Best Zoom Cameras in 2020

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Whether you are new to photography or are a more experienced shooter, one of the most versatile cameras you can buy is a super zoom camera, also known as a bridge camera. These offer many of the same features as a DSLR, but feature a fixed lens with a very wide focal length range.

This means the same camera and lens can be used for capturing a wide-angle shot of a landscape scene, or for zooming right in to wildlife or sports. They are excellent for travel because, although they are a little bulky, you don’t need to worry about packing a range of lenses to capture different types of scenes.

Many of these cameras feature a zoom lens capable of covering 20-1200mm, or even more in some cases, and they can all be used for video recording, too. So, if you are considering one of these types of camera, read on to find out more about choosing the perfect model for your needs.

What is a Bridge Camera?

Before looking at some of the best options, you might be wondering what exactly is a bridge camera. These cameras look and feel like DSLRs, but don’t take different lenses. However, you can still manually control most of the settings as you would on a DSLR, giving you more control over how your photos look.

The main feature of these cameras is their incredible zoom. They are fitted with a long zoom lens, often offering 100x optical zoom or even more. So, they can be used to get up close to faraway subjects, generally at a much lower price than a comparable lens for a DSLR.

These cameras can be used in fully automatic or fully manual modes, so they are ideal for photographers of all experience levels, whether you just want to point and shoot or take full control of the settings.

Considerations When Choosing a High Zoom Camera

There are a few factors to look at when deciding which is the best digital long zoom cameras for your needs. Here are some features and specs you might wish to look into.

Zoom

Of course, one of the first things to look at will be how far the camera can zoom. All of these cameras have very high optical zoom, but some can reach even further than others. Think about how far you need the camera to reach and choose accordingly, keeping in mind it isn’t possible to choose other lenses for these cameras.

Sensor

The larger the sensor size, the better the camera will perform in low light without the images containing too much noise. A higher number of megapixels means the camera can capture greater detail in its images. So, if you are planning to have some photographs printed in a larger size, look for a camera with more megapixels.

Burst Shooting

Capturing a fast-moving subject is easier if the camera can shoot a continuous burst of images. This is especially useful for getting action shots of sports or wildlife. Look at the continuous shooting speed, given in fps (frames per second). The higher this number, the faster the camera can shoot bursts.

Autofocus System

When shooting at high zoom, manually focusing will be difficult. So, it’s important to look for a camera with an effective AF system. It should have a decent number of focus points, and should be fast and accurate, ideally even in lower lighting conditions.

Aperture

A wide maximum aperture allows the camera to take in more light, therefore enabling it to shoot in darker conditions. Shooting with a wider aperture also produces a shallow depth of field, which can be aesthetically pleasing for some images such as portraits.

Video Quality

If you intend to shoot videos as well as stills with your long zoom camera, be sure to look at the video quality. 4K video is the best quality, but Full HD (1080p) is also very good, and would be sufficient for many users. The best zoom cameras will also allow you to capture different types of video, such as time lapse or slow-motion.

Size and Weight

A bridge camera is never going to be lightweight, but you might wish to consider the size and weight to ensure it will be comfortable enough to shoot with all day. Size might also be an important consideration if the camera will be used for travel. However, keep in mind that a DSLR with lenses covering the same zoom range as one of these ultra zoom cameras will cost thousands more and take up more space!

 

Best Zoom Cameras

Let’s now take a look at our top 10 picks of the best optical zoom camera models on the market today.

1. Panasonic Lumix ZS100

This is an image of a black PANASONIC LUMIX ZS100 4K digital camera with 10X LEICA zoom ,20.1 Megapixels sensor and 3 Inch LCD,

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This digital camera with zoom lens offers an equivalent focal length of 25 – 250mm, or 10x zoom. It is one of the best point and shoot cameras thanks to its large, high-resolution sensor and ability to capture 4K video. So, if you’re looking for excellent image quality, the ZS100 is a great choice. The camera also features a 3″ touchscreen so it is easy to control, and the LCD is designed to be easy to see even in bright sunlit conditions.

The autofocus system on this camera is ideal, as it is possible to set the focus points afterward in both photos and videos. So with this small camera, out-of-focus photos are a thing of the past. There is an image stabilization system in the ZS100 too, which further helps ensure shots aren’t blurry. The aperture ranges from f/2.8-5.9 for bright images, and finally, it’s possible to capture high-quality stills from the 4K videos.

Features

  • Sensor: 20.1MP 1″ MOS
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • Image processor: Venus Engine
  • ISO range: 125 – 12800
  • Max image size: 5472 x 3648
  • Video: 4K video at 30 fps
  • LCD: 3″ 1040k dots
  • Focal Length: 25 – 250mm
  • Max burst: 10 fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Size: 4.37 x 2.56 x 1.73 inches
  • Weight: 0.69 pounds

 

2. Leica V-Lux 5

This is an image of a black Leica V-Lux 5 digital camera with 20mp sensor and 25 - 400mm Leica zoom

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Our next long zoom camera is the V-Lux 5 from Leica. It offers a zoom range of 25 – 400mm, or 16x. The electronic viewfinder features 2.36 million dots, so you’ll see your subject in a great level of detail prior to shooting. Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth feature on this camera, so sharing photos to social media or with friends and family is easy and instantaneous.

The V-Lux 5 boasts a large, 1-inch sensor with 20 megapixels of resolution. The aperture is f/2.8-4, so shooting in lower lighting conditions shouldn’t be a problem, and your images will have a lovely depth of field. The Leica is ideal for shooting fast-moving subjects, with a continuous shooting speed of 12 frames per second, and the 3″ articulated touchscreen makes shooting at awkward angles a lot easier. Unfortunately, this camera isn’t weather-sealed, so care should be taken when using it in harsh conditions. However, the focal range makes this an ideal pick for traveling.

Features

  • Sensor: 20MP 1″
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • ISO range: 80 – 12500
  • Max image size: 5472 x 3648
  • Video: 4K video
  • LCD: 3″ articulated touchscreen, 1240k dots
  • Focal Length: 25 – 400mm
  • Max burst: 12 fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Size: 5.39 x 3.82 x 5.2 inches
  • Weight: 1.79 pounds

 

3. Nikon Coolpix P900

This is an image of a black Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera with 83x Optical Zoom and 16MP sensor

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When it comes to Nikon bridge cameras, the P900 is one of the best if you’re looking for great image quality as well as a very high zoom lens. It offers a massive 166x dynamic fine zoom and 332x digital zoom, or 24 – 2000mm in 35mm terms. The P900 has an electronic viewfinder and a fully articulated LCD screen for easily shooting at any angle. It can take Full HD video at 60 fps, so it’s ideal for those looking to shoot video as well as taking stills.

The sensor on the P900 is 1/2.3″ in size, and has a resolution of 16 megapixels. The CMOS sensor offers 6 level brightness adjustment, too. The connectivity is excellent on this model, with both Wi-Fi and NFC included, as well as GPS. The camera can be used in the manual mode for more control, or switch to fully automatic for easy shooting. So, this makes a great pick for beginners and more experienced photographers alike.

Features

  • Sensor: 16MP CMOS
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • Image processor: Expeed C2
  • ISO range: 100 – 6400
  • Max image size: 4608 x 3456
  • Video: 1080p 60 fps
  • LCD: 3″ vari-angle, 921k dots
  • Focal Length: 24 – 2000mm
  • Max burst: 7 fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC
  • Size: 5.51 x 4.06 x 5.39 inches
  • Weight: 1.98 pounds

 

 

4. Panasonic Lumix FZ80

This is an image of a black Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80K Digital Camera with 18.1MP sensor and 20 - 1220mm lens

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Perhaps the highest zoom camera at a very reasonable price point is the Panasonic Lumix FZ80. It offers 60x zoom, or 20 – 1220mm as a 35mm equivalent. So, it’s great for shooting wide-angle landscape scenes or getting up close to subjects as far away as the moon. The FZ80 has a wide native ISO range and therefore performs well in lower light where a higher ISO setting is needed. The 18.1 megapixel sensor also ensures plenty of detail is captured in your images.

This is perhaps the best point and shoot camera if you are looking for one which is easy to focus. Several focus points can be selected using the focus stacking feature, and it’s also possible to change the focus point after the image has already been captured. The video quality is excellent on this camera too, with 4K video recording possible, at 30 frames per second. The camera features optical image stabilization to ensure shooting handheld doesn’t result in blurry images. Finally, it has an aperture range of f/2.8-5.9 which makes ensures it can perform well in lower light.

Features

  • Sensor: 18.1MP MOS
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • Image processor: Venus Engine
  • ISO range: 80 – 6400
  • Max image size: 4896 x 3672
  • Video: 4K video
  • LCD: 3″ touchscreen, 1040k dots
  • Focal Length: 20 – 1220mm
  • Max burst: 10 fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Size: 4.69 x 5.13 x 3.71 inches
  • Weight: 1.36 pounds

 

5. Nikon Coolpix P950

This is an image of a black Nikon COOLPIX P950 Digital Camera with 16MP sensor and 24 - 2000mm lens zoom

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The Nikon Coolpix P950 is an extreme zoom camera offering an 83x zoom, or 24 – 2000mm. It also features a very high resolution OLED viewfinder, with 2359k dots, so you can frame your shot easily before pressing the shutter. The 3.2″ vari-angle LCD is ideal for shooting in different positions, and even makes the camera ideal for self-portraits.

4K video can be captured on the P950 at 30 fps, and there is a 3.5mm mic input if you wish to use an external mic for better audio quality. The Coolpix P950 has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing for seamless image transfer between devices. The P950 is an upgraded version of the P900, which we have looked at above. The P1000, which we will review below, is a newer model of the P950.

Features

  • Sensor: 16MP
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • Image processor: Expeed
  • ISO range: 100 – 6400
  • Max image size: 4608 x 3456
  • Video: 4K video
  • LCD: 3.2″
  • Focal Length: 24 – 2000mm
  • Max burst: 7 fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Size: 5.6 x 4.4 x 5.9 inches
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds

 

6. Canon PowerShot SX70

This is an image of a black Canon Powershot SX70 Digital Camera with 65x Optical Zoom Lens 4K Video, 20.3MP sensor and 3-inch LCD

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The next ultra zoom camera we have chosen to feature is the SX70 from Canon. It offers a long-reaching 65x zoom and a 20.3MP sensor for excellent image quality. The SX70 also features the DIGIC 8 image processor for fast, powerful performance, even in low lighting conditions. Videographers will love this camera’s 4K video capabilities and also the ability to create stunning time-lapse footage. It’s even possible to take still images from your video footage if there is a particularly memorable frame you want to keep.

Not only does this camera feature a 21 – 1365mm zoom lens, but it can also shoot at a continuous rate of up to 10 frames per second, perfect for capturing a fast-moving subject such as a sports match. Because it can be hard to keep the subject in the frame when working with a fully-extended zoom lens, this camera has a Zoom Framing Assist feature. This will track the subject, even if it is moving, when the zoom is fully extended. Furthermore, the OLED electronic viewfinder features 2.36 million dots so you can see a lot of detail when framing your shot.

Features

  • Sensor: 20.3MP CMOS
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • Image processor: DIGIC 8
  • ISO range: 100 – 3200
  • Max image size: 5184 x 3888
  • Video: 4K video
  • LCD: 3″ tilting 922k dots
  • Focal Length: 21 – 1365mm
  • Max burst: 10 fps
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Size: 4.6 x 5 x 3.6 inches
  • Weight: 1.36 pounds

 

7. Sony Cybershot RX10 IV

This is an image of a black Sony CyberShot RX10 IV digital camera with 25x Optical Zoom and 20.1MP sensor

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Our next highest optical zoom camera offers a zoom of 600mm as well as the world’s fastest autofocus speed, at the time of release. There are 315 AF points, covering 65% of the frame, and the RX10 IV can lock focus in just 0.03 seconds. It boasts optical image stabilization and a fast aperture of f/2.4-4, ideal for creating a shallow depth of field. The sensor on the Cybershot is a 1″, 20.1MP stacked CMOS and it is back-illuminated. This means it can capture more light, and will therefore perform better in low-light.

Continuous shooting is one of this small cameras best features – it is capable of capturing 24 frames per second. The maximum buffer is 249 images, so this is a great choice of camera for shooting at high speed. This is also an excellent choice of camera for those wishing to shoot video – it can take 4K6 resolution video at either 24 or 30 fps, or drop the quality to 1080p and capture 120 frames per second. The maximum shutter speed is a very fast 1/32000 second, which is ideal for creating sharp images of quick subjects.

Features

  • Sensor: 20.1MP 1″, back-illuminated
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • Image processor: BIONZ X
  • ISO range: 100 – 12800
  • Max image size: 5,472 x 3,648
  • Video: 4K6
  • LCD: 3″ tilting touchscreen, 1440k dots
  • Focal Length: 24 – 600mm
  • Max burst: 24 fps
  • Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
  • Size: 5.22 x 3.70 x 5.02 inches
  • Weight: 2.32 pounds

 

8. Canon PowerShot G3X

This is an image of a black Canon PowerShot G3X Digital Cameras with 20.2MP sensor and 24 - 600mm lens zoom

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Our next pick is another Canon Powershot, this time it’s the G3X which features a 20.2MP CMOS sensor. It offers a slightly shorter zoom range than some of the previous models, but it is still an excellent zoom lens at 24 – 600mm, or 25x. The aperture ranges from f/2.8-5.6 depending on the focal length the lens is set to. The nine diaphragm blades also give lovely circular bokeh when shooting at a wide aperture. ISO ranges from 125 – 12800, so this camera performs well under a variety of lighting conditions.

Connectivity is good on the G3X, with both Wi-Fi and NFC available for easy transfer of photos and videos. In terms of video, this camera can take Full HD, 1080p video footage and there are other video modes available too. The powerful DIGIC 6 image processor is inside the G3X, giving it a fast continuous shooting speed.

Features

  • Sensor: 20.2MP 1″ CMOS
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • Image processor: DIGIC 6
  • ISO range: 125 – 12800
  • Max image size: 5472 x 3648
  • Video: 1080p
  • LCD: 3.2″ tilting, 1620k dots
  • Focal Length: 24 – 600mm
  • Max burst: 5.9 fps
  • Connectivity: WiFi, NFC
  • Size: 4.85 x 4.15 x 3.01 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds

 

9. Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 II

This is an image of a black PANASONIC LUMIX FZ1000 II Digital Camera with 20.1MP sensor and 16x 25-400mm LEICA DC Lens

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This Panasonic Lumix camera features a 16x zoom lens and a large, 1″ sensor for great performance in low light. The widest aperture value is f/2.8 at the wide-angle end of the zoom, which also helps give this camera a great low-light performance. The Lumix features a 5-axis image stabilizer so your shots won’t come out blurred, even when shooting handheld at high zooms.

The Panasonic Lumix is also capable of 4K video recording, as many modern cameras are. Also like many modern cameras, this model features an OLED viewfinder, with a massive 2360k dots for a crystal-clear picture. The LCD measures 3″ and it can move into a variety of positions so it can be easily seen when shooting at difficult angles.

Features

  • Sensor: 20.1MP 1″ MOS
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • Image processor: Venus Engine
  • ISO range: 125 – 12800
  • Max image size:  5472 x 3648
  • Video: 4K video at 30fps
  • LCD: 3″ touchscreen, 1240k dots
  • Focal Length: 25 – 400mm
  • Max burst: 12 fps
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • Size: 5.35 x 3.82 x 5.2 inches
  • Weight: 1.78 pounds

 

10. Nikon Coolpix P1000

This is an image of a black COOLPIX P1000 Digital 4K Camera with 16.7MP sensor, 24 - 3000mm lens and Camera carrier case

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Our final pick is the Coolpix P1000 from Nikon. It is the best camera zoom on any Nikon model, with a whopping 3000mm equivalent. The more than 100x optical zoom camera can focus as close as 0.4 inches in macro mode, or it can be zoomed right in for close-ups of the moon. It’s also a great choice for video recording, capable of capturing 4K video at 30fps and with stereo sound. There is also a HDMI port and microphone jack, as well as a hot shoe for adding additional accessories if you are serious about filmmaking.

The control ring is a very useful feature on this camera. It can be used to alter the focus in manual focus mode, or for changing the white balance or ISO when shooting in AF mode. Composing a shot is a pleasure with the P1000’s 2.36 million dot electronic viewfinder. There are a few pre-set modes on this camera which makes capturing common subjects such as birds or the moon a lot easier. The Coolpix P1000 can be connected to a smartphone via WiFi or Bluetooth for easily sending photos for sharing or editing.

Features

  • Sensor: 16.7MP
  • In-body image stabilization (IBIS): Yes
  • Image processor: EXPEED
  • ISO range: 100-6400
  • Max image size: 4608 x 3456
  • Video: 4K 30 fps
  • LCD: 3.2″ vari-angle, 921k dots
  • Focal Length: 24 – 3000mm
  • Max burst: 7 fps
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  • Size: 5.76 x 7.14 x 4.68 inches
  • Weight: 3.12 pounds

 

Best Overall High Zoom Camera

After looking at 10 incredible cameras, the one which stands out as the best overall is the Sony CyberShot RX10. It features an excellent autofocus system, with a massive 315 focus points, with focus being achieved in just 0.03 seconds. It is also very fast at shooting continuously, with a maximum burst rate of 24fps for almost 250 frames. The backlit sensor ensures the RX10 performs very well in darker conditions where other cameras might struggle.

This is an image of a black Sony CyberShot RX10 IV digital camera with 25x Optical Zoom and 20.1MP sensor

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Best Budget Zoom Camera

If you are looking to spend a more modest amount on one of these cameras, the Panaonic Lumix FZ80 is a great choice. It has a great zoom lens – capturing wide-angle scenes at 20mm or far-off subjects at 1220mm. The focus system is excellent – the ability to change the focus points after shooting is a very nice feature and one that is sure to be useful. Of course, the Panasonic Lumix can also be used to capture 4K video, and features an image stabalizer to keep shots sharp even when shooting handheld at further zoom levels.

This is an image of a black Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80K Digital Camera with 18.1MP sensor and 20 - 1220mm lens

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