I am a Canon fan having an EOS 10 film camera with 35-105 and 70-300mm lenses (now as defunct as all film cameras are), a PowerShot S2 IS which served as a replacement and first digital camera and now, most recently an EOS 80D with an 18-135mm lens. The attached blue tit was taken just now with the 80D at a range of about 10m again through a dirty window:
I used the maximum focal length / magnification available (135mm) - click to see the full size image (and notice how I managed better focus on the feeder than the bird - I must learn how to use my new toy!) While this is a really great camera and the range of the zoom lens is perfect for everyday stuff it really doesn't cut it for wildlife photography (as aleady indicated by Aleman above). And, while I'd really quite like a comparable 300, 400 or 500mm lens I'm not going to spend the necessary £thousands right now.
Looking at current bridge cameras online, one could get a NIKON COOLPIX P900 for around £500 with an 83x optical zoom and a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 24-2000 mm. As johnd says above, a good bridge camera seems a very attractive option and a lot lighter to lug around.
Personally, I'm quite tempted by the idea of a weatherproof 'nature' camera that can live outside, trained on a particular area with a motion sensor so that the wildlife can photograph itself. I did just now try to photograph what I thought was a blackcap but it snuck around behind the feeder as a took the shot and flew off before I'd chance to take another ...
Wow, thank you. That’s a lot of information for me to look at. I will look those cameras in a bit and have a good read. It’s sounding like a bridge camera could be what I need and is more affordable!
Is there such a thing as a binoculars that take pictures
I had a look at some of those a couple of years ago, and apart from some that were very expensive the camera did not actually use the binocular lenses and was built into the frame of the binoculars and pointed in the same direction, and from some of the reviews that I read the quality of the picture was disappointing compared to what you could see through the binoculars. But as I said this was a couple of years ago and things change very quickly, so maybe that isn't the case now.
The biggest problem with bridge cameras is the size of the sensor, this introduces noise, (Which you can clearly see on Anchs pictures) and is the reason why DSLR's win hands down especially Full Frame. The next issue is that of light gathering, the max aperture of Bridge cameras is quite large, and often (unless designed properly) varies with focal length. This changes the depth of field, and the depth of focus as well but that's another story, which then makes it difficult to get the focus right. ... Anchs pictures are good, I suspect cropped from a larger image, but are not sharp, or indeed in focus. In the first the camera has focussed on the stick behind the bird, the second has the tail in focus, but not the head, and the third the seeds in the feeder are perfectly focussed, the bird isn't, as it's behind the plane of focus.
I'm a photography nerd, and have been a judge at local camera club competitions, so I probably have significantly different expectations as to what a good picture should contain. ... Then again there are probably not many of you who enlarge your images to 16 by 20" (even partial enlargements). What looks good and sharp on a computer/camera screen often turns out to be very soft when enlarged properly.