Camera test: Panasonic DMC-TZ4 v. JVC Everio GZ-HM200 v. Nikon Coolpix P90

After weighing up the alternatives (literally and figuratively) I’ve picked up a Nikon Coolpix P90. It definitely falls into the “ultrazoom” category, at 12.1MP and 24x zoom. This morning I headed out to Charleston Slough and Shoreside Lake to compare the Nikon with my existing compact camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4. While I was about it, I decided to toss my digicam (the JVC Everio that I blogged about last year) into the bag. It has a “photo” mode, auto-stabilization, and a fairly impressive 20x zoom; the downside is the small (2MP) image size.
The forecast was for sun, but the NWS lied: it was ten-tenths cloud. Nevertheless there were a lot of birds – and bird-watchers! – out this morning.
You can see a collection of more-or-less comparable shots in the MobileMe gallery here. Most were taken at 1x followed by maximum zoom. After taking these, I wandered around the margin of the slough, having fun with the Nikon. There are some pictures of waders, ducks, and a hummingbird in this gallery here. The zoom is simply amazing, although at full stretch you can see that many subjects are less crisp than one would like, even with optical stabilization in effect. I think it’s time to (1) pick up a monopod or tripod, and (2) experiment with camera features like “BSS”, which takes a series of shots, analyzes the results, and keeps only the crispest.
This is the first new camera I’ve got since July 2008, when I blogged about the Panasonic here. Overall, I think I’m going to have fun with the Nikon. I particularly like this pair of shots of exactly the same scene:
Wetlands with egret (1x) Wetlands with egret (24x)