Optical zoom, on the other hand, uses a series of lenses to enlarge the subject in your exposure without digital manipulation, ensuring that whatever you're attempting to capture is limited only by the MP rating of your camera's sensor. Optical zoom cameras are ideal for landscape photography, sporting events, or just about any situation where you'd like to get closer to your subject without sacrificing image quality.
The latest release from Panasonic boasts 4K photo and 4K video capture, providing stunning quality to accompany full range 60X long zoom. This level of detail will allow you to capture travel, landscape and entertainment in vivid high quality even from great distances.
The camera’s intelligent IS automatically factors in shooting conditions and applies advanced stabilization technology to allow you to produce quality images. The ergonomic design fits securely and comfortably in your hand, allowing you to focus on the distance to create these images.
Effects like Light, Memories, and Noir let you play around with your images, and each can be further customized by tweaking contrast and exposure compensation. With Dual Sensing image stabilization of up to five stops, you can capture both the emotion on someone’s face or the wide beauty of a city vista.
The 20.3 Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS guarantees clear images no matter the level of light and can refocus to rapidly to keep up with your shooting. Lightweight (it's only 1.27 pounds) and ergonomic, the SX70 is good for serious wildlife photographers or casual users who want to ensure that shots of families and friends, and vacations are always postcard-perfect.
Although there's no need to snail mail your shots because of the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, sharing your photos on social media is a breeze. Another premium feature built right in is Wi-Fi connectivity for transferring photos on the spot and controlling the camera remotely using a smartphone app.
While you probably won’t catch a professional photographer going to a shoot with this entry-level Sony, it delivers an incredible value for the average user. Optical Headshot technology helps stabilize your images, eliminating annoying blur and noise.
The Panasonic Lu mix DMC-FZ300 has taken this approach to heart with a powerful optical zoom lens in a point-and-shoot format. Final Verdict Panasonic Lu mix DC-FZ80K is an amazing camera with an integrated optical zoom that is second to none.
Design -If you’re dropping a couple of hundred bucks on a camera, make sure it feels good in your hands. While the design is more a matter of personal preference, try holding a couple of different models and go with what feels comfortable.
Although its zoom isn’t as long as those of some rivals, it strikes a just-right balance of telephoto capability, user-friendly design, and excellent image quality. The Panasonic Lu mix DMC-FZ300’s 24x zoom lens (25–600 mm) is shorter than those of other super zooms but still provides ample reach for wildlife and travel photography.
Its image quality is superior to what you can get from similar super zooms thanks to its f/2.8 constant-aperture lens, and its blazing-quick autofocus and burst shooting make it a great candidate for sports and action photography. We love its big, high-resolution electronic viewfinder and touch-enabled display, which can swing out and around to help you shoot selfies or capture shots at odd angles.
And its weather-sealed, DSLR-like body is both comfortable to hold and stuffed with customizable controls that give amateur photographers room to grow into the hobby. It can give you good-looking photos and decent video, and its simplified menus and button layout may make it more approachable than our top pick for less experienced photographers.
Sure, the FZ1000 has only a 16x zoom lens (25–400 mm), but its f/2.8–4 aperture range creates beautifully blurred backgrounds that make the subject pop, and it lets you use lower ISO settings for cleaner, more natural-looking images in dim light. I’ve spent time with virtually every DSLR, mirrorless camera, and point-and-shoot that has been released in the past decade, so I know each manufacturer’s lineup inside and out.
But if you like to enlarge images when you view them to examine tiny details (or make large prints), you’ll be disappointed every time; buy or an affordable mirrorless camera and a nice zoom lens instead. Photo: Rosette Ragout it’s been years since you shopped for a super zoom camera, you’ll notice that zoom ranges have increased dramatically.
Today, 60x super zooms are commonplace, and the Nikon Cool pix P1000 has taken the arms race to ludicrous heights with a 125x lens. Photos: Ben KeoughOur pick, the , has a relatively short zoom range of 24x, but it’s a better camera than the more extreme super zooms thanks to a fantastic wide-aperture lens and ample controls that make it more customizable and arguably more versatile than the competition.
This time around, we extended the category to include shorter (yet still long) lenses with other desirable attributes, such as a wide aperture throughout the zoom range. Effective image stabilization: Since it’s very difficult to shoot clear photos at long focal lengths, super zooms require sophisticated image-stabilization systems.
Imagine the frustration of lining up a perfect shot of a bald eagle atop a distant pine tree only to see it fly away as your camera struggles to lock on. Some models have introduced different systems, such as Panasonic’s Depth from Refocus, to achieve quicker, more consistent results.
Manual controls and comfortable ergonomics: Super zooms are shaped like DSLR, so they might as well make use of that real estate to give you useful buttons and dials. It’s even better if a camera is customizable, so you can better set it up for your own shooting preferences, and if its controls are laid out logically for easier access on the fly.
A sharp electronic viewfinder (EVF): Holding these tiny, built-in displays up to your eye makes it much easier to stabilize shots when you’re using a super zoom’s longest focal lengths. Even if you prefer to use the rear screen, a good EVF can be a real shot-saver when bright sun washes out the main display.
For the latest update to this guide, we tested four compact travel zoom cameras, three traditional super zooms, and three potential upgrade picks with larger image sensors or more extreme lenses: Despite its relatively short 24x zoom ratio, the Panasonic Lu mix DMC-FZ300 provides the best balance of image quality, usability, and portability of any super zoom we’ve tested.
That translates into sharper, cleaner-looking photos in dim conditions and more pleasing background blur at long focal lengths. The FZ300’s stabilization is effective, its autofocus is quick and accurate, its 4K video looks great, and we love its comfortable grip and arsenal of customizable buttons and dials.
While competing cameras tend to pump up color saturation and contrast, the FZ300 produces photos that look more neutral. But if you prefer punchier colors, this camera can capture raw files, and if you’re willing to invest the time, you can edit those files with Adobe Lightroom (or another editing suite) to fine-tune noise reduction, sharpening, and color balance to create results that suit your taste.
The FZ300 can shoot 4K clips at 30 frames per second, and the 100 Mbps maximum bit rate captures plenty of detail. In light of its high-quality footage, optical stabilization, excellent autofocus tracking, and impressive lens, some commenters have even suggested that the FZ300 is one of the best budget 4K video cameras' money can buy.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Panasonic has long been known for making still-photo cameras with excellent video modes, but it’s nice to see the capability trickle down even to inexpensive models like this. The FZ300’s tracking autofocus did a spectacular job of keeping Ill in focus as she ran toward the camera in this 27-shot burst.
The contrast, vibrant OLED EVF was a welcome relief when I found myself shooting at the dog park on a brilliantly sunny, snowbound day. Since it swings out and rotates 180 degrees, you can use it for taking selfies, vlogging, or simply grabbing shots over a crowd.
Along with controlled breathing, having a comfortable grip is one of the most important keys to getting clear handheld shots with a long zoom. A rocker switch on the lens barrel provides ultrasmooth zoom action for video recording, as well.
In addition to its ample customizable buttons and dials, the Panasonic FZ300 (left) features a hot shoe and a deeper grip that we found far more comfortable than the Canon SX70 HS’s. The FZ300’s menu system is classic Panasonic, which is to say it’s deep yet well organized, providing tons of options without being overwhelming.
Settings are divided into tabs for still photography, video, custom functions, setup, and playback, and subdivided into vertically scrolling pages. Panasonic offers unique shooting modes, such as 4K Photo and Post Focus, that provide real utility other super zooms can’t match.
The FZ300’s screen flips out and can tilt up 180 degrees for vlogging work (or if your phone just isn’t cutting it for selfies). Video: Rosette RagoAlthough it’s not much bigger than the other traditional super zooms we’ve tested, the FZ300 has noticeably longer battery life.
It’s rated for 380 shots when you use the rear display and 360 when you use the EVF, and in our experience we found those claims to be accurate (and possibly even conservative, depending on how often you power your camera on and off). That means you can use it in the rain-soaked forests of the Olympic Peninsula or the desert of Death Valley without concern over water or dust getting into the sensor and other sensitive components.
That can be a downer on a vacation, as I discovered when I brought the wrong Panasonic charger on a Christmas trip to New Mexico. Finally, though we love the depth of control the FZ300 provides, the sheer variety of settings and modes may be overwhelming for beginners.
Our general opinion is that it’s better to buy a camera that gives you room to grow as a photographer rather than one that will soon restrict your progress. That said, people buying their first “real” camera should be aware that the FZ300 comes with a more difficult learning curve than alternatives like the Canon SX70 HS.
The SX70 HS is a less impressive camera than the Panasonic FZ300: Its image quality lags in sharpness and detail, the controls are more limited, we don’t like the ergonomics as much, and its battery life isn’t as long. It’s simply that the narrow, variable aperture necessitated by the ludicrously long zoom design demands compromises.
In general, photos from the SX70 HS look fine at typical viewing sizes on a computer monitor, but at 100 percent magnification they show more noise reduction that destroys detail with watercolor-style smearing. Despite its impressive 30x zoom range, it’s tiny enough to fit in a pants or jacket pocket, and its image quality is only a small step behind that of the best traditional super zooms.
It also delivers a surprisingly comprehensive array of physical controls, plus a clever pop-up viewfinder to help with composition. Compared with other pocketable long- zoom cameras we tested (often referred to collectively as “travel zooms”), the Sony HX99 captured sharper shots with markedly more detail, in part because it performs less destructive noise reduction than competitors such as the Canon SX740 HS and Nikon A1000.
Colors look vibrant but aren’t cartoonishly over-the-top, and there’s plenty of contrast to help images pop. In our tests, Sony’s optical Headshot stabilization was effective across the board; we didn’t see motion blur in any of our shots, and videos were pleasingly smooth.
Even with its relatively narrow aperture range, the HX99 is capable of portrait shots with decent subject-background separation thanks to its long zoom. The Panasonic Lu mix DMC-FZ1000 takes the FZ300’s philosophy of quality over quantity a step further, sporting a larger sensor, a shorter but sharper 16x zoom lens, and an even more DSLR-like control scheme.
Aside from its superior still-image quality, comfier grip, and extra controls, the FZ1000 replicates most of what we love about the FZ300, including a high-resolution OLED viewfinder, 12 fps burst shooting, and gorgeous 4K video. This type of sensor is four times larger than those typically used in super zooms, so it captures much more detail in both the bright and dark areas of a scene.
Denmark’s sensor comparisons show the FZ1000 to be four to five times as effective at capturing low-light images as a traditional super zoom like the Panasonic FZ300. The downside is that you give up a lot of telephoto reach, especially compared with what you can get from a traditional super zoom such as the Canon SX70 HS.
The P1000’s 125x zoom offers an amazing range of 24–3000 mm, enough to capture close-ups of the moon’s craters or fleeing suspects’ license plates. We tested the Panasonic Lu mix FZ1000 II (DC-FZ1000M2) and loved it, which is no surprise considering it’s an upgrade to the FZ1000, which we recommend in this guide, and performs similarly overall.
Our previous pick, the Panasonic Lu mix DC-FZ80, is a speedy and cost-effective super zoom that delivers good-looking shots thanks to an impressive 60x lens (20–1200 mm, f/2.8–5.9). In particular, it doesn’t have an articulating screen, an eye sensor to help you move between the rear display and EVF, weather sealing, or as many custom controls.
In our testing, image quality from the 35x zoom was clearly worse than what we saw from competing models such as the Sony HX99 and Panasonic ZS80, with watercolor-like noise reduction smearing away detail even at the lowest ISO settings. We tested the Nikon Cool pix B600 mainly because the now-discontinued B700 was a previous top pick in this guide, but it’s far too basic a camera for us to recommend.