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Wildlife photography for beginners, idiots and the bone idle.

See our comparison galleries for the Olympus SP-90UZ, Nikon Coolpix D90, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 and Canon PowerShot SX10 IS


  • Taking wildlife photos without lying under a bush for 4 hours. Click here.

Become a wildlife photographer for £2-300
We often get asked about the best way for beginners to take up wildlife photography, and what is the best equipment to use. Generally, ask any expert about how to start and what equipment to use, and they give you expert advice.

  • Taking wildlife photos without lying under a bush for 4 hours. Click here.

  • Best cameras in this class - Olympus SP-590UZ Read the review

I am not an expert. We have an expert to give out expert advice, but the following is for beginners, or for those of you more like myself who want to pick up a camera, point it at something and push the shutter, and get a half decent image. We don't want to have to switch lenses, worry about apertures or shutter speeds, or spend £600 on a lens, and for those of us for whom "instruction manual" is a dirty word.

To this end, we have tried out several "bridge" cameras (Point and shoot digital cameras with inbuilt zoom lenses) and taken a range of images with each camera so you can make your own minds up about the cameras. We have tried the Olympus SP-590UZ, the Nikon Coolpix P90, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 and the Canon PowerShot SX10 IS.

First Impressions
The first impression, based on nothing more than taking each camera out of the box and turning it on, was that the Canon felt the nicest to handle. It felt more solid, which it is as it is nearly 50% heavier than the other two. Curiously I found the extra weight made it easier to hold the camera still for those longer shots, though now all cameras seem to have that magic software that smoothes out the bumps and provides some anti shake stability. This is particularly important when using the zoom as any shake is magnified.

Second impression
Excited to get my hands on some technology, I grabbed the Nikon and headed outside to have a play. I got frustrated after I had taken just 15 shots as the memory was full. True, it is very simple to review and delete your images, and to reduce the size of the images that you take, but being old fashioned I found it odd it was so restricted, forcing you to get hold of a memory card. Next I tried the Canon, but had to go back inside straight away as it has no built in memory at all. What is the point of that? So finally I tried the Panasonic which managed a dozen pictures before the inbuilt memory was full. A few weeks later we were sent a Olympus SP-590UZ, and, to be honest, it is the pick of the bunch. 12 megapixels, 26x zoom and a very good supermacro feature, it leaves the others standing.

If, like me, you want a reasonably priced, hassle free and reasonably idiot proof way to take some half decent wildlife images, then a "Bridge" camera is ideal. Costing between £2-300 and including the equivalent of a 450ml - 650ml lens, and with plenty of extra features, any of the three cameras reviewed would do the job admirably. (See the links in the box top right to compare the photos they take.) If I had to make an instant judgement, I would say

  • Canon PowerShot SX10 IS: When I had the choice of all three cameras, and I was just popping out for a quick walk, I usually reached for the Canon as it was the best to handle, and it was very easy to use and intuitive to find my way around - Once I had laid my hands on some memory.
  • Nikon Coolpix P90: With the biggest zoom, optical and digital, I ended up using the Nikon the most. Very light and easy to use, and with the highest resolution, I would be very happy with this camera. I did struggle on some macro photos to get the images in focus.
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28:  Initially the camera I used the least, it grew on me, especially when considering the price. Also, looking at the results (see box top right), it took the best images at the shorter distances. It suffered a little from having the shortest optical zoom and no digital zoom (at least that I could find without reading the manual)
  • Olympus SP-590UZ: Best in class. The best camera with almost the worst ancillaries. But we still strongly recommend you buy this camera if you are looking for the best 'bridge' camera for wildlife photography.

Remembering that all we did was wander round with a camera and point and shoot, please have a look at the images below.  Not professional quality, but for a beginner/idiot with no instruction booklet, there is something there to work on.



Canon PowerShot SX10 IS

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28

Nikon Coolpix D90

Olympus SP-590UZ

Optical zoom

X 20

X 18

X 24


Digital zoom



X 4


Wide angle






675 grams

420 grams

470 grams







Inbuilt memory


50 MB

47 MB


Video & Audio





Power drive


Yes - But hard to find without instructions!


Yes, but hard to find

Online cost (Sample in April 09)






Speckled wood butterfly. Copyright Wildlife Extra

Moorhen. Copyright Wildlife Extra

Mallard. Copyright Wildilfe Extra
Black headed gull. Copyright Wildlife Extra.