Bring on the Zoom Boom

More powerful optical zooms

Photographs by John B. Carnett

Photographs by John B. Carnett

With digital cameras hitting 6 megapixels (see "Super Shooters"), this round of the resolution race is over. The new push is to more powerful optical zooms which, unlike digital zooms, enlarge images without degrading quality. Five new cameras now hitting the market offer optical zooms of between 5X and 8X-and at least one 10X is coming this fall. What's more, because a digital camera's sensor is much smaller than a 35mm camera's frame size, these zooms are an eighth or a quarter the size they'd be on a film camera, meaning you don't have to sacrifice portability. Here's a closeup look at the first crop of optical zoomers.

1. Minolta DiMage 7i
Price: $1,099
Optical Zoom: 7X
Resolution: 5 megapixels

2. Fujifilm Finepix S602
Price: $799
Optical Zoom: 6X
Resolution: 3 megapixels

3. Nikon Coolpix 5700
Price: $1,200
Optical Zoom: 8X
Resolution: 5 megapixels

4. Olympus C-720
Price: $699
Optical Zoom: 8X
Resolution: 3 megapixels

5. Sony DSC-F717
Price: $1,000
Optical Zoom: 5X
Resolution: 5 megapixels