Zoom lenses sell cameras these days, so it’s no surprise that manufacturers are doing everything they can to get longer lenses into increasingly smaller bodies.
A 3x or 5x zoom lens used to be the standard for ultracompact cameras — those measuring 1 inch thick or slimmer — but in 2012, you can easily find a skinny point-and-shoot with a 10x optical zoom.
The frontrunner here is the sub-$250 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX150 thanks to its excellent features, fast autofocus, and the quality of its pictures and video (though its color accuracy could be better). Most of the category consists of sub-$200 cameras, though, so there are options if you’re just looking for a simple pocket camera with a long lens.
Canon PowerShot Elph 520 HS The smallest camera here with the biggest zoom range — 12x, f3.4-5.6, 28-336mm — and also the most expensive, the 520 HS was disappointing compared with past PowerShots. Still, if you’re looking for a tiny long-zoom camera to slip into a small bag or pocket, it’ll do the trick. Read the full review.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Likely giving the Sony WX150 some strong competition, the SZ7 has a 10x f3.1-5.9 25-250mm lens and Panasonic’s Light Speed AF system. This one’s currently in our labs, so we’ll have a full review later this month. Read the preview.
Nikon Coolpix S6300 The S6300 is essentially the same as 2011’s S6200 except for one important change: the sensor. Nikon switched to BSI CMOS from CCD, which adds 1080/30p movie capture and at the very least should improve shooting performance, and perhaps improve low-light quality. Read the preview.
Looking for specs and pricing? Compare this group of cameras head-to head.
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