If you are looking for a camera that gives you more control when taking pictures, but don’t want to deal with the complexities of the DSLR, the Super Zoom or Advanced Point & Shoot may be the camera for you.
This type of camera has several nicknames or descriptor terms, including, “Extended Zoom”, “SLR-Like” (in Consumer Reports) and “Bridge Cameras” in older (pre-2007) literature. The reason for this name is that these cameras served as an economical bridge between the basic point & shoot and the DSLR, which often started at $700 until a few years ago.
- Some models resemble large compact cameras, while others resemble small DSLRs or traditional 35mm film cameras
- Largest of the point & shoot cameras, with some models weighing over 1 lb/454g
- Feature better ergonomic design for grip (but with a bias favouring right-handed users!)
- Larger body size and control buttons make them easy to manoeuvre and hold
- Almost all use a lithium ion battery, although a few models may use 4 standard AA batteries
- Super zooms have the most function options and control of a point & shoot camera
- Can shoot video, often with a high-definition option
- As the moniker “Super Zoom” implies, they have long-range optical zoom* capability
- Models that resemble the DSLR generally include a digital eyepiece viewfinder in addition to the rear LCD screen
- The SLR-Like models with large round lens that extend by hand usually have the longest zoom range, up to 500mm in focal length
- Models with these lenses also have a manual focus option, and can be fitted with filters
- On ALL super zoom models, the LENS IS ATTACHED PERMANENTLY TO THE CAMERA
- Some models can shoot RAW Format files in addition JPEG (see below for definitions)
Pros: Most functionality of the point & shoot cameras; body design is better for handling
Cons: Cannot change lenses; some models cost as much as DSLRs; not as portable; models using AA batteries lose power rapidly
Price Range: $150 to $500+; price goes up with increased functionality and lens zoom – models resembling DSLRs tend to be the most expensive
- Kodak EasyShare Z-series and some M-series models
- Canon PowerShot SX-series and some SD-series (ELPH**) models
- General Electric X-series or any other larger GE model
- Nikon Coolpix P-series and some S-series models
- Fuji FinePix F, H, S, and X-series models
- Sony CyberShot DSCH-series
* See Appetizer 1 for definitions of optical and digital zoom
**ELPH = ELectronic PHysics
All super zoom cameras include a built-in flash and standard-sized socket for screwing into a tripod. Some models may also have a “hot shoe” for adding an additional flash. Smaller models will have a wrist strap that goes on one side of the camera body, while the SLR-like cameras will include a neck strap. Larger-bodied models will often be covered in a rubberized or textured material for easier gripping. Although these cameras should be operated with two hands, they are also designed for easy single-handed use in full automatic mode. As with most cameras sold today, you will have to purchase a padded case for it separately.
If you see any camera model that includes IS (or OS or OIS) at the end of its name, it designates “image stabilization”, which means the camera has a mechanism built into it that cancels out the effects (within limits) of your natural body movement (shake) when taking pictures at slower shutter speeds (e.g. in low light without the flash). This will allow you to take sharper pictures (up to about two seconds in exposure) without needing to mount the camera to a tripod. If you are not sure whether or not a model has image stabilization, check the product description and specifications.
RAW and JPEG Formats
RAW: Some advanced point & shoots will shoot unprocessed image files (dubbed “RAW”, although there is no such thing as a .raw file). Think of them as digital “negatives”, as they contain all the information about the picture you took, have the most options for editing, but are cannot be shared or made into prints until they are processed. These files also take up considerable space on your camera’s memory card (e.g. 20 MB or more). In order to edit them, you will usually have to use the brand software that came with your camera (every brand has a different file type for RAW) or advanced editing software, such as Adobe Photo Shop.
JPEG: A standardized file format (.jpg) created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group that can be viewed on any website and is also recognized by home and commercial printers. When you take a picture in JPEG mode, the camera automatically removes all extraneous data from the image file – which you do not even notice is gone – and compresses into a manageable file size (e.g. 2MB to 6MB). The picture is then ready for sharing, editing, printing, etc. immediately. You can further edit and compress the file as you like; however, since the file has already had much of its data removed (known as “lossy compression”), you are limited in how much you enhance the image and any compression on an already compressed image will eventually degrade it to a series of blotchy squares.
Helpful Camera Guide Websites
(Digital Photography Review, owned by Amazon.com. Comprehensive reviews, and you can compare up to 20 cameras – including obsolete models – side by side at once. This feature is found under the “Camera Tab”.)
(This is the website for Future Shop. It can be useful as a reference, because you can look up the specifications on current products, and terms in red text are hyperlinked to user-friendly definitions. Go to departments >> cameras >> pick your category of camera, click on a model, and then go to the tab labelled “Details & Specs”.)
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