Mega zoom cameras group test
Before hybrid digital cameras like the Olympus PEN and Sony NEX came along – promising compact dimensions yet digital SLR (DSLR) quality – a mega zoom model like the cameras gathered here was what you went for if you’d outgrown your pocket snapshot yet didn’t need the bells and whistles (or want the expense) of a more professional camera. Mega zooms offer a halfway point between compact and DSLR – hence the descriptive term ‘bridge’ or ‘prosumer’ (professional/consumer) camera.
The question is, now that you can get DSLR-like quality from a relatively compact camera with a switchable lens, do these ‘all-in-ones’ (where the optics are fixed so cannot be changed) still have a place in the world?
Well, if you’re the type who’d like the greatest range of options when it comes to composing photos – meaning a broad focal range, which our examples here supply in bucketloads – without having to go on a photography course or spend a fortune for such flexibility, then the answer is yes.
The lenses here are whoppers: from 24x to 30x optical zooms, pulling faraway subjects up close and personal without pronounced deterioration in image quality. To equip your DSLR or hybrid camera with similar paparazzi-like range would cost thousands. And arguably, because there is such an extensive range of compositional possibilities at your disposal thanks to the longer lens, the fact that it can’t be swapped matters much less anyway.
Add in the latest must-haves – such as HD video recording, HDMI output, manual as well as fully automated subject-recognition, a high-resolution LCD or viewfinder, plus Raw files alongside JPEG – and, sensor aside, you have most of the advantages of a DSLR or hybrid camera anyway.
As well as making sure your intended purchase packs in the above features, the main reason you’ll be going in for any of our contenders comes back to the lens power, providing a camera combination that will take just about any photograph you desire, without the need for further accessories. Of course, you pay for such convenience, which is why some of our choices here are almost the same price as an entry-level DSLR proper, albeit one equipped with a modest 3x equivalent standard zoom. With the following models being anything but standard, let’s find out how our selected six mega zoom cameras fare.