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The best superzoom camera

By Amadou Diallo

This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the full article here.

After more than 40 hours of researching and spending several days shooting with a handful of contenders side by side, we found the Nikon COOLPIX P610 is the best superzoom camera for most people. The Nikon P610 has a 60x zoom range, built-in Wi-Fi, and GPS support. You can shoot sharp photos with lifelike colors using the electronic viewfinder or the articulated rear screen, aided by an eye sensor that automatically switches between the two, and then quickly send them wirelessly to your phone. Plus, the P60 is simple enough to use without cracking open the manual and light enough to bring on long walks without straining your neck or shoulders.

Who this is for

superzoom is a good choice for photographing animals without having to get very close.

Superzoom cameras let you shoot both wide-angle and extreme telephoto images without having to swap lenses. While they mimic the design and control layout of DSLRs, they’re smaller, lighter, and less expensive. Their image quality, however, is the same as that of a typical point-and-shoot and only marginally better than that of a smartphone. The photos can look great when you share them online. View them at 100 percent screen magnification, though, and you’ll see color noise and image artifacts even at ISO 100. Image quality degrades even further as you shoot at higher ISO values.

How we picked

We called in the top contenders for some hands-on shooting. From left to right: Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, Nikon COOLPIX P610, Nikon COOLPIX P900, and Fujifilm FinePix S1.

We used DPReview’s comprehensive camera database to find all of the relevant cameras that have been released since our previous superzoom guide, and then we weeded out models with significant drawbacks, such as the use of older-technology CCD sensors (CMOS sensors are now the standard) or a dependence on AA batteries. We narrowed down the contenders for our top pick to just four models, the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, the Fujifilm FinePix S1, the Nikon COOLPIX P610, and its monster-zoom cousin, the Nikon COOLPIX P900, and we called them all in for a few days of real-world shooting and comparison.

Our pick

It’s the features and operational handling that set the P610 apart.

After spending hands-on time with our top contenders, we chose the Nikon COOLPIX P610 as our top pick. It has all the most important features, whereas other models may have only one or two. Its eye sensor makes switching between the rear screen and the electronic viewfinder a breeze, its built-in GPS support automatically adds location data to your vacation pics, and its lens zooms in to an incredible 1,440-mm focal length. You can find some of the P610’s individual attributes in other superzooms, but this is the only model that combines them all in a reasonably sized camera body.

Raw-shooting superzoom

The Canon SX60 can shoot raw images, but it lacks an eye sensor.

The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, a close second to our top pick, has a slightly wider zoom range and can shoot raw images. What keeps the SX60 from earning our top spot is its lack of an eye sensor, an omission that every single review we read complains about. The ability to switch between an EVF and a rear LCD on the fly is a must for a superzoom camera.

Pocket-sized travel companion

The Sony WX500 is great If you want a pocketable camera and don’t mind a less powerful zoom.

If small size is your top priority, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500 easily fits in a jacket pocket or purse yet still boasts a 30x zoom lens, enough range to cover typical vacation-photo needs. The Sony is capable of delivering excellent image quality, but you won’t get as many external dials and buttons as on the larger cameras, so you’ll spend more time in the menus when you need to adjust settings.

Huge image quality, small zoom

The Panasonic FZ1000’s sensor is four times larger than the one in our main pick.

Costing roughly twice as much as our pick, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 is equipped with big, 1-inch-size sensors, which are four times larger than those typically found in superzooms; as a result, it captures much more detail in both the bright and dark areas of a scene. Images from the FZ1000 will still look great when you view them full-screen on your monitor, and they’ll make nice prints as well. The downside is that you give up almost four times the zoom reach.

Wrapping up

We found that the best superzoom camera for most people is the Nikon COOLPIX P610, which has all the most important features of a great superzoom whereas other models may have only one or two. Our runner-up is the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS, which has a slightly wider zoom range and can shoot raw images (though it lacks an eye sensor). The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500 has a less powerful zoom, but it’s a pocketable model and a great travel camera. If you’re looking for superior image quality and you’re willing to spend extra money, we recommend the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000.

This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation, please go to The Wirecutter.