Hi powered zooms are a compromise of power vs quality. At the edges of the zoom range you start to get all sorts of quality problems and the higher the power the worse they get. Plus a high zoom will cause loads of camera shake, even if the cam is mounted on a tripod.
IMO the expensive cams keep the zoom smaller so the quality isn't lost too much, and the cheaper cams have large zooms as it is often the feature list that sells the budget/lower cost models rather than quality.
Thanks for the feedback. The reason why I've asked all this is because I'm looking to upgrade my 8mm camcorder to a decent digital one and I've always looked to have the higher optical zoom largely because when I'm recording images of buildings etc. I tend to zoom in and focus on the architectural details etc. Sure I do get camera shakes and the quality of the shot is not always the best but if I went for a digital camcorder with a lower optical zoom but a higher CCD, wouldn't I be sacrificing my ability to zoom in on the architectural details of these buildings to get the details that I want? So how do I get around this?
Optical zoom uses the cameras optics ie the lens. Which rotate to zoom in and out. Using the optical zoom your camera will record the exact pixel resolution throughout its zoom range. Digital zoom is basically the optical image digitized. Lets say you have a picture on your computer and you start to zoom into it. It gets in closer but its starts to lose resolution and quality. Always go for optical zoom unless you dont mind the poor quality from digital zoom. My advice get a camera with a decent ccd (maybe a 1.3mp) and a good 10x 12x optical zoom