Which is the best super zoom camera

The best travel zoom camera

The smartphone is completely sufficient for most photos - but when you are on vacation you often want to be able to get closer to subjects that are a little further away. At the same time, you don't want to lug around a whole set of SLR camera equipment.

The solution are so-called travel zoom cameras: They are small and light, but still offer a large zoom range. We have tested the most important models for you.

Brief overview: Our recommendations

Test winner

Panasonic Lumix TZ202

The clear leader among the travel zoom cameras is the Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ202. It combines everything that is good and expensive: a large image sensor with 20 megapixels, an impressive 15x zoom lens, a high-resolution viewfinder and an equally high-resolution touchscreen monitor. In addition, a very fast autofocus, high-resolution 4K video and super-fast 4K series pictures with a few additional functions. For communication with the smartphone, WiFi and Bluetooth are on board the high-quality and nicely designed camera.

However, so much technology and quality comes at a price. The Panasonic TZ202 currently pays a good 650 euros. That's a lot of money for a travel zoom camera. But it's worth it.

Cheaper with less zoom

Panasonic Lumix TZ101

If our reviewer is too expensive for you, you should see whether it can get along well with the cheaper (somewhat older) sister model Panasonic Lumix TZ101. The image quality is just as good thanks to the 1-inch 20-megapixel image sensor. It also has an electronic viewfinder, the practical touchscreen and high-resolution 4K video and is just as well made as the test winner.

Of course, you have to make compromises in some areas: Less zoom (only 10x), the viewfinder and monitor have a lower resolution and there is no Bluetooth (but WLAN is available). The TZ101 currently costs "only" around 500 euros.

Even more compact

Sony HX99

More zoom than our test winner is currently only possible with a smaller image sensor, which all other travel zoom cameras have in common. The Sony Cybershot DSC-HX99, which not only has a 30x zoom, but also a lot of other fine technology, including a folding monitor, is quite interesting. And it is actually the smallest travel zoom camera on the market today.

However, so much technology in such a small space has its price. The HX99 is not exactly cheap when you consider that only a small 1 / 2.3-inch sensor is responsible for the image. Accordingly, the image quality is a tad worse than that of the two models with a large 1-inch image sensor. But if you are looking for a particularly small travel zoom camera, you cannot ignore the Sony HX99.

Good & cheap

Panasonic Lumix TZ91

The well-equipped Panasonic Lumix TZ91 also has an optical 30x zoom, with which even very distant subjects can be zoomed in to fill the format. The equipment is very good and is hardly inferior to the test winner. It even has a foldable monitor. This is not only useful for selfies, but also for taking pictures from uncomfortable perspectives. The TZ91 is a bit smaller and much cheaper than the top model.

Due to the smaller sensor, you have to accept a slightly lower image quality. Anyone who was previously satisfied with the quality of their compact camera will also be satisfied with the Lumix TZ91. It is our price-performance winner.

We also like the Nikon Coolpix A1000 a lot. It has even more zoom (35x, up to 840 mm focal length) and is very well equipped. Among other things, it has a video viewfinder, a touchscreen monitor that can be folded up to 180 degrees, 4K video, WiFi and Bluetooth.

However, the battery life of the Coolpix A1000 is relatively short and with its small sensor it does not come close to our test winner in terms of image quality.

Comparison table

Test winnerCheaper with less zoomEven more compactGood & cheapEven more zoom
Panasonic Lumix TZ202 Panasonic Lumix TZ101 Sony HX99 Panasonic Lumix TZ91 Nikon Coolpix A1000 Panasonic Lumix TZ96 Panasonic Lumix TZ81 Sony HX90V Nikon Coolpix A900 Canon PowerShot SX740 HS Sony HX95
Per
  • Viewfinder
  • Touch screen
  • 4K video
  • Bluetooth
  • Viewfinder
  • Touch screen
  • 4K video
  • Viewfinder
  • Touch screen
  • Foldable monitor
  • 4K video
  • Bluetooth
  • Viewfinder
  • Touch screen
  • Foldable monitor
  • 4K video
  • Very large zoom range (35x)
  • Viewfinder
  • Foldable monitor
  • 4K video
  • Bluetooth
  • Viewfinder
  • Touch screen
  • Foldable monitor
  • 4K video
  • Bluetooth
  • Viewfinder
  • Touch screen
  • Foldable monitor
  • 4K video
  • Very large zoom range (35x)
  • Foldable monitor
  • Bluetooth
  • Largest zoom range (40x)
  • Foldable monitor
  • 4K video
  • Bluetooth
  • Viewfinder
  • Foldable monitor
  • 4K video
  • Bluetooth
Contra
  • Small sensor
  • Low battery life
  • Small sensor
  • No touch screen
  • FullHD video only
  • Small sensor
  • No viewfinder
  • No touch screen
  • Small sensor
  • No viewfinder
  • No touch screen
  • Small sensor
  • No touch screen
Best price
 Show product details
resolution20 megapixels20 megapixels18 megapixels20 megapixels16 megapixels20 megapixels18 megapixels18 megapixels20 megapixels20 megapixels18 megapixels
sensor1 inch1 inch1/2,3"1/2,3"1/2,3"1/2,3"1/2,3"1/2,3"1/2,3"1/2,3"1/2,3"
lensF3.3-6.4
24-360 mm
F2.8-5.9
25-250 mm
F3.5-6.4
24-720 mm
F3.3-6.4
24-720 mm
F3.4-6.9
24-840 mm
F3.3-6.4
24-720 mm
F3.3-6.4
24-720 mm
F3.5-6.4
24-720 mm
F3.4-6.9
24-840 mm
F3.3-6.9
24-960 mm
F3.5-6.4
24-720 mm
zoom15x optical10x optical30x optical30x optical35x optical30x optical30x optical30x optical35x optical40x optical30x optical
Video4K, FullHD4K, FullHD4K, FullHD4K, FullHD4K, FullHD4K, FullHD4K, FullHDFullHD4K, FullHD4K, FullHD4K, FullHD
Battery rangeapprox. 370 photosapprox. 300 photosapprox. 390 photosapprox. 380 photosapprox. 250 photosapprox. 380 photosapprox. 320 photosapprox. 570 photosapprox. 270 photosapprox. 265 photosapprox. 390 photos
Dimensions11.1 x 6.6 x 4.5 cm11.1 x 6.5 x 4.4 cm10.2 x 5.8 x 3.6 cm11.2 x 6.7 x 4.1 cm11.4 x 7.2 x 4.1 cm11.2 x 6.9 x 4.2 cm11.2 x 6.4 x 3.8 cm10.2 x 5.8 x 3.5 cm11.3 x 6.7 x 4.0 cm11 x 6.4 x 4.0 mm10.2 x 5.8 x 3.6 cm
Weight340 grams311 grams242 grams322 grams330 grams327 grams282 grams245 grams298 grams296 grams243 grams

Why a travel zoom camera?

The largest possible zoom area packed into a camera housing that is as small as possible - this is how you could easily describe travel zoom or travel zoom cameras.

It should be at least 10x optical zoom and the lens has to retract more or less completely into the housing when the camera is switched off. At most, there may be a small area around the lens that permanently protrudes from the housing, so that the camera is relatively flat and in any case suitable for a jacket pocket. The very first travel zoom camera, the Panasonic TZ1 (TZ for Travelzoom), defined this then completely new camera class in 2006.

The cameras are much fancier today than they were then. And thanks to ever more sophisticated lens constructions, up to 40x zooms are now possible in very small housings. But only in connection with small image sensors, which do not always meet today's image quality requirements.

Again, exactly 10 years after the TZ1, Panasonic brought the TZ101 onto the market, the first travel zoom camera with a 1-inch image sensor that enabled a visible increase in image quality in this camera class. For this, the zoom factor, just like the original travel zoom camera, was again limited to 10x. And the next generation, the TZ202, our test winner, "only" brings it to 15x zoom.

The buyer of a travel zoom camera today has to decide between a lot of zoom (i.e. the possibility of being able to fetch very distant subjects full-screen) or a significantly higher image quality, but then with less telephoto. Both together do not work in the small housing.

If you don't want to lug around a system camera while traveling, but are looking for a small, lightweight camera for your jacket pocket, travel zoom cameras are just the thing for you. If you are generally satisfied with the image quality of your smartphone, but often want a zoom, you should be satisfied with the travel zoom cameras with small sensors. But if you want "a little more image quality" than a smartphone or you are even looking for a small second camera for your system camera, only one of the two models with a 1-inch image sensor can be considered (i.e. our test winner TZ202 or the second-placed TZ101).

And if you notice at this point that sooo much zoom range is actually not that important to you, take a look at our test on the small compact cameras. The cameras tested there have less zoom, but an even better image quality than the best travel zoom camera.

That's how we tested

In our test, we paid particular attention to image quality, display, equipment and operation. The price did not play such a big role, because all Travelzoom cameras are in a range that we still consider to be ┬╗affordable┬ź.

We are of the opinion that a photo camera, including a travel zoom camera, should be superior to a current smartphone in terms of image quality. This is not always easy, because the cameras and image processing technologies in modern, high-end smartphones are now damn good.