FOGEY 5 Superzoom Digital Cameras

Jan 26, 2011 No Comments by

The Fogey 5 are the best five products in their class by virtue of expert and consumer review from at least 10 respected and authoritative websites.

Nikon Coolpix P90

Websites for camera nerds are a bit sniffy about the somewhat pricey P90 but users love it.  For packing light while travelling but still being able to get close to any action or subject it’s the dog’s nob.  The 24x optical zoom lens goes from a wide-angle 26mm up to a whopping 624mm.  The macro (close-up) setting renders pin-sharp detail from just 1cm away and thanks to 12.1 megapixel resolution shots can be blown up to poster size.  A handy feature is a hinged rear 3-inch LCD screen which allows  you to compose and take shots without holding the camera up to your face.  Launched in early 2009, the P90 has now been superseded by the P100 which will record Full HD 1080p video at 30 frames per second and has a slightly more powerful 26x optical zoom.

P90: around £200 or less (used).  P100: around £330. More info here.  Buy Nikon Coolpix P90 and Nikon P100

Fujifilm Finepix S200 EXR

Which? didn’t care too much for the S200 but they seem to be in a minority.  Fujifilm now has a new willy extension – the HS10 – which has a 24mm to 720mm (that’s 30x optical) zoom lens, Full HD (1080p) video recording with stereo sound and super high speed movie capture at 1,000 frames per second.  Which is fairly rapid.  But it’s the thick end of £400 whereas the S200 is about £100 cheaper*.  One of its principal plus points is improved low-light performance thanks to the EXR sensor.  14.3x optical zoom with manual and autofocus and 12 megapixel resolution.  It’s about as bulky as a smaller DSLR but that one lens does it all.

*Well, it was in late 2010.  Now in May 2011 the 200EXR is the thick end of £400 and the HS10 is a measly £220 or so.  And even that’s been superceded by the HS20 which retails at around £360.  Pass the Nurofen.

More info here.  Buy Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR




Sony Cybershot HX1

In 2006 Sony added DSLRs to their compact line up by buying Konica-Minolta.  Subsequent cameras were Sony branded and each is named the Alpha something-or-other.  But the HX1 isn’t a DSLR, so it isn’t.  It’s a DSC – digital stills camera -and has a bundle of nifty features you’ll likely never use but they represent that crucial ‘point of difference’ that so many manufacturers think makes us pantingly moist.  For example, the rear LCD screen is hinged for sneaky snap-taking without putting the camera to your face.  And if you move the HX1 sideways or up and down in a sweeping movement it will take a panoramic shot.  It will also shoot 1080p Full HD video at 30 frames per second and record accompanying sound in glorious stereo.  Ooo er.  9.1 megapixel resolution and 20x optical zoom.  Launched in early 2009.

Around £320.  More info here.  Buy Sony Cyber-Shot HX1


Olympus SP590

I have an Olympus E-500 DSLR.  Old hat by today’s ludicrous standards but it has one saving grace that means I will never part with it: there is one sensor to view the image and another to take the picture (or something like that – it was explained to me when I was barely sentient).  This means there is no ‘shutter lag’ – that split second it takes for the sensor to process the image during which the LCD screen or viewfinder either freezes or goes blank.  This is annoying when trying to photograph moving objects because you lose sight of what you’re trying to shoot.  But back to the SP590 – it has 26x optical zoom (equivalent to a monstrous range of 26 – 676mm),  12-megapixel image sensor, Dual Image Stabilization, Face Detection, Ultra High-Speed Sequential shooting and a 2.7-inch LCD.  Huge spec; reasonable price.

In a bizarre contradiction to the norm, when this review was compiled the SP590 was retailing for around £300, whereas it’s now £499 (!).  At that price you’d therefore be insane to even countenance buying it.  So try the newer, cheaper (around £170) SP610 instead.  More info on the SP590 here.  Buy Olympus SP-610


Panasonic FZ38

Having got into bed with Leica, Panasonic now has some very tasty chops of the lens variety to boast about.  Sadly not named for Frank Zappa, the FZ38 follows the FZ28 and the obvious differences are few.  The FZ38 shoots video in 720p HD with stereo sound, has 18x optical zoom (27 to 486mm equivalent), startlingly responsive auto-focus, good image stabilisation for crisp shots at distance and the ability to save files in RAW mode as well as JPEG. A RAW file isn’t compressed that much, if at all and is mostly of interest to pros and wannabes.  The FZ38 is also very good value.  Launched late 2009 it has since been superceded by the FZ45.

Around £200 (used).  More info here.  Buy Panasonic Lumix FZ38 or Panasonic Lumix FZ45