoot camera for birding, what you should look for.
We suggest you to choose one that has at least:
- 16+ megapixels
- Optical stabilizer
- The ability to shoot in manual, or at most in semi-automatic
In this way you will combine the basic technical characteristics to take good photographs with the other undeniable advantages that a compact camera can give you, namely: ease of use, smaller gear space and little weight.
Have fun choosing the right compact point and shoot camera for birds and wildlife photography!