Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Canon Powershot SX530 HS - My New Birding Camera

It was suppose to take 3 days but it finally arrived, some 9 days later. What happened Superbuy.my? You had me worried there for a couple of days. Better late than never I suppose.

Yes, I have finally bought myself a new superzoom bridge camera - a Canon Powershot SX530 HS (SX530HS) with 50x optical zoom. Warranty periods is for 1 year from Canon Malaysia - got my email confirmation last week to prove it. I will be using this camera largely for birding and wildlife photography. Long overdue I think.

My Opinion

Having used this camera over the last couple of days, I must say that I am very pleased with my decision. Compared with my previous low-end camera, focusing and the image quality is definitely much better. I am surprised to find such fine details of a pigeon (and other birds too in fact; picture quality is subject to my shaky hands) captured with this camera. Just look at the picture below to see what I mean (do click to enlarge). Except for some cropping, there were no other editing done to this picture. It blew me away the first time I saw it. This camera is making birding and photography fun again! Previously, the only way for me to get such fine details was to hold my subject at arms length. I know because I photographed my rooster that way once. And no I was not tormenting it; I was just trying to photograph its injured eye.

Rock Pigeon Up Close (do click to enlarge)

Selection Process

The SX530HS is not my first choice actually. To be honest, it was not even my second.

My first choice was the Nikon Coolpix P530 , a camera with 42x optical zoom, a viewfinder and at a very good price. I have been stalking it for months at Lazada, pinning my hope for a better deal everyday. But it suddenly became unavailable, as luck would have it, at about the time when I decided to open my wallet. Its higher end cousin, the Nikon Coolpix P610 is still available but its price is way beyond my budget; it costs about RM600 more. Choosing the Nikon Coolpix B500 would mean budgeting for NiMH batteries plus charger which would blow my budget (normal alkaline AA batteries wouldn't do by the way - I know because I was stung before).

My second choice was the Canon Powershot SX540 HS (SX540HS). Unfortunately, a software glitched at Lazada ruined my hopes.

The SX530HS and SX540HS are almost identical in many respects. As expected, the newer model comes with more advanced features (features that I do not really need) coupled with a higher price tag too. Paying for something that I do not need - now that is not very clever. Thus, my decision to go with the SX530HS in the end.

To add some colour to this post, here is another picture (do click to enlarge) taken with my new SX530HS - a Pink-Necked Green-Pigeon.

Pink-Necked Green-Pigeon (click to enlarge)

Update (6th April 2020)

  1. I have upgraded to a DSLR Canon EOS 800D/T7i since October 2018. I need this camera for my stock photography work at Dreamstime as I spend too much time editing pictures from my SX530 camera, fixing chromatic aberration and sensor noise. Max focal length on my EOS 800D/T7i is still at 50mm - haven't bought a telephoto lens of greater that 100mm yet.

  2. Poor showing of SX530 in low light, unless if I get very close to the subject.

  3. SX530's sweet spot for birding is around 10' to 20' (as can be seen in both pictures above). That's about one to two car length away, assuming a typical car is about 10' long. Beyond that, the pictures can get a bit soft. This is not a problem if you are posting to social media and you have to resize the picture down anyway.

  4. Chromatic aberration maybe a problem in high contrast area when viewed at 100% - can be fixed in post-processing. But sizing it down may hide it somewhat.

  5. Sensor noise may be a problem when viewed at 100%. Like (4) above, sizing it down my hide some of it.

  6. I mainly use my SX530 for shooting stock video these days. Surprisingly, digital zoom produces some quite usable videos although I may have to scale it down to 720p if digital zoom is at 200x. Also, I love the mechanise zoom on the SX530. On the DSLR, I have to turn the zoom ring by hand, and this can get quite jerky.

  7. My favourite camera mode these days on the SX530 is 'Live' mode - less settings to fiddle with, good picture quality.

  8. Keep focal leght at less than 100mm (and subject at not more than 20' away). Beyond that, the picture qualtiy may get a little soft.


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