Holiday Guide: Best Ultrazoom Cameras of 2013

by Reads (492)

Ultrazoom digital cameras are small, compact and feature long optical zoom fixed lenses often of 20x to 30x, and boast superior image quality. These cameras usually have built-in image stabilization technology to reduce shake and image blurriness. Many resemble DSLRs with sculpted handgrips, viewfinders and manual exposure controls.

While the mirrorless cameras have taken over the forums and chat rooms, the ultrazooms have not been sitting idly by. Designed for the casual photographer, ultrazooms boast a large range of focal distances. These cameras are used for photographing anything from your child’s soccer game to your family vacation in Europe. Their mega zoom lenses can reach a whopping 1000mm equivalent. If versatility is what you are looking for, check out our list of great ultrazoom cameras.

If you don’t see the perfect camera in the list we’ve provided, be sure to seek out buying advice in our “What Camera Should I Buy?” discussion forum. Our forum members, moderators, and staff will graciously offer their insight in helping you pick the best camera for you.

#1 Sony RX10

After spending almost a week with the Sony RX10 I can tell you it’s a great camera–the best ultrazoom we have ever reviewed!

Sony’s new Cyber-shot RX10 camera bolts onto the scene featuring a 20.2 MP back-illuminated 1.0″ CMOS sensor plus a dedicated 24-200mm (35mm equivalent) constant aperture F2.8 zoom lens. The camera also offers users a brand new Bionz X image processor that promises the sharpest, richest images we’ve seen out of a Sony camera.

Just in time for the holiday season, the RX10 sells for $1,300 it is our pick for the top ultrazoom camera.

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read the Sony RX10 Preview and Image Gallery

#2 Canon SX50 HS

Canon introduced the new SX50 HS, the successor to the very popular Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, at the semi-annual Photokina imaging products trade show in Cologne, Germany this past fall. The fifth generation Canon PowerShot SX50 HS is an entry-level DSLR-sized Point and Shoot digital camera that is essentially an evolutionary update; however, at least one of the new features seems almost revolutionary. 

Digicam zooms just keep growing longer; the SX40 HS featured a 35x zoom, while the SX50 HS sports a spectacular new 50x (24mm-1200mm equivalent) zoom – currently the longest zoom lens in the world. A DSLR shooter would need a virtually unlimited budget and an extremely large (and VERY heavy) camera bag to carry enough lenses to cover the 24mm to 1200mm focal length range of the SX50 HS. The Canon SX50 HS sells for $400.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Canon SX50 HS Review

#3 Sony DSC-HX300

The new 20 megapixel Cyber-shot DSC HX300 replaces the HX200 in Sony’s ultra-zoom line-up. The HX300 comes busting out of the starting gate with a faster maximum aperture than most of its competition, improved AF, and enhanced/improved image stabilization which should make this digital camera an industry leader. 

he HX300, with its monster Carl Zeiss zoom, can easily handle landscape/scenic photography, wildlife photography, event photography (festivals, concerts, parties, family gatherings), and travel photography. If you don’t need a touch-screen LCD, GPS, or Wi-Fi (and you can live with the non-intuitive menu system) the HX300 produces great image quality. The HX300 would be an almost ideal choice for an aspiring photographer on a budget, an excellent choice as a family camera, and a very good choice for travelers who have the space and want a tough easy to use digital camera with lots of reach. The Sony HX300 sells for $430.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Sony DSC-HX300 Review

#4 Canon SX280 HS

The new Canon Powershot SX280 HS is an easily pocketable compact P&S digicam with a long 20x zoom lens. The SX280 HS won’t turn any heads or launch any trends. In fact, the polycarbonate bodied SX280 HS is a rather plain looking point and shoot  (especially the black version – the camera is also available in red) that differs only marginally from its predecessor.

The SX280 HS (which replaces the SX260 HS in Canon’s upscale point and shoot digital camera catalog) features a 12-megapixel (BSI) CMOS sensor, Canon’s proprietary HS (high sensitivity) technology, and the SX280 HS is the first of Canon’s digicams to feature the new DIGIC VI processor. When combined, these components give the SX280 HS unique low light capabilities.

The Canon SX280 HS sells for only $240.

Rating Average: 7 out of 10

Read the Canon SX280 HS Review

#5 Samsung Galaxy Camera

Samsung breaks new ground with their latest innovation to camera technology — The Samsung Galaxy Camera. This camera is the first to offer total connectivity via an available data plan. Complete with an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system, this device is far more than a Point and Shoot camera. The Galaxy has created a class all its own – a hybrid breed combining the best features of a camera and a tablet. Welcome — the camlet.

But to judge the Galaxy solely as a camera is missing half the picture. The Galaxy Camera is powered by a 1.4GHz Quad-core processor.  It reacts quickly to the touch or swipe of a finger. The simplicity of the user interface in unmatched at this time. The camera’s intuitive functionality is observed while viewing the gallery, surfing the web or searching for apps. Once set-up, the Galaxy can automatically save your images to the Cloud Back-up feature. In addition, the Galaxy has the capability to connect, upload and share to an endless lineup of social media sites and apps.

The Samsung Galaxy Camera is available for $500.

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read the Samsung Galaxy Camera Review

Want to know which cameras are tops in the minds of DigitalCameraReview‘s readers?  Check out our Most Popular Cameras list, based on traffic across our site!

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