Research to Choose Bridge Camera - The Winner: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200!

About a month or so ago I starting thinking about getting a 100-400mm telephoto lens for my Canon Rebel XSi.  I've been visiting the National Zoo a lot and enjoying taking pictures there and all the other neat places I've been going to since I moved to the DC area last year.  I hadn't used the Rebel in quite a while, so I decided to take it to the zoo with me several Saturdays ago and use it to see how I liked the pictures I took with it compared to my Canon SX230 superzoom that I bought last year. 

After carrying the Rebel with the 55-250mm lens around all day, I decided to explore other options to the additional lens.  Carrying multiple lenses around and having to switch them out to get different types of pictures was starting to seem like a chore.  So I started researching bridge cameras - cameras with fixed lenses that offer greater zoom capability than my smaller point and shoot.

I narrowed my top choices down to the following:

  • Canon PowerShot SX40
  • Nikon Coolpix P510
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
  • Sony Cybershot DSC-HX200V

I really liked the idea of the 24-1000mm range of the Nikon, but wasn't sure that more is necessarily better.  I've had Canon cameras for as far back as I can remember, so a part of me was drawn to the Canon, but I wasn't thrilled that the LCD was only 2.7" instead of 3" like most of the rest of the bridge cameras.  I read reviews and blogs until my eyes were practically crossing. 

Then it was time to move from reading to seeing.  While visiting my parents in North Carolina, we visited the local Walmart store so I could look at the cameras they had in stock.  They had the Canon and the Nikon that I was able to see and hold.  I wasn't that impressed with either of them once I saw them in person.  I definitely did not like the smaller LCD of the Canon, so that ruled it out.
I went back to my research, and became more and more intrigued that the Panasonic Lumix had an f2.8 maximum aperture over the entire zoom range from 25-600mm.  Granted the zoom range wasn't as long as some of the other cameras, but I asked myself if I really needed a range larger than 600mm.  Maybe if I go on that African safari I've been dreaming about!  But if I do want a longer zoom, Panasonic makes a telephoto conversion kit for the FX200 that will increase its range to 1020mm! 

I went online looking for a brick and mortar store that carried the Panasonic so I could go look at one in person.  No joy.  It turns out the camera is pretty much brand new, and I could only find it available online.  That made me hesitate, but not for long.  I decided I like the idea of being on the cutting edge so to speak and to be one of the first to have something!  I RARELY ever do that, but decided this time to take a gamble that I'd be pleased with the outcome.  So last Saturday I ordered the Panasonic, hoping to have it by this weekend.  Unfortunately, I haven't received it yet.  It has been shipped though, and is scheduled to be delivered on Monday.  YEAH!  I am very excited about my new toy.  I'm planning to go hiking in the Big Meadow area of Shenandoah National Park with a friend next weekend, and needless to say, the camera will be going with me!  I hope to see some wildlife while we are there along with some gorgeous scenery.


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