Best Compact Zoom Digital Cameras
Last updated on 10/17/2012
Compact zoom digital cameras (sometimes known as "travel zooms" or "compact megazooms") pack big zoom lenses (10x or higher) into pocket-sized bodies. Picture quality is generally solid, most offer some degree of manual control, and the higher-end models are often packed with extra features like full HD video, speedy burst shooting, built-in GPS geo-tagging capability, and sometimes RAW image capture. These cameras are popular with a wide swath of camera buyers, from casual shooters looking for something stronger than a regular point-and-shoot up through enthusiasts looking for a versatile, carry-anywhere camera to complement their dSLR or mirrorless setups. They're especially desirable among travelers, since they're easy to tote and do a reasonably strong job capturing shots both near and far. So camera buyers who are looking for a convenient all-in-one shooter for a reasonable cost would do well to start with the models below.
The compact zoom class is getting increasingly crowded. Each contender brings something unique to the table, and each will have a crew of diehard fans. But the Canon SX260 HS promises to make the most photographers happy most of the time. Most of the bells and whistles are present, including built-in GPS geo-tagging, speedy performance, and an ample 20x zoom range. Its image quality is consistently great even in low light, and it captures scenes with a natural, unprocessed look. Manual exposure modes allow for the hands-on control that many users wants, but it’s equipped with plenty of novice-friendly automatic modes, scene presets, and fun filters and effects, too. Users can capture images at up to 10fps, on par with the best in the category, and the 1080p video is really very good. It may not have the most gadgetry in the business (that award goes to Sony's HX30v) but it's a no-frills camera that gets the job done. And if you don't need the GPS, the otherwise-identical SX240 HS will save you a bit of money.