Compact megazooms compared (roundup)
The lenses get longer, but the bodies get smaller. Pretty amazing.
Compact megazooms, also known as travel zooms, are some of the most popular cameras on CNET. That's likely because they offer wide-angle lenses with long zooms, giving you a lot of shooting flexibility, but without the bulk of larger dSLR-style megazooms.
This roundup only features the flagship compact megazooms from each of the manufacturers. Most of the category is filled with models that are at or around the 20x-zoom mark. Sony is the biggest exception, out in front this year with its, which packs a 30x, f3.5-6.3, 24-720mm lens. It's also the priciest in the category thanks in part to a deep feature set.
Editors' note: This post was originally published April 10, 2012, and was updated on October 18, 2013, with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS30 and Fujifilm FinePix F900EXR.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS30
The DMC-ZS30, like its predecessor the ZS20, is just an all-around excellent camera. You get solid photo and video quality, fast performance, and shooting modes for both advanced and casual snapshooters. On top of that stuff you'll find built-in GPS and Wi-Fi with NFC for quickly pairing with an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet. Read the full review.
Fujifilm FinePix F900EXR
The F900EXR is the only camera in its class with raw image capture, so if that's a must-have feature, you can stop here. The Wi-Fi-enabled camera is also a fast performer and has some of the best image quality here. However, it takes a bit more effort on your part to get those excellent results. Read the full review.
Canon PowerShot SX280 HS
The SX280 HS picks up where the excellent SX260 HS left off. It has the same 20x, f3.5-6.8, 25-500mm lens and 12-megapixel sensor, but its new processor improves the shooting options and image quality. The battery life isn't great, though. Read the full review.
Sony's top-of-line 2013 compact megazoom is just all-around good and loaded with shooting options. The 30x zoom is the longest you'll find in this class, and the camera also has an accessory shoe for attaching an external mic or flash or even an electronic viewfinder.
Samsung WB800F Smart Camera
The WB800F might not have the best photos and video here, but its wireless features make it worth considering for those addicted to sharing their shots online. It's also loaded with some fun and unique shooting modes, making the whole package a nice complement to a smartphone camera. Read the full review.
Nikon Coolpix S9500
The S9500 features more megapixels and more zoom range than its predecessor, the S9300, and built-in Wi-Fi. Photos and performance are about the same, though, which is to say, very good. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking for manual controls, though, because it has almost none; this is pretty much a straight point-and-shoot with lots of automatic options. Read the full review.
Want more buying recommendations? Check out our always-current list of the best compact cameras on the market.