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Best Superzoom 2014: Searching for 70s Guy

Eight superzoom cameras compared, 2.5 clear winners

Searching for the early-seventies guy

After one of our test shoots we were packing up to head back to our headquarters when we heard a guitar and singing coming from across the other side of the lake. We looked at each other, figured we should ignore it and get back "to work" and then said... "...nah". Someone suggested pulling out one of the superzooms to check it out, and we quickly zeroed in on the source and decided to set up a shot.

He looked like a cross between Elton John and Janice Joplin, a fortunate find for our worthy superzooms to zero in on. We'll call him "Early Seventies Guy". He didn't seem to be going anywhere, so we started firing away. This shot was quite a bit farther in distance than shot #1, so yet another way to test one camera's capabilities vs another, and based on what we saw on that first shoot, the plot was definitely thickening at this point. This test also includes one of two wide angle shots that we grabbed. Both are available in the galleries for each camera, but we'll display this one below as well.

Superzoom Shootout: Test Shot #2 - wide angle

Canon SX50
Canon SX50
1/558s / f/4 / ISO 75 / 4.3mm (24mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Canon SX60
1/813 / f/4.0 / ISO 94 / 3.8mm (21.3mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Fujifilm S1
Fujifilm S1
1/450s / f/5.6 / ISO 100 / 4.3mm (24mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Nikon P600
Nikon P600
1/1000s / f/3.3 / ISO 100 / 4.3mm (24mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Olympus SP-100
Olympus SP-100
1/1250s / f/3.2 / ISO 125 / 4.3mm (24mm eq. / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Panasonic FZ70
Panasonic FZ70
1/1300s / f/2.8 / ISO 100 / 3.6mm (20mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Samsung WB2200F
Samsung WB2200F
1/1722s / f/2.8 / ISO 100 / 3.6mm (20mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Sony HX400V
Sony HX400V
1/800s / f/3.5 / ISO 80 / 4.3mm (24mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]

Power lines don't usually help a photo look better, but in this case they help distinguish the wide from the really wide angles on display. Five cameras max out at 24mm eq., but three go wider, so if that's important to your work then these images can help highlight the relative differences for you. The clouds were moving at a brisk enough clip that each image is slightly different, but by pulling up one or more of the full resolution images, you can inspect other areas of interest and make comparisons.

If you look closely at the above images, you can just barely make out a downed tree in the image center along the far shoreline. But all the squinting in the world won't help you see that there's a guy sitting on that tree playing guitar. This is classic superzoom territory, an attempt to cross a body of water and bring the other side of the lake to this one. For this comparison crop, we'll adjust the crop sizes so that they all appear the same size in order to make a more standardized image quality comparison. The SX50 image appears the smallest due to its zoom range and resolution, so as with the second set of Gena crops on the previous page, all the other images are slightly downsampled to match.

As with all images in this comparison test, click on any image below to view the untouched full resolution image as produced by the camera.

[Editor's note: We tracked down Early Seventies Guy after completing this shoot and got his permission to post these photos - A very amicable bloke, happy to help us out, and he got a very nice dinner-for-two gift certificate in return.]

Superzoom Shootout: Test Shot #2 - optical telephoto
(zoomed in close to 100%, but adjusted to be the same size)

Canon SX50
1/362 / f/6.5 / ISO 172 / 215mm (1200mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]

(Note: ISO 172 - check the shots on Page 3 for examples of all 8 cameras at their base ISOs.)

Canon SX60
1/339s / f/6.5 / ISO 145 / 247mm (1365mm eq.*) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]

(Note: ISO 145 -check the shots on Page 3 for examples of all 8 cameras at their base ISOs.)


Fujifilm S1
1/350s / f/5.6 / ISO 100 / 215mm (1200mm eq.**) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Nikon P600
1/250s / f/6.5 / ISO 112 /258mm (1440mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Olympus SP-100
1/320s / f/6.5 / ISO 125 / 215mm (1200mm eq. / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Panasonic FZ70
1/250s / f/5.9 / ISO 100 / 215mm (1200mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]


Samsung WB2200F
1/500s / f/5.9 / ISO 200 / 215mm (1200mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]
(Note: ISO 200 - check the shots on Page 3 for examples of all 8 cameras at their base ISOs.)


Sony HX400V
1/250s / f/6.3 / ISO 80 / 215mm (1200mm eq.) / -0.3EV
[full resolution link]

Now we'll take a quick glance like we did with test #1, only this time we'll show the images at 1:1, not only for a comparison of how close they can really get, but also to allow us to see the details in whatever noise or artifacts may be present. Our analysis follows the table.

Superzoom Shootout: Test image #2 (at full 1:1 resolution)
Canon SX50

Canon SX60

Fuji S1

Nikon P600

Olympus SP-100

Panasonic FZ70

Samsung WB2200F

Sony HX400V

Yet again, the Nikon P600 looks more natural and clean than the rest of the field. The skin tone and guitar colors are both fairly accurate, there is good detail given the incredible magnification involved, and the noise level is impressive. The SX50 is next for a nice, natural image all around. It has a bit more noise in a few areas and is of course not able to zoom in as far, but the image itself is really very good for this class.

The S1 this time takes third place with a fairly sharp image and not much in the way of noise, but its default sharpening and contrast boost create a few unnatural-looking areas. All in all not bad, though. The FZ70's image is also fairly natural-looking, but does lack crispness. The remaining four cameras suffer from too much noise, softness and/or smearing in certain areas to allow a "good" rating for them on this shot.


Best Superzoom 2014 Index:

1) Meet The Competitors / Introducing Gena

2) Searching for the Early Seventies Guy

3) The Ultimate Image Quality

4) Handheld Image Stabilization Testing

5) Shooting The Moon!

6) What's The Real Max Focal Length?

7) Conclusions and Winners!

 

 


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Best Superzoom 2014: Eight competitors, 2.5 clear winners