Tech reviews

A close look at compact megazoom cameras

The lenses get longer, but the bodies get smaller. Pretty amazing. These four cameras offer wide-angle lenses with long zooms, giving you a lot of shooting flexibility, but without the bulk of larger dSLR-style megazooms.

Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: Shooting modes are for every type of photographer, casual to advanced. There is a useful long zoom lens with excellent image stabilization, and overall excellent photo and video quality for a compact megazoom.

The bad: Menus and controls can take getting used to, battery life is short and photos get noticeably softer-looking indoors or in low light.

The cost: $209 to $325.99

The bottom line: The wider, longer lens, a few much-needed design tweaks, and excellent photo quality add up to one pretty great compact megazoom.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: Excellent design and feature set, including an ultrawide-angle 20x zoom lens, GPS and semimanual and manual shooting modes, as well as fast shooting performance and improved low-light photo quality from previous versions.

The bad: Using all of the high-performance features, such as the near-pointless touch screen, can cut into battery life. Also, photos are noisy and soft when viewed at 100 percent.

The cost: $229.99 to $294

The bottom line: The zoom lens might be the main attraction, but the camera is all-around excellent.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX30V

Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)

The good: Excellent photo and video quality for its class, fast shooting performance and plenty of shooting options for everyone.

The bad: It’s expensive, especially when compared with competing models. It’s not the easiest to use and the feature set is so deep it might be overwhelming for some users.

The cost: $299.99 to $419.99

The bottom line: The feature-rich camera has a great mix of speed and photo quality.

Samsung WB850F

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)

The good: A feature-packed compact megazoom with a versatile lens, very good picture quality and excellent Wi-Fi capabilities.

The bad: Shooting performance is a bit mixed, battery life is mediocre and interface, while very good, can take some time to learn.

The cost: $288 to $379.99

The bottom line: For snapshooters looking to enter the world of connected cameras, this is a good place to start.

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