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Photographers opinions wanted (amateur or pro)

Photography is a loved hobby of mine and I currently have a Nikon DSLR but would like to get a smaller, yet good quality pns. I've been going through old posts about the pns topic, reading some reviews but wanted to see if anyone had any specific experience with two particular cameras, Nikon Coolpix P900 and Panasonic Lumix FZ80. I will continue to do my research but so far those seem to be two good options with optical zoom, stabilization, size, price, etc. I take a mixture of all types of photos; distant scenery, up close detail, my active 8 year old daughter, snap shots, low light, bright light, etc. and many I will enlarge to frame at home, my office or to give as gifts. I know my DSLR is my best bet for a lot of things but for times when I don't need it or can't take it I want something good that won't break the bank either. Can anyone give me their true review, good and bad of one or both of these?

Is there something different/better that you may like that is under $800?

Thank you!

Posted by
4933 posts

I have a different (older) Lumix, a DMC-FZ1000 that I love - bought it as a travel camera a few years ago after using my Canon DSLR rig for years. The Lumix is not a perfect replacement but maybe for 85% of what I'd normally shoot it is just as good - but whatever it lacks, it compensates for by being more convenient the rest of the time.

Looking at the specs of the Lumix FZ80, they look great. The sensor is a 1/2.3" size which is pretty standard for a camera of that size. My Lumix has a larger 1" sensor. That means it will be a little lower noise especially at higher ISO. Will you notice or care? Maybe not, most of the time. You'd notice mostly with enlargements when shooting something at high ISO - it would probably be a little more noisy.

There are reviews of both of the cameras you are considering in DPReview's website. I note that the Nikon seems to be a few years older:

Whichever camera you buy, at least one spare battery is mandatory, I'd say, as you're probably aware with your Nikon rig. I bought a couple of cheap aftermarket spares on eBay for my Lumix - not the same battery life as the original battery but something like 1/5 the price so don't care.

Posted by
847 posts

I have the Panasonic FZ 300 - and before that many others in the same line and really like it. But I wanted a larger sensor so switched to a micro 4/3 Panasonic (G7) which has a larger sensor. Well it is better in low light but otherwise I really don't like it at all. I'm probably going to get the FZ1000 that Andrew speaks of. The FZ80 has the smaller sensor and is supposedly not as high quality a camera as the FZ 300 - but it's much less costly. If low light shooting is not important to you the FZ80 might be fine. I've also had a few of the Panasonic LX line (much smaller cameras with much less zoom) and those are good too. However I recently switched to a Sony RX 100 as my back up - for two reasons - one it has a view finder, and two it has the larger 1" sensor. I do like those two features a lot but in general I like the Panasonic's better. Also that Sony was way more expensive (around $1000, more than the FZ300). I've had many Nikon cameras, including a DSLR and some older bridge cameras. I think Nikon is best for high end, DSLR and their lower cost bridge and point and shoots are not as great.

Posted by
759 posts

I have a Panasonic DMC-ZS40 which has worked very well for me. It ha a Leica lens that goes from true wide angle to long telephoto and I can say I will never go back to the SLR. This is easy to carry. it is always with me and and it always has the right lens on it, no screwing around changing lenses to get into the right focal length range. The DSLR is a true is really dumb when you think about it. Film camera SLRs were invented to eliminate the parallax between the view finder and the lens generated image on the film. Same goes for depth of field. On a digital camera, what's on the view finder is the image that is on the electronic sensor and is going to be saved. Why mess with all the extra mechanisms to do nothing????????????

Posted by
186 posts

I have a Coolpix P900 and love it! I generally use it when a long zoom is needed, like safaris but have used it on European trips. The photo quality is very good. It is very good for capturing shots of details and the long zoom (2000mm) is very versatile. It is not a great deal lighter in weight then n DSLR but I have used both and find the P900 is preferable for travel since I do not need to carry extra lenses. The price point will fit nicely within your budget. I have used the P900 on several African safaris and was able to draw in great shots of far off animals and birds. The newer version P1000 is heavier with a longer zoom but I don not plan to trade in the P900 anytime soon.

My other travel camera is a Sony RX100 IV (28-70) and a great choice also, but a bit pricier. It delivers excellent picture quality and has many options for shooting. It is now my "go to" choice for Europe where zoom is not as necessary. There is a newer model RX100 VI or VII that is a 70-200 zoom and I am considering upgrading. This camera is compact enough to carry in a purse or pocket. It is consistently ranked as a #1 choice for travel photography. It also has a pop up viewfinder in addition to the LCD screen on the back. The P900 has a viewfinder as well. The P900 does not deliver very good results for low light shooting but otherwise great results.

All around, both are excellent choices for traveling. Good luck with your travels!!

Posted by
849 posts

The best source for camera reviews might still be, CNET is good, too.

I’m a retired photographer and video producer. I just use my iPhone.

I understand the need folks have for quality images but I also know that the features and capabilities of today’s remarkable cameras are rarely used or even understood by most consumers. Get a camera that satisfies your creative needs, surely, but Don’t buy more camera than you need. Don’t buy a camera that requires so much work that it gets between your eye and capturing your image.

Posted by
849 posts


Ah, point and shoot! Got it now.

$800 is not pns, that is a proper photographic tool. I’d not spend more than about $150 on pns.

Posted by
159 posts

Since buying my Sony DSC RX100 III, I have not taken my Nikon D7100 out of its bag.

Frankly, the portability and image quality are the perfect package for a compact travel camera over and above what I would need from my iPhone.

Micro 4/3 are nice, but still too bulky to drop into a jacket pocket.

I believe current prices on III and IV models are below $750.

Posted by
245 posts

I am an avid amateur photographer, and about 4 or 5 years ago switched from my Nikon D7100 to a mirrorless camera, and I've never looked back. For point-and-shoot I use my cellphone, but if I want good photos I can take with adjustments and enlarge to mount on the wall, I use my Sony a6000 mirrorless. It's less than half the weight and takes wonderful photos with all the same abilities to adjust shutter aperture and speed, and allows you to change lenses if you like. Using a screen rather than a viewfinder took a little getting used to, but it helps me avoid some of the weird positioning I used to have to do if I held my camera up or down to take a shot.

For a point-and-shoot, today's smartphones take terrific pictures.....I've seen art gallery shows of iPhone photographs, and Pete Souza (former official WH photographer) has posted some wonderful shots on Instagram that he's taken with his iPhone.

Posted by
638 posts

For me, as an amateur photographer, the camera's sensor size is a consideration. Not the only one, but I have preferences based on my experience. Obviously, the larger the sensor, the more information will be included in the image, which allows for capture of sharp detail, ability to crop without destroying image quality, and the option to make really big prints. And of course the largest sensors are in the big and expensive cameras. IMO, unless you're a pro photographer who often sells huge murals to interior designers (I know a guy who IS), you probably don't need all that. But it's fun to play with!

At the tiny sensor end of things? I've taken some fine photos with my mobile phone - the Pixel 2, which I just traded in for a Pixel 3 so I think the trend is good to continue. I even have a 2' x 3' print on canvas of one of those photos - BUT it's an abstract created by using a long exposure app and moving the camera over some brightly colored objects. I haven't tried having any of my non-abstract phone photos printed that large.

At the large sensor end of things I have a Sony mirrorless with a "full frame" sensor and that thing can do magic, I swear. It's not as big as a DSLR with the same size sensor, and with a small 35mm lens on it, it's been a good but not tiny travel companion.

My "sweet spot" for a compact "point and shoot" camera is the Sony RX100iii, which has already been mentioned. The sensor is large and good enough (a 1" sensor) that photos can be edited and cropped without degrading image quality. The controls on the camera are more sophisticated than a $150 "point and shoot" camera. I have also used, and really like, larger/heavier "bridge" cameras with 1" sensors and superzoom lenses (Panasonic FZ1000, Sony RX10iv).

I've used some excellent Panasonic P&S cameras in my day. I'm sure the FZ80 is a good choice. But if you're used to a DSLR, I'd see if you could try out the two cameras you mentioned. Because their sensor sizes are much smaller than the DSLR you're used to. You should see how much you can enlarge photos from those two point and shoots before you hit their limits. You may find they fit your needs just fine.

Just a few numbers based on Google searches.

A Nikon DX DSLR (APS-C or crop sensor) has a sensor area of approximately 24x16 mm (area 384 sq mm).
A Nikon FX DSLR (full frame) sensor measures 36x24mm (area 864 sq mm).
The Sony RX100iii (and other 1" sensor cameras) have a sensor approximately 13.2mm x 8.8mm (area ~ 116 sq mm).
The Lumix DMC-FZ80 and Nikon P900 have a 1/2.3" sensor with dimensions of 6.17 x 4.55 mm and sensor area of 28.07 sq mm.
My Pixel 2 camera's sensor was a teensy 5.5mm x 4.1mm (area of 22.5 sq mm, lol!)

Posted by
635 posts

Even the original Sony RX100 (28-100mm equivalent) does very, very well. As the newer models keep coming out, the price of the original keeps dropping, now $368 on Amazon.

Posted by
759 posts

Quick warning if your shopping for the Sony RX100. It is a Fantastic travel camera, the best out there ( my opinion and subject to dispute).
The newest model now has a longer reach aka telephoto lens. BUT it comes at a price. It is a SLOWER lens.
For Europe if your intentions are building exteriors and interiors I would go with a RX100 but only up to the Mk IV or V version which is the last with the wide angle f1.8 lens.

Travel safe,

One Fast Bob