Big-Zoom Camcorders

We round up CES's impressive big-zooms

Panasonic's standard-definition SDR-H60 ($550) boasts a 50X zoom lens – possibly the longest for a consumer model. (And it promises to keep steady with an improved image stabilizer that measures for hand jitters 4000 times per second.)

But competitors are close behind. Canon's FS 10, 11 and 100 models go up to 48X through a digital trick. At such long telephoto, the image from the lens doesn't fill the entire sensor. But since the camcorder "oversamples"—recording onto 1.7 megapixels before down-rezing the video to 0.69 megapixels, the camcorders still get enough data to fill out a standard-def video frame.

On the high-def side, Canon's Vixia 10 and 100 models sport 12X zoom—Canon's longest HD lens to date. But it still can't catch Sony, which goes up to 15X on three HD models.

Video Vaults

Canon, Sony and Samsung offer more ways to store video. Following in Panasonic's footsteps, they added the ability to archive video on the same kind of removable flash-memory cards found in still cameras: SD cards in the case of Canon and Samsung and MemorySticks for the Sonys. The companies also make models with built-in flash memory and give you the ability to copy video from one memory bank to another. So, for example, you can store video to the internal memory, then grab a clip and put it on a card to give to a friend. Sony goes one step further, though. It's Hybrid + camcorders offer a third storage media—mini-DVD discs. You can choose to store video to any of the three media, and you can transfer clips (including edited mixes) from internal memory to DVDs or Memory Sticks.

Taking it slow

Sony has upped the slow-motion recording on its camcorders. The eight new models can now shoot up to TK seconds of video at 240 frames per second. Samsung also continues with slow-mo. Like its predecessors, the new SC-HMX20C camera (equipped with internal flash memory and an SD card slot) shoots high-def video at 300fps for up to 10 seconds. (To see what 300fps video looks like, check out our movies shot with the Casio Exilim EX-F1.)--Sean Captain

Want more? Check out our entire CES 2008 coverage here.