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This year, Canon introduced ultra-zooms in a record five sizes, showing how important the compromise of size vs focal-length is for a high number of consumers.  After all, we always say: the bigger the camera, the fewer places it goes and the fewer pictures it takes. So here are Canon’s ultra-zooms for this, starting with the flagship:

  • Canon Powershot SX50 HS – With a record-setting 50X optical zoom, equivalent to 24-1200mm, nothing reaches quite as far. As the flagship model, this one is full of photographic controls and includes both a built-in EVF and hot-shoe, for external lighting. It has a class-leading macro mode that can focus down to 0cm (yes, zero) from the lens. Measures 123 x 88 x 106mm and weights 595g.
  • Canon Powershot SX500 IS – Sports a shorter but still very impressive 30X optical zoom, equivalent to 24-720mm.  This one also packs manual-controls but not an EVF or hot-shoe. It does focus as zero centimeters like the SX50 HS. Measures 104 x 70 x 80mm and weighs 341g.
  • Canon Powershot SX160 IS – Packs a 16X wide-angle optical zoom, equivalent to 28-448mm. Still a very nice range but lacking the ultra-wide coverage.  This one has a complete set of manual-controls and is considerably smaller, measuring 110 x 73 x 44mm and weighing 291g. As a bonus, it runs on readily available AA batteries and qualified as runner-up for the Travel-Zoom category in the Best Digital Cameras of 2012. Focus down to a very impressive 1cm.
  • Canon Powershot SX260 HS – Actually smaller than the SX160 but with a longer 20X optical zoom with a dimmer lens which focuses down to 5cm only. If the SX160 IS is too big for you, the SX260 HS is the smallest Canon ultra-zoom w ith manual controls. It measures 107 x 61 x 33mm and weighs 231g, a small savings compared to the SX160 IS.
  • Canon Powershot ELPH 520HS – An ultra-compact with a 12X optical zoom lens packed in an impressively-slim body measuring 87 x 54 x 19mm and weighing only 151g. Canon managed this by using an even smaller sensor than the other ones listed here, so beware of image-quality. The zoom is equivalent to 28 – 336mm and focuses as close as 1cm from the lens. No manual controls here and a rather short battery-life.
For a detailed comparison between all these models, try the Camera Compare tool. Here it is, with these 5 ultra-zooms compared. Note that you can easily add more models or remove some from the comparison, in case there others you are considering.

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