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The ones that got away...

Although we only subjected six cameras to our full range of studio and real world tests, we have used, and shot with, many more. The cameras on this page, plus those in the main body of our review, represent most of the travel zoom class compact cameras currently on the market. Although we haven't scored any of these models, we have summarised their key selling points, and (briefly) discussed their strengths and weaknesses. You will also find links to images taken in our standard studio test scene, and to galleries of 'real world' images. Scroll down this page to read what we think, or click the hyperlinks below.

Canon IXUS 1000HS

The 10MP CMOS sensor of the Canon IXUS 1000HS is complemented by a 10x optical zoom, image stabilization and a burst option that can capture images at over 7fps. The camera can also capture 1920 x 1080 Full HD video at 24fps.

Key Features

  • 10MP CMOS sensor
  • 10x optical zoom
  • Full HD 1920 x 1080 capture
  • Slow motion movie capture
  • Image stabilization
  • High speed burst mode
Its sleek design and minimalist control layout make the Canon IXUS 1000HS a very simple camera to operate. Although manual exposure controls are limited to choice of metering mode and ISO, you can designate +/- 2 EV of exposure compensation. A variety of fun effects modes allow you to do things such as selectively desaturate an image and simulate both tilt/shift and fisheye lens effects.

Although the 1000HS has fewer megapixels and less reach then other travel zooms in our roundup, the image quality is excellent for a camera in this class. At low ISO sensitivity settings, the 1000HS renders details accurately and with relatively few compression artifacts. At higher ISO sensitivity settings, in-camera noise suppression does blur image detail and introduce false color shifts, but at a level to be expected given the camera's sensor dimensions (and price). Color rendition is reasonably accurate and the 3 inch rear LCD screen provides an accurate, detailed preview of what the camera will record. Onscreen menus are navigated and selected using the rotating dial on the rear of the camera along with the center-located Func/Set button.

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Samples

Studio scene comparison (opens as popup) Real-world samples (21 images)

  • What we like: Very simple to use, excellent image quality
  • What we don't like: Limited exposure control, short reach of 10x zoom

Casio EX-ZR100

The Casio EX-ZR100 combines a 12MP sensor with a 12.5x optical zoom. In addition to fully automated modes, the camera offers aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual exposure control.

Key Features

  • 12MP CMOS sensor
  • 12.5x optical zoom
  • 3 inch LCD
  • Stereo microphone
  • Panorama mode
  • Full HD 1920 x 1080 capture

The Casio EX-ZR100 has an extensive feature set to go along with its 24-300mm equivalent zoom. A mode dial on top of the camera plate provides quick access to 10 different shooting modes. In addition to manual exposure you can set the camera to either shutter or aperture priority. Image quality at low ISO sensitivity settings is acceptable, though much better suited to online use rather than print output. Higher up the ISO sensitivity scale image quality drops noticeably, exhibiting prominent artifacts and aggressive noise suppression.

The Casio features an intuitive panorama mode in which you simply press and hold the shutter button while panning the camera across the scene. In playback mode you can view the captured panorama while it scrolls across the LCD screen. Another fun feature of the camera, Dynamic Photo, allows you to select an image during playback and superimpose one of a series of prebuilt graphic animations on the still image, resulting in a 2MP still image. The camera allows you to specify the size and location of the graphic, with the option to output all of the still images as a single animation in QuickTime's MOV format.

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Samples

Studio scene comparison (opens as popup) Real-world samples (22 images)

  • What we like: Manual exposure control, fast and responsive zoom, 360 degree panorama mode
  • What we don't like: Long processing delays when set to premium image quality or HDR mode

Fujifilm Finepix F550EXR

The Fujifilm Finepix F550EXR is the latest Fujifilm travel zoom to feature the innovative triple-mode EXR sensor. Other key features include built-in GPS and a powerful 15x optical zoom lens.

Key Features

  • 16MP EXR CMOS sensor
  • 15x optical zoom (24-360mm equivalent)
  • PASM exposure modes
  • Built-in GPS
  • 3in LCD
The Fujifilm Finepix F550EXR is built around the latest generation EXR sensor, which can be used in three modes. In HR mode, the 550 outputs 16MP files, but in SN and DR modes, effective pixel count is halved for the sake of better low light sensitivity (SN) or better dynamic range (DR). Its predecessor, the Fujifilm Finepix F80EXR also featured an EXR sensor, and the technology is explained in more detail in this page from last year's travel zoom group test.

Apart from its innovative sensor, the 550EXR is a solid, well-specified compact camera which offers a good range of automatic and manual exposure control and a 24-360mm (equivalent) zoom lens. Image quality is acceptable in its full resolution HR mode, but like previous EXR cameras, the 550 gives better critical image quality in its SN and DR modes, at an output resolution of 8MP. DR mode, especially, is capable of excellent results, and gives a significant boost to the F550EXR's usable dynamic range. Our main concern with this camera is that we have used two samples, both of which exhibited unacceptable lens decentering issues, which seriously degraded image quality especially at wide angles of view.

Click here for full product information including reader reviews and image samples (opens in new window)

Samples

Studio scene comparison (opens as popup) Real-world samples (28 images)


  • What we like: Versatile 15x zoom lens, unique (and useful) EXR sensor, plenty of manual control
  • What we don't like: Fussy menu system, EXR modes not as easy to use as they could be, lens decentering issues (on our two sample cameras).

Fujifilm Finepix T300

The T300 sits towards the budget end of Fujifilm's Finepix compact camera offerings, but despite its low cost, packs a 10x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 28-280mm, and a 14MP CCD sensor.

Key Features

  • 10x optical zoom lens (28-280mm equivalent)
  • 14MP CCD sensor
  • CCD-shift image-stabilization
  • 3in, 230k-dot LCD screen
  • 720p movie mode with monaural sound
The Fujifilm Finepix T300 is one of the cheapest travel zooms on the market, but on paper it packs an impressive specification for a camera at this price point. Although 10x is the minimum requirement for entry in the 'travel zoom' category, a 28-280mm zoom lens is still versatile enough to cover a wide range of shooting opportunities.

Although the T300 appears fairly well-specified, it is clear that Fujifilm has been forced to cut a few corners to keep it at this price point. Image quality is perfectly acceptable in bright, sunny conditions but the T300's 14MP CCD sensor struggles in poor light, and the dim, low-resolution LCD screen is a poor guide to accurate exposure/color, especially in bright conditions where the uncoated screen becomes almost useless. Optical quality from the T300's 10x zoom lens is very good in the centre of images but peripheral sharpness is poor at all focal lengths, not helped by marked decentering of the lens in our sample.

Click here for full product information including reader reviews and image samples (opens in new window)

Samples

Studio scene comparison (opens as popup) Real-world samples (20 images)

  • What we like: Good build quality, decent image quality (except at high ISOs and in corners)
  • What we don't like: Poor critical image quality, low-resolution uncoated LCD, soft corners

Olympus Stylus VR-320

The Stylus VR-320, although one of the least expensive models in this roundup, has a 14MP CCD sensor and a 24-300 equivalent zoom.

Key Features

  • 14MP CCD sensor
  • 12.5x optical zoom
  • 3 inch LCD
  • AF tracking
  • Audio annotation for still images
  • 720p, 30fps video mode (AVI)

The Olympus Stylus VR-320 boasts the broadest zoom coverage of the company's V-series models, with a 12.5x 24-300mm equivalent optical zoom. The camera offers three continuous shooting modes, allowing you to choose between faster capture rates or higher image quality.

Image quality of the VR-230 is quite good at low ISO sensitivity settings. As you'd expect, shooting higher up the ISO sensitivity scale produces prominent noise and artifacts, but no worse than many of its competitors in this class. The camera's AF tracking features allows you to lock on to a subject and have the camera attempt to track it as it moves around the frame. A nice touch here is the real-time visual confirmation of the camera's focus point. The VR-320 captures video in 720p, rather than the full HD offered by some of its competitors, but you do have the ability to record audio annotations for still images. We do find the panorama feature to be rather complex for a compact point-and-shoot, requiring the user to manually line up a section of the previous capture to the live scene on the LCD.

Click here for full product information including reader reviews and image samples (opens in new window)

Samples

Studio scene comparison (opens as popup) Real-world samples (20 images)

  • What we like: Very good image quality, AF tracking
  • What we don't like: Non-intuitive panorama interface

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8

Very similar in most respects to its big brother the SZ10, the ZS8 loses the GPS mode and touchscreen but offers the same stabilized 16 x optical zoom lens, which stretches from 24-384mm (equivalent).

Key Features

  • 16x optical zoom lens (24-384mm)
  • 14MP CCD sensor
  • 3in, 230,000 dot LCD screen
  • 720p, 30fps video mode (MPEG-4)
  • ISO 100-1600
Essentially a ZS10 but without the GPS, touchscreen and stereo microphone and with a CCD sensor rather than CMOS, the ZS8 offers the same core features at a lower price. We don't mind about the lack of GPS (it's a fun feature that works well in the ZS10 but it isn't 'essential') and the stereo mic is no great loss, but we do miss the ZS10's higher-resolution touch-sensitive screen. Without it, the ZS8 is a slightly clunky compact camera with some distinctly 'last-generation' features, like a mechanical playback/shooting mode switch and button-lead exposure control. Both of these issues are shared with the ZS10, but are easier to forgive in the more feature-laden model. As far as screen resolution is concerned, 230,000 dots is disappointing in a camera at this price point.

What makes the ZS8 appealing are its excellent 16x optical zoom lens, and capable 14MP sensor, at a lower asking price than that of the ZS10. Image quality is distinctly lacking at high ISO sensitivity settings but at low ISOs in good light, the ZS8 can produce lovely images.

Click here for full product information including reader reviews and image samples (opens in new window)

Samples

Studio scene comparison (opens as popup) Real-world samples (20 images)

  • What we like: Good quality 16x zoom lens, excellent image stabilization, decent image quality
  • What we don't like: Clunky operation, low resolution, uncoated LCD screen, noise at high ISO.

Ricoh CX5

The CX5 is very similar in most respects to its predecessors the CX3 and CX4, but boasts a new high-speed AF mode which combines a distance sensor with conventional contrast-detection.

Key Features

  • 10.7x optical zoom lens (28-300mm)
  • 10MP CMOS sensor
  • 3in, 920,000 dot LCD screen
  • 720p, 30fps video mode (AVI)
  • Hybrid AF mode
  • ISO 100-3200
The Ricoh CX5 is the lastest in a line of CX-series travelzooms, and in some respects is extremely similar to the CX3, which we tested in last year's group test of compact travelzoom cameras. As such, there isn't much to say about the CX5 which hasn't already been said, with the exception of its hybrid AF system, which combines a distance sensor with the more conventional contrast-detection AF method for faster AF. Ricoh claims that the CX5 can achieve autofocus in 0.2ms, and we have no reason to doubt this claim based on our experience with the camera.

In terms of performance and ergonomics, there is a lot to like about the CX5. Although the menu system is somewhat old-fashioned we don't mind the 'long list' style, and the rear joystick makes it easy to access key functions, as well as navigate menus and images in review mode. Our only serious complaint about the camera's design is carried over from its predecessors. The small built-in flash is placed in a stupid position, right at the upper end of the hand grip.

As far as image quality is concerned, the CX5 turns in an acceptable performance in good light, at low ISO sensitivity settings, but towards the upper end of its ISO scale things are much less impressive. A more serious issue is the CX5's tendency - regardless of settings and environment - to produce rather muddly, mushy-looking JPEGs with a noticeable yellow-ish color cast.

Click here for full product information including reader reviews and image samples (opens in new window)

Samples

Studio scene comparison (opens as popup) Real-world samples (20 images)

  • What we like: Quick operation, bright high-res LCD, good ergonomics
  • What we don't like: Yellowish white balance in daylight, poor high ISO image quality.

Sony Cyber-shot HX7V

The HX7V shares a lot of key technology with its more expensive sister model, the HX9 including a 16MP BSI-CMOS sensor, but makes do with a more limited zoom range of 25-250mm (equivalent). The HX7 also lacks the HX9's 1080 60p recording mode, but still offers an impressive 60i option.

Key Features

  • 10x (25-250mm equivalent) optical zoom
  • 16MP BSI-CMOS sensor
  • 3in, 920,000 dot LCD screen
  • 1080i @ 60fps video mode (MPEG-4 / AVCHD)
  • ISO 125-3200
In the same way as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8 might be seen as a budget alternative to the ZS10, the Sony Cyber-shot HX7V offers a similar set of key features as its big brother the HX9V, but with a couple of key omissions which help to keep the cost of the body down. The biggest difference between the two models is that the HX7V offers a 10x optical zoom as opposed to the 16x zoom of the HX9V, and starts from a wideangle setting that isn't quite as wide - 25mm as opposed to 24mm in the more expensive model. Crucially though, the HX7V uses the same 16MP BSI-CMOS sensor as the HX9V and as such, is capable of some of the best image quality of any camera in its class.

Despite the more restrictive zoom range compared to the HX9V and the same operational lag, the HX7V offers a great combination of fun and creative features, solid image quality and well thought-out handling.

Click here for full product information including reader reviews and image samples (opens in new window)

Samples

Studio scene comparison (opens as popup) Real-world samples (21 images)

  • What we like: Very good image quality, bright high-res LCD, good ergonomics, great feature set
  • What we don't like: Relatively restrictive zoom range, JPEGs get mushy at high ISOs.
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