Bridge and travel zoom cameras are two of the very few categories of compact cameras to survive the smartphone. Whether it’s a travel zoom, which puts a 25X-30X zoom into your pocket, or a bridge camera which offers even more zoom, phones just can’t compete.
While there are now enthusiast-level long zoom cameras with 1″-type sensors, such as Sony’s Cyber-shot RX10 series and Panasonic FZ1000/FZ2500, there are still plenty of more budget-friendly models, though their smaller sensors don’t offer the image quality or depth-of-field control of the pricier models.
The following cameras are included in our roundup:
- Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
- Canon PowerShot SX730 HS
- Nikon Coolpix P900
- Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80/FZ82
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300
- Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70
- Sony Cyber-shot HX90V
- Sony Cyber-shot HX400V
Of those eight cameras, three are pocket-sized and offer 30X-40X zooms. The other five are bridge (SLR-style) cameras with focal lengths ranging from 600mm to an unbelievable 2000mm (35mm-equivalent).
And with that, let’s take a look at some consumer-level travel zoom cameras!
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
16MP BSI-CMOS 1/2.3″ sensor | 21-1365mm equiv. F3.4-6.5 lens | Raw support
What we like:
- Good image quality
- Fully articulating LCD
- Raw capture
- Advanced video functions
What we don’t:
- Slow max aperture on the tele side
- Some may find EVF annoying
The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is the company’s longest zoom camera, boasting a whopping 65X, 21-1365mm equivalent F3.4-6.5 lens. To help keep things steady with all that reach, the SX60’s lens is stabilized. It has a traditional SLR-style body with a fully articulating LCD and electronic viewfinder. Some may be bothered by ‘color tearing’ caused by the technology used by the EVF.
The SX60 HS is the one of only three currently shipping models in its class to support Raw capture, which allows photographers to squeeze the maximum potential out of its images.
“Images produced by the SX60 are well-exposed with vibrant color and pleasing sharpness”
The camera uses a 16.1MP 1/2.3″ CMOS sensor, which is standard for this class. Images produced by the SX60 are well-exposed with vibrant color and pleasing sharpness. Image quality is quite limited to begin with because of the small sensor, but significantly better results can be eked from the SX60 HS if you’re prepared to spend some time processing the Raw files, rather than shooting in JPEG mode.
In terms of performance, continuous shooting speeds range from 1.3 fps for Raw+JPEG to 6.1 fps for Super Fine JPEGs. In both cases the SX60 is able to fire away without slowing down (using a fast card, at least).
Feature-wise the SX60 has plenty to offer for the point-and-shooter as well as full manual exposure controls for the enthusiast. The SX60 also has two tricks up its sleeve to make the long end of the zoom easier to use. One lets you ‘back up’ the lens so you can locate your subject, and the other will zoom in or out to keep your subject in the frame. As far as video is concerned, the SX60 records 1080/60p clips with manual exposure controls and a microphone input. The camera’s Wi-Fi feature is basic but reliable.
Studio Test Scene | Specifications Compared