One of the advantages of today’s long zoom Point & Shoot cameras is their relative speed and ease of use, when compared to either a digiscoping rig, or a conventional DSLR long lens combo. The Canon SX40HS I use is tiny compared to either, and rides securely in the passenger seat while driving loops at places like Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Bosque del Apache, or even Viera Wetlands (a municipal wetlands…settlement ponds…designed for birding). It is up and in my hand and pointed out the window of the car quicker than I can write this sentence.
And, with the useful digital tel-extender function putting you out at 1240-1680mm equivalent fields of view, you have the reach to capture many birds without getting out of the car.
That is the only way (in my experience) to catch at Kingfisher at any reasonable distance at Merritt Island. Kingfishers on Black Point Wildlife Drive are skittish to say the least. Only once have I ever successfully gotten out of the car to set up my digiscoping rig before the bird was off down the channel, or up over the mangroves and out of site.
This bird was perched on the far side of the water channel next to the road just beyond the eagle nest station. I pulled up beside it, rolled down the window on the passenger side (thank you for electric windows!) got the Canon SX40HS up and got off a burst of 6 shots before she took flight. The light was amazing. The distance was reasonable. I could not have done it with either a digiscoping rig or a long lens (unless I had the long lens mounted on a window mount and ready to go).
This is another out-the-window shot, this time on the driver’s side. The bird was right below the car, at the edge of pond, up against the dyke. As you see if you look closely I was shooting down through grasses, reeds, and even a small mangrove bush. The bird was feeding actively, never still. It got so close I backed off on the 1240mm equivalent full optical zoom and 1.5x digital tel-extender would have given me to shoot at about 1000mm equivalent.
This Great Egret was at the foot of the dyke at Viera Wetlands on the driver’s side. Again, I pulled up, pointed the Canon SX40HS at full optical (840mm equivalent), and shot point blank. It does not get any better than that.
Same drill on these White Ibis (2nd shot is an immature) a bit further around the loop.
Finally here is a comparison shot of the view out the passenger window at Merritt Island. The first is at 42mm equivalent, so it is about what the naked eye would see. The second is at 230mm equivalent. They were taken within seconds of each other. Not possible with any other kind of camera. Superzooms rule!
At least they rule the window shot.