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Best superzoom camera

 

If you're shopping for a superzoom camera, you've come to the right place! At Camera Labs I write in-depth reviews of cameras but understand you're busy people who sometimes just want recommendations of the most outstanding products. So here I'll cut to the chase and list the best superzoom cameras around right now.

On this page you'll find the best superzoom cameras on the market today from pocket-sized models to those which resemble compact DSLRs from the outside but pack absolutely enormous zoom ranges within. Today's pocket superzooms offer 16 or 20x ranges, while the larger models boast anything from 24 to 50x. So if you're looking for a camera with a lens that'll get you from wide landscape, interior or group shots at one minute to extreme close-ups at the next, this is the guide for you!

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Gordon's favourite super-zoom camera right now: Olympus STYLUS 1

Olympus STYLUS 1 review

 

Picking a super-zoom often involves compromises between body size, image quality and of course the all-important focal range. Some higher-end options additionally throw in the consideration of lens aperture as well. As such it's really important to think carefully about your priorities. Personally speaking while it's fun to have a massive telephoto lens at your disposal, I'd sooner sacrifice some reach for better image quality and a bright focal ratio. Sony's RX10 is an excellent choice, but I want something smaller, so my personal pick in this category is the Olympus STYLUS 1, which confidently strikes a very compelling balance of features.

With the STYLUS 1, Olympus has delivered an upmarket bridge camera that swaps the maximum possible zoom range for better image quality and a classier handling experience. The 1/1.7in sensor is slightly larger than the 1/2.3in sensors deployed in most super-zoom cameras, the 28-300mm / 10.7x zoom, while not the longest around, covers most situations and also sports a constant f2.8 aperture, and by inheriting the large detailed viewfinder, tilting touch-screen and control ethos of the OMD EM5, it feels more like using a mirrorless or DSLR camera than a typical bridge model. The Wifi also works very well, allowing you to remote control the camera along with wirelessly transferring images. Crucially, the STYLUS 1 is also very compact, and when testing it alongside Panasonic's FZ200 and Sony's RX10, I was regularly surprised at how much smaller it was. Unlike those two models, you really can squeeze the STYLUS 1 into a smaller coat pocket. A classy camera I can highly recommend.

Pros: Slim body, 28-300mm f2.8 zoom, tilting touchscreen, good EVF, Wifi.
Cons: Some may desire a bigger sensor or a longer zoom range.
Overall: A great balance between body size, image quality and lens range.






Highly recommended alternatives


Panasonic TZ60 / ZS40 review

 

The Lumix TZ60, or ZS40 as it's known in North America, is the latest version of Panasonic's eternally popular travel zoom series. Like Canon and Sony, the latest Lumix sports a long 30x zoom range, equivalent to 24-720mm, but unlike its rivals, Panasonic has amazingly managed to squeeze an electronic viewfinder into the corner. The view may be small and relatively low resolution, but it offers a useful alternative to composing with the screen in bright light or when you need maximum stability at the long zoom. The TZ60 / ZS40 also aims for a more demanding photographer with RAW, focus peaking and a customizable lens control ring, and there's also built-in Wifi, NFC and GPS. It may be larger than the earlier TZ40 / ZS30 and lack its touchscreen and built-in map, but the TZ60 / ZS40 takes a refreshing step-up to satisfy enthusiasts who want a pocketable super-zoom.

Pros: 30x zoom, viewfinder, Wifi, GPS, RAW files.
Cons: Chunkier than its predecessors and loses their touchscreens too.
Overall: A good choice if you want a 30x pocket superzoom with high-end features.






Canon SX700 HS review

 

At the top of Canon's compact super-zoom line-up, the PowerShot SX700 HS provides a big 30x zoom range in a compact body. Different people want different things from a travel zoom and the competition in this market segment is intense. Canon's approach is simple - provide the longest zoom in the most compact possible body at a price that undercuts the competition. Of course there are less expensive second tier models available from Sony and Panasonic, not to mention Canon itself, but Sony's HX50 lacks GPS and often costs more, and although the Lumix TZ55 / ZS35 is cheaper, it 'only' has a 20x zoom. Sure, there are things you wish the SX700 HS could do better; a panorama mode wouldn't go amiss, battery life is below par, remote shooting via Wifi is quite basic and it's time Canon updated its slow motion video offerings. But none of this got in the way of my enjoyment of the SX700 HS nor prevented me getting some great shots.

Pros: 30x stabilised zoom; 1080p video; Wifi with NFC; best quality of peer group.
Cons: No auto panoramas, no touchscreen, basic remote control via Wifi.
Overall: Out-featured by the Lumix TZ60 / ZS40, but better quality & cheaper.





Panasonic FZ70 / FZ72 review


 

Panasonic's Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 is a DSLR-styled super-zoom camera with one of the longest optical ranges around: a whopping 60x, taking you from an ultra-wide 20mm to a super-telephoto 1200mm. This is an incredibly versatile range, and while a handful of newer models may zoom a bit longer, most miss out on the coverage at the wide-end. It captures 16 Megapixel images or 1080i video, supports RAW and can shoot panoramas. About the only feature missing from the FZ70 / FZ72 compared to newer models is Wifi, but not everyone's interested in wireless copying images from their cameras, and importantly it also allows the Lumix to hit a very tempting price point. The bottom line is the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 is one of the most affordable ways to enjoy a massive 60x zoom.

Pros: Massive 60x optical zoom; 20mm ultra-wide; RAW support.
Cons: Fixed screen doesn't flip-out; basic 3ps burst shooting; no Wifi.
Overall: The Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 has become the most affordable 60x camera.





Panasonic FZ1000 review


 

Panasonic's Lumix FZ1000 is a high-end super-zoom camera designed to compete with Sony's RX10. Both models employ the same 20 Megapixel 1in sensor, that's about four times bigger than the sensors in most super-zoom cameras - this lets them deliver far superior photo and video quality, especially in low light. The FZ1000's lens outguns the RX10 though with a 16x 25-400mm range, albeit slowing from f2.8 to f4 as it zooms-in. The FZ1000 also features a fully-articulated screen, superb OLED viewfinder, hotshoe, Wifi with NFC, 12fps continuous shooting, 1080p video at up to 120fps for slow motion and perhaps most impressive of all, 4k UHD video (with flat profiles too for those who want to grade). There's still some benefits to the RX10 as you'll see in my review, but for me the Lumix FZ1000 becomes the classiest super-zoom / bridge camera around.

Pros: Large 1in sensor; 16x f2.8-4 zoom; flip-out screen; OLED EVF; 4k movies.
Cons: Screen isn't touch-sensitive; no built-in ND filter; not weather-sealed.
Overall: Outguns the RX10 on range and video to become classiest super-zoom.




Sony RX10 review

 

Technically speaking the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 isn't really a super-zoom camera: with an 8.3x range, albeit in a useful 24-200mm equivalent, it falls short of the massive reach of other models here. But unlike most super-zoom cameras, Sony's trying something different here. First off, the 20 Megapixel 1in sensor comes from the RX100 II and is therefore four times larger than those in most rivals, allowing it to deliver lower noise at high ISOs. The lens also boasts a constant f2.8 focal ratio throughout the range, along with the choice of stepped or stepless aperture control. The latter is great for video, as are the inclusions of 1080 / 60p / 24p movies, manual exposure control, mic input, focus peaking, zebra patterns and more. The RX10 also sports a decent sized SVGA OLED viewfinder, tilting 3in screen, Wifi, hotshoe with Sony's multi-interface contacts, and the budget DSLR-sized body is additionally weatherproof. Suddenly that 8.3x range doesn't seem so limited afterall. It's a pricier option, but one that's a class above the rest.

Pros: Large 1in sensor; constant f2.8 aperture; weather-sealed; Wifi; great EVF.
Cons: Screen isn't touch-sensitive; range shorter than rivals; relatively expensive.
Overall: A high-end option for those who demand the best photo & video quality.




Canon SX50 HS review

 


The Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is a 12 Megapixel super-zoom camera with a massive 50x optical range. It replaces the best-selling PowerShot SX40 IS and the major feature is of course that 50x optical zoom range, beaten only by Panasonic's Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 at the time of writing. The 50x zoom delivers an equivalent range of 24-1200mm, taking you from respectably wide-angle coverage to super-telephoto close-ups; indeed it's amazing to think it's now more than double the range of rivals like the Panasonic FZ series. Something this long needs serious stabilization and Canon claims its improved system is good for 4.5 stops. And if you're into macro, don't worry, as the SX50 HS can focus down to zero cm - that's with the subject literally touching the front element. Round the back, Canon has kept the articulated screen, but upgraded the panel to 2.8in / 460k. The hotshoe also remains, as do the manual controls, but in a very welcome new feature the SX50 HS now offers RAW recording. Sadly there's no Wifi, but now the newer SX60 HS has finally been launched there's bargains to be had.

Pros: 50x zoom; articulated screen; flash hotshoe; 1080p video; RAW
Cons: Lens becomes optically slow when zoomed-in. No mic input. No Wifi.
Overall: If you want one of the biggest zooms, look no further - and now with RAW!





Sony HX50V/ HX60V review

 

The Sony Cyber-shot HX60V is a mild refresh of last year's HX50V, the first compact to boast a 30x optical zoom, with a 24-720mm equivalent range. It also features a 20 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 3in screen, full manual control (if desired), 1080p movies, 10fps continuous shooting, built-in Wifi and GPS (on the V version), and a hotshoe for accessories including an EVF, flash or external microphone. This makes it one of the most feature-packed pocket super-zooms to date, but there's a few downsides to be aware of including a screen that's hard to see in bright conditions, basic Wifi compared to Panasonic, and strangely the miniature effect can't be applied to movies. I'd recommend comparing very closely with the Lumix TZ60 / ZS40 and Canon's SX700 HS, both of which also sport 30x zooms. Also look out for the older HX50V which is almost identical other than not having NFC and employing slightly less sophisticated stabilisation.

Pros: 30x zoom in pocket body; Wifi and GPS in V version; 10fps shooting.
Cons: Screen hard to see in sunlight; basic Wifi; no miniature effect for video.
Overall: Ideal if you want a big zoom in a small body.




Sony HX400V review

 

Sony's Cyber-shot HX400V is a DSLR-styled super-zoom camera with a whopping 50x range, equivalent to 24-1200mm. This delivers enormous flexibility taking you from wide angle to super-telephoto in a few seconds. Images are recorded in 20 Megapixel resolution, there's 1080/50/60p video, a 3in tilting screen, electronic viewfinder, hotshoe for accessories and built-in Wifi with NFC, along with a GPS receiver for tagging images with your location; suffice it to say there's also Sony's famous iSweep Panorama mode which captures and assembles views of up to 360 degrees. Downsides? Not a lot apart from lacking a RAW mode. But by updating the earlier HX300 with Wifi, GPS and a hotshoe, Sony's ticked most of the boxes people are looking for in a modern super-zoom. Note an HX400 version (without the V) is also available in some regions - it's identical but lacks the GPS.

Pros: 50x zoom; 1080p; tilting screen; Wifi; GPS; hotshoe; auto panoramas.
Cons: No RAW recording; screen isn't touch-sensitive.
Overall: The latest HX big zoom is the best yet; there's little more you could ask for.



Panasonic FZ200 review


 

The Lumix FZ200 is Panasonic's previous top-end super-zoom camera. It may have been over-shadowed by the newer FZ1000, but remains a compelling option for anyone who's willing to trade the FZ1000's larger 1in sensor for a longer 24x zoom range that stays at a constant f2.8 aperture. In another welcome move, Panasonic has equipped the FZ200 with a small, but highly detailed electronic viewfinder, and the company has also resisted the opportunity to increase the resolution, keeping it at a sensible 12 Megapixels while maintaining support for RAW files. In terms of other headline specifications the FZ200 offers 12fps continuous shooting and 1080/50p/60p movies along with an external microphone input, making it one of the most highly specified superzoom cameras on the market at this price point. There's no Wifi, but the FZ200's specification remains impressive for its age and now the FZ1000 is in the market, there's bargains to be had.

Pros: 24x with constant f2.8 aperture; RAW; 1080p movies; hotshoe; mic input.
Cons: 24x is a shorter range than some rival models. No Wifi.
Overall: An older model that remains desirable due to a great spec and low prices.





Panasonic TZ30 / ZS20 review

 


The Lumix TZ30, or ZS20 as it's known in North America, was Panasonic's flagship pocket super-zoom for 2012. It's therefore two years older than the latest TZ60 / ZS40 above, but remains a compelling alternative for a number of reasons. It sports a useful 20x zoom, similar manual control, 1080p HD video, a touchscreen, 360 degree panoramas, and GPS with a database of over a million landmarks and on-screen mapping. It's lacking the Wifi / NFC capabilities of the new model, and the GPS, slow motion video and stabilisation aren't quite as good either, but if none of these matter to you, then the TZ30 / ZS20 represents a sensible choice. It is important to compare the prices closely though as supply and demand can mean there's often a minimal gap between the prices of a new and old model. But if you can find the TZ30 / ZS20 at a comfortably lower price it's still well worth considering.

Pros: Broad 20x stabilized zoom, 1080p video, GPS.
Cons: Hard to handhold at 20x, especially for video.
Overall: A good option if you don't need Wifi & other upgrades on the latest model.


     
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