Pocket Megazooms: Compact Digital Cameras With Big-Time Lenses

These compact digital cameras offer much more versatility than your average compact point-and-shoot camera, thanks to powerful lenses that reach from 8x to 12x optical zoom.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3S: It Does the Work for You

The almost fully automated Lumix DMC-ZS3S doesn't offer much in the way of manual controls, but it's a very good pocket megazoom camera for casual photographers who would rather let the camera do the work instead of tinkering with the settings themselves.

For anyone seeking a powerful pocket camera that can also shoot HD video, the DMC-ZS3S is a top-notch, easy-to-use option. --Tim Moynihan

Optical zoom: 12X (25mm to 300mm)

Full review | Price: $350

Casio Exilim EX-H10: 'Beginner's Megazoom'

With its emphasis on fun, the EX-H10 is clearly geared toward the younger crowd, or to any user looking for a "beginner's megazoom."

Pocket-megazoom shoppers who want full manual controls should look to the Canon PowerShot SX200 IS (see next slide), while snapshooters who want the camera to do most of the work might be better served by the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3S.

If it's entertaining in-camera features you're looking for, the EX-H10 should be at the top of your list. --Tim Moynihan

Optical zoom: 10X (24mm to 240mm)

Full review | Price: $300

Canon PowerShot SX200 IS: Intuitive Controls, but Bulky

The Canon PowerShot SX200 IS is one of those rare point-and-shoots that are as easy to use as they are versatile. It offers intuitive controls, a big-time zoom lens, addictive in-camera features, and stellar image quality.

We can't find much to dislike about this camera. If you don't find its bulkier-than-usual size off-putting, it's a great buy. --Tim Moynihan

Optical zoom: 12X (28mm to 336mm)

Full review | Price: $350

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1: Excellent All-Purpose Camera

Though anyone in need of manual aperture and shutter controls should look elsewhere, the DMC-ZR1 has a few subtle features that help it rise above its competitors.

Among those features are an ultraquiet zoom lens, lightning-fast autofocus in video mode, great image stabilization, and several unique scene modes. The sum of all those parts is an excellent all-purpose camera, the point-and-shoot equivalent of an all-star utility infielder. The DMC-ZR1 excels at both stills and video. --Tim Moynihan

Optical zoom: 8X (25mm to 200mm)

Full review | Price: $280

Kodak EasyShare Z915: Budget Friendly

Though the 10X optical zoom range is impressive, it's only one of several features that make the wallet-friendly EasyShare Z915 an outstanding bargain.

The Kodak Retinar zoom lens doesn't offer much at the wide-angle end (it's 35mm wide angle to 350mm telephoto), but this camera comes through with the best range of manual controls we've seen in a model at this price.

Its shutter response is fast, too: We were able to turn the camera on and snap a shot in about a second. --Tim Moynihan

Optical zoom: 10X (35mm to 350mm)

Full review | Price: $200

Olympus Stylus-9000: Sophisticated Shooting Controls

We haven't had a chance to review the Stylus-9000, but we did have some hands-on time with its sibling, the 7X-optical-zoom Olympus Stylus-7000.

The Stylus-9000 and the Stylus-7000 have many of the same basic specs, but with two key differences: The Stylus-9000 has a 10X optical zoom (versus the Stylus-7000's 7X optical zoom) and a 2.7-inch LCD screen (in contrast to the Stylus-7000's 3-inch LCD).

Reviewer Ben Long tabbed the Stylus-7000 as a good pick for creative snapshooters. It has sophisticated shooting controls (spot metering and shadow adjustment) plus in-camera editing options, and its distinctive features include in-camera panoramas, beautified portraits, HD output, slideshow presentation, and reasonable low-light performance.

Stylus-9000 optical zoom: 10X (28mm to 280mm)

Read more | Price: $300

Full review of the Olympus Stylus-7000

Kodak EasyShare Z950: Impressive Features

The 12-megapixel Kodak EasyShare Z950 is an easy-to-use pocket megazoom camera with an impressive list of advanced features.

Though its 10X-optical-zoom lens is skimpy on the wide-angle end, its performance is bolstered by exposure bracketing, shutter priority, aperture priority, high ISO, and high-definition 720p video capture.

In our tests the zoom lived up to expectations and the overall still-image quality was among the best we've seen in this camera's class, but the Z950's video quality isn't much to write home about. --Jim Galbraith

Optical zoom: 10X (35mm to 350mm)

Full review | Price: $250

Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR: Innovative Sensor

The stylish FinePix F70EXR has an innovative sensor that lets you capture either great-looking 10-megapixel photos or 5-megapixel images with improved low-light sensitivity or improved dynamic range.

Other shooting modes are designed to help you eke out superb photos with minimal effort: Pro Focus combines a pair of photos at different f-stops to give you a portrait with a softly blurred background, and Natural & Flash mode takes a pair of shots--with and without flash--so that you can choose the better one. --Dave Johnson

Optical zoom: 10X (27mm to 270mm)

Full review | Price: $280

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