Best Bridge Camera

Best Bridge Camera

Which is the best bridge camera to buy instead of bulky DSLRs and low quality compact cameras? Bridge cameras are universal camera bodies with DSLR manual controls and a huge built-in zoom lens that takes amazing wide-angle to telephoto images. In this review, I’m going to help you pick the best superzoom camera for wildlife and travel photography.

best bridge camera

15 Best Bridge Cameras for Photographers

A bridge camera is a flexible and inexpensive DSLR replacement. It provides nearly identical manual control, user-friendly automatic modes, and an incredible zoom lens. Bridge cameras are smaller and more lightweight. They’re usually used for travel, wildlife, street, and landscape photography. Interested? Read my review of the 15 best bridge cameras at affordable prices.

1. Panasonic Lumix FZ2500/FZ2000

panasonic lumix fz2500/fz2000 Buy for $1000 on Amazon
  • Amazing picture quality, particularly when shooting in RAW
  • Well designed body with a convenient grip
  • Amazing continuous autofocus and subject tracking
  • Built-in zoom lens offers smooth focusing without noise
  • Awesome 4K footage quality
  • Heavy noise reduction when shooting in JPEG
  • Yellow color gains a slightly green tint visible on skin tones
  • Limited automatic ISO settings

FZ2500 is one of the best bridge cameras for macro photography, as it allows taking pictures that have nicely saturated colors and an adequate level of details. Shooting in JPEG also involves a great deal of noise reduction that leads to a significant loss of detail (water, in particular, looks very unnatural) and clipped highlights.

Panasonic Lumix FZ2500/FZ2000 sample photo Photo by Panasonic Lumix FZ2500/FZ2000

However, the NR system is very useful for taking JPG photos with minimal noise. The video recording quality provided by this zoom camera is amazing. If you shoot in 4K or 1080p with 60 fps, you’ll be impressed with the footage you receive. The recorded audio is also of high quality, while the included sound level settings and wind filter give you more control over the shooting process.

2. Fujifilm FinePix S1

fujifilm finePix s1 Buy for $400 on Amazon
  • Waterproof bridge camera
  • Satisfying picture quality up to ISO 800
  • 7.8fps continuous shooting mode
  • Doesn’t have an EVG eye sensor
  • No GPS or touchpad controls
  • Continuous shooting doesn’t work in RAW

S1 includes a 50-times zoom lens with nice AF speed and a water-resistant body. This candidate for the best bridge camera title is capable of handling everything you need from close-up shots to landscapes and sports photographs. It’s water-resistant and can be used in windy or rainy conditions. Because the resolution on this camera is 1920x1080, it is unbeatable for even twice the price. Seriously, it's really difficult to find an affordable video camera that shoots 1080/60p.

Fujifilm FinePix S1 sample photo Photo by Fujifilm FinePix S1

This model has a flash hotshoe, rotatable LCD screen, a broad collection of manual modes, quick loading times, command dial, and a fast burst shooting mode while also supporting 1080p video with stereo audio. All these features allow the S1 to be called the best bridge camera in its price range.

3. Nikon Coolpix P1000

nikon coolpix p1000 Buy for $1000 on Amazon
  • Incredible 24-3,000mm focal range
  • Supports shooting in RAW
  • “Snapback Zoom” feature is useful for finding “lost” subjects
  • Quite large and bulky
  • Disappointing max aperture at larger focal lengths

If you want to take photos of running wild animals or flying birds, P1000 with its incredible 125-times zoom allows capturing them with comfort while remaining at a safe distance. This is definitely the best bridge camera for wildlife that offers nice stabilization due to the integrated vibration reduction system.

Nikon Coolpix P1000 sample photo Photo by Nikon Coolpix P1000

This model provides high-resolution EVF, 4K, and RAW format support. While the sensor is smaller than in similar models, it still allows the camera to have an incredibly powerful zoom. Overall, the photos I’ve taken with this megazoom camera are of high quality. JPEG images are nicely colored, while shooting in RAW allows bypassing the noise reduction and capturing more details. The focal spectrum of the P1000 is amazing and is perfect for night photography.

4. Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

leica v lux typ 114 Buy for $1200 on Amazon
  • 1-inch sensor
  • 16x optical zoom and large maximum aperture
  • Excellent photo quality at higher ISOs
  • No touch screen
  • Quite big dimensions
  • Cropped 4K video and no automatic exposure control

Unlike other cameras which have an equal number of pixels, Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) is equipped with a sensor that allows taking extremely sharp images. Improved light sensor of larger pixels reduces noise and makes detail retention better. Nevertheless, grain noise appears in neutral tones and shadow zones of low-ISO pictures.

Leica V-Lux Typ 114 sample photo Photo by Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica bridge camera provides good picture quality at ISO1600, while a great number of bridge cameras can’t boast of image excellence at ISO800. In general, I like its bright images, dynamic range, and first-rate clarity.

5. Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80

panasonic lumix dc fz80 Buy for $300 on Amazon
  • 4K UHD video support
  • Reasonable price
  • 3” touchscreen display
  • Wide-angle lens with a 60-times optical zoom
  • Upgraded resolution of the digital viewfinder
  • Large amount of noise at ISO 1600
  • Short battery life when employing the EVF

Unlike other bridge cameras, the DMC-FZ80 shoots stills with much lower quality at high ISO. Unfortunately, raising this setting is inevitable if you want to lower camera shake when shooting at a higher focal length. Slight noise appears even on small ISOs, but it isn’t a real issue up to 800. However, when I take photos in RAW, I have to maintain a small ISO to avoid noise.

Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 sample photo Photo by Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80

Its macro mode is amazing. It enables you to focus on objects that are merely 1cm away. That’s why I think this is the best bridge camera for macro photography, especially if you’re on a budget.

6. Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV

sony cyber-shot rx10 iv Buy for $1600 on Amazon
  • Great dynamic range capture in all modes (movie, JPG, and RAW)
  • Convenient touchscreen controls
  • Rolling shutter works smoothly even with dynamic subjects
  • Highly efficient optical stabilization system
  • Lacks lock-on autofocus when recording proxy footage or working in 1080/120p
  • Sensor controls can’t be used for menu navigation
  • Can’t use zoom in AF-C when autofocus is turned on

This Sony bridge camera allows easy tracking of a moving subject with an impressive continuous shooting speed. It’s not a professional sports camera but it offers great performance for such a price. It has a fast burst shooting mode and nice autofocus, but the zoom doesn’t work when focusing on an object in AF-C. I think this is a rather serious drawback when it comes to shooting sports events.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV sample photo Photo by Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV

On the positive side, this bridge camera is great at taking highly detailed images, particularly on high-ISO settings. However, automatic noise reduction can result in smeared colors. I managed to achieve the most optimal results by setting “High ISO NR” to “Low.” When it comes to taking photos in JPEG, I usually set the color profile to “Vivid” because it allows receiving pictures that are more vibrant.

7. Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

canon powershot sx60 hs Buy for $450 on Amazon
  • Impressive zoom range
  • Comfortable to use
  • Sturdy body
  • Manual controls and RAW support
  • Integrated WiFi and NFC
  • Doesn’t have touchscreen controls
  • Slow lens
  • Same size as beginner-level DSLRs
  • Digital viewfinder lacks a proximity sensor

This Canon bridge camera provides good performance when used in sufficient lighting or for birding. The possibility to adjust all the camera’s settings manually and several additional dials and buttons are other pluses of this camera.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS sample photo Photo by Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

The picture quality provided by the PowerShot SX60 HS bridge camera is satisfying with saturated and vibrant colors and a fine amount of details. In poor lighting, the photographs tend to get noisy, as the device isn’t suitable for work in the darkness. However, that is expected from this camera type.

8. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300

panasonic lumix dmc-fz300 Buy for $400 on Amazon
  • Impressive battery charge duration (380 images)
  • Allows setting the focus and exposure manually
  • RAW support
  • Includes an external microphone input
  • Weather-resistant sealing
  • Slightly disappointing JPEG colors
  • Soft corners when shooting at certain focal lengths

The larger the zoom, the worse the picture quality you’ll receive when taking photographs in the darkness. This happens because the majority of zoom lenses have a max aperture of approximately f/5.6 at full zoom. This is a good bridge camera for concerts that breaks that rule, as it provides a fixed aperture of f/2.8 on the whole zoom spectrum.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 sample photo Photo by Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300

It offers 4K support, a 5-point image stabilization system, and a 12fps continuous shooting mode that are all packed in a stylish water-resistant camera body with a digital viewfinder and a rotatable sensor screen.

9. Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

panasonic lumix fz1000 Buy for $500 on Amazon
  • Lens has a ring for zooming and focusing
  • 4K support with an impressive 100Mbps
  • Comfortable to hold and carry
  • Doesn’t have an integrated noise reduction filter
  • Ring can be accidentaly rotated
  • Microphone tends to record the sound of rotating

This Lumix camera has a 16-times optical zoom and a 1” sensor that serves to improve the general picture quality. The included lens is a Leica optic model with a satisfying max aperture of f/2.8 (wide-angle) and f/4 when using full zoom. These characteristics will allow you to shoot in low lighting without setting ISO to large values.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 sample photo Photo by Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

The image quality provided by the FZ1000 is more than satisfying. The exposure setting is usually accurate, and I have seen practically no highlight clipping. The colors are crisp and vibrant without being too saturated. Even though the photos are too soft when shooting in wide-angle mode, they become sharper as you zoom in.

10. Canon Powershot SX540 HS

canon powershot sx540 hs Buy for $300 on Amazon
  • Simple and time-saving file transfer via WiFi or NFC
  • Manual focusing and exposure settings
  • Increased image quality thanks to a larger sensor
  • Higher max video resolution of 1920x1080
  • Doesn’t have an integrated viewfinder, rotatable screen, or hot shoe
  • Battery lasts only for about 210 photos on a single charge
  • No panorama mode

A powerful DIGIC 6 processor and a 50-times optical zoom make SX540 HS one of the best bridge cameras I’ve used. It allows taking amazing photographs in low light and electronically doubling a zoom without the slightest drop in quality.

Canon Powershot SX540 HS sample photo Photo by Canon Powershot SX540 HS

When it comes to outdoor and daily photography, this model is probably one of the best superzoom cameras. However, it isn’t suitable for portraiture, wildlife, or sports event shooting where the subjects are mostly dynamic. Thus, if you mostly plan to take pictures of still objects or landscapes, I think you’ll be in love with this model.

11. Olympus Stylus SP-100EE

olympus stylus sp-100ee Buy for $250 on Amazon
  • 1080p video at 60fps
  • 5-axis hybrid image stabilizer
  • Tracking distant subjects with a dot sight
  • Functional design and convenient rubber handle
  • No Wi-Fi module
  • Absence of EVF
  • Low-contrast photos in case of high optical zoom
  • Appearance of soft corners and slight purple fringing

If you need to track moving objects (for example, a butterfly or a basketball game), the Olympus bridge camera is an ideal camera for you. Its built-in dot-sight makes the process of tracking objects quick and easy. Besides, I don’t lose my object while recording videos either. I am able to frame and shoot only when the subject is still.

Olympus Stylus SP-100EE sample photo Photo by Olympus Stylus SP-100EE

A functional design and a convenient handle make it the best budget bridge camera. It is definitely worth its money. As for me, the image quality still leaves much to be desired since photographs appear rather soft when applying full optical zoom. But it is not really essential for online picture sharing. By the way, the photos are still colorful and have good exposure.

12. Canon PowerShot G3 X

canon powershot g3 x Buy for $850 on Amazon
  • Movable touch-screen display
  • External flash supports built-in EVF and Canon Speedlites
  • Connections for a microphone and headphones
  • Wi-Fi module
  • Slow focus
  • Relatively long process of switching-on
  • Rather expensive EVF

Canon PowerShot G3 X is a reliable super-zoom camera which is truly desirable among passionate travel photographers. While shooting in the wide-open mode, excellent bokeh at both ends of the zoom range is achieved thanks to the fast f/2.8-5.6 lens. Although this Canon bridge camera can’t compete with DSLR cameras or an APS-C equipped compact system camera at the higher ISO speeds, ISO 100-1600 is remarkably usable with 3200 as a backup.

Canon PowerShot G3 X sample photo Photo by Canon PowerShot G3 X

When it comes to quality of construction and performance, water and dust resistance should not go unmentioned either. What is more, customizable lens control ring, command and exposure compensation dials undoubtedly make it a handy bridge camera.

13. Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

canon powershot sx70 hs Buy for $550 on Amazon
  • Pleasant performance
  • Great image stabilizer
  • Proper 4K video quality
  • Decent autofocus
  • No touchscreen
  • Relatively poor build quality
  • Slow-motion video modes are limited

Canon PowerShot SX70 is equipped with 10 fps continuous shooting, an improved electronic viewfinder, Bluetooth module, 4K video resolution, eye-sensor, and convenient second zoom control on the lens barrel. The problem is that even at ISO 100, this bridge camera is rather noisy. It offers an effective usage of just 100-400 before the object gets eliminated.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS sample photo Photo by Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

Picking this bridge camera among other superzoom cameras is not the best idea, as close-ups at zoomed-in shots are not acceptable. Nevertheless, it possesses many features that are perfect for shooting at a mid-range focal lens. For example, great image stabilizer, AF performance, speedy handling, and a nice EVF definitely improve image quality and satisfy the photographer’s needs.

14. Sony DSC-RX10 III

sony dsc-rx10 iii Buy for $1300 on Amazon
  • 4K/30p and high frame rate video
  • Headphone and microphone connections
  • First-rate EVF
  • Weatherproof
  • No touchscreen
  • Menu system is not modernized
  • Inconvenient buttons
  • User interface is stuffed with an extensive feature set

Thi bridge camera has a 24-600mm F2.4-4 lens and 20MP 1"-type stacked CMOS sensor, amazing dynamic range, and high ISO performance. Besides these features, 4K video recording and some high-speed video capture modes are also available. Apart from an upgraded feature set, developers modernized this Sony bridge camera with an awesome lens which considerably improved its performance. Moreover, 24-600 mm equivalent F2.4-4 zoom lens provides an impressive sharpness when shooting with any zoom and focus placement.

Sony DSC-RX10 III sample photo Photo by Sony DSC-RX10 III

It is rather heavy and expensive, but RX10 III is definitely worth its money. No matter whether you are an intrepid explorer, passionate photographer, or a travel blogger, it is an appealing offer. Be sure, the combination of great zoom range and excellent video quality is not available in other bridge cameras.

15. Sony DSC-HX300

sony dsc-hx300 Buy for $300 on Amazon
  • High results at the maximum optical range
  • Hand-operated zoom
  • Movable LCD
  • No raw format
  • Small sensor and a great number of pixels
  • No external flash or accessory port

Being equipped with hand-operated zoom, the Sony Cyber-Shot HX300 provides really sharp images. Macro performance allows me to focus 1cm away from the subject.

Sony DSC-HX300 sample photo Photo by Sony DSC-HX300

The especially universal 50x lens provides control of barrel distortion at the 24mm wide-angle focal length.

List of the 15 Best Bridge Cameras

Image Camera Details  
panasonic lumix fz2500/fz2000
Panasonic Lumix FZ2500/FZ2000
  • 20.1 MP
  • CMOS
fujifilm finepix s1
Fujifilm FinePix S1
  • 16 MP
  • CMOS
nikon coolpix p1000
Nikon COOLPIX P1000
  • 16.7 MP
  • CMOS
panasonic lumix dc-fz80
Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80
  • 18.1 MP
  • CMOS
sony cyber-shot rx10 iv
Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV
  • 20.1 MP
  • CMOS
canon powershot sx60 hs
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
  • 16.1 MP
  • CMOS
panasonic lumix dmc-fz300
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300
  • 12.1 MP
  • CMOS
panasonic lumix fz1000
Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
  • 20.1 MP
  • CMOS
canon powershot sx540 hs
Canon Powershot SX540
  • 20.3 MP
  • CMOS
leica v-lux (typ 114)
Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)
  • 20 MP
  • CMOS
olympus stylus sp-100ee
Olympus Stylus SP-100EE
  • 16 MP
  • CMOS
canon powershot g3 x
Canon PowerShot G3 X
  • 20.2 MP
  • CMOS
canon powershot sx70 hs
Canon PowerShot SX70 HS
  • 20.3 MP
  • CMOS
sony dsc-rx10 iii
Sony RX10 III
  • 20.1 MP
  • CMOS
sony dsc-hx300
Sony Cyber-Shot HX300
  • 20.4 MP
  • CMOS

How to Choose a Bridge Camera?

To choose the best bridge camera you should know what particular features to pay attention to. I have put together a list of such features to know what to look at while making a choice.

1. Lenses

As you already know, the lens in a bridge camera is not interchangeable. Nevertheless, zooming features make it truly the best zoom camera since extra lenses are not required. Being equipped with wide-angle lenses (24 mm or 28 mm), it extends to nearly 1200 mm when zooming the lens to the maximum limit. Moreover, the focal length is equivalent to 500 mm and 1000 mm. I can’t agree more that you won’t find such an impressive lens among DSLRs at cheap prices.

2. Viewfinder

Owners of superzoom bridge cameras take pictures with the assistance of the LCD screen or the electronic viewfinder since the optical viewfinder is not available. Sometimes, the most compact bridge cameras lack the EVF as well. In other words, you should use the optical viewfinder, if anything, and count on the LCD screen to settle the camera lens. Users snap the picture based on the image preview seen on the screen.

Nonetheless, the EVF can’t compete with the optical viewfinder, as snapping pictures with superzoom cameras is rather slow. Moreover, image distortion may appear when we make a fast move.

3. Sensor Size

Bridge cameras are usually equipped with the sensor almost identical in size to the ones in compact cameras. 15 mm or less is a common diagonal for a conventional bridge camera. Accordingly, if you print your photographs in A3 format, images may be slightly distorted.

4. Size and Weight

In spite of the fact that bridge cameras are rather lightweight and small, they are improved with the best DSLR’s features. In fact, cheap models are made of plastic, which decreases their weight. On the other side, such bridge cameras are not durable and may be easily disrupted.

5. Accessories

As a rule, modern bridge cameras are equipped with an external ‘hot shoe’ flash, suitable for the attachment of extra flash units and EVFs, if they are not available in a standard kit. You may also fit filters or close-up lenses with the help of a bayonet fitting for lenses present in many bridge cameras. Moreover, remote shutter release may be added to some cameras.

6. Image Stabilization

Unlike compact point-and-shoot cameras that are prone to shaking while shooting, bridge cameras are modernized with an optical or sensor-shift stabilizer. In such a manner, it keeps the camera steady and reduces blurring.

Bridge Сameras vs DSLR vs Mirrorless

bridge vs dslr vs mirrorless

Let’s take a close look at key differences between a bridge camera and mirrorless or DSLR. A bridge camera may be characterized as a connecting link between compact point-and-shoot cameras and heavy DSLRs. Consequently, having compared them, I have found essential differences.

  • Can’t choose tha camera you need? Read more about the differences between mirrorless vs DSLR cameras.

Bridge Camera vs DSLR

  1. Though bridge cameras have improved optical zoom lens, they are not equipped with an interchangeable lens, while DSLRs are.
  2. Due to the ordinary sensor, bridge cameras are not as impressive in low-light/high-ISO situations as DSLRs. But at the same time, they are much better than point-and-shoot ones.
  3. While an optical viewfinder is an obligatory feature for all SLRs, a bridge camera may not be necessarily equipped with it. In general, it may have an LCD display or just an electronic viewfinder. In other words, you can’t see a real image as reflected by the mirror looking into the viewfinder eyehole; you simply look at the image captured by the sensor, as seen by the lens.
  4. Such peculiar DSLRs’ features as Aperture Priority, Program, Shutter Speed Priority, and Manual exposure programs are also available in the best bridge camera. Control set and handling are analogs to those of DSLRs.

Bridge Camera vs Mirrorless

  1. As a rule, bridge cameras are very convenient, equipped with a permanent zoom lens, relatively big, and modernized with a great number of adjustments.
  2. Mirrorless cameras are also small but slightly more complicated than bridge cameras. Actually, you are to choose the lens and exposure adjustments on your own. Body design is similar to a point-and-shoot one, though lenses are interchangeable. In general, you may apply numerous adjustments, as well as use menus for some settings.
  3. DSLRs are considered to be the most expensive cameras providing perfect image quality. Having rather complicated bodies, they belong to the group of large cameras. The latest models are improved with full adjustments. Like with mirrorless cameras, you are to select an appropriate lens, lighting, and exposure

Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments. read more