For many photo opportunities, compact “superzoom” cameras are the perfect blend of size and performance, combining DSLR features with a versatile, big-range zoom lens. This year’s models have had some exciting improvements and technological advancements, which have made them smaller and yet more robust than ever before. Often available at hundreds of dollars below the cost of even an entry-level DSLR, many photographers are looking at them as a great sidekick for taking out on the road or as an affordable backup for more advanced models. (Note: Zoom ranges listed are 35mm equivalent.)
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
List Price: $429.
With a 35x zoom that covers a huge range and starts at a wide 24mm, the 12.1-megapixel Canon PowerShot SX40 HS is notable because it employs Canon’s new DIGIC 5 Image Processor for increased processing speeds and the High-Speed Burst HQ mode that fires off a sequence of images at 10.3 fps and then saves eight of those shots for an effective continuous shooting mode of 8 fps. Image stabilization is important when working with such a long telephoto reach, and Intelligent IS includes four still-image stabilization modes and four video-image stabilization modes that it automatically applies to effectively match the shooting situations. The 2.7-inch Vari-Angle LCD screen has a resolution of 230K dots, and it articulates from the body for shooting from above, below or other odd angles. The SX40 HS has a dedicated video button for accessing full 1080p video at 24 fps and 720p at 30 fps, and the electronic wind filter suppresses environmental noise. Zoom Framing Assist helps to track moving subjects that easily drop out of the frame of the long telephoto end of the zoom range.
Fujifilm Finepix HS20 EXR
List Price: $399
With a brand-new, 16-megapixel EXR CMOS sensor and a tilting 3.0-inch, 460K-dot LCD screen, the FinePix HS20 EXR offers a healthy set of pro features like full 1080p HD video in 30 fps, RAW+JPEG image capture, 8 fps full-resolution bursting, a Motion Panorama 360 mode, robust manual options and an ISO range up to 12,800. The sensor incorporates Back Side Illuminated (BSI) technology for improving light sensitivity. The camera comes with a variety of other sophisticated modes like the Signal to Noise mode, which reduces noise by combining photodiodes at the sensor, and the Dynamic Range function, which offers a maximum dynamic range of 1600%, larger than many cameras by a full stop. The impressive 30x lens includes macro capabilities with a focusing distance of only 0.4 inches, and CMOS shift optical image stabilization works together with High ISO for even better blur reduction.