Ultrazoom digital cameras typically boast an extremely large zoom range. Compact ultrazoom cameras will reach anywhere from 7x to 14x, and larger ultrazooms reach up to 30x in optical zoom power. They are also very flexible, generally providing both automatic and manual modes of operation – all in a very compact package that is much smaller and lighter than standard digital SLRs (DSLRs).
Most ultrazooms also feature sophisticated image stabilization technologies, which can easily eliminate some of the blurriness that results from camera shake.
You can spend hundreds of dollars on an ultrazoom digital camera that includes such features as a high-definition movie mode and the ability to store raw editable content. However, you can also get a pretty decent model for $200 or less if you are willing to give up a little on the optical zoom capabilities – maybe settling for 10x instead of a whopping 20x, and sacrificing a bit on speed between shots.
The best way to select the perfect ultrazoom is to take stock of exactly what type of pictures you want most to capture. If you take a lot of scenery and distant pictures, then go for the larger optical zoom range. If you take a lot of sports and action shots, then choose a camera with good image stabilization and an ability to take rapid fire pictures – with some models capable of capturing 40 still frames per second and 1,000 frames per second or more in video capture mode.
When searching for the right model, be aware of the weight (since ultrazooms are usually heavier than point-and-shoots), the size, and the image stabilization technology. The price you pay for extreme focal length flexibility is camera shake and picture blur, so it is important to have technology on your side when you are framing that perfect shot.
The ultrazoom is a veritable Swiss Army knife. Even in that feature-rich category, the Sony Cyber-shot HX200V stands out. It covers a 27-810mm focal range, offers manual exposure modes and is equipped with GPS. Is it the cream of the ultrazoom crop?
Looking for a camera that's not too big, not too small, but just right? The Canon SX50 HS has a 50x zoom, 12.1 MP and is easy to carry.
Fuji's F800 offers users a 16 MP EXR CMOS sensor, 20x zoom and a 3-inch LCD screen. It is easily carried and has a nice, sleek design. Learn all about it in our full review.
Bragging rights belong to the Nikon Coolpix P7700 - a solid compact camera with an updated sensor, 12.2 Mp and great image quality.
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