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Best Superzoom Camera

Updated on March 30, 2011

What is a Superzoom camera

A superzoom camera is a digital camera with a zoom lens that has a large zoom range. Usually 12x or more from the widest angle to its maximum reach. Some superzoom have 20x or more advertsed. The best superzoom cameras usually look like mini DSLR although some do come is very different body shapes. Most, if not all have manual controls to allow you to adjust exposure settings like apperture, shutter speed, ISO or sensitivity manually. This give a photographer better ways to control setting rather than rely on what is being programmed into the camera. Although you find many articles written by “pro” photographers, I’m not one. I’m writing this as an enthusiast photographer who shoots quite a fair bit. I hope you get a good user view point

Some people lables a superzoom camera, a prosumer camera which means “pro” and “consumer”. It just mean it is a hybrid between a professional use camera and what average Joe does with his digital camera. Okay, in photographic circles, there are people who question what is a pro camera but let’s not get into that argument. What you are keen to know is whether a superzoom is suitable for what you intend to you it for. There are photographers who earn a living using all sorts of cameras including superzooms. So here are some pointers if you want to consider a superzoom camera.

Sample Photos From A Superzoom

Shot at 447mm equivalent, click on the photo to see the amazing feathers in a larger image.
Shot at 447mm equivalent, click on the photo to see the amazing feathers in a larger image.
At 225 mm equivalent. Click on the photo to see a larger image. You'll notice amazing detail of the cat.
At 225 mm equivalent. Click on the photo to see a larger image. You'll notice amazing detail of the cat.
Bokeh Effect
Bokeh Effect

Advantages of a Superzoom

A superzoom is great for travel when you want wide angle shot in close spaces as well as maybe photograph animals at the zoo. It is light compared to a DSLR and because of the better lens compared to small Point & Shoot camera's, the photographs comes out nicer.

Many professional photographers also owns a superzoom camera for those time when they do not want to carry all the pro gear. The thing to remember is that if you don't have a camera with you, you would lose the moment. So a superzoom camera is just nice small light enough to take good quality photographs.

For the amazing reach, you would need a 300mm or so lens. These lenses are heavy and expensive and some place just won't let you carry one into their premises.

Disadvantages of a Superzoom Camera

The downside of superzoom camera is small sized sensor. This means under low light conditions, you will see image noise, which shows up like spots or blotches in dark areas of photographs, if you look closely. Superzoom camera’s don’t focus as fast as DSLR in certain instances but the gap is closing very fast. You can overcome this limitation by pre-focusing your shots. Since a superzoom has small sensor, the depth of field is great which equal shots that are in focus. So your focusing need not be spot on.

The focus speed is getting better with each new generation of cameras. If you are upgrading from a small digital camera, it won’t disappoint you. However, if you are used to a DSLR, certain limitations might disappoint you.

While the large zoom range makes a superzoom versatile, at the maximum range and minimum range, the quality of photo’s taken will not be at the best. For casual photography it won’t matter much since having a picture is better than having not picture so it is not too much of a disadvantage. Just be aware that such limitation exist.

Outdoor where the light is good, you can hardly tell the difference between a photo taken with a DSLR or with a superzoom. Many a times when I look back at photos I shot a year or so ago, I can’t tell which camera I used. Off couse, if I really look closely and enlarge it on the screen, I can eventually figure out which camera took the shot. If you take photographs for memories and for fun, you won’t notice this. And if you are just out and about, you may need to haul 2 to 3 lenses to cover the range of a superzoom.

There are quite a few brands of superzoom you can buy. While normally you might think of those from Canon, Nikon or Olympus, you might not consider a camera under the Panasonic Lumix brand. After all the Panasonic brand is more related to LCD tv or home appliance. However, they are smart to partner with Leica for the optics. So camera's bearing the Lumix brand are serious cameras.

Superzooms from different manufacturer has their slight strengths and weakness over each other. Some like Canon has a LCD screen that swivels, some that slightly better videos. Others have enormous zoom up to 36x. All I can say is that even with 20x zoom, you can hardly hold it steady even with image stabilization. If you want to spy on someone else then it might be the one for you.

For me, I used the FZ28 from Panasonic due to price and the quality of image. The photos you see here are all taken using this camera. You may want a longer zoom range or a lens that is a bit wider at its widest setting. I consider a Canon SX series but the price and video capability at that time made the go with the FZ. Anyway, you won’t go wrong with any brand. The important thing to remember is that these cameras are more advance than small digital cameras and you might need a little bit of time to learn to maximize the capabilities. All the sample photos are taken with my FZ28 with minimal touch up. No fancy touch up with Photoshop. I'd prefer to shoot more photographs than spend hours to manipulate images I get.

This camera has since been super seeded first, by the FZ35/FZ38 and later by the FZ40 even. There is some minor changes between the models slight upgrade in number of pixels

Happy shooting

167mm cropped & edited with Picasa. Click on the image for a larger image
167mm cropped & edited with Picasa. Click on the image for a larger image
Resized, unedited photo at 52mm, f8, 4 sec shutter,
Resized, unedited photo at 52mm, f8, 4 sec shutter,


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    • profile image

      jamezwoo 5 years ago


      I can't say I faced the problems about erratic focus as zoom increases on the FZ28. Under low light conditions, the focus do hunt.

      All the more I think that buyers really need to test any camera they want to buy throughly. Granted that in some countries, this may not be an option. The next best thing, try out your friends' camera is possible

    • TrahnTheMan profile image

      TrahnTheMan 5 years ago from Asia, Oceania & between

      Another helpful and informative hub James, thanks! I love your last pic- do you know what the ISO was?

    • profile image

      Rydberg 5 years ago

      Unfortunately, focusing is the Achille's heel of these cameras.

      And I am not talking about the speed, just the plain focusing.

      As the zoom increases, the focusing goes from erratic to non-existent.

      Prime examples of this are ALL the Nikon superzooms and leading that charge is indeed the P510, which does not focus beyond the midzoom range and is erratic below that.