A great egret posed gracefully today

@topffer (34159)
France
October 30, 2016 8:49pm CST
I went last September to an auction sale in a second hand shop where I bought several items, among them an Olympus SP-820 UZ camera. It is a 2012 camera with a focal equivalent to 22.4/896mm for a 35mm camera : it is a 40x optical zoom, that can be doubled by interpolation. It was cheap at the time for such a focal, the recommended price in the USA was $329.99. I got it for... 30 Euros+14% of fees, less than $40. There are very good and very bad reviews for this camera. Many people are complaining that the colors are not good. Well, the colors are good, but the automatic white balance is the worst I have met on a camera : it takes indoor photos like if the sun was in the house, and they look yellow, and outdoors photos are sometimes full of blue tones, like if they had been taken under a fluorescent light. Fortunately it is possible to choose or capture a white balance. It is also better to not let this camera decide of the ISO sensitivity. I suppose that it is because it helps to stabilize when you zoom that it wants always to open at high speeds, and to do that it increases the ISO sensitivity when it is not needed. Up to 400 ISO, there is no noise, but if you let it choose, it will take a picture of a landscape at 800 ISO and 1/1000s under the sun when 100 ISO and 1/200s are more than enough, and I took night pictures with the flash where I read on the EXIF data that it had chosen 3200 ISO. 3200 ISO with a flash light, you are kidding ! To sum up, it is better to have a bit of knowledge about photography to use this camera, because its choices are often not the best when you let it decide everything with its "Magic" function : this magic needs to be improved by Olympus. I had an opportunity today to test the zoom to its limits. To tell the truth, I had not yet noticed that there was a wader when I took the photo at the top with the equivalent of a 46mm focal under an antique public washing place near a river. I underexposed this one voluntarily and the histogram is not very nice... It is possible to display a histogram when you take a picture, and I have still to learn how to use this feature on this camera. The red circle near the center shows where is the bird that I saw a bit later : it is at about half a mile of the camera. I thought first that it was a stork, and it was something more rare in France, a great egret : I read tonight that there were 150 couples nesting when it has been protected in 1981, and only 84 in 2004. I pushed the zoom quite at its maximum to take the bottom picture : it would be equivalent to 1600mm on a 35 mm. The interpolation is neatly visible on the 14 MP picture, but cannot be seen when it is rescaled to post here. I will not tell that it is a perfect photo, because of a halo around the bird, but when you know the distance between the camera and the bird, the picture is impressive. Altogether, for less than $40 it is a great camera to take pictures of wild life.
11 people like this
14 responses
@louievill (18663)
• Philippines
31 Oct 16
I'm not as good as you with cameras, I wish I had that skill like my elder sister but I would probably match your bargain hunting and picking skills. Those are good shots and nice zooming
4 people like this
@topffer (34159)
• France
31 Oct 16
Excellent You have a couple of great egret nesting in your house ? It is a good photo, adding fun to the discussion. I know the basics, but my best photos, and I would not include these in the lot, they just prove that I have still a good eyesight, were mainly done by accident.
4 people like this
@louievill (18663)
• Philippines
31 Oct 16
@topffer , I also have good eyesight, never wore glasses all my life, and never late to learn photography, I picked those vintage brass egrets for less than 5 dollars a kilo
3 people like this
• Philippines
31 Oct 16
@louievill oh, i thought those vintage egrets were wood. how lucky you are not to need glasses. does good vision run in your family?
3 people like this
@allen0187 (33124)
• Philippines
31 Oct 16
Great photo! Thanks for sharing. You seem to know your way around cameras and photography. Are you a professional photographer?
3 people like this
@topffer (34159)
• France
31 Oct 16
No. I have learned a few basics with coworkers who are professional photographers and I have used great reflex cameras belonging to my employers for my job long before digital cameras, like the Nikon F/FM series, but for my personal use I have never bought expensive/professional cameras. This Olympus looks like a bridge, but it is technically only a compact camera.
3 people like this
@owlwings (39229)
• Cambridge, England
31 Oct 16
You have a bargain, I think! That's a very impressive zoom and quite an acceptable photo for a bird which was barely visible in the wider shot. I have read that this model is not very good for night shots. The reviews I read say nothing about the white balance but it seems that you have understood how to manage that. I have read, too, that it has a Macro and a 'Super Macro' function (but you can't use the zoom with the latter). I'd like to see how you do with those settings, some time!
2 people like this
@owlwings (39229)
• Cambridge, England
1 Nov 16
@topffer You have, indeed, achieved an interesting effect with the swans. They appear to be that rare variety, the Zebra Swan!
2 people like this
@topffer (34159)
• France
1 Nov 16
@owlwings The camera achieved it, it was not exactly what I was expecting. The internal software of this camera has not a very bright mind during the night.
2 people like this
@Fleura (7191)
• United Kingdom
4 Nov 16
@topffer I really like that swan picture!
2 people like this
@hereandthere (31063)
• Philippines
31 Oct 16
i love the water. so flat and calm.
2 people like this
@topffer (34159)
• France
31 Oct 16
This river is something special, it comes from a giant karstic resurgence located not far from this egret : it is a giant spring coming from the underground, giving a clear water good to drink at the source, and there is also a big trout specific to the river, but the trout is disappearing, because it has crossed with farmed trouts.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
31 Oct 16
@topffer i learned a new word - karstic. then it means the water has many minerals and the trout are very nutritious?
1 person likes this
• Philippines
31 Oct 16
@topffer we observe nov 1 and nov 2 in the philippines, too.
@dawnald (84147)
• Shingle Springs, California
31 Oct 16
I see them down by the American river quite a lot. I don't usually have a camera with me though (lunch walks on work days).
2 people like this
@topffer (34159)
• France
31 Oct 16
Yes, there are great egrets in every continent. The American ones are from another variety than those found in Europe/Africa. They had quite disappeared in France because of people hunting them for their feathers, and because their natural environment is threatened by agriculture.
@Fleura (7191)
• United Kingdom
4 Nov 16
That's pretty good, maybe not the best for top quality shots but for capturing what you see just for yourself, and maybe snapping things for identification later, its ideal!
1 person likes this
@topffer (34159)
• France
4 Nov 16
Yes, I am amazed that it performs very good in extreme conditions. To give another example, I post a picture taken in an abandoned church without no flash. It opened at 1/8th of second, which usually gives blurred photos without a tripod, but the internal stabilization did the job, and the photo is good.
@Inlemay (16543)
• South Africa
4 Nov 16
A great camera can make all the difference when looking in far off directions - almost like a binoculars in hand. Lovely find
1 person likes this
@topffer (34159)
• France
4 Nov 16
I never had before a camera with such a zoom, and I am impressed by the photos I can obtain with this one. It is exactly what I was looking for.
1 person likes this
@epiffanie (10466)
• Australia
2 Nov 16
I love your photos!
1 person likes this
@topffer (34159)
• France
2 Nov 16
Thank you. I just wanted to test the potential of the zoom on this camera when I took them.
1 person likes this
@JESSY3236 (6505)
• United States
1 Nov 16
cool photos. I need a new camera. I hoping to get one on Black Friday.
1 person likes this
@topffer (34159)
• France
1 Nov 16
I had no good camera since a long time and I took the opportunity of this auction sale to buy one. Black Friday is also a good moment to buy a new camera.
1 person likes this
@Jackalyn (6655)
• Oxford, England
1 Nov 16
It sounds like you say, a reasonable buy if you know what you are doing.
1 person likes this
@topffer (34159)
• France
1 Nov 16
I wanted a camera with a good zoom to take photos of animals in the wild ; I was the only person interested by this camera, so I got it at the starting price. And I realize now that it was really a good deal.
@ms1864 (6986)
• Bangalore, India
31 Oct 16
That is a strong zooming function.
1 person likes this
@topffer (34159)
• France
31 Oct 16
I have never used a camera with such a zoom before. The stabilization done by the camera is good, and the result impressed me. It is exactly the kind of camera that I was wanting to take pictures of animals, and I bought it for peanuts.
1 person likes this
@jstory07 (67126)
• Roseburg, Oregon
31 Oct 16
You got a really good deal with that camera. Now you can take lots of good pictures.
1 person likes this
@topffer (34159)
• France
31 Oct 16
I wanted a camera with a big zoom to take pictures of animals in the wild. I tried to buy a reflex at this auction sale, but it was too expensive for me. I was the only one on this camera, I got it at starting price and I do not regret to have bought it, it is exactly what I was looking for.
@LadyDuck (157411)
• Switzerland
31 Oct 16
Most of the cameras have problems with the white balance, it's good that you can turn it off and decide what to do. Your photos look beautiful and the zoom is remarkable.
@topffer (34159)
• France
31 Oct 16
I think that people deceived by this camera are those who were looking for a point and shoot completely automated camera. It offers several automatic modes and special effects attractive for a beginner, but the internal software does not perform well, the main problem being the white balance, and it is not really a camera for a beginner. Except the speed, everything is manually configurable, and it is a pleasure to play with the parameters. It can capture and save 2 different white balances. I was the only one wanting to buy it, and I got it at the starting auction price. It is exactly the kind of camera that I was looking for to take pictures of animals in the wild. It does also very good macros : I took some good macro photos of a wild orchid in a wood yesterday. The only problem is its weight, a bit too heavy, but you cannot have everything together.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (157411)
• Switzerland
31 Oct 16
@topffer All the good cameras area heavy, I remember also the old reflex, even when the body was not a big problem, when you added the lenses and accessories they were not so light. People now pretend that photos made with their phones are as good as those taken with a good digital camera. This gives an idea about the technical knowledge of most people.
1 person likes this
@topffer (34159)
• France
1 Nov 16
@LadyDuck The main interest of the phone, is that I have always it with me, but its autofocus is really bad when I try to zoom, and the result cannot be compared with a picture from a real camera. I think that any compact camera does a better job than a phone camera.
1 person likes this
@Susan2015 (20579)
• United States
4 Nov 16
That's a great price for that brand of camera. Good picture.