The Best Telephoto Lens within a Camera - Spring 2011

There comes a time in every photographer's life where they only have room for one camera but no extra lenses, flashes and various other doohickeys. Whether they be traveling, hiking or simply going on a day trip, sometimes smaller is better. Getting a camera with a built-in telephoto lens is the best way to ensure well-rounded photographs no matter how much space you have in the glove compartment. These cameras are brand spanking new (as of February 2011) and have some of the best super zoom lenses the digital photography market has ever seen.

Nikon Coolpix L120


This head turner is sure to shake up the market quite a bit when it hits shelves late February 2011. The sleek design of the Nikon Coolpix L120 contains inside of it an astonishing 21x wide-angle optical zoom lens and a 525mm super-zoom telephoto lens. When compared to other super-zooms on the market, it has a leg up in terms of minimum shutter speed at 60 seconds and maximum shutter speed at 1/4000 of a second. With a 3.0 inch LCD 921,000 dot screen, you would expect this thing to be a monster but in reality it is no bigger than your average point and shoot. The built-in pop-up flash adds a touch of height to its 4.3x3x3.1inch frame.

But when you are doing serious photography, it is nice to have a palm full of camera giving you more control and stability in the shot. Rounding out the details is the dedicated movie record button enabling you to record in 720p HD digital format at 30 frames per second. The only downside to the whole shebang is the lack of viewfinder, something that seems to be happening more and more in the past two years. The camera automatically comes with My Picturetown, Nikon's answer to digital photography backup (something we recently discussed the importance of), and ViewNX 2 software allowing you to import, edit and share still images and movie clips. Its size makes it a point and shoot but its capabilities tag it as a DSLR. Either way you classify it, the price tag of $279.95 feels like the steal of the century.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS



Compact, condensed and cute as a button, the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS is a lightning bolt in your hand. Available in March 2011, the SX230 may look like your ordinary everyday shooter but is in fact so much more. 12.1 megapixel resolution, a built-in pop-up flash and a 3.0 inch touch-panel LCD screen with 100% coverage is just the appetizer in this full 9-course meal. Wondering why this little dude is in the Telephoto Lens article? It has a 28mm wide-angle lens, 392mm telephoto lens and 56x combined digital and optical zoom. Nothing is too far away for the PowerShot SX230. On the opposite end of that spectrum, nothing it too close for the SX230 either; while most cameras in its class have a 2cm Macro Focus Range, this one steps it up just a tiny bit more by allowing you to focus in with a 1cm range.

The HS that got tacked onto the end of the name indicates the camera runs on the new standard HS Operating System from Canon, but it could also mean that it is a high speed shooter. And it lives up to its fake name capturing 8.1 frames per second in High-Speed Burst mode. But here's the kicker: it is GPS enabled locking in date and location of every picture taken. Once imported into the computer, the accompanying software places all the pictures you take on a map giving you a guided tour of your photographic journey. Pricing out at $349.99 the SX230 will become the perfect travel companion, riding shotgun in your back pocket.

Fujifilm FinePix S4000



Announced just prior to CES 2011, the Fujifilm FinePix S4000 is a remarkable step in the right direction. Digital photography constantly benefits from innovation and competition. This is an example off all that hard work. Packed with extraordinary specs including 14 megapixel resolution, Fujinon Optics, a CCD Sensor (check the Steve's Forum to decide which sensor type is best for you), a 3.0 inch LCD screen and a maximum resolution of 4288 x 3216 (beat by its cousin, FinePix JX350 at 4608 x 3440), the S4000 has a foundation any good camera could be built off.

The addition of Dual Image Stabilization, Panoramic picture assist technology, HD movie recording capabilities, Facebook and Youtube automatic uploading and Face Recognition software sets the S4000 apart from the competition making it a complete digital camera experience. It landed on this list due to its astonishing 30x zoom lens along with its 24mm wide-angle lens and jaw dropping 720mm telephoto lens. It comes with all the technical bells and whistles we have all come to expect from a $379.99 price.

Olympus SP800 UZ


It's so pretty it could just sit on your shelf and be worth every penny. The Olympus SP800 UZ may be a year old (which is ancient in technology years) but it still holds up against the test of time. This small frame holds the World's Longest Ultra Zoom Lens (so says Olympus): a 30x wide-angle optical zoom. ZOINK! With that comes the 28mm lens and 840mm telephoto lens. That should cause anyone to sit back and realize how far technology really has come in the past 100 years.

A wide aperture range (f/2.5 - f/5.6), a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second, 2GB of internal memory storage and a max resolution of 4288 x 3126 really make this camera a competitor on the market even 12 months after its release. A comparatively short focus range, 18-1cm, doesn't even hold this camera back. The SP800 UZ is great in low light thanks to a wide aperture range, produces photographs with reduced blur and shake thanks to Image Stabilization and records HD video in 720p. For $349.99, it still holds up and out performs with other cameras in its price range.

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Maggie OBriant
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Maggie O'Briant recently graduated from Florida State University with an English Literature degree. She is currently a freelance writer and photographer. She currently lives in Hawaii with her husband and giant baby.