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The Crazy-Big Range of Super-Zoom Digital Cameras

Super-zoom, point-and-shoot cameras are allowing birdwatchers and other nature enthusiasts to “approach” their subjects like never before. The images below exhibit the wide range and broad potential of these cameras to document wildlife from far away.

To be sure, these “consumer” zooms do not produce images as good as what you get from single lens reflex (SLR) or mirrorless cameras and their telephoto lenses. But for most casual photographers, particularly birdwatchers, point-and-shoots are the way to go.

I captured the following image pairs with a Nikon Coolpix B700 (no longer in production). The left side images were shot at the widest-angle setting, 24mm. The right-side shot is the same subject at full zoom, 60x (1440mm). In most cases I’ve cropped the shot a bit, leaving behind an image that is no more than 1920 pixels wide (fine for displays like this online, in social media or for iNaturalist), and finished it off with some standard editing in PhotoShop.

Yes, the wide shot makes the subject appear farther away than it actually is, and my standard editing does “digitally zoom” the subject a bit beyond the actual zoom (without reduction of image quality because I’m cropping for the screen). Nevertheless, these paired images show the amazing range of these cameras.