The 18x or 24x optical zoom capability offered by these enthusiast-targeted models will come in handy for those wanting such a range in a small package. The downside is that superzooms are bulkier than other types of 'compact', and ideally need a decent image-stabilisation system when shooting at the telephoto end of the zoom.

before you buy anything

Here are some key considerations to make when choosing a camera.

SIZE Digital cameras vary greatly in size and weight. On paper you might think that the smaller the better, but some people, especially those with big hands or long fingers, find small cameras difficult to hold. On the other hand, small cameras are more likely to be taken along on trips than big, heavy ones.

PIXELS Don't obsess about the number of pixels a camera has. The more pixels there are squeezed into a given space the smaller they have to be, and this causes problems such as noise. Quality is dependent on a range of factors, of which pixel count is just one.

BUILD QUALITY A big difference between expensive cameras and entry-level enthusiast ones is the build quality. More expensive cameras are built to withstand knocks, scrapes and inclement weather, which makes them bigger and heavier.

FEATURES Not everyone needs a camera with face detection, just as not everyone will have a viewfinder at the top of their priority list. Figure out what's important to your picture-taking needs, and see what we have to say in our 'pros and cons' box, as well as the final summary. Sometimes, you may not mind certain grievances that we may have - a lot of this will depend on what type of photography you tend to practise.

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