With the Beijing Olympics fast approaching, many people are going to be making the trek overseas to partake in the festivities. Obviously you'll want to come back with some evidence of your exploits, but not every camera is going to be suitable for grabbing shots of the action. If you want to make the most of your trip you'll want big zooms, image stabilisation and fast burst modes. Sports photography can be a tricky business, but with this guide you'll be well prepared.
Low Cost Solution — Canon PowerShot A720 IS
Big zoom cameras typically aren't cheap and if you're on a tight budget you'll need to make some sacrifices. Canon's PowerShot A720 IS offers good value for money. It sports a 6x optical zoom that is backed up by image stabilisation as well as speedy operation. At 2.2 frames per second the burst mode could be a little quicker, but it does the job just fine.
For full specifications and an in-depth review of the Canon PowerShot A720 IS, click here.
What's hot: Sharp pictures, great colour, fast operation, manual features.
Affordable Big Zoom — Kodak EasyShare ZD710
If the idea of a 6x zoom doesn't sit well with you, Kodak's EasyShare ZD710 offers a larger 10x optical zoom lens for the same price tag. While it does capture bright, colourful shots and offer a host of manual features, it isn't the fastest camera; this may bother people trying to photograph fast-moving sports.
What's hot: Big zoom, advanced features, good colour response, low cost.
Compact Body With 7x Zoom — Olympus MJU 1020
If you want the power of a large zoom but are concerned about portability as well, you may want to check out the Olympus MJU 1020. Part of Olympus' compact range, this camera's extremely thin and stylish wedge-shaped design slides easily into pockets or bags, but still houses a powerful 7x optical zoom and sensor-shift stabilisation. It also features a simple-to-use panorama mode, allowing you to stitch together several snaps for the perfect wide photo print.
What's hot: Crisp pictures, great design, lots of features, 7x optical zoom
Huge Zoom — Nikon CoolPix P80
There are probably some individuals out there for whom 7x or 10x will just not be enough. We'd recommend the Nikon CoolPix P80 if that's the case. With a gigantic 18x optical zoom you can get up close and personal with your favourite competitors. It suffers from some of the speed issues as other models in this roundup but it captures good quality snaps and has full manual features that will allow you to really get creative.
What's hot: Great lens, sharp pictures
Low Cost SLR — Canon EOS 1000D
If you're slightly more enthusiastic about your photography you'll probably want something with a bit more muscle, and a digital SLR fits the bill nicely. We've just finished reviewing Canon's latest entry-level SLR, the EOS 1000D, and it is a fantastic imaging device. While out of the box it doesn't have a huge zoom, the advantage of an SLR is that you can use a whole variety of different lenses depending on what you're shooting. It also offers incredible image quality and a four frame-per -second burst mode, and its kit lens comes pre-stabilised, giving you everything you need to capture the perfect shot.
What's hot: Sharp pictures, image-stabilised lens, dust reduction, fast operation.
Supreme Image Quality — Nikon D300
Finally, for those who want something really powerful there is the Nikon D300. It has a 12.1-megapixel sensor and offers a bevy of features including D-Light optimisation, dust reduction and Live View. Its pictures are some of the finest we've seen and it has an incredible LCD screen with which to frame them. It should definitely be towards the top of your list if money is no object.
What's hot: Brilliant detail, good colour balance, low noise, great detail in shadows, LCD looks wonderful.