Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I have a new camera (Sony cyber-shot DCS-HX1)

After envying the photography of other garden bloggers - especially of birds and animals - and studying other blogs on the subject of camera selection for garden photography, I decided the best thing for me would be a so-called superzoom "bridge" camera, i.e. a camera in between a DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) and a point-and-shoot compact digital camera.

I've been very happy with my Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120, a digital compact point-and-shoot camera with 7.2 megapixels and 4x optical zoom. This camera has served me well and I recommend it highly. It's easy to use, small and light, and takes wonderful landscape photos, for example for vacation photography. Up till now, all my blog photos were taken with this camera.

Old camera: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W120

What it doesn't offer is a large zoom. Since I've been so happy with Sony up till now, I had a slight preference for also purchasing a Sony bridge camera. After reading lots of reviews, it didn't seem to me that there were significant differences in quality or price between Sony and its main competitors (Panasonic, Canon, Olympus) in this category of camera, so I went for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 digital camera with 9.1 megapixels and 20x optical zoom.

New camera: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1

Compared to my little compact Cyber-shot, this is a large, heavy camera, even though many reviewers praise how light it is in comparison to others. When the zoom lens is extended to full length, it's somewhat unwieldy to hold, so I took the advice of many websites and purchased a tripod as well (a Cullmann Alpha 2500 lightweight tripod).

So far it's paid off that I got another Sony, since the handling is very similar to my small compact camera and I could start right in. Something some people object to about Sony digital cameras is that they require proprietary memory cards and batteries. The included memory card is so small that you pretty much have to buy a large one right away (I purchased one with 4gb). This didn't bother me, since I figure it's a one-time investment, and my experience with the Sony accessories for my other camera have been good.

This camera is chock-full of features and options! Up till now, I've mostly experimented with zoom photos of birds, and macro photos of plants. I set up the tripod, hid behind a bush and trained the fully zoomed out lens onto the bird-feeding area in my garden. Here's the kind of results I've gotten so far. The first taken with tripod, the others without. You can see the difference, I think.

Great tit (Parus major) - Kohlmeise
Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - Schwanzmeise (I think)

European robin (Erithacus rubecula) - Rotkehlchen
Great tit and long-tailed tits
I'm going to have to keep working on this. Above all, I need a good place to sit and wait, at least partially out of sight, allowing me to get a little closer to the birds.

The other thing I've tried so far are close-ups, i.e. macro photos. However, I don't think the new camera is a significant improvement over my small camera.

As an example, here's a photo of a  **slug** - yes, slug in February, chewing away at the sorrel. Apparently, these creatures are active at 10 degrees C (50 degrees F). Looks like I'm going to have to cross sorrel off my list.

slug on sorrel

So far, I've mostly used the "intelligent automatic" setting on my camera. But I'm looking forward to learning how to use all the manual options as well. Still, even then I doubt I'll ever achieve the kind of fantastic bird photography to be found, for example, on Sisah's, Diana's, and Carol's blogs, among others.


  1. It's funny Barbara but my new Panasonic is great on the telephoto side but my older point and shoot is still better for the close-ups. My older one has macro-zoom which the new one hasn't got. You're right though that keeping to the same make is easier due to familiarity with the controls. I bought a remote for my camera so I can plug it in and get it to fire the camera from a distance. It means I can set my camera up on a tripod by the window and hide away from the window to take the shots. I love the blue tit shot!

  2. Congratulations on your new camera Barbara! I'm terrible at using a tripod. I usually try to remember to take my camera every time I go into the garden, but I'm lazy, and usually leave the tripod behind. Tripods do make an enormous difference in picture clarity though, as you point out with your first (excellent!) photo of the Great Tit.

  3. Dear Barbara, I am filled with admiration not only for the excellence of your photographs but also for your ability to write about cameras in a technical yet informative way. I am still without a camera - since the mid 1950s - but the day may yet come, inspired by what you say, when an investment will have to be made.

    I shall look forward to seeing more of your pictures.

  4. Hi Barbara,
    congratulations on you new camera - enjoy!!
    You have taken already great pictures of birds!!
    My camera is a Panasonic LUMIX F18, now a few years old. The camera travels with me around the world:)
    - Cheers from Canada,

  5. I miss that exceedingly pretty blue yellow black and white bird, from Swiss days. That is a wonderful picture. We still need a macro ring for his new camera, as neither of the new cameras has the macro capability of the dead one.

  6. Liebe Barbara, der Unterschied ist deutlich erkennbar! Du hast ja Schwanzmeisen - ich liebe sie, aber mich wollen sie einfach nicht besuchen. Aber die Schnecken kommen wie bei Dir auch schon sehr früh bei mir zu Besuch:ooo. Ich danke Dir übrigens sehr für Dein Kompliment zu meiner Collage. Von links oben nach rechts unten sind es: Mandelblüte, Blutpflaume, Anemone, Ziergänseblume, Wildgänseblume, Blutjohannisbeere, Berberitze, Gänseblümchen und Hortensie. Übrigens kann man die Früchte der Berberitze auch essen. Sie finden Verwendung in der persichen Küche als Zutat zu Reis, der dadurch einen herrlichen süß-säuerlichen Beigeschmack bekommt. Da fällt mir ein, das könnte ich mal wieder kochen...... Noch eine herrliche Frühlingswoche und viel Spaß mit der neuen Kamera von Luzia.

  7. Barbara, how wonderful to get a new camera and to like it. ;) PS: if you would like to have some of my seeds, send me an email and I'll send you a list of what I have.

  8. Darn those slugs! Do you have them bad there too?

  9. How exciting for you Barbara!! Your new camera will make a big change in your life. Wonderful bird shots! Thank you so for your kind words about my bird photography. I look forward to seeing your new photos!

  10. It does a wonderful job! I know now after reading TWO posts on new cameras within 24 hours that it might be a sign I need a new one. I'll have to look into this one.

  11. It looks like you have made a good choice! Those bird shots look very pro!
    Congrats and have FUN!

  12. Great pictures taken with your new toy! I have been thinking of a new camera.I have a 10X optic zoom but wanting a 20X. I'm scared of the larger size and weight of the cameras with this option. So far I have just been ejoying the reviews on blogs... ..

  13. Liebe Barbara! Die Bilder, welche Du mit Deiner neuen Kamera gemacht hast, sind wirklich gestochen scharf. Ich besitze eine Kompakt- und eine Spiegelreflexkamera, obwohl erstere wirklich gut ist, kann sie mit der Spiegelreflex nicht mithalten.
    Du wirst Deinen Kauf bestimmt nicht bereuen.

    lg kathrin

  14. I have those slugs too, they are the wrong kind of slugs, weirdly no edible slugs in the edible garden :) Ill have to get them out myself, with a little help of some blackbird friends :)

    You have a very nice new camera, i must confess that i lost my camera somewhere in the house, i will find it back, but the pictures on my page are made with an i phone since october :) Our normal camera is just like the cybershot, only a different brand.
    Untill i find it back, ill just have to zoom by getting nearer the object with my phone, its a nice challenge :)

    I envy your beautiful new camera :)
    I hope to see many new pictures who are made with it :)

  15. Congratulations! I think you'll enjoy having the new camera for all special shots, and the old for when you really can't lug the new one around. I new have 2 cameras myself, a bit confusing at times but also a lot of fun.

  16. Thanks for all your comments!

    Town Mouse: Exactly. The new heavy camera will probably stay in the house/garden, and will definitely be a fun project.

    Hare: I wish the blackbirds would eat my slugs, but they don't since, as I've read, the invasive Spanish slugs we now have here don't taste good and are so large and slimy they are indigestible for many traditional slug predators.

    Kathrin, Deine Photos sind auch wunderbar. Ich habe mich nicht an eine Spiegelreflex herangetraut, vielleicht als nächste (wenn dieser Kauf sich "amortisiert" hat).

    Skeeter: The 20x zoom is the most fun part of this camera and the main reason for purchasing it. But you have to let these things gel in your mind before making a decision.

    Rosey, thank you!

    Tina, sounds indeed like this might be an omen for you.

    Carol, I have admired your bird photography for a long time. It inspired me.

    Vegetable garden cook: Do we ever have slugs here! If you're interested, I've written a couple of posts on my attempts to battle them. You can find the links in my "labels" list.

    Di, thanks for the offer of seeds, and I'm tempted, but need to restrain myself!

    Luzia, danke für die Auflösung Deiner wunderschönen Collage. Ich wusste nicht, dass man Berberitze essen kann. Ein Vorteil des Zooms an der neuen Kamera ist, dass ich jetzt die Vögel besser indentifizieren kann und freue mich auch über die Schwanzmeisen.

    Diana, both the great tit and the blue tit are just delightful and adorable birds. We have a pair of blue tits that nest at our cottage every year. They are the quintessential garden bird here. (Well and blackbirds of course.)

    Gisela, the Panasonic was a close contender, and I know many people are very happy with theirs.

    Edith, wow, you make me feel like a techie - which I am not. But you can't avoid learning a little if you need to buy a camera.

    Curbstone, I'm leaving the tripod in the garden cottage so that I cannot forget it at home!

    Green Lane, I'm already regretting not having a remote control on my new camera, but am working on other strategies to capture those birds on film.

  17. Dear Barbara, Your photographs are very impressive. You obviously made a good choice. I am saving to buy a new camera for the same reasons as you. Enjoy! P x

  18. You need to see how this kid is able to make
    over $2000 a month selling pictures he took
    with his camera!


    He lays out exactly how you can do it too!
    This page might not be up for much longer
    so you need to check it out right now.