The 6 Best Thin Zoom Cameras to Buy in 2017

Find the top thin cameras with great zoom lenses

When it comes to compact point-and-shoot cameras, you tend to think of devices that are about to be obsolete because of increasingly powerful smartphone cameras. But that’s not always the case. There are plenty of versatile fixed lens devices that even the most seasoned experts reach for in all kinds of shooting conditions. While this is by no means a list of professional-grade point-and-shoots, it does offer a glimpse of the best compact zoom cameras available.

The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is a robust, multi-purpose camera that will cost you quite a bit, but what it delivers easily ranks the camera among the best in its class. The G7 X Mark II features a high-sensitivity, 1-inch, 20.1-megapixel CMOS sensor with Canon’s DIGIC 7 image processor. It features a 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen LCD with a high-speed autofocus (AF) system that scans 31 focus points to optimize the focusing experience. It records Full HD (1080p) video, has a modifiable control ring for enhanced optimization and built-in WiFi and NFC for quick and easy photo sharing.

The fixed lens is a 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom lens with a range of up to 4.2x. That’s not a lot compared with some of the other cameras on this list, but if you’re considering buying a camera like this, you probably know your stuff and are interested in simply buying a dedicated device for close-up shooting.

If you’re simply after a compact point-and-shoot with a capable zoom function, check out the Nikon COOLPIX A900. This slim, fixed lens device features a genuine NIKKOR glass lens with 35x optical zoom. With dynamic (digital) zoom, the range effectively doubles to 70x. The A900 also has a 20-megapixel CMOS sensor and continuous shooting at 30 fps via UHD 4K video recording. It also features a full suite of connectivity options: built-in WiFi and NFC for quick and easy sharing of photos, as well as Bluetooth low energy (BLE). This is a highly capable little compact point-and-shoot (weighing just over half a pound) that’s sure to meet the needs of any novice or intermediate fan of zoom lenses.

Any one of these cameras would suit a novice photographer, except maybe the pricey Canon PowerShot G7 X, but when it comes to bare bones budget photography for beginners, the Nikon COOLPIX S6300 may be a good place to start. This thing has everything you need to introduce someone to the basic idea of photography — and nothing more. The S6300 has a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor with a 10x optical zoom NIKKOR glass lens. It’s got a relatively slim 2.7-inch bright LCD, Full HD (1080p) video recording, continuous (burst) shooting at 6 fps, a capable ISO range of 125-3200, a sturdy exterior build and a few shooting modes (including a panorama option). These are bare bones specs, but certainly more than enough to get any novice started shooting on the right foot.

It’s true that the number of megapixels a camera features is only one factor that helps to determine the quality of a camera, but it is generally thought that the more megapixels, the better. For the compact point-and-shoot category, you won’t find much better than the Canon PowerShot SX620 HS — at least in the sub-$500 price range. The SX620 features a high-sensitivity, 20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor powered by Canon’s DIGIC 4+ image processor, providing you with ample power to deliver impressive, high-resolution images. It’s got an 25x optical zoom lens with Canon’s Intelligent IS (image stabilization) tech, built-in WiFi and NFC for quick and easy sharing of photos, a three-inch LCD and Full HD (1080p) video capabilities. Remember, megapixels aren’t everything, but when it comes to this list, the SX620 (along with the Canon PowerShot G7 X) offers the most.

The compact zoom category tends to run from $300 to $600, depending on a number of factors and preferences. But that doesn’t mean there are no deals to be found here. If you’re looking to buy a zoom-capable point-and-shoot on the cheap, you’ll probably want to look into the Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS. This slim, boxy little shooter can be found (new) for an extremely reasonable price. It features a 12x optical zoom lens (28-336mm) with intelligent image stabilization and a DIGIC 5 image processor. The 10.1-megapixel high-sensitivity CMOS sensor is nothing to write home about, being slightly less impressive than the sensor you find on typical smartphone cameras, but remember: this is a budget point-and-shoot. It also features FullHD (1080p) video recording, something you don’t often find in smartphones, and it’s got a bunch of different shooting modes and functions. By all means this is an entry-level device, but it’s still fully capable.

“Pics or it didn’t happen,” right? In instances when sharing photos is just as important as taking them, the Panasonic DMC-ZS45 delivers. Built-in WiFi lets you link up with your smartphone to remotely adjust settings and shoot from afar via the Panasonic Image App. You can also geotag and immediately upload pictures to social media to prove that thing did, in fact, really happen.

With an integrated 16-megapixel MOS sensor and 20x optical zoom, this half-pound shooter yields excellent picture quality. The three-inch, 1,040k-dot LCD screen flips up 180 degrees and you can trigger the shutter by simply winking, letting you wave goodbye to one-handed selfies. And you’ll look better than ever in those selfies, thanks to various filter effects and three imaging modes: Soft Skin, Slimming and Defocusing. A dedicated video button also lets you record PC-compatible Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 video in MP4, if that’s more your speed.

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