Today's best superzoom EVFs combine six megapixels or more with advanced
metering, exposure, and AF options.
A few years back this class of digital camera was a novelty: one- or two-megapixel models with tiny CCDs and compact electronic viewfinders that made zooming possible to 10X or better. Today's best superzoom EVFs combine six megapixels or more with advanced metering, exposure, and AF options. Many have movie capability, and most are equipped with image stabilization-a necessity for sharp handheld shots at these cameras' 400mm-plus focal lengths.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5
Sony's flagship superzoom is more than a bundle of specs. Yes, it has the highest resolution (7.2 megapixels), the biggest LCD monitor (three inches), and one of the fastest zooms in its class, a 36-432mm (35mm equivalent) f/2.8-3.7 Zeiss Vario-Tessar. But the experience that Sony has gained over several generations of H-series superzooms really shows in this camera's details.
7.2 megapixel/CCD image sensor
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5 has exceptional ergonomics, its shutter button, zoom toggle, and mode dial all well placed. You don't even have to take your eye off the subject to adjust the mode dial, because a "virtual dial" appears in the EVF or on the monitor to show you your setting as you turn it. Meanwhile the H5's Function Guide provides an onscreen explanation of modes as you choose them. And when you're ready, you can turn off the guide.
Many superzoom EVFs offer equivalent-speed settings only up to ISO 400. Given the smaller maximum aperture these cameras set when you're zoomed way in, this increases the chance that camera shake will blur the image. But the H5 has an unusually high top sensitivity of ISO 1000. That extra stop and a third combines with Sony's Steady Shot image stabilizer to deliver more consistent sharpness in the H5's pictures. Steady Shot can be used in continuous mode, which shows you its smoothing effect in the viewfinder and on the LCD screen, or "shoot only," which engages the system only at the moment of exposure to conserve power. (We prefer continuous because it helps us judge our steadiness and makes composition more precise.) But stabilization isn't limited to stills: It can be used to smooth out the H5's 30fps, VGA-quality movies, which you can shoot up to the capacity of its MemoryStick Duo cards.