You don't need a high-end DSLR to get into zoom photography: the best compacts go up to 30x zoom, while Samsung's Galaxy K zoom sticks a 10x magnifier onto an Android phone. Here are Stuff's top tips for getting the most out of a big zoom.
Make it busy
A wide-angle lens or setting (the default for most compact cameras and phones) is useful for something like a party where you want to fit a lot of close-up subjects into the frame, but if you want to create bustle in a picture, get further away and zoom in. A high zoom factor has the effect of compressing the perspective, bringing features closer together. You can use this trick to convey the bustle of shoppers on a high street or to exaggerate the tightness of a queue of people or traffic.
Move a few buildings
Ever wondered how travel photographers manage to fit a whole skyline into one shot, but your holiday snaps only fit in one side of a building? The answer is zoom. Take one long zoom and one river (rivers are very useful because they force a clear, wide break between buildings), stand on one side of the river and shoot the buildings on the opposite bank. You'll find you can squash a whole load of landmarks into a single frame. Next, find a bend in the river and look along the far side at an angle, and you'll find buildings crowding into your lens.
Layer it up
While a wide-angle lens makes distant object appear even farther away and emphasises wide, open spaces, a strong zoom can be a more effective way to document the changes from front to back in an expansive scene. A portrait orientation will allow you to capture everything from the middle-distance up to the horizon and sky in a stack of layers. The zoom will even out the size of the features in the foreground and the distance, giving a concise representation of the whole scene.