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We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission. Our collection of the best optical zoom cameras is capable of capturing stunning details from your subjects, no matter how close or far you may be. While most cameras are capable of digital zoom, the in-camera post-processing can sometimes interfere with your results, leaving you with underwhelming resolution and low-quality pictures.

Optical zoom, on the other hand, uses a series of lenses to enlarge the subject in your exposure without digital manipulation, ensuring that your subject is limited only by the megapixel MP rating of your camera’s sensor. Optical zoom cameras are ideal for all sorts of shots, including travel, landscape photography, sporting events, wildlife, or any situation where you’d like to get closer to your subject without sacrificing image quality. Make sure to scope out our guide to understanding zoom lenses if you’re trying to get a bird’s eye view of what this type of camera can do for you.

Here are the best optical zoom cameras from brands including Canon, Nikon, and Sony. It also offers both 4K photo and video , so your resulting images are going to be of a high standard.

The You have a 3-inch LCD touchscreen display to choose your setting and create your shot. Resolution: The controls are easy to learn as well. Photographers will enjoy the This makes it much easier to capture clear shots where your entire subject is in the frame.

With such a detailed zoom, you can not only shoot amazing images of wildlife, flowers, or concerts, but you can also shoot into space. The P provides so much zoom that you can easily use it for astrophotography, capturing the moon, stars, and even other planets as they pass by. You have the ability to shoot in RAW on the P, which avid photographers will appreciate. Plus, you can get creative with some of the useful features included in the camera, such as time lapse, Superlapse, and built-in filters for editing.

If only the best zoom will do, you might want to splurge on the P Families want a reliable, high-quality camera that takes great photos, but is also easy enough for everyone in the household to use. If your family is looking for a new zoom camera, check out the Canon Powershot SX We also love the fast autofocus, long battery life, and accurate color—just what you need for the next family vacation.

You also can upload your shots straight to your phone or social media, since both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity are included in the SX Photographers have access to a Other than that, it’s a great all-rounder that your family can use for years to come. You can use the Party Mode to automatically adjust your ISO to enable vivid photos, useful for shooting in low-light.

However, some users report that it can take some time to master the menu system, as it can be confusing—although users can simplify their controls by switching to Easy Mode. With 60x zoom, in-body stabilization, and a quality build, the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 is our top choice for just about any user.

Katie Dundas is a freelance tech journalist who regularly covers photography, cameras, and drones. Many non-DSLR cameras are either optical or digital zoom. On an optical zoom camera, users have a physical zoom lens. On digital zoom cameras, in-camera processing is used to take the photo, which can sometimes distort the view or crop away the edges of the photo.

While you can get great results from either type of camera, some photographers prefer optical zoom. For many, it depends on what you want to do with your photos. RAW files are much larger because they capture all of the data your camera sees. In comparison, JPEG files compress the image for you automatically, so these files are much smaller.

Professionals will generally shoot in RAW, as the format gives them more control in the editing process. However, for most casual users, the JPEG quality is more than good enough to get beautiful results. Many photographers are loyal to a specific camera brand, be it Nikon, Canon, or another manufacturer. The reason is, most DSLR lenses are not interchangeable between brands. If you already have a collection of lenses at home, buy a camera that can put them to use. Most people spring for the camera with the highest resolution, measured in megapixels.

Instead, look at the sensor size. A larger sensor will capture more light and produce images with less noise. While the design is more a matter of personal preference, try holding a couple of different models and go with what feels comfortable.

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By Katie Dundas. Katie Dundas. Katie Dundas is a writer with an affinity for cameras, drones, and fitness tech. She has written for Business Insider, Travel Trend, and more. Fact checked by Rich Scherr. Rich Scherr is a seasoned technology and financial journalist who spent nearly two decades as the editor of Potomac and Bay Area Tech Wire.

Tweet Share Email. The Rundown. Best Overall:. Runner-Up, Best Overall:. Best Splurge:. Best for Families:. Best Budget:. What We Like Compact, ergonomic design is great for travel 50x optical zoom Great value. What We Like Great build quality Fast, accurate shooting and processing 65x zoom. What We Don’t Like Photos can easily blur if not used with a tripod 4K video records slightly cropped.

The 10 Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras. What We Like Great photo quality for a budget price point 35x zoom lens Design is impressive and comfortable to use. How does optical zoom compare to digital zoom? How much zoom do I need? Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Email Address Sign up There was an error. Please try again. You’re in! Thanks for signing up. There was an error. Tell us why! More from Lifewire.


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Whatever your reason for looking to buy a new webcam, there are so many variables these days that the options can feel overwhelming. This will light your face without having to rely on a ton of overhead or background light. USB Headsets If a person needs to conference in a noisier environment, such as an open office, then they might want to use a USB headset. Unless your appearance or background is very inappropriate or distracting, turn ON your video. Buying Jabra PanaCast? Background noise Lagging or performance issues Activation email not arriving minute limit and more Could it be your internet?