It depends on how serious you want to be and how much you want to spend/can spend. Many of the long zoom digicams, like the FZ series do pretty well in many situations. But, they don't offer the flexibility (or cost hit) of interchangeable lenses. It's difficult to get wider or longer with a fixed lens camera while still retaining quality. DSLRS will also have a more extended useful iso or sensitivity range. That allows you to shoot in less light or to shoot at higher shutter speeds - to counter/freeze subject motion or minimize the effect of camera motion.
DSLRs will generally have faster or longer continuous shooting rates. This can be very helpful with dynamic subjects, to catch just the right moment or to have an interesting sequnetial series of shots. DSLRs give you real time viewing theough an optical system, through the lens. But you don't get previews or live histograms. You can get reviews of the captured image and it's histogram.
This can allow you to use a flexible screen for viewing angles very difficult to work with with a dslr. the image, however, is delayed. It isn't real time. The sensor is scanned, the image is processed, the images is scanned/displayed by the finder. This can cause problems showing fast moving objects or when the camera is moved quickly to track the moving subject.
Some kinds of subjects, like sports and flying birds, for example, can move in unpredictable ways, making any delay in the finder even harder to predict/react to to keep the camera on subject. Very few (but not quite none) professional photographers use digicams instead of dslrs. DSLR systems can be frightfully expensive, heavy, bulky and generally not all that convenient at times. I was really happy with my Fuji S602 for most of my shooting, but it had limitations. My KM 7D has fewer limitations but the system cost is significantly higher and schlepping it around requires a lot more effort and planning...
Thanks Craig, I appreciciate the info. I am interested that you have a KM 7D. I have read alot of favourable comments about it. I had thought that if I were to go the dslr route, I may purchase one. When I checked their website however, I was dissappointed to learn that they were getting out of the camera business. They was some mention of arrangements having been made with Sony regarding warranty and service.
I freely admit I know nothing about them - how many would one need to photograph a child on a soccer field and say, a hawk at 100 meters?..
KM has basically transitioned out of direct consumer camera products, pretty much as of today, April 1st. Sony will be taking over the product lines. Outside of discussing waranty and repairs, there's been very little news about if the KM dslrs will be continued, the 7D is a little old so a replacement was hoped for, a professional model was also sort of hoped for/expected but never formally announced. Sony seems to be aiming first at consumer models and it's just hard to tell what's going to happen. And prices of KM gear seems to be going crazy as people try to fill up on stuff they had passed on before. There seem to be some really reasonale prices on the 7D but some of the accesories are gone or very pricey.
People are a lot larger than birds but usually closer, some birding is done at fairly close ranges as well. The "faster" the lens, the better as you get better separation of the subject from backgrounds with large aperture settings and higher shutter speeds, needed to stop motion. So to some extent birding and sports shooting kind of overlap in lens needs...
Craig, do you think a 7D would be a wise purchase now? Having browsed a bit I agree with what you say regarding prices. I do have a question about my DSC-W5 and photo quality. It seems that probably 30 percent of the photos are coming back lacking definition or crispness. I am certain this is a problem with the cameras operator and not the camera. We became quite concerned about this after viewing our photos and the photos of a friend that were taken of the same outing. The usual settings are as follows:.
Digital zoom: smart.
Red Eye Reduction: ON.
AF Illuminator: Auto.
Picture Quality: standard.
Meter Mode: Multi.
Focus: Multi auto focus.
Image size: 5M None of the photos have been printed, but could this be some sort of resolution incompatability with the monitor? Thanks any help would be much appreciated...
I have to admit to a bit of ambivalence about buying a 7D right now. However, if the price is comparable, it's probably a far better camera in many ways than the KM 5D and the other base model dslrs. I don't have any "technical" concerns about it, just that there was an established track record with KM and service, etc. It seems that the Sony repair operation will have much of the same equipment but maybe few of the same people (just an impression - ot something I can validate) which might carry a learning curve to get service to the same levels. We just don't know what's going to happn under Sony - emotionally it seems that they wouldn't have bought the business to kill it so I think things will be fine. As to the sharpeness concerns on the other, I'm not familiar enough with it but the settings should be OK.
The lack of consistency seems a bit odd. Sample photo would help judge the results, and maybe checking with the Sony forum, if there are users there used to the camera. It may be just low shutter speeds or it may be something else, Id hesitate to guess...