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Posts Made By: Alan Birnbaum

November 22, 2003 10:33 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Panasonic Lumix photos

Posted By Alan Birnbaum

One of the review sites has some sample shots, including several taken at Crissy Field Tidal Marsh in San Francisco.

I first saw Crissy Field myself just a week ago. It's an absolute gem of a restored tidal wetlands. It's amazing how $34 million can convert a parking lot back into an urban natural resource (thanks largely to the Haas family for the funds.)

The interior shots undertandably identify this as NOT a camera you'd use to do serious architectural work, but it might be the best option for birds short of a full-own DSLR.

December 3, 2003 06:11 AM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Nikon D70 coming next spring

Posted By Alan Birnbaum

For everyone who thinks that a really good camera always starts with the letter "N" even when it's digital, and who wonders about a reasonably priced digital body to couple with, say, a Nikon 80-400/4.5-5.6 VR lens, for 35 mm equivalent 120 to 600 mm coverage, consider the just announced but of course not yet available Nikon D70, set to take a run at its Canon counterpart.

December 12, 2003 05:48 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

digital imaging trends

Posted By Alan Birnbaum

A summary of trends from included this interesting discussion:

<Although Canon and Nikon are committed to Image Stabilization (Canon) and Vibration Reduction (Nikon) in lenses, almost all other camera makers are researching putting such systems into digital SLR camera bodies where their entire array of lenses would benefit from the feature. Both mechanical and optical systems are being researched. Sticky problems include whether systems should be mechanical or optical, whether they can overcome vertical, horizontal and panning shake, and how to avoid violating present Nikon and Canon patents. In point-and-shoot, Nikon expects to add Vibration Reduction, Canon does not think Image stabilization is necessary for point-and-shoots.>>

Beyond that, it appears that Nikon will use its current sensor size for both "amateur" and professional level SLR products, while Canon plans to use CMOS sensors at full 35 mm size for the professional level cameras. As a corollary to that, Nikon has announced already some lenses meant exclusively for digital camera use, such as a 17-55/2.8 midrange zoom, equivalent to 25-83 along with the 12-24/4 already marketed, that's equivalent to an 18-36.

I'd think that the crux of the purchase decision for many will be between the lower end digital SLR, bodies alone in the $900-1000 range, versus the integrated "ZLR," such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10. The former offer usefully better sensor sensitivity, important for action work, while the latter of course will be far more compact, compensating for many situations with the integrated image stabilization.

December 18, 2003 07:01 AM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

January 28, 2004 08:43 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Nikon developments

Posted By Alan Birnbaum

Very much as expected, Nikon has updated their Coolpix 5700, with the 8700 model, the major difference being the 8 megapixel instead of the 5 megapixel sensor, plus some other changes, including a larger display CCD. This remains a fairly lightweight camera, at just over one pound. That it's an 8X zoom, EFL 35-280/2.8-4.2, when compared to the Lumix LMC FZ10, has to be considered in light of a larger sensor size for the Nikon, 2/3" vs. 1/2.5" for the 12X, EFL 35-420/2.8 for the Leica-lensed Panasonic competition. Clearly the Nikon will be more expensive, list price likely to equal the Sony DSC-F828 now on shelves at $999. Of these three mentioned, ONLY the Panasonic has active image stabilization, a BIG difference, and also a feature I'd be surprised not to see when Canon soon introduces its new camera in this extended zoom class.

Further details are becoming available for the Nikon D70, set to compete with the Canon Digital Rebel, as a full-fledged DSLR, including the introduction of a reasonably priced 18-70/3.5-4.5 zoom lens, EFL 27-105, the combination costing $1300, though for any real bird work one would also need that Nikon 80-400/4/5-5.6VR lens featured on this board, bringing the total cost of such a basic two lens outfit up to around $2800, though this would cover a 35 mm equivalent range of 27 to 600 mm.

January 29, 2004 07:11 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Pentax needs to do a 64 mm version

Posted By Alan Birnbaum

It's good to hear a positive report on the Pentax PF80ED. I DO wonder if and when they'll downscale that to a 60 mm version, to compete with the Nikon Fieldscope III, or perhaps 62-65 mm, to take a run at the Leica, Zeiss and Swarovski in that size range. I don't mind the money I spent on my Swarovski, but I know a LOT of folks would like something from Pentax that might come in at close to the quality, but half the price!

February 1, 2004 06:06 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Burris Landmark compact 20X spotting scope

Posted By Alan Birnbaum

By chance might anyone have looked through one of these:

The 20X’s fixed power simplicity provides optimum optical design in a compact package at an affordable price. Not only is this spotter, with it’s single moving part, waterproof and fogproof but you also get a larger field of view, lighter weight and a more compact, more durable construction.... Fully multicoated optics...>>


This looks to be basically just half a 10x50 binocular, save with a higher powered ocular. I think that this is likely a very inexpensive scope, but I might be interested in one to keep in my car, mainly for quick checks of our local drainage ponds, whose 6' chainlink fences are unfriendly to an angled spotting scope, not to mention I don't care to keep an expensive one in my car all the time. The good, relatively inexpensive 7x35 Minolta Activa I always keep in my car obviously are limited for ID's across a pond.

February 3, 2004 06:55 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Nikon N70

Posted By Alan Birnbaum

The first previews of the Nikon N70 DSLR are emerging,and sound VERY encouraging, likely a usefully better unit than the Canon Digital Rebel. The sequence speed and duration seems a lot better, the electronic flash synch speed is 1/500, etc. For those with $3000 or so to sepend on the body, the 18-70/3.5-4.5 zoom lens, plus an 80-400/4.5-5.6VR zoom lens, This might prove to be a fairly compact and effective outfit, providing 35 mm equivalent coverage from 27 all the way to 600 mm.

So, prediction: by April we'll start to see a LOT of shots taken with the N70.

February 6, 2004 08:42 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Swarovski Digital Camera Basis DCB

Posted By Alan Birnbaum

For anyone who owns an angled Swarovski scope of the newer series, ATS type, here's a fascinating gadget:

I have NOT seen one demonstrated, but it seems like a concept that might very much simplify digiscoping. I stole the URL from another board, where I think it was mentioned this will run about $175 or so, signficantly less than a similar device being introduced by Zeiss.

Do I plan to get one? Hey, I've now got one of almost everything else.

February 6, 2004 10:44 PM Forum: Birding Optics and Photos

Swarovski protective cases

Posted By Alan Birnbaum

While clearly they won't work with the DCB, Swarovski has also just introduced a new line of protective cases:

These are just coming available, but are NOT cheap, with the one price I saw being $185! While not a fitted case, and useful just for travel, there are Op/Tech wraps which for maybe $12 would provide a similar level of protection for traveling. The other disadvantage of these cases is that they HIDE what I consider to be the most beautifully designed spotting scope on the market.

Since all of the scope in the line are armored, they likely are not essential for many types of usage. BUT for the sort of all day van trip featured at many festivals, this would be by far the easiest way to protect the Swarovski, the same being true when one has substantial hiking through bushy terrain.