The last thing I need if truth be told is a new camera. This one, which we bought in Fortress in Tai Koo Shing, makes about number 15 or 16. And after only a few hours I lost it. To Mrs. Ha. So why did I spend a modest HK$3,780 (less than 500 greenbacks) on a superzoom. Well this is an amazing piece of kit. It will reach roughly from Pyongyang to Seoul faster than you can say Kim Jong Un, or in decimal currency, from 24 to 2400mm. I was put on to it by Bob Thompson and he has a great selection of test shots on his Flickr site. (Get well soon, Bob). Suffice it to say that after seeing these I had the urge to splurge. And I did. We also got a selection of freebies. A spare battery that didn’t fit the camera, a “gorrila pod” imitation that broke on taking it out of the box, a card reader – as yet untested – and a 16GB card by a manufacturer I have never heard of. The battery was later swapped but I declined a second Gorilla-parzer-pod. Do not though, dear reader, allow the tacky gifts to detract from the camera itself.
This is a well-designed camera that fits nicely in the hand. I do have some gripes. The diopter wheel is is a stupid position. No arguments. The designer should be shot. The viewfinder is poor but the fold out screen is excellent. I have never used one of these before and apart from the mental challenge of the screen not pointing at the subject I quite took to it. I have to learn that the lens and the screen are not, can not be aligned. I found holding focus at 2400mm difficult in some instances. A nice clean background is needed or the AF is off on the hunt, despite the green rectangle thingy covering the target. Not unlike a Canon 1D mk3 in fact!! AF generally seemed sluggish. The manual is only in Chinese. If you are willing to run the CD there is doubtless an English version but I’m not. Useless in the field. There may even be other languages (for it is rumoured that there are languages in the world other than English and Chinese). Urdu perhaps . And I don’t mean urdu in the sense of “that’s a nice urdu, pet”. (Put ‘urdu’ into google translate, choose source language “Geordie” and the output is “hair do”.)
There are also a couple of buttons the purpose of which as yet eludes me. RTFM I hear you say…… No. If a camera needs a manual to be used it has already failed in my opinion. Test and learn. Press it and see what happens. The trouble is, at least one button seems to do nothing.
The controls will take no Canon aficionado by surprise. This probably supports the view of the salesperson in Fortress, who responded to my challenge about the absence of an English language manual by saying “nobody reads them anyway”. Quite right sir (or madam). They are just there to taunt us. All the usual modes are available, the menus are simple enough and it has a proper hotshoe that will take a real flashgun. The camera does have its own flash but it seems to need to be opened manually then the flash symbol allows you to choose the flash mode (auto, always on etc.)
On the left hand side the upper button zooms you in and out quickly when pressed. This is to help you find the target when you are trying to home in on something using the 1200mm zoom. Bob has shots taken at 2400mm but I’m not sure I have discovered that far yet. I also learned that although you can handhold this camera at 1200mm the results using a tripod are much more impressive. Now of course that’s why they offer you a tri- or gorilla pod. Bob’s test shots are well worth looking at but here are some of mine. These are all shot originally as jpegs as Lightroom 4 is not yet ready to accept the RAW files from this camera (yawn….. when will we get an industry standard??) – but note this does shoot RAW and that to me is a must. So, no post processing other than downsizing. The jpeg setting I chose was “Positive Film – recreate the vivid colours of shooting with film”.
As stated, the range is a staggering 24mm to 2400mm .
Here is 24mm in our garden:
Now lets start to arrow in on the pitcher plants.
A bit more?
Even more…. good grief!
More? You have to be kidding. I did not move the camera position at all shooting these, I simply zoomed in each time. I used a Gitzo tripod. None of the images has been sharpened.
Now I’m not easily impressed but that is enough to make me raise an eyebrow or two.
Try it on a bird? Why not…. This is handheld and I chopped his tail but not too bad.
Well its not going to win any prizes but over the distance involved its ok, lah!
Now I also like macro as you know. Does it macro? I should cocoa.
Let’s be honest. You get what you pay for. But my Canon 5D3 and an 800mm lens will cost you the thick end of HK$130k I guess. This cost less than HK$4k.The idea of a superzoom camera going from 24 to 2400mm strikes me as a recipe for disaster. But it isn’t. You simply need to match your expectations to the price bracket. Frankly for this money it is hard to go wrong. Mrs. Ha has fallen in love with its versatility, weight, handling and colour rendition. AND she can read the manual in Chinese – but won’t of course. She’ll ask me. Me? I’ll ask Bob 🙂
So a thumbs up from me but if you do want to shoot at silly focal lengths I do recommend a tripod. Just don’t use the Fortress gorilla pod with a life expectancy of less than 5 seconds.