Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Superzoom Digital Camera Buyer's Guide

As we teased last week, we now have a new feature for fans of super-zoom digital cameras. This feature is a spin-off and evolution of our on-going Superzoom Review Matrix, which will continue its development independently.

This feature will grow over time with more camera models and features added. And as always if you have any suggestions or feedback, just let us know!

We are breaking down the superzooms into three categories. The lines between them are not rigid, but we have to draw the line somewhere. The first category are the giant superzooms, in terms of sheer size, sensor size, or separation from the field in terms of features. The second group are the fun zooms, usually very compact in size, such as the Panaasonic TZ-series, Canon SX100-IS, Sony H3/H10, etc. The third category are the mid-size superzooms which includes superzooms that don't fit into the other two categories :)

Update: We'll probably split the mid-range zooms category into two sub-groups: The ones that have a 12X or less zoom-ratio, and the ones with more than 12X zoom ratio (eg 15X, 18X, 20X). This is merely done for organizational purposes.

Giant SuperZooms
CameraSpecsCommentsKey Reviews
Panasonic FZ50
10mp 1/1.8"
12X (35-420mm)
IS (optical)
RAW
LiIon
SD/MMC
Specs
This is not a tiny superzoom and it is the evolution of the Panasonic line-up that started with the very modest FZ1. How far the FZ-series has gone! The zoom ring and focus ring make it stand out from the pocketable superzooms du jour.dpreview
DCresource
ImagingR.
Pho Blog
More!
Fuji S100fs
11mp 2/3" SuperCCD
14x (28-400mm)
IS
RAW
LiIon
SD/xD
Specs
This is the new giantsumer, as it returns to the once popular 2/3" sensor size that ruled the RAWsumer world. Obviously you can't expect this to replace a DSLR with a muich larger sensor and choice among hundreds of lenses, but for what it is, the S100fs promises a lot in a single glued-in package. Fuji is not in the sub-$1000 DSLR business, so they don't need to "hold back" like the other SLR traaditionalists. Of course we have to wait for the initial wave of professional reviews before we crown this model, but it looks promising so far.None yet
Hands-on previews
Casio EX-F1
6mp 1/1.8"
12X (36-432mm)
IS (sensor shift)
RAW (DNG)
LiIon
Speed demon! Beep! Beep! Blends the line between movies and pictures at the six megapixel level. Speeds are 60fps at that, and much faster at lower resolutions. The price matches the uniqueness, and Casio insists that you can only buy it by phone. They won't allow retailers to sell them online. Casio, meet the Internet. Internet meet Casio. I'm sure Casio has a good reason (in their own reality that is).Pogue (NYT)
Waiting for more
Leica V-Lux 1Details coming up



And before we move to the next set of superzooms, we have a poll for you, powered by PollDaddy! Which one(s) are your favorite superzooms? This is a multiple choice poll, so you can vote for one, or more of your favorites. We obviously couldn't list every single superzoom (more than 30 models), so if your favorites are not listed, you can vote them in as "Other".





Mid-size SuperZooms (more than 12X)
CameraSpecsCommentsKey Reviews
Fuji S8000fd
8mp 1/2.5"
18X (27-486)
IS (sensor shift)
no RAW
4AA
SD/xD
Specs
Zoom-Zoom! An 18x optical zoom lens was the first hyperzoom from Fuji. However, lack of "advanced" features condemn this camera in the mid-range. Not that there's anything wrong with the mid-range :)dpreview
ImagingR
Photoxels
CameraLabs
Fuji S8100fd
10mp 1/2.3x"
18X (27-486)
IS (sensor shift)
no RAW
4AA
SD/xD
Specs
Fuji joins the big party of 2008, the 10mp 1/2.3x" sensor. Yes, there is magic power in the sensor, but unlike the 6mp "Magic" SuperCCD sensor from Fuji, the magic of this 10mp 1/2.3x" sensor is that it makes the marketing people happy because they can boast double-digit megapixels, and we all know that that's what really matters ;-)None yet
Olympus SP550uzdetails later
Olympus SP560uz
8mp 1/2.35"
18X (27-486)
IS (sensor shift)
RAW
4AA
xD
Specs
This is the follow-up to the camera that started the zoom-ratio wars (SP550uz). Olympus surprised everyone with an 18X superzoom, but they were certainly not the only ones when PMA 2008 was over. The inclusion of RAW is welcome (are you listening Fuji, Canon, Sony and Kodak?)dpreview
ImagingR
CNet
Steve's
Olympus SP570uz
10mp 1/2.33"
20X (26-520)
IS (sensor shift)
RAW
4AA
xD
Specs
18X was not enough apparently as Olympus wrote another chapter in the Zoom Wars by going to 20X with this model. Of course the zoom ratio itself is not as important a the zoom range, but just like megapixels, it's all about the highest number, all other factors ignored or thrown under the cyber-bus. Zoom ring and hot-shoe a nice plus.None yet
Panasonic FZ18Details coming up
Sony H50Details coming up
Sony H9Details coming up
Sony H7Details coming up
Nikon P80Specsdetails laterNone yet




Mid-size SuperZooms (12X or less)
CameraSpecsCommentsKey Reviews
Canon S5 IS
8mp 1/2.5"
12X (36-432mm)
IS (optical)
no RAW
4AA
SD/MMC
Specs
Canon is the last among the superzoom powers to "jump" over 12X (they haven't yet). Canon is usually the last among the majors to jump on new trends, which perhaps explains why their balance sheets are so pretty. We should probably see two new superzooms from Canon this year, but who knows (other than Canon of course)dpreview
DCResource
ImagingR.
Luminous
Panasonic FZ8Details coming up
Kodak Z812ISdetails coming up
Kodak Z712ISdetails later
GE X*details later



Fun SuperZooms
CameraSpecsCommentsKey Reviews
Panasonic TZ3
1/2.35" sensor
10X (28-280)
IS (optical)
no RAW
LiIon
SD/MMC
Specs
This is probably the camera that put the fun zoom segment on the map as a legit sub-segment (sub-culture?) of the superzooms. It is a fun camera to use. Obviously you can't expect DSLR-like quality, but how many DSLRs with a 28-280mm equivalent lens can you put in your pocket? You may have noticed we didn't include megapixels in the previous column. That's because this camera uses an 8mp sensor but only uses 7mp (effective).dpreview
DCResource
ImagingR
Megapixel.net
Panasonic TZ4details later
Panasonic TZ5details later
Panasonic TZ50details later
Sony H3details later
Sony H10details later
Canon SX100 ISdetails later
Canon TX1details later
Fuji S1000fddetails later
Fuji S5800details later
Nikon S10details later

2 comments:

Eric said...

The Casio EX-F1 came in at my Ritz Camera yesterday and it really is a unique experience. I don't know how well it will sell at $1000 for a relatively niche camera, but it's definitely a jaw-dropper.

Also in the shipment (probably the bigger news) were two Rebel XSI kits. I thought they weren't supposed to ship until the end of the month, but they're here and are available for shipping from our warehouse for stores that don't have them in stock yet.

1001 noisy cameras said...

Thanks for the updates! The $1000 price is indeed a factor, but I'm assuming the production numbers should be factoring into that.

Canon seems to be consistently able to deliver cameras fast or at least faster than the competition. No one is going to complain about faster :)