Digital Camera Types Explained – Superzoom

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Superzoom compacts

Although I have included them as 'compacts', superzoom cameras are not particularly compact, but you can probably fit one in a large jacket pocket. These cameras are similar to advanced compacts, except they feature zoom lenses that cover a massive range.

Superzoom camera size compared to basic compact, advanced compact, and DSLR cameras
Sony HX100V Superzoom (center right) size compared to the Panasonic LX-5 advanced compact camera (center left), Casio EX-ZS10 basic compact camera (left), and the Canon Rebel T3 DSLR camera (right)

Modern superzooms can often have a zoom range between wide-angle, starting at around 24mm to 28mm, all the way up to around 500mm to 800mm super-telephoto. When you consider the size and weight (not to mention the cost) of lenses to cover the equivalent zoom range for a DSLR, Superzooms are definitely compact.

Because superzooms cover such a large zoom range, they may lack the fast apertures of advanced compacts with more modest zoom lenses. A largest aperture of f/2.8-3.5 is common at the wide-angle, with f/5.6 at the super-telephoto lens.

The moon photographed with a Superzoom Bridge Camera
So close... by Dennis Hummel on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

The sensor size of superzooms is also often smaller than advanced compacts with smaller lenses, so coupled with the slower lenses, their low-light performance will be more akin to basic compacts.

In other aspects, superzooms are the same as bridge / advanced compacts, offering full exposure control and other features such as exposure bracketing. They also share the ability to add filters and add on lenses.

Common Blue butterfly photographed with a superzoom camera
Common Blue by davidpiano92 on flickr (licensed CC-BY-ND)

Thanks to the larger lens, the form factor of superzooms more closely resembles that of a mini-DSLR. Most, if not all superzooms also feature an electronic viewfinder, and the ability to switch easily between the viewfinder and the screen when composing and reviewing shots.

Zebra shadows on hand - taken with a Superzoom compact camera
Free Hand in Zebra Creative Commons by D Sharon Pruitt on flickr (licensed CC-BY)

The benefit of a viewfinder is that holding the camera up against your eye helps steady the camera (and so avoid blurry shots) compared to having to hold the camera at arms length so you can see the LCD.

  • Advanced controls, essential controls easily accessible through buttons instead of having to go through menus
  • Electronic viewfinder
  • Accessories available to extend the camera's functionality
  • Massive zoom range in a relatively small size
  • Not as pocketable as other compact cameras
  • Shallow depth of field not possible except for close-ups
  • Low light performance not very good

Written by Discover Digital Photography

January 16th, 2012 at 10:43 am

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