A couple of decades ago, the cameras were bulkier and came with very few controls. Gradually, with the advent of new technology a new breed of cameras also emerged, that came with several options, like a non-interchangeable zoom lens, and manual controls.
The new type of cameras became popular as bridge cameras, which shared properties of both DSLR and a point and shoot camera and lies somewhere between them.
For most photographers, the bridge cameras worked as a stepping stone between the old technologies and future digital photography. With so many models and brands to choose from, it sure can be overwhelming for one to make the right buy when it comes to the bridge cameras.
This is why the following list has been consolidated for the conscious buyers who can browse to know the most popular models based on experts’ reviews on the best bridge cameras in the market today. This purpose behind this guide is to steer the customers in the right direction and offer them the right information so, that they can make well-informed decisions when buying a bridge camera.
Reasons To Buy A Bridge Camera
The bridge cameras are known for all-round 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.
Factors To Look For When Buying The Best 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 light 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.
Top 10 Best Bridge Cameras 2020
1. Panasonic Lumix FZ80
The Panasonic FZ80 Digital Camera extends the reach with a 60X zoom DC Vario lens and an 18.1megapixel MOS sensor. Now you can capture far off moments with confidence because of the Optical Image Stabilizer.
Well below $300, it is a well-priced option as a great point-and-shoot camera that is just perfect for travelers. The camera combines high-resolution 4K Photo with 4K video capture, and it means that you can capture fast-paced action in high quality.
Take advantage of travel-equipped technologies like Wi-Fi connectivity and USB charging, and the long zoom camera is simply great for capturing 20mm wide-angle compositions. Get impressive results even when you shoot in low light and enjoy Wi-Fi connectivity to your mobile at all times. The ergonomically designed camera fits perfectly in your hand.
- High-resolution quality
- Travel-ready technologies
- Low Light Performance
- Super-fast 30 frames per second
- light and compact
- An ergonomic grip
- Good battery life
- Panasonic style features not easy to follow
- Auto focus works great only at wide angle
2. Nikon Coolpix P900
Nikon’s Coolpix P900 because of its massive 83x optical zoom and 16MP CMOS Sensor created quite a murmur when it was revealed. The spectacular zoom power of the Nikon suits the needs of advanced shooters who simply love the sure grip on the camera with a swiveling Vary-angle display and a high-resolution Electronic Viewfinder.
Get great photos and Full HD videos in outstanding quality and the finest details. Take advantage of the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi technology and the much longer battery life that lasts up to 360 shots per charge.
PSAM mode dial and manual exposure control allow one to control their shots the way they want. Go ahead and capture historic landmarks and every stunning view on your journey. Nikon’s Coolpix P900 remains one of the most popular and best bridge cameras and is ideal for everyday use.
- Spectacular zoom power
- Outstanding image quality with startling clarity
- Long battery life
- Amazing GPS function
- Wi-fi transfer function
- Long delay for the shutter trip
- LCD screen and zooming not good enough
3. Panasonic Lumix FZ300
Panasonic Lumix FZ300 proves that one can get the best image quality even with a longer zoom, and that is because of the exclusive 4K photo technology and constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom. Now you can look forward to professional-quality results and crystal-clear photos.
Shoot with confidence in low light conditions and in most challenging environments and do not worry as the camera carries a study and rugged body. Thanks to the smart, 5-axis correction technology, there are minimum blurs and shakes.
Take advantage of the 4K Photo function in three different modes and enjoy far more powerful viewing experience because of the 4K video feature. Depth-From-Defocus (DFD) Auto Focus (AF) technology allows accurate focus even during a fast, continuous movement. Control the Long Zoom Camera remotely on your Wi-Fi enabled tablet and smartphone.
- Splash & Dustproof
- Professional-quality results
- Powerful 24x zoom
- Minimum blurs and shakes
- 30 frames per second
- High speed burst shooting
- RAW support
- Thumbwheel focus slow and badly placed
- Not pocket able
- Expensive at almost $400
4. Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
If you can stretch your budget, then Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 indeed makes for an excellent choice. One of the best bridge cameras out there, LUMIX FZ1000, boasts of a sizeable 1-inch sensor and Leica optic lens with a large f/2.8 aperture at wide-angle.
What you are looking at here is a camera that promises top-quality results every time and provides excellent performance even in low light conditions. That makes it just perfect for wildlife and candid shots.
Capture dynamic monochrome photos for more creative expression, thanks to the L.Monochrome and L.Monocheome D modes. Auto Marking function makes it easier to single out the best shot from hundreds of recorded frames.
Additional features include Post Focus Mode, Focus Stacking Mode, and Focusing Technology that add to the functionality of the camera and create a faster response and higher mobility. 5-Axis Hybrid O. I. S technology means no more blurs or shaking. Front and Rear Dials improve the operability, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity promise a much more flexible shooting experience.
- Great image quality
- Beautiful and evenly smooth defocus
- Dynamic monochrome photos
- Auto Marking function
- Optical image Stabilizer
- Awesome camera for the money
- Warranty is ONLY valid for European countries
5. Nikon COOLPIX P1000
Nikon COOLPIX P1000 is sure to impress you and is indeed worth looking at for all those looking for excellent shooting experience and top-quality images. This is a one-of-a-kind Nikon camera that comes with a mind-blowing 3000mm Zoom.
The NIKKOR ED glass lens with extreme zoom makes it one of the most powerful. Thanks to the Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction system, one can look forward to stabilized camera movements.
COOLPIX P1000 is indeed a game-changer for travel photographers and wildlife enthusiasts, who love the flexibility of the incredible lens and the high-quality image sensor. 4K Ultra HD video with HDMI out and a stereo quality sound won’t leave you wanting.
What makes it more convenient are the full manual controls along with easy auto shooting. The compact body with an ergonomic design makes it easier to handle and operate. Various camera functions and features allow the COOLPIX P1000 to be controlled remotely.
- High quality image sensor
- Telescope-like Zoom Power
- Compatible with smartphone
- Ease of use
- Wonderful for birding
- Professional level wildlife photography
- Auto focus can be a bit slow at high zoom levels
6. Sony DSC-RX10 III
Sony DSC-RX10 III indeed stretches a bit further when it comes to what one expects from the best bridge cameras. The 24-600mm1 lens with an F2.4-4 max aperture and a large 1” 20.1 MP image sensor offers you the flexibility to capture all kinds of scenes and with fine details, thanks to the large-aperture lens. Get a super-fast shutter speed because of the CMOS image sensor with the DRAM chip.
When shooting 4K movies, you get a smooth, accurate focus, and a rolling shutter phenomenon plus an accelerated sensor readout minimizes distortion. The dust and moisture resistant body of the camera= means that you can use it in challenging environments.
Enjoy convenient shooting with improved operability because of the rings for focus, zoom, and aperture. Built-in Wi-Fi means remote camera control and easy sharing.
- Magnesium-alloy moisture resistant body
- Large-aperture lens
- Fast shutter speed
- Highly effective IS
- Smooth, accurate focus
- Anti-Distortion Shutter system
- Improved operability and convenient shooting
- Customizable menu and operating system
- Significantly heavy
- Struggles with autofocus in low light
7. Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10
A bit on the expensive side, Sony Cyber-shot RX10 is indeed a value for money product. Boasting of excellent features and a great performance, the camera features advanced Optical image stabilization technology. Look forward to continuous shooting and the world’s fastest1 acquisition time of 0.03 seconds.
An incredibly stacked CMOS sensor enhances efficiency and speed while the ZEISS Vario-Sonnar ultra-zoom lens with a maximum aperture of F2.4-F4.0 achieves outstanding image quality.
Cyber-shot RX10 is specially designed for continuous shooting at high resolution and frame rates. Thanks to the super-speed anti-distortion shutter, you can minimize the rolling shutter effect.
Get advanced high-density tracking technology on the RX-series camera for the first time and get rid of any blurs because of the Optical SteadyShot image stabilization feature.
- Excellent picture quality
- Unmatched mobility and speed
- Outstanding image quality
- Image stabilization feature
- Long zoom range
- Pop-up flash doesn’t work as a wireless controller
- A bit expensive
8. Sony DSC-RX10M II
Sony DSC-RX10M II features the world’s first Exmor RS stacked CMOS image sensor and super-fast shutter speed. The compact point-and-shoot camera features Super-speed Anti-Distortion Shutter and a high-resolution 4K movie recording.
Thanks to the backside-illuminated technology, you get a higher image quality with better clarity. The camera is cased in a compact magnesium alloy body and is moisture and dust resistant.
Cover wide-angle photo shoots, thanks to the built-in Carl Vario-Sonnar T* lens with a range of 24-200mm focal length. Bright and big LCD monitor allows live view monitoring and menu navigation.
Look forward to a multi-functional shooting and minimize camera shake and blurs because of the Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. Built-in Wi-Fi allows for easy wireless connections and transfers to smartphones and tablets.
- Compact and light
- Enhanced efficiency and speed
- Backside-illuminated technology
- Moisture and dust resistant
- Built-In Flash and Wi-Fi
- Close-up shooting
- Awesome sensor and lens
- Overwhelming for the beginners
9. Canon Powershot SX70
Canon’s PowerShot SX70 is a lot more than a typical bridge camera, and it is because of its unique and special features. With specs like 65x Optical Zoom and 4K video recording, the PowerShot SX70 can capture incredible moments from close-up as well as far away sights.
Thanks to its impressive optical zoom range, you can shoot those subjects at a great distance and get brilliant results due to the High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 Image Processor.
Enjoy super-high definition results when capturing 4K videos and extract still images from the video without additional software. Get six different color settings with the camera’s new Style Setting function and adjust for sharpness and contrast. Look forward to continuous shooting up to 10.0 fps, and that makes the camera ideal for sports, wildlife, and more. A built-in high-resolution electronic viewfinder allows you to capture those fines details.
- Excellent performance and results
- Impressive optical zoom range
- Powerful imaging and autofocus
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
- different color settings
- Continuous shooting
- A little heavier
- Cannot focus in dark
10. Leica V-Lux 5
You might raise your eyebrows a bit when you see the higher price tag, but are sure to calm down when you look at the features and functionalities of Leica V-Lux camera. Customers who have bought the camera love it for its overall performance and admire the superb picture quality.
Thanks to the large 1-inch 20-megapixel CMOS sensor, you can expect high quality4K video and photo shooting.
The Leica V-Lux Superzoom camera boasts of specs like DC Vario-Elmarit ASPH, 16x Zoom Lens, and continuous burst shooting because of high-speed AF.
An inbuilt Wi-Fi + Bluetooth ensures seamless connectivity with Leica FOTOS. The camera indeed works better than most models.
- Superb picture quality
- Continuous burst shooting
- Inbuilt Wi-Fi + Bluetooth
- Great camera worth every penny
- No online documentation to support FOTOS app
- Shorter battery life
- Not weather sealed
FAQs on Bridge Cameras
- What is the difference between the bridge camera and DSLR?
Although a Bridge camera looks similar to a DSLR, and are comparable in size and shape, one can observe some major differences on a closer examination. For example, the bridge camera supports a non- removable lens, and if it has a viewfinder, it would be electronic and not optical, unlike the DSLR.
Finally, the image quality and focusing system isn’t as good as a DSLR. 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. For most photographers, it is still important to have a viewfinder, especially elderly users, with failing eyesight.
Lastly, the design and shape of bridge cameras offer a substantial grip, especially if you have big hands.
- What are the possible cons of a bridge camera?
The bridge cameras are 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 to consider when looking at long zoom ranges in bridge cameras?
The bridge cameras are known for long zoom ranges, and it 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 when looking for the best bridge cameras. 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, and 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, if looking for higher quality images with crisper details.
- What is the difference between digital and optical zoom?
It is essential for even a photographer to understand the two types of zooms, digital zoom and optical zoom. Optical zoom will zoom into the scene actually when you are capturing an image, and the camera lens optics come into play here.
Digital zoom, on the other hand, uses technology to enhance the zoom and bring the subject closer. Digital zoom may lead to loss of data and result in a grainy image.
- Which bridge cameras are considered the best and the cheapest?
Modern-day bridge cameras are expensive, and some of them can indeed cause a dent in the wallet. However, there are still some cameras that can give tough competition when it comes to value for money and capture perfect images with the crispness and clarity you are looking for.
While it is still a dream to get cheaper bridge cameras, there are some models that cost less than $500 and are affordable. For instance, you can have a look at Panasonic Lumix FZ300, Minolta M35Z, Canon SX70, Nikon COOLPIX B500, and Kodak AZ652. These models are within the range of most photographers and are popular because of their higher capabilities and affordability.
Buy Bridge Cameras Without Any Confusions
It is certainly not easy to buy the right camera, especially when the market is overflowing with different models and brimming with the jargon of terms and technicalities related to these cameras. However, now that you have access to the most useful information regarding the bridge cameras and what features to look for when buying the best bridge camera go ahead and make the right choices and with full confidence.
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 piece that is going to last long and can grow with your needs. Thanks to the ultra-competitive market, you are sure to find a camera that meets your photographic needs and style.