My main concern is whether a phone can zoom in to capture birds, even garden birds a few feet away. I cannot find a phone that can do that - maybe the Pixel 4 can? Does anyone ahve experience? Right now I have no phone that can take birds I can clearly see with my eye.
As for macro, my old phone (Moto G6) is not good at zoom, but, when I got two new phones (Samsung A42 and Pixel 4a), both took good color renditions that look amazing at full crop but with no detail whatsoever when zoomed in - making them not that useful for ID. The software applies a sharpening, and the result is worse than unsharpened in that it can remove details of bugs.
So, I either keep my old phone, or replace for a cheap phone with 5G when one comes out and this quits working (I returned the other two each time), or get a used Pixel 4 since $400 is too much for a phone. In the meantime - if I don’t get a Pixel 4 - I want to get, and from what I hear I recommend, an Olympus TG tough phone, 5 or 6, as my macro camera and even underwater if I get into snorkeling. Then in the far far future I will replace my superzoom - which was very good - with a mirrorless camera and zoom lens up to ~ 300 mm for far stuff / birds.
The camera I’ve mostly used, which has a good zoom function, and can get birds to id - not headshots, but color rendition and focus enough for id - is a Fuji Finepix Hs 30 EXR. It is around a decade old by time of manufacture. The front element of my lens fell off due to my disassembling it to get rid of an oil spot that’s been there since I got it, and I got it used. It’s weaknesses are low light - I take shots in the evenings sometimes and this camera can’t capture images then without a flash, and, for people, it’s a bit fuzzy at night indoors - shutter speed 1/6 seconds at max or lower - and the macro mode doesn’t really magnify insects small as crab spiders enough for me and the zoom doesn’t magnify them enough either (you have to be far enough away to get focus locked). And, the ‘oil spot’ in all my images at certain focal lengths.
But, for medium sized insects, and gull-sized birds at rest, and flowers or plants of average height, it has been a wonderful camera. I believe the next superzoom camera to fill its role should be good as well. I got it for $250 used, which means I inherited it with a defect, and so new can be better - but, I got my smartphone for circa $250, and previous laptops circa $500, but prices seem to have gone only up so I don’t know how much you’ll find a superzoom going for around now.
Many of the pics on iNat of birds and such, are taken with zuper-zooms - the focal length range is very convenient. Which is why I got it. But, they have a very small sensor - which is how they manage that, combined with a wide lens at the wide lens end.
Does anybody know a phone that can actually take a picture of a bird, and is cheap? - that’s my question.
(I live somewhere with many birds I want to voucher for myself).