Back in the days of film, end even the early days of digital, superzooms filled a well-defined gap in the market between regular compacts and (D)SLRs – hence why they also became known as ‘bridge’ cameras. However, as the digital market has matured so too has the positioning and perception of this type of camera.
As advanced compacts and, more recently, interchangeable lens compact system cameras have evolved to provide a more DSLR-like experience in a smaller package, superzooms can no longer claim to be the only type of ‘intermediate-level’ or ‘step-up’ camera available. This has led many manufacturers to focus instead on their other core strength; namely, the ability to pack a huge focal range within a single zoom lens.
This trend has been further accelerated by the emergence of dedicated travel compacts in recent years. These are physically smaller than their superzoom cousins, dispensing with the DSLR-like styling in favour of something more pocketable, yet still regularly boast 16x zooms. In response to this new breed of compact, traditional superzooms have extended their reach even further, with most models generally now offering in the region of 24x, 30x or even 35x.
This approach appears to have worked, because far from dying a death, superzoom sales have proved quite resilient in the past few years, with significant numbers of consumers still keen to enjoy the practical benefit of having a large focal range to hand without the need to lug a heavy bag of lenses around.
Of course, superzooms aren’t without their inherent problems. Indeed, from a purely optical perspective, trying to cram 18x, 24x or even 30x optical abilities into a single fixed zoom can lead to a loss of sharpness and serious fringing issues.
Does the FZ150 fall into the same kind of traps, or does it provide a solid alternative to a DSLR and a bag of lenses. Let’s take a closer look and find out…