Birding With the P510

As part of my user report with this remarkable camera, I can share some observations about how it handles for my primary intended use- birding. Firstly, let’s get out of the way that you won’t get the same quality with this camera as with a DSLR, let alone a M4/3 or even Nikon 1 camera. It just isn’t possible, due to the sensor size, even if it is better than such sensors used to be. For serious uses, I’d rather have a DSLR setup. Yet, so often that isn’t possible and even if it were, I currently have no DSLR lens even nearly in this range.

Yet for what it is, it is remarkable. I have been able to get up close and personal with a variety of birds, large and small. I can see them feed, rest, interact, as never before. There is something very inspiring about seeing these creatures, free to fly about, so graceful and beautiful, as if I was right next to them. Leaving aside the photographs for a minute, it can be exhilarating to see them defy gravity in a way we can only do with machines. Even as a spotting scope with added camera features, it is well worth the price of admission. The beautifully hi-res, tilting LCD is a joy to use and whilst the resolution is truly pitiful, just having the EVF helps no end for framing and holding the camera steady.

I have started to capture evocative images that previously would have eluded me. The feeling is of entering an exotic world, one which humans are usually denied entry. To be able to get a reasonably high quality capture (especially at ISO 100, which I try to lock it to) is such a reward. Now follows a few of my captures- see for yourself if they stand out or the quality just isn’t there… something I used to worry about, but no longer consider a deal-breaker. The only thing I would add here, however, is that the AF is no-where near adequate for BIF (birds in flight) photography. It just can’t track the focus fast enough, though it does have a tracking mode that might be useful in some situations. We are talking still birds here, which still (pardon the pun) makes a lot of evocative nature shots possible.

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