Is that a super zoom in your pocket?
Welcome to, gosh, Week 9 in our 12 Weeks of Christmas buying guides.
Compact cameras have come a long way in a relatively short space of time. This time last year a 15x zoom camera would set you back upwards of £300, now you can pick something up for under half that. All in the name of progress.
We live in a culture obsessed with miniaturising things. We’ve now got iPad mini’s, tiny mobile phones that fit in the palm of your hand and, of course, really small cars like the Mini. Okay, so less now that Mini’s are BMW’s, but you get the gist. Camera manufacturers have been on this process since the advent of photography, we’ve gone from large format camera to medium format, 35mm and even 110 cameras. In the digital era things have gone less straight forward but never the less we can now fit the equivalent of a 500mm zoom lens in our pockets.
Zoom lenses set cameras apart from mobile phones. A series of gears drive optics to and fro whilst zooming in to the scene infront of us. Brave enough to lean over the edge of the Empire State? You’ll be able to catch a photo of someone crossing the road. More importantly, there is a price point for everyone. To start this off, lets decide right now that to be classed as a ‘Superzoom’ the camera must feature 10x or more magnification.
Panasonic SZ 1/ SZ 7
Ultra thin – ultra portable 10x zoom camera. Panasonic cameras tend to lead over the competition with their Leica lenses and superb image quality. Possibly the best choice for your every day camera. Whilst daytime photographs look incredible the Sony would just beat it on low light performance. With just £30 between the models the SZ 1 features higher resolution at 16megapixels over the SZ 7’s 14. The SZ7 features a wider angle lens, making it better for landscape style images.
Nikon Coolpix 6300
Available in funky colours and sponsors of Hollyoaks. Perfect for anyone who has to be constantly colour co-ordinated, trendy teenagers for example. Nikon back up high quality optics with an easy to use menu system and brilliant image quality.
Sony Cybershot WX100
Sony produce some of the most brilliant compact cameras around and the WX100 is no exception. Featuring a Sony G lens, their highest quality optics built in-house and one of Sony’s quality sensors (they produce a lot of these for the competition). The WX100 takes fantastic photographs, even in low light thanks to their advanced noise reduction. Perfect for the serious photographer in your life who doesn’t have a point and shoot to carry around with them everywhere.
It looks like no one could decide on a standard, so expect some one-up-manship.
Canon Ixus 510 (12x)
The iPod of cameras. The Ixus 510 looks like it was designed in California and even comes in gloss black or white. Perfect for the style conscious. Thanks to a bigger and better CMOS sensor the Ixus 510 features a 10.1mega pixel sensor and Digic 5 processor that equate to outstanding low light image performance. Canon have always been known for brilliant image quality and in something this attractive it’s hard to resist.
Samsung WB700 (18x)
With a cracking 18x zoom and Schneider lens the Samsung is a whole lot of camera for not a whole lot of money. Don’t let the price fool you, the Samsung takes some cracking shots and the image stabilization keeps images crisp even at the full 18x zoom.
Panasonic Lumix TZ25 (16x)
The Panasonic TZ range really kicked off the whole superzoom compact range. Everything from the TZ5 to now has grown bigger and better. The outstanding image quality coupled with high quality Leica lens make the Panasonic a perfect choice for anyone at any time. Low light performance has got better with each generation but it’s the daylight shots that absolutely pop from the camera that make this a quality go-to camera for any situation.
Now this is the pinacle for the moment. The biggest zoom that’ll fit in your pocket.
Fuji Finepix F770
Outstanding image quality at an outstanding price point. Get your hands on the Fuji and try it out. Backed up with their EXR processor and film simulation features the F770 is easy to use and guarantees excellent shots.
Panasonic Lumix TZ30
Everything that makes the TZ25 great and then add 5. You’ll get the TZ30. Panasonic’s most powerful superzoom compact ever. Well worth a look if the highest quality possible is your goal.
Sony Cybershot HX20
Super low light performance coupled with a huge zoom lens? Added bonus’ of crisp HD video and Sony’s unique sweep panorama technology make this the perfect all round family camera. You’ll be grabbing candlelit birthday parties to graduation ceremonies from the rafters.
Canon Powershot SX240 HS
Canon couldn’t be left out of the Superzoom party and so we get the SX240 HS. Featuring the same HS technology as the 510 but with a full sized 20x zoom. The Canon may not be the most attractive member of this club but if you use Canon DSLR then the images provided will be immediately noticeable.
There is something on this list for everyone. Wether you’re just getting into photography or are a brand loyalist, every manufacturer provides some sort of high powered compact camera. A few years ago the must have thing was a ‘Bridge’ camera, now you can get the benefit of their huge lenses in a much smaller package. If you do go down this route for Christmas then you won’t be disappointed with any of the above. The hardest decision will be which case to go for, trust me.