Which High End Compact Zoom Camera under $400?


The market has been exploding with new camera models in the last couple of years.  We now only have new models with so many new features, and there are new categories being created as well such as high end compact with larger sensor and fixed prime lens.  For this review, I am going to focus in one particular category; high end compact with zoom lens that are under $400.

I see cameras in this category as a perfect tool for family vacation, hiking, biking, skiing or any other occasions and activities where even small DSLR like Micro Four Thirds camera is too cumbersome to carry around.  Carrying one pancake lens really limits the type of photos you can snap, and carrying a large zoom lens impose limits on the portability side.

I loved my Sony DSC-HX5V which I purchased for $350 when it just came out.  It produced images much better than any of the mainstream P&S at the time with features such as built-in HDR, Handheld twilight mode and GPS.  After moving up to Micro Four Thirds unit, Olympus E-P3, plus some nice lenses, I stopped using the Sony camera completely.  Fast forward about 3 years, I am looking at test images from the latest high end compacts again, and the image quality on some of the units are not easily distinguishable from E-P3 + kit lens combo which is to say it's pretty good.  I still think the weakness of the small compact camera shows when the available light is scarce.  But for outdoor use, I'd take any one of these cameras on a trip when I don't feel like changing lenses and carrying a bag that's three times larger.

Here is my top 5 list:
  1. Olympus XZ-1 10 MP Digital Camera with f1.8 Lens and 3-Inch OLED Monitor (Black)
  2. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX30V 18.2 MP Exmor R CMOS with 20x Optical Zoom
  3. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7K 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 7.5x Intelligent zoom
  4. Canon PowerShot S110 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom
  5. Nikon COOLPIX P300 12.2 CMOS Digital Camera with 4.2x f/1.8 Optical Zoom and Full HD 1080p Video
Which High End Compact Zoom Camera under $400? Reviewed by Blogs on 2/24/2013 Rating: 5

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