The best zoom cameras: get ready for the close-up

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While very specific, a zoom (or bridge) camera is the ideal purchase for someone looking to take wide landscape photographs or achieve a stunning image of a subject from distance with ease. Typically, zoom cameras have a fixed lens that makes capturing the perfect image fuss-free, although some, like the Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera, also come up with an additional super telephoto digital technology for even bigger magnification. But what exactly is a zoom camera and what is the best zoom camera out there right now?

The term ‘zoom’ refers to the magnification factor of a potential image but there are other details that you’ll need to consider before you hand over your hard earned cash for the one that boasts the biggest magnification. Those serious about capturing the perfect shot should take a look at the aperture before they buy. The lower the number, the more light the aperture lets through to the sensor, enabling you to capture stunning imagery even in the dullest of light. 

More expensive zoom cameras should possess the ideal balance between megapixel, aperture, zoom and sensor technology.  Experts say that the amount of megapixels the camera boasts isn’t as important as other factors when it comes to image quality. For example, our top pick, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2000, doesn’t offer the highest amount of megapixels in our list, but it does possess super quality sensor technology, giving in the ability to capture super high spec images. 

We’ve researched the best zoom cameras across the market right now. From top end ones that are super high spec but will leave a hefty dent in your pocket to lower end ones that are ideal for those who want to dabble every now and then without breaking the bank. While Amazon come up as a popular retailer for finding the best deals, it’s also worth taking a look at the likes of John Lewis and Very who often throw in a guarantee for free.

If it's a full 'all round' image you are looking to capture, take a look at our guide to the best 360 cameras. You might also be surprised at the zoom qualities of the best travel cameras, too.

1.Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2000

A fantastic all-rounder suitable for beginner and seasoned photographers

Best for: Impressive focus | MP: 20.1 | Aperture: f/2.8 | Optical zoom lens: 20x

Shoots 4K video
Large aperture
Experts say higher performance cameras for the money 

If you’re looking for a high-spec, easy to use camera to take wide landscape photos and super close-up shots, we have the answer here in this offering from Panasonic. With an aperture of f/2.8, you should be able to achieve quality images in even the dullest of light environments, while the galvanometer drive iris will ensure the camera catches on to sudden light changes while the zoom is in operation. With a 1-inch 20.1 megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor to improve the signal to noise ratio, there’s no surprise that experts are calling this the best zoom camera.  

2. Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera

Offering up the largest magnification, this is a camera for those who really want to zoom in from afar

Best for: High zoom | MP: 16 | Aperture: f/2.8 | Optical zoom lens: 83x optical zoom, 166x Dynamic Fine Zoom super telephoto len

Quality images from afar
Optical zoom is the biggest on our list
You will lose out on image quality when using the digital zoom 

If you’re looking to purchase a decent zoom camera for social media-ing, we have it here in the Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera, which hooks up to Wi-Fi for easy photo transfer. While it isn’t a professional camera by far, its zoom technology is pretty advanced, with the dynamic zoom technology allowing you to take close-ups of subjects that aren’t even visible to the naked eye. While you’re going to have sacrifice the quality of the image when using the digital zoom, the optical zoom still gives you plenty to play with on a higher resolution. Thanks to the dual detect optical VR system and super ED lens element, you should be able to achieve the best image quality for the amount of zoom.

3. Canon PowerShot SX540HS

A cost-effective camera with plenty of ‘pro’ tools

Best for: Amateur camera | MP: 20.1 | Aperture: f/3.4 | Optical zoom lens: 50x

Cost-effective
Great for filming videos too
Video quality not 4K 

Bloggers and vloggers who don’t have lots of spare cash lying around will appreciate the qualities of this zoom camera, which costs a fraction of our first pick. With a 50x ultra zoom and wide angle capabilities, this is ideal for enthusiasts looking to snap great images of what they love for posting on the net. With a 20.1 CMOS sensor powerful DIGIC 6 processor, both images and video should be of a good quality and with HD recording capabilities alongside an Advanced Dynamic Image Stabilizer, you should be able to record the ideal action film for your video blogging account, too.  

4. Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III

A rival to our first pick, this Sony offering is the best zoom camera for intermediate photographers

Best for: Intermediate camera | MP: 20.1 | Aperture: f/2.4 | Optical zoom lens: 25x

More magnification than the Panasonic
Packed full of technology
More expensive 

If we mentioned every bell and whistle this camera has, we’d be here for a while, so we’ll mention the specifics and let you take a look at the rest. With a large f/204 aperture, 1.0-type 20.2 MP Exmor R CMOS Image Sensor and powerful processor, we’re pretty sure you’ll be impressed with the image quality, no matter the lighting conditions. The lens itself it packed with superior technology, so you should be able to achieve stunning close-ups and awesome wide shots. With the capability to capture 4K movies, too, this is the ideal zoom camera for intermediate photographers. 

5. Canon PowerShot G3 X

A mid-range zoom camera with good zoom resolution

Best for: Quality high zoom | MP: 20.2 | Aperture: f/2.8 | Optical zoom lens: 25x

Achieves decent background blur
Creative modes for the arty types
No inbuilt viewfinder 

Many people find this camera a decent one for taking on holiday, as it’ll shoot high resolution images and has a pretty good zoom on it without the need for multiple lenses. With the option to achieve up to 60x zoom with the digital lens, catching that shot from several metres away shouldn’t be a problem, although you may need to compromise on image at the top end of the zoom. With an LCD touch screen to view your images, and a dust and drip resistant body, this is a sturdy camera that should fair well when taken out and about. Creative modes will also allow you to get that perfect holiday snap for the album.  

6. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ330

Fairly inexpensive, this Panasonic camera packs a lot in for the price tag

Best for: Shooting in RAW | MP: 12.1 | Aperture: f/2.8 | Optical zoom lens: 24x

Good for capturing stills of fast moving objects
Great for getting out in the field
Some users say menu is hard to navigate 

Thanks to its The 25-600 mm Lecia DC Vario-Elmarit lens and large aperture, this camera is pretty reliable for the price tag, with Panasonic boasting about its ability to capture a clear shot no matter how far away, or how fast moving, the subject of your shot is. With the ability to shoot in RAW so you can hone your developing skills and featuring a OLED viewfinder to you can catch the perfect shot no matter the lighting conditions, this is, as many users say, a good camera for the price.  

7. Sony DSCH300/B

The ideal entry-level camera for budding photographers

Best for: Entry-level | MP: 20.1 | Aperture: f/3.4 | Optical zoom lens: 35x

Large optical zoom
360 degree panorama shots
Batteries aren’t rechargeable 

This is a pretty decent camera for the price. Yes, you’re sacrificing a rechargeable battery, there’s no viewfinder and snapping objects on the move isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but what do you expect from the price? On the upside, it features a Massive 20.1 MP Super HAD CCD Image Sensor, features SteadyShot stabilisation and there’s some cool creative options built in. While there’s a few compromises here and there (the biggest being that it doesn’t have a rechargeable battery), there’s stills heaps of features that give it plenty of pluses, making it pretty good budget buy.  

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