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03-05-2016, 02:03 PM   #1
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Q-S1 With DA 55-300 or Superzoom Bridge Camera?

First, let me stress that I owned the original Pentax Q and now have the Q-S1. I have enjoyed both cameras thoroughly. I am interested in shooting more wildlife going forward. Of course, I can use my DA 55-300 on my K-3 or K-5 IIs and crop when appropriate and necessary. And maybe I can eventually swing the DA* 300mm f/4. But there are times when that kind of kit isn't practical and I'd like to carry something smaller and lighter.

Since I already own a Q-to-K adaptor (the Pentax one) I'll no doubt be trying out the 55-300 on the Q-S1. But for fun, hand-held nature photography might I be better off with one of the better, recent superzoom bridge cameras from Nikon or Panasonic?

I'm thinking the ability to use autofocus and get 1400mm-plus without cropping might make the difference despite the smaller sensor in most superzooms. Granted, there are a few superzooms with one-inch sensors that get out to 400, 500 or even 600mm. But I'd probably have to crop in such a situation anyway.

What do the best and brightest among our Q users have to say?

03-05-2016, 02:22 PM   #2
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I owned a superzoom bridge camera by Nikon, the 8MP Coolpix 8700. I bought it back in 2004, and a year later it got stolen. The insurance people offered me a choice of Pentax DSLRs to replace it, and I settled on a 6MP *istDL. After about a week with the Pentax, I didn't miss the Nikon.

Long and the short, IMHO interchangeable-lens cameras beat bridge cameras any day. That's my 2 cents worth.
03-05-2016, 02:43 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I used a number of super-zooms before I moved to Pentax. That was back when new sensors, new cameras were coming out almost monthly. I got a new one about once a year for a while. There was no question when I went to the k-x that there was a huge increase in image quality.

However, that was 5 years ago. Are the current super-zooms able to keep up? Have the new sensors closed the gap? Between a super-zoom and a DSLR I think there is still significant advantage to the DSLR. But super-zoom to the Q-S1, that is a much harder question. Roughly same sensor, right? Plus AF, no adapter, much smaller lens, good stabilization.

I'm not sure, tough call. Of course with the Q there is no additional expense, right? With a super-zoom you will need a new camera.

Anyway: 2015 Superzoom Camera Roundup: Digital Photography Review
03-05-2016, 02:47 PM   #4
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I have a Pentax X-90 among my unfeasibly large collection of Pentax cameras, and while it's light and versatile, I soon bought a K-5 (and then a K-3II) and the 55-300. Yes the zoom range of the X-90 is enormous, but the lack of contrast at the far end and the camera shake at that range made if very difficult to get sharp images. The SLR/lens combination just seems so much more ... capable.

03-05-2016, 04:21 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biro Quote
First, let me stress that I owned the original Pentax Q and now have the Q-S1. I have enjoyed both cameras thoroughly. I am interested in shooting more wildlife going forward. Of course, I can use my DA 55-300 on my K-3 or K-5 IIs and crop when appropriate and necessary. And maybe I can eventually swing the DA* 300mm f/4. But there are times when that kind of kit isn't practical and I'd like to carry something smaller and lighter.

Since I already own a Q-to-K adaptor (the Pentax one) I'll no doubt be trying out the 55-300 on the Q-S1. But for fun, hand-held nature photography might I be better off with one of the better, recent superzoom bridge cameras from Nikon or Panasonic?

I'm thinking the ability to use autofocus and get 1400mm-plus without cropping might make the difference despite the smaller sensor in most superzooms. Granted, there are a few superzooms with one-inch sensors that get out to 400, 500 or even 600mm. But I'd probably have to crop in such a situation anyway.

What do the best and brightest among our Q users have to say?
I'm no longer a Q user, and I'm only the best and brightest in a crowd of one, but the superzooms made over the last couple of years are very usable in terms of image quality.

Here are some pics I've taken with several different superzooms. I'm satisfied with the IQ. These are all chance encounters "in the wild".














I am currently superzoom-less, but do plan on acquiring one (maybe the new Nikon B700) again at some point. My issues with superzooms in teh past have been largely related to malfunctions (I've had terrible luck, especially with Fuji) and handling. But improvements have been made with each successive generation.

Last edited by luftfluss; 03-05-2016 at 05:49 PM.
03-05-2016, 04:47 PM   #6
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no experience with the Q,
But i recently gave my Dad a Panasonic/Lumix DMC-FZ200, it was on sale at B&H at the holidays, must have been close out.
He does lots of birding, and has some photo experience, but not much patience to fiddle with settings and such any more.
The camera has plenty of zoom, great images straight out of it, and seems sturdy. He is very pleased with it.
if you want something portable and reasonably capable, they seem like a good package,
I'm happy packing around a DSLR and a couple of lenses, I spent many years hauling round much bigger kits of film gear, so this is plenty compact for me.
All the superzooms I've seen have digital finders, no optical viewfinder, I get bugged by the lag in those finders (rarely use the live view in my DSLRs for the same reason).

I would question the balance of a Q with the 55-300 on it, can you reasonably hold it steady?
03-05-2016, 06:00 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
However, that was 5 years ago. Are the current super-zooms able to keep up? Have the new sensors closed the gap? Between a super-zoom and a DSLR I think there is still significant advantage to the DSLR. But super-zoom to the Q-S1, that is a much harder question. Roughly same sensor, right? Plus AF, no adapter, much smaller lens, good stabilization.
In addition to what you've mentioned, a consumer-grade lens like the 55-300 just isn't good enough to handle the pixel density of the 1/1.7" sensor in the Q-S1.

My own personal rule of thumb is, once the superzoom's focal length (the whole 35mm FOV equivalence thingy) is more than twice my DSLR's, the advantage goes to the superzoom. So if I'm shooting a K-5 + 55-300 @ 300mm (450mm FOV in 35mm equivalence), once my superzoom (and I'm talking the good ones) passes 900mm, I'd much rather use that.
03-05-2016, 06:01 PM   #8
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Steve, you know I love my P610 and FZ1000. The FZ1000 is pretty heavy after a while, though its well balanced; the P610 is light. It depends on how much lugging you are prepared to do. I was originally going to go down the path you are considering but in the end realised that I am well over changing lenses in the field. If I was a Nat Geo photographer, or going in competitions, I'd save all my pennies for a really long prime. But for the rest of us... The late model superzooms are very decent.

03-05-2016, 06:18 PM   #9
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@Luftfluss, great shots...can I ask which cams took these shots?
03-05-2016, 06:46 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by surfar Quote
@Luftfluss, great shots...can I ask which cams took these shots?
Thanks, glad you like 'em. Superzooms can do a very nice job, IMO, if you can fill the frame with your subject.

Robin and Mockingbird were with the Canon SX50HS.

The frog and deer were with the Fuji HS50EXR.

Mallard - Fuji S1.
03-05-2016, 07:35 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by luftfluss Quote
In addition to what you've mentioned, a consumer-grade lens like the 55-300 just isn't good enough to handle the pixel density of the 1/1.7" sensor in the Q-S1.

My own personal rule of thumb is, once the superzoom's focal length (the whole 35mm FOV equivalence thingy) is more than twice my DSLR's, the advantage goes to the superzoom. So if I'm shooting a K-5 + 55-300 @ 300mm (450mm FOV in 35mm equivalence), once my superzoom (and I'm talking the good ones) passes 900mm, I'd much rather use that.
From my experiments, I believe this is basically true. Various guys here have gotten some really good pictures with a Q-something, but they've typically used a $$$$ Sigma. My own backyard experiments showed me getting slightly better images with my Sigma 70-300 APO than with my DA 55-300; part of the difference there may be the aperture ring on the Sigma {which I'm guessing works better than the aperture constrictor on the Pentax adapter}; basically "consumer grade" K-mount lenses may not resolve to level of tiny Q sensor pixels. I am absolutely convinced that a native Q-mount 70-300 lens would do the best of any of the contenders listed here, but Pentax doesn't seem to have any interest in entering that market.

If I followed the example of those upset by how the K-1 handles lenses built 1975~83, I would say "sad" every sentence above and then promise to drop Pentax and go to Nikon, but I think there has been too much of that so far as it is {which is why I adopted the Green Button as my new avatar}. I am willing to own two up-to-date cameras at a time. Oct 2014 I briefly considered buying a Canon SX-50, but I couldn't figure out how to meet my other needs with just one other camera. So, right now, my two-camera solution consists of a Q-7 and and K-30; I will continue to experiment to see how the Q-7 can provide better birding pictures for me.

---------- Post added 03-05-16 at 09:41 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by K-Three Quote
I would question the balance of a Q with the 55-300 on it, can you reasonably hold it steady?
A long time ago, back when we had to hand-focus every shot, I learned to hold the barrel of a long lens with my left hand; with that type of grip, I'm not sure a Q is much less stable than a super-zoom is because I basically end up with a camera on the end of a lens ... except that taking a picture requires a longer time on target because of hand-focusing. I solved the problem for me by getting a monopod / walking-stick from MeFoto {actually, at my age of 68, I may have solved two problems at once}
03-05-2016, 09:27 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
A long time ago, back when we had to hand-focus every shot, I learned to hold the barrel of a long lens with my left hand; with that type of grip, I'm not sure a Q is much less stable than a super-zoom is because I basically end up with a camera on the end of a lens ... except that taking a picture requires a longer time on target because of hand-focusing. I solved the problem for me by getting a monopod / walking-stick from MeFoto {actually, at my age of 68, I may have solved two problems at once}
I think the image stabilization in the best superzooms is probably much better than what we get in any if the Q's - certainly when the long end of a zoom Is beyond a 1000mm equivalent. I really like the rule of thumb about defaulting to the superzoom once one passes 2x the effective focal length of a given DSLR/lens combination.

Really, this is an interesting and enlightening discussion. I am open to any and all thoughts and suggestions. Keep 'em coming. And thank you all. Every post has added something useful.
03-05-2016, 09:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Biro Quote
I think the image stabilization in the best superzooms is probably much better than what we get in any if the Q's - certainly when the long end of a zoom Is beyond a 1000mm equivalent.
Don't sell Pentax IBIS short. I've never had an issue that I could reasonably attribute to stabilization issues.
QuoteOriginally posted by Biro Quote
I really like the rule of thumb about defaulting to the superzoom once one passes 2x the effective focal length of a given DSLR/lens combination
To me the basic question there is "How many cameras are you going to carry around?" If you're comfortable having a super-zoom in your bag with everything else, then you might as well use it.

Super-zooms are clearly a successful market right now. I still can't undertand why Ricoh-Pentax ignores it, and I still belief that the hard part would be developing appropriate optics, and once they've developed it they might as well market a Q+lens as a birding package.
03-05-2016, 09:43 PM   #14
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I don't own any Q series cameras. I do have a Panasonic LX7 and a GX7 as well as my K3. I have experimented recently with getting pictures of hawks using the GX7 and adapted Pentax lenses. What I found may be of relevance.

I shot the 60-250 vs the FA* 300 and the Takumar bayonet 135 f2.5 with the rear converter 2x on it. Off these the 300 was the hardest to handle. All were shot hand held which really limited IQ. all were shot in so so lighting. All are bulkier than expected and handling is only ok. I haven't tried the 55-300 yet.
03-05-2016, 10:05 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by reh321 Quote
To me the basic question there is "How many cameras are you going to carry around?" If you're comfortable having a super-zoom in your bag with everything else, then you might as well use it.

Super-zooms are clearly a successful market right now. I still can't undertand why Ricoh-Pentax ignores it, and I still belief that the hard part would be developing appropriate optics, and once they've developed it they might as well market a Q+lens as a birding package.
Well, the idea would be to use the K-3 with the 55-300 - even with a tripod when possible. But if I knew I was going into a situation where they would be impractical, I'd leave home with the Q or a superzoom. The jury is still out on which and I'll no doubt try the Q-S1 with the 55-300 first.

But you're right. Ricoh-Pentax should really come with up thier own superzoom - not the OEM-derived XG series but a real camera of their own with optics of their own. And a birding-specific Q model would be even better.

Last edited by Biro; 03-06-2016 at 07:17 AM.
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