Olympus C2100 UZ:
The large majority of my pictures have been made with a digital camera. For approximately 2,5 years I have owned an Olympus C2100 UZ (bought in 2001) with a standard 10 times zoomlens of 38 - 380 mm combined with a 1,7 times tele extension lens extending the focalpoint to 646 mm, a close-up extensions lens almost enabling photography on a scale of 1 on 1 and a wide angle extension lens of 0,7 times giving a focal point of 26,6 mm. Due to the extreem good quality of the optical image stabilizer of this camera it was possible to photograph almost everything whithout the use of a tripod even at dusk and dawn with complete zoom and extension lens applied. So I never used a tripod. This camera is (2016) still being used by a nephew of mine, which indicates the long lifespan of these camera's.
Panasonic FZ 20:
Altough I was very satisfied with the previous camera I traded it in for a Panasonic Limux DMC-FZ20, a camera with 5 megapixels (as aposed to the 2.1 of the Olympus), quicker shutterspeeds and reaktion times and a more lightintensive lens (F 2.8 over the entire zoomrange of 36 - 432 mm = 12 times zoom). The total focal point with this camera combined with extension lens amounts up to 734,4 mm and close-up of 1 on 1. I can't use the wide angle extension lens with this camera anymore. With this camera I also make do without a tripod dispite of its less capable image stabilisation. I rarely use filters because they yield less good results on digital camera's and they take away 1 or 2 tops of light. If you want to you can get the same results afterwards with photo-editing software (up to some extent).
Panasonic FZ 30:
Over time I decided to go for an upgrade on the Panasonic FZ-20 namely the FZ-30, a camera with 8 megapixels which is the next generation of panasonics top range multizooms. This camera has exactly what the FZ-20 lacks. The right ergonomics with the shutterrelease button in the right place, a zoomring on the lens which makes it posible to keep the camera in maximum zoom even when powered of. An AEL button making it possible to measure the light first within the right composition and after that focus on the subject and still be sure of the right exposure. And from poweron to making the first shot takes next to nothing. The lens is slightly less bright (3.7 as opposed to 2.8) and has a little less maximum zoom (420 as oposed to 432), but on the possitive side it has a better working steady shot, the lens creates a sharper image, you can close the diafragm 1 stop extra (F11 as opposed to F8, a good thing for close-up shots) and if you can make due with a lower resolution of 5 or 3 megapixels you get a bonus in the form of an extra extended zoom of respectively 525 mm and 665 mm. Together with a 2.2 times tele cling on lens my maximum zoomrange extends upto 1463 mm or 41,8 times. One disadvantage of this model is the tendancy to have a lot of noise especially at high iso values. For the rest it come darn close to a dslr camera. Furthermore I noticed that with these kinds of zoom the steadyshot realy isn't up to par anymore so I started using a beanbag and a monopod. Sadly this camera has broken down (after I dropped it inadvertently) and I had to look for a new camera and in the meantime make do without.
This search for a new camera turned out to be far more difficult then I thought. The successor of the FZ30 the FZ50 either had, depending upon the adjustments, to much noise or to much noise reduction. But of one thing I was sure it would have to be an ultrazoom again. I had my doubts either about the FZ18 or the still available Sony dsc-h2 and h5. The FZ18 has an enormous zoom but the photographs are soft and noisy, the H-2 and especially the H-5 have a lot of purple fringing but photographs of very good quality, sharpness and low noise levels. Finally I went for a secondhand Sony DSC-H1 that had hardly been used. The zoom is almost equally as extensive as that of the FZ30 and technically it's also not much different, but most of all it has very sharp and clean photographs. All the lenses that I previously used I can still use with this camera and with the same luminosity as the FZ30. It took a little getting used to because it isn't excactly a dslr format anymore, the first photographs therefore are a bit disappointing but that has gradually improved.
As far as the sharpness and lack of noise at 64 iso is concerned the Sony DSC-H1 is definitely better then the Panasonic FZ30, but the latter has, as far as I'm concerned, far better handling capabilities. It is heavier and bulkier and therefore easier to handle and the zoomlens can be adjusted by hand, similar to a DSLR to which it is also very similar as far as handling and options are concerned, so I once more chose this camera, to me the sony yust felt uneasy and small. A large bonus of the FZ30 is also the adjustable screen at the rear. This time I again had to settle for a secondhand specimen because it wasn't to be had in the shops anymore. As far as handling and options are concerned I immediately took to it again. To prevent foto's from becomming blurred with the huge zoom capabilities of 1463 mm I have, since I bought the previous FZ30, started photographing in bursts of 5 photographs a second, which is a thing a lot of other photographers also do these days. From that series of 5 photographs I can almost invariably pul 1 that is sharp and without blur. In my experience using a tripod in naturephotography is cumbersome, it doen't leave enough room for free and fast movement which is sometimes necesary and ofcourse it is far less of a (heavy) load not having to drag it arround. The only support that I use sometimes is a beanbag which I predominantly use when photographing from the car. I also make do without a camerabag or such implement, I always have the camera at the ready in my right hand, from there it is yust a matter of placing the viewer in front of my right eye (some use their left eye, but I find that for me it works best with my right eye), press the shutterbuton once and I am at the ready at full 1463 mm zoom to take 5 shots in a row in a second. Frequent use of this camera has led to a number of rubber grips comming loose which couldn't be fixed anymore so I started a search on the internet and this time I found:
The successor of the FZ30 with 2 extra megapixels (10 megapixels), a handy function button for quickly adjusting certain settings, better zoom rings, a better viewfinder, a higher standard iso value (100 as opposed to 80) and some more zoom, now a total of 1634 mm. As far as speed is concerned I have to take a step back with 3 shots in a row per second as opposed to 5. Also this camera has a tendancy to have more noise due to the standard high iso setting. That said after having made a photographing trip to Brittany (France) I came back satisfied with the good quality and excelent handing.
I am an enormous fan of multizoom camera's because of their versatility and the fact that appart from a tele, close-up and wide-angle lens, which by the way will all fit in the pockets of my trousers, you don't need to cary anything else along with you and the quality of the photographs doesn't stray far from that of the canon D40 DSLR (even at 8 megapixels) of my brother albeit that I have to stick to a maximum of 100 iso due to the rapid increase in noise, but till now this hasn't hampered me that much, ofcourse you'll miss out on certain shots that would have been possible at higher iso ratings, but one simply cann't have it all (yet) and they do have the advantage of having very fast lenses over the entire zoom range (2.8 to 3.7) and the attachment lenses don't take away any extra light when applied.
In the meaintime i've been using the FZ50 so extensively that the handgrips have come loose so time for another camera. I've read a lot of reviews and seen a lot of example photographs and what strikes me is that the wide-angle capabilities now extend to 24 mm. This leads to tonification in landscape photographs where the center of the image is sharp and the corners aren't so this is a limitation of multizoom camera's that I stumble upon. Only one camera has a solution to the problem the FZ300 compensates for this. So I decided to buy this one and it has impressed me with the quality of the photographs, the speed of the auto focus and the number of shot's it can take in sequence. It has got a very bright lens having a speed of F2.8 from 24 mm tot 600 mm (if you use it at 3 megapixel you can zoom to 1200 mm), it takes 15 shots in a row and can shoot video at 4K resolution. The image stabilisation is superb, at maximum digital zoom of 3000 mm I can stil keep it perfectly still. All in all a worthy successor of the FZ50 which even makes more sharp and detailed photographs. I don't need to make use of conversion lenses for this camera anymore except for a close-up lens. But I can also take close-ups from 1 meter with the full 1200 mm zoom, but the close-up lens still has that little bit of extra.
A number of photographs have been digitised with the use of a Mikrotek ScanMaker 35t Plus scanner and were photographed with the Canon A1 SLR an old model from 1980 in combination with a Cosina 28 - 210 mm zoom lens with a close-up capability of 1 to 4. I never used a tripod and now and then (if light conditions permited) I used a circular polarisation filter. Slide film: Fuji Sensia 100/200/400 asa and occasionally Fuji Provia 100 asa. The result was a total of 3263 photographs made in a timespan of approximately 21 years. In contrast to this, in the 15 years that I'm now involved in digital photography, I now have a total of 130.000 photographs stashed away, which is 40 times as much and in a timespan that is still less. This clearly illustrates 1 of the biggest changes in photography, these days one doesn't have to be cautious of taking a few or a lot of extra shots, but as great as this advantage may seem, it also gives rise to being less judicial about taking your photographs because it doesn't matter anyhow.
For image editing I have made use of Ulead Photoimpact XL for a long time (it is comparable with Adobe Photoshop but is far cheaper and yet equally as good and has the same capabilities). In principle I only adjust the contrast, exposure and sharpness and I try to keep cropping to a minimum, I feel that the right composition needs to be done with the camera. The latter makes it more difficult to keep pictures from being blurred. In recent years I have discovered two more interesting image editing programs namely: Rawtherapee and AutoHDR, but when I try making the same adjustments in Ulead it still appears to be the best of the bunch. Nowadays (2016) I predominantly make use of Photoshop Elements 11 to adjust my photographs.
A short while ago Google released an app called Google lens. It's a tremendously usefull app for a naturephotographer who also has an interest in plant an animal species. As a photographer you wil recognise it: you'l photograph anything you get in front of the lens. Especially when insects and plants are concerned it can often be the case that you don't know the name of the species you've been photographing. So at home you sit behind the computer to scour through the internet and leafe through books. Provided that your mobile phone has a camera of at least 8 MP and an android version of 6 you can install the app Google lens, which you can use directly in the field to ascertain which species you've been photographing. Start the app, point it at the insect or plant, tap the suject en tap the search button. There is a very sure chance that the app will give you the correct name of the species. Every now and then it will present you with 3 species but the right species is always there. There's also a link present to look up information about the species on the internet. Nice app but I have allready got a lot of photographs on my computer of which I don't know the correct species. Not the worry, it also works from behind your computer screen. Yust point it at the screen, tap and you'l know the species. A very nice intermezzo for the winter evenings and weekends in which you don't or can't go photographing. On your screen it also works with birds which you can't identify in the field in this way because they are to far away for identification with your phone.