Best Bridge Camera
Today we’re counting down our top picks for the best bridge cameras.
A bridge camera is one which combines the best of point and shoot style models with full-on DSLRs.
It is aptly named because it acts somewhat like a bridge between the two camera styles, providing great elements from both.
It’s most noteworthy though for its fixed lens and very large zoom range, which makes it great for capturing distant events and moments.
Here’s what to expect in this article:
- Reviews of the best bridge camera
- A detailed selection guide
- Your burning questions answered in a FAQ
Without further ado, here are our top picks…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Picks for Bridge Cameras
- Best of the Best: Canon Powershot SX70
- Runner Up: Sony Cybershot RX10 IV
- Best on a Budget: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ80
Best Bridge Camera Reviews
Canon Powershot SX70 (👑 Best of the Best)
In our view, the best bridge camera on the market today is the Sony Cybershot RX10 IV.
If you’ve got the budget for it, the Sony Cybershot RX10 III won’t let you down. The RX10 series of cameras from Sony have proved to be a great success, and made huge strides with regards to what bridge cameras are capable. Whereas before, bridge cameras were just slightly better point-and-shoot cameras with manual controls, the quality of the pictures was never anything to write home about. However, with the introduction of the RX10 series, Sony changed the game and brought a large 1-inch sensor and weather-sealed body which made the bridge camera seem to more closely resemble a full body DSLR.
The RX10 IV is the fourth entry in Sony’s line of bridge cameras, and it doesn’t disappoint. Its robust DSLR-like body houses an impressive 25x zoom fixed lens, so you should be able to pull off a wide range of shots with a single camera. While DSLRs have interchangeable lenses and require you to switch them out for different styles of shot, cameras like this one make it a lot more convenient to shoot whatever you see, regardless of distance. That’s the beauty of the RX10 IV: it offers a highly versatile experience which makes it the complete package. It could be the only bridge camera you’ll ever need.
As for what sets the fourth version in the RX10 series of cameras apart, the IV has a better autofocus system than its predecessors. It’s even billed as having ‘the world’s fastest AF acquisition speed’, such is the effectiveness of the autofocus with this camera. There are 315 phase-detection autofocus points, which cover around 65% of the frame. This means you’ll have reliably steady stills regardless of how far away the subject might be. This, when coupled with the optical image stabilization, makes it easy to take great photos and videos in any situation. Even at the ultra-telephoto end of the zoom range, which is 600mm, you still get incredibly stable images.
The image sensor of the Cybershot RX10 IV is 20.1 Megapixels with a 1 inch frame, allowing you to pick up an incredible amount of detail with every shot. You’ll also get a very smooth 24fps continuous shooting, in case you want to try some burst shots and capture a snapshot of a moving subject. Some extra features you might enjoy with this camera are the 4k video recording option, as well as the super slow motion which records footage at a staggeringly smooth 960fps.
- AF/25x optical zoom
- 20.1 Megapixel image sensor with 1 inch frame
- 24fps continuous shooting
- 315 autofocus points
- World-leading 0.03s AF speed
- Weather-sealed body
- BIONZ X processor
- 4K video
- Super slow motion 960fps
Canon Powershot SX70 (🥈 Runner Up)
Next up, we have the impressive Canon Powershot SX70, which is our runner up pick for the best bridge camera.
This camera from Canon is a lot more affordable than the Sony Cybershot RX10 IV, but still has a whole host of features to offer the user. It also earns the title of being one of the most beginner-friendly bridge cameras, as it is very intuitive to use and should provide everything someone new to photography is looking for. If you really enjoy the idea of a long zoom range, then this camera should be a strong contender for your money. It features a mightily impressive 65x optical zoom fixed lens, which makes it perfect for long-distance photography if that’s something you’re interested in.
As a great all-round bridge camera, you’ll find that the Canon Powershot SX70 makes for a great travel companion that’s both light and easy to carry. If you plan on going on safari or going on an outdoor adventure to find wildlife, then this camera is perfect for your needs. It’s the sniper of the bridge camera world, allowing for great precision at incredible distances. The zoom lens isn’t the only noteworthy feature of this camera, though.
The image sensor is 20.1 Megapixels, and is backed up by a DIGIC 8 image processor. This combines with 5 stop image stabilization, in order to ensure all of your photos are perfectly steady and blur-free. Image blur can be a tricky issue especially when shooting at long-range, so it’s good to know the image stabilization will have your back in those situations. The maximum aperture value of f/3.4-6.5 is decent, too, if not overly impressive.
Another noteworthy feature of the Canon Powershot SX70 is the inclusion of both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, which help you transfer images and videos quickly to your mobile device or computer. There’s also 4k video support, so you can capture scenes around you in glorious high definition, which is always nice.
- 65x optical zoom
- F.3.4-6.5 aperture
- WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity
- 4k video
- 20.1 Megapixel image sensor
- DIGIC 8 image processor
- 5 stop image stabilization
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ80 (💎 Best on a Budget)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ80 is our best budget bridge camera pick, that’s another great entry-level pick for those who want to give this type of camera a go.
If you’re interested in what a bridge camera has to offer, or you just like the idea of having an ultra zoom lens, then you’d probably enjoy the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ80. This camera isn’t only worthy of mention for its reasonable price, but for its intuitive design and impressive image stabilization. It also has a range of extra features which you wouldn’t normally expect to find on a camera in this price range.
First and foremost, let’s talk about lenses. This budget-friendly camera from Panasonic is packing a 60x fixed zoom lens which has a wide range of 20mm all the way up to 1200mm, which is far beyond what many people would expect for an affordable bridge camera. This allows the user to take photos of vast landscapes and horizons without worrying about cutting anything important off. What’s more, Panasonic didn’t cut corners in order to pull off this impressive zoom capability, as they did a fantastic job of creating an effective image stabilization system too. This is another one of the camera’s top features, since it keeps photos stable, even at the longer distances.
The image sensor is 18.1 Megapixels and works with the LSI Venus Engine image processor for excellent results. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ80 also has an interesting 4K Photo feature mode, which lets you capture fast-moving subjects without sacrificing any of the quality. As for its aptitude for amateur photographers, the camera has an easy-to-use touchscreen, which should take no time at all to get familiar with. The touchscreen can be especially helpful when it comes to focussing in on a subject quickly, and you can even control the shutter with touch too. This is a camera that does everything in its power to prevent those special moments from getting away from you. WiFi connectivity makes it easy to upload your images to your mobile device or computer, so you don’t have to spend an afternoon finding the right cable for the job.
- 18.1 Megapixel image sensor
- LSI Venus Engine image processor
- 4K Photo
- 60x zoom lens with wide range of 20mm-1200mm
- WiFi connectivity
It isn’t easy to identify the perfect bridge camera for your needs, since there is so much that goes into making one.
But once you have a clear idea in mind of what exactly it is you need a bridge camera for, you can check in with us in this guide to see what the most important factors should be in your decision-making process.
While many assume that it’s all about how far the zoom lens goes, that doesn’t tell you the whole story of the camera’s effectiveness.
Before we dive into the specifics of what makes a great bridge camera, we’re going to answer a fundamental question.
What is a Bridge Camera?
Before you part with your hard-earned cash, it’s important that you know what you’re getting yourself in for.
The best way to do that is to know exactly what a bridge camera is.
A common mistake people make when identifying cameras is assuming that a bridge camera is a DSLR.
This is an easy mistake to make, given that bridge cameras quite closely resemble their interchangeable lens counterparts.
However, bridge cameras and DSLRs have several differences.
The first is that while with a DSLR you can swap out the lens, a bridge camera will always have a fixed lens.
This means that if you bought a camera thinking it was a DSLR but you can’t change the lens, you’ve actually got a bridge camera.
While many people enjoy the ability to change out the lens of their camera, the bridge camera saves you the effort by coming with various lenses built-in. A bridge camera will take you from a close-up portrait, to a far away telephoto shot, and all without breaking a sweat.
This makes the bridge camera an excellent travel companion, as it will often be light and compact, but still have plenty of power and features to satisfy the experienced photographer.
And that’s where it differs from the standard point-and-shoot camera. It has more power and more zoom than the point-and-shoot camera style, so it really is a hybrid between DSLRs and the point-and-shoots.
The image sensor is a big deal for any type of camera, and the bridge camera is no different.
This is one of the most important parts of any camera, since it’s responsible for capturing the light and converting what you can see through the viewfinder into a picture.
The better the image sensor on a camera, the better quality the photos will be should you decide to print them or scale them, and the better they will be in general.
Interestingly, bridge cameras traditionally had a smaller sensor, until the Sony Cybershot RX10 series came along which shifted the market towards larger ones.
When the Sony Cybershot DSC RX100 came to market with a 1 inch sensor, many other companies followed suit, and now it has become the standard for bridge camera sensors.
To determine the quality of a camera’s image sensor, the main number you have to go on is the amount of Megapixels it has.
Again, it’s a case of the more the merrier here.
A single Megapixel is made up of 1 million pixels, and the more of these you have in your camera’s image sensor, the more detailed the end product will be.
Generally-speaking around 22 Megapixels is a good place to be, and you’ll likely find diminishing returns on anything over 24 Megapixels, so there’s no need to seek out anything too much higher than that.
When it comes to bridge cameras, one of the most important features to pay attention to is the zoom capability.
After all, this is one of the main reasons to invest in a bridge camera over a DSLR or point-and-shoot.
In fact, you’ll sometimes hear of bridge cameras being referred to as ‘superoom’ or ‘megazoom’ cameras, such is the prominence of this feature.
But technical jargon aside, how do you know if the zoom lens of a camera is good?
First, you’ll need to take note of the number with an ‘x’ next to it, as this will tell you how many times the image can be magnified.
So for example, 4x zoom allows you to magnify the image up to 4 times larger than it first appears.
With bridge cameras, this number tends to be much higher, with anywhere from 20x to much higher. The higher this number, the greater the distance you will be able to see.
The other important number, which is perhaps less well known, is how wide the lens is.
This is the number that is followed by ‘mm’, and this will tell you how much you can fit in the frame. The standard width is around 28mm, so anything above that will allow you to capture a larger field of view.
So if you’re interested in taking photos of vast landscapes or wildlife scenes then you’d definitely benefit from seeking out a wide lens.
Image stabilization is a huge feature for any camera, but is especially important with a bridge camera.
This is because it’s very easy to succumb to shaking when you’re zoomed in on an object very far away, which is the last thing you want as it could blur the photo.
Image stabilization for the most part mitigates this risk of blurring photos, so even if you’re new to photography, you have a good chance of producing some high quality blur-free photos.
It also helps to keep the image sharp, so the end result looks a lot cleaner and less fuzzy.
Reasons to Buy a Bridge Camera
The bridge cameras are known for all-around shooting and for their maximum flexibility as they utilize a large zoom. These cameras are equipped with manual and semi-automatic modes, and this is what makes them a perfect option for beginners.
Lots of people like the bridge cameras because of their compact size and use of a fixed lens, which makes it more convenient to handle. Moreover, having a fixed lens lowers the risk of dirt and dust getting inside the camera and on its sensor, as is seen with the cameras with interchangeable lenses.
Another good reason to buy a bridge camera is that you can test and expand your creative photography. The camera allows you to have complete control over the key features like the white balance, aperture, shutter speed, and more.
Thus, you can play around with the attributes of the bridge camera and focus more on the kind of results you would like. Moreover, it is a great way to get familiar with the layout of an advanced camera and get expert with the controls without worrying about lenses.
Now that you have decided to buy one of the best bridge cameras, you should know as to what essential actors to focus on when shopping for one.
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Factors to Look For When Buying a Bridge Camera
Here are some essential factors to keep in mind when looking for the top models of bridge cameras.
1. The Build And Quality
The bridge cameras are typically used to capture street and landscape photography as well as document travel, wildlife, and vacations. Thus, the user would need a camera that is light and covenant to carry and handle.
So, look for a camera with a well-designed body with a firm grip, and as you might have to work in challenging terrains and difficult weather conditions, the bridge camera you are interested in should be dust and water-resistant. The camera should carry a study body and should be comfortable to use.
Avoid buying a large and bulky camera, especially if you travel a lot. Look for a smartly designed bridge camera with a sturdy exterior and one which can withstand harsh winds and withstand water contamination.
2. Sensor Size
The light enters the camera through the sensor, and that makes it an important part of the camera. Hence, pay attention to the quality of the sensor as it can impact the quality of the final image. For example, if a sensor allows excess of light to go through, the image can get distorted.
The bridge cameras use CCD or a CMOS sensor, and the CMOS is larger than the CCD type. The larger the sensor, the brighter the exposure and higher is the dynamic range made possible because of the larger pixels.
Because of the better signal-to-noise ratio, the images come out less grainy and much cleaner. Most bridge cameras carry relatively small sensors as it allows them to have more “zoom,” even with a smaller lens.
The sensor size is indeed one of the most defining attributes of a bridge camera. Most of these cameras, until recently, carried small 1/2.3-inch sensors and offered a huge zoom range. However, the image quality carried its limits. Today, brands like Canon, Panasonic, and Sony support much larger 1-inch sensors that offer much better quality. But keep in mind that the bigger the sensors, the higher the price tags and smaller is the zoom range.
3. Manual Controls
Another essential aspect of the bridge camera is the manual control setting, which is highly desirable. The user can adjust the exposure, shutter speed, depth of field, and a lot more with the help of the manual control. It is more important to get that perfect shot, which is not possible with an automated mode at times.
Buyers prefer those bridge cameras with customization options for manual control and manual shooting features. For example, a manual ring on the lens offers the users direct control of certain settings like focusing and zooming. Many cameras offer professional features such as full manual exposure control and remarkable manual controls for videos.
The dials and buttons for manual control should be easily visible and well arranged. The camera should clearly label the buttons for manual control of shutter speed, aperture, color balance, and more. The manual controls should be both easy and comfortable to use.
4. The Viewfinder And LCD
The viewfinder is useful as it allows you to see what you are capturing and display what you shoot. Always check the quality of the viewfinder in the bridge camera.
Bridge cameras use two types of viewfinders, the LCD and the electronic viewfinder or EVF. Most bridge cameras feature a 3-inch LCD that can be tilted up or down and even swivel360 degree axis.
However, many models carry an LCD with live-preview and may offer an EVF in addition. Look for a high-quality EVF as it is a distinguishing and advanced feature that makes the bridge cameras special.
The Electronic Viewfinder category of cameras have become more sophisticated and are adding new excitement with built-in lenses with longer zoom ranges and wide-angle settings. The superzoom EVF cameras make use of small sensors, and with features like noise suppression and image stabilization, you can get the perfect results you are looking for.
More recently, a new category of interchangeable-lens EVFs allows the photographers to mix and match and expand the possibilities. Hence, you can browse the EVFs with built-in lenses as well as interchangeable-lens EVFs.
Viewfinders continue to improve and advance in terms of brightness, contrast, and resolution, and users capable of making high-resolution 4K and HDR images. Nevertheless, it is an essential tool to compose a shot.
5. The Lenses
Most bridge cameras you come across have long zoom lenses with a super-wide focal length, and because of those long zoom lenses, these cameras are sometimes known as superzoom or ultrazoom cameras.
When it comes to lenses, you need to keep some essential aspects in mind when shopping for the best bridge cameras. Both the focal length and degree of optical zoom are important here.
Some bridge cameras may carry higher optical zoom but the shorter focal length and vice versa. There are some innovative cameras with extra built-in features that allow the user to record at higher frame-rates or shoot Panoramic images.
The compact superzoom top models allow a lot of 12x to 18x zoom with bonus features like GPS, autofocus, high-quality touch screen, and create impressive images with higher sharpness.
These cameras with a decent range make for a good choice for photographers who are seeking a versatile zoom lens within a convenient and straightforward camera. However, for those looking for a top-notch superzoom, they should be willing to pay extra as those high-spec cameras with powerful zooms such as high-quality 25-400mm lens are available at an incredibly competitive price.
However, a bridge camera with less zoom demonstrates lower distortion in images as compared to cameras with a “superzoom” lens.
6. The Maximum Aperture Of The Lens
The larger the maximum aperture, the shorter is the exposure times to let the light in into the camera. The maximum exposure length relies on the width of the field of view, and the level of brightness is influenced by the maximum aperture of the lens. The user needs good lighting to achieve fast shutter speeds or a wide aperture in the lens.
The aperture is calibrated in f/stops and is written as2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, and more. It is essential to understand the maximum aperture for your camera and the impacts of different apertures on the final image.
Most of the bridge cameras you come across carry a small maximum aperture of around f/6. The issue of camera shake can be avoided with the ISO sensitivity, but if the sensor is small, one may find visible noise into the image. A good bridge camera is one that allows the user to enjoy higher functionality to control light through the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
Many cameras have control rings around the large lens, and one of those control rings controls the aperture and allows more freedom to manual photographers. The only bridge camera with a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 is the Panasonic Lumix FZ200.
7. The Number Of Megapixels
The higher the number of megapixels, the better is the image quality. While the statement is true to some extent, it is essential to understand those numbers. For example, if you have loads of megapixels in your camera and if it carries a small sensor, you would only get more noise in the final image as the camera tries to fit in too much information within a small space. As a result, the clarity of pictures will suffer.
The high-megapixel cameras are typically useful for commercial photographers who want perfect print quality for fashion, architecture, e-commerce, and more such fields. However, the majority of photographers do not need a high-megapixel camera, and for an average consumer, he should focus more on other features of the bridge camera.
8. The Raw Capability
The raw file format carries much more information when compared to a JPEG format. Post-processing applications require converting raw files into compressed JPEG shots.
As most bridge cameras shoot raw, this can be a limitation for photographers who prefer to use other image formats. Still, the raw shooting option allows more control on photographers during the post editing using software.
Look for raw support in the bridge camera, and if it is missing, make sure that the JPEG formats carry plenty of details and great colors. What makes a camera an all-rounder is the option to shoot raw as well as a wide range of creative filters.
9. The Battery Life
The bridge type cameras use the higher battery when compared to other cameras, as its features rely on power for virtually everything. Generally speaking, one should be satisfied if they can shoot around 400 pics a day without the need to replace or charge the batteries.
Keep in mind that when the sensor is in continuous use, it can raise the temperature as well as shorten battery life. Moreover, the camera consumes more battery when you are capturing videos.
Always look for longer battery life capable of at least 350 -400 shots a day and one with an external battery charger. You may also want to buy an extra battery, just in case.
10. The Price
As the price range of the bridge cameras can vary, based on the brand and the specs, it is essential to consider the price factor and know if it lies within your budget. After all, there is no use researching for a camera that you cannot afford. Look for the reason behind as to why you want the bridge camera, and if it is worth the investment.
If you are careful about your needs and choices, you can certainly pick up a great bridge camera at an absolute bargain price. The camera you pick should give its rivals a run for their money in features and capabilities. There are many brands that pack enough specifications at a tempting price point.
No matter what your photography needs, it is your pocket that can limit your options and finally allow you to decide on the type of camera you will finally buy. Panasonic Lumix FZ72 and Sony DSCH400 are great options for those with a limited budget. These models come loaded with features and would be easier on your pocket.
To wrap up on the discussion, the bridge camera that makes for the best choice is the one that suits your photography style and budget. These cameras come with different features to enhance the capabilities, and one can certainly look for those additional features like multi-function rings for better control, touchscreen control, weather-sealing, Inbuilt Wi-Fi and NFC, and more.
Study the ergonomics and controls and test it for its handling and weight. You should feel confident in capturing a crisp shot in challenging circumstances. There is no use of buying an expensive high-end camera with many advanced features that you are never going to use.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Bridge Cameras
What is the best budget bridge camera?
The best budget bridge camera in our view is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ80.
This camera may be affordable, but it still manages to punch well above its weight with some fantastic features.
Of particular note is the impressive 60x zoom lens that has a wide range of 20mm-1200mm, which allows for long-distance photography.
Are bridge cameras as good as DSLR?
The answer to this question will depend on what you want in a camera.
If you prefer not to change out lenses or you enjoy travelling stress-free with your camera equipment, then a bridge camera can certainly be as good as a DSLR.
Plus, bridge cameras have special zoom lenses which makes them great for certain styles of photography.
What should I look for in a bridge camera?
To ensure you get a good bridge camera, make sure you find one with image stabilization and a wide lens.
Image stabilization will keep your photos sharp and blur-free, while a wide lens will let you pick up more in the frame for your shots.a
What is the difference between the bridge camera and DSLR?
Although a Bridge camera looks similar to a DSLR and us comparable in size and shape, there are a few difference. For example, the bridge camera supports a non-removable lens. If it has a viewfinder, it’s electronic and not optical like the DSLR.
Finally, the image quality and focusing system isn’t as complex as a DSLR. The DSLR mechanism is based on a mirror and prism assembly.
Why should one buy a bridge camera?
Many people prefer to buy bridge cameras because of the zoom lenses, for the viewfinder, and the size and shape. Long zoom lenses are good to capture both travel and candid portraits.
Lastly, the design and shape of bridge cameras offer a substantial grip, especially if you have bigger hands.
What are the possible cons of a bridge camera?
The bridge camera is bigger and will certainly not fit in your pocket. Because of the small sensors, it gets difficult to achieve image quality and the depth of field within a scene. Although some bridge cameras boast of high-speed bursts, these are not good enough to capture fast-moving action, like in sports.
What aspects are there to consider when looking at long zoom ranges in bridge cameras?
Bridge cameras are known for long zoom ranges, and using one is like having a bag full of lenses. Gone are the days when getting a long zoom lens meant a bulkier and heavier camera. Today, the long zoom factor is being packed in compact-sized bridge cameras.
Still, when it comes to lenses, you should pay attention to not just the degree of optical zoom but also the focal length of the lens. For example, a 16x optical zoom may carry a shorter focal length than a 14x lens.
Zoom ranges are expressed in factors, and thus a 25mm-250mm lens would be a 10x zoom. Keep in mind that the long zoom lenses would need a lot lighter even at shorter focal lengths. When working with longer focal lengths, expect some camera shake. Look for short shutter speeds along with vibration reduction when looking at good-quality zoom lenses in bridge cameras. This will help you achieve higher quality images with crisper details.
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
A bridge camera is a wise investment for the traveler who appreciates convenience, as well as anyone who enjoys the idea of having a fixed lens.
Keep all the essential specs in mind when buying a bridge camera and look for a model that suits your needs and budget. Invest in a versatile camera that is going to last long and can evolve with your needs. Thanks to the ultra-competitive market, you are sure to find a camera that meets your photographic needs and style.
If you’re looking for a great deal of zoom without swapping out lenses frequently, then the bridge camera is a great type of camera to go for.