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The Long Zoom Compact category is probably the most diverse of any in our round-ups. Within it are three separate sub-classes of camera, all of which offer 8x optical zoom or greater (up to a whopping 83x). Broadly speaking, the cameras separate into the following categories:

  • Classic superzooms: DSLR look-alikes with small sensors and very long zoom lenses. The vast majority of the cameras here belong to this class.
  • What we might call 'pocketable' long zooms, which offer less zoom range but which look and handle like a traditional compact. Examples include the Sony Cyber-shot HX90V and Nikon Coolpix S9900.
  • Finally there are the heavy-hitters, premium long zoom cameras like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 II, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 and Canon PowerShot G3 X. All of these use sensors that are substantially larger, 1"-type sensors and offer more advanced features, with fast lenses and high-end video capabilities.

These classes should make clear the trade-offs that are being made between zoom range, camera size, image quality and price. You can get a small, affordable, pocketable camera, but it won't have a huge zoom range or large-sensor image quality. Equally you can buy a large-sensor camera with a reasonable zoom but it won't be cheap or pocketable.

As you might expect, the more expensive, large sensor models (a 1"-type sensor is around four times larger than the ones found in the other models) tend to have more enthusiast-friendly features, such as Raw capture, bright/fast lenses more direct control and better build quality. All these things come at a cost, though: most of the small sensor cameras can be had for under $600, many for even less. Those cameras with 1"-type sensors tend to hover closer to $1000 (though the FZ1000 is a bit cheaper).

The higher priced models push well into interchangeable lens camera territory, in terms of price. However, the same zoom/size/image quality/price trade-offs are being made: most ILCs have larger sensors and better image quality but achieving the same zoom reach as these all-in-one models is rarely cheap and never as compact. Several of the large sensor models have been designed with video in mind, which can give them an edge over many ILCs.

The following cameras are included in our roundup: