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.
A bridge camera is a flexible and inexpensive DSLR replacement. It provides nearly identical manual control, user-friendly automatic modes, and incredible zoom lens. Bridge cameras are smaller and more lightweight. They’re usually used for travel, wildlife, street, and landscape photography. Got interested? Read my review of 15 best bridge cameras for affordable prices.
Price: about $1000
FZ2500 if 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.
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.
Photo by Panasonic Lumix FZ2500/FZ2000
Price: about $400
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 allows using it in windy or rainy conditions. Because the resolution on this camera 1920x1080 it is unbeatable for even twice the price. Seriously, it's really difficult to find an affordable video camera that shoots 1080/60p.
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.
Photo by Fujifilm FinePix S1
Price: about $1000
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.
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 that is perfect for night photography.
Photo by Nikon Coolpix P1000
Price: about $1200
Unlike other cameras having 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 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.
Photo by Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)
Price: about $300
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.
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.
Photo by Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80
Price: about $1600
This Sony bridge camera allows easily tracking 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, the zoom doesn’t work when focusing on an object in AF-C. I think this is a rather serious drawback regarding shooting sports events.
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” as it allows receiving pictures that are more vibrant.
Photo by Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV
Price: about $450
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.
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.
Photo by Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
Price: about $400
The larger the zoom, the worse 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.
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.
Photo by Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300
Price: about $500
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.
The image quality provided by the FZ1000 is more than satisfying. The exposure setting is usually accurate and I haven’t seen practically any 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.
Photo by Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
Price: about $300
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.
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.
Photo by Canon Powershot SX540 HS
Price: about $250
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 too. I am able to frame and shoot only when the subject is still.
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.
Photo by Olympus Stylus SP-100EE
Price: about $850
Canon PowerShot G3 X is a reliable super-zoom camera being 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.
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.
Photo by Canon PowerShot G3 X
Price: about $550
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. 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.
Photo by Canon PowerShot SX70 HS
Price: about $1300
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, 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 shooting with any zoom and focus placement.
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.
Photo by Sony DSC-RX10 III
Price: about $300
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. The especially universal 50x lens provides control of barrel distortion at the 24mm wide-angle focal length.
Photo by Sony DSC-HX300
|Panasonic Lumix FZ2500/FZ2000FOR MACRO||VIEW PRICE|
|Fujifilm FinePix S1WITH VIEWFINDER||VIEW PRICE|
|Nikon COOLPIX P1000FOR WILDLIFE||VIEW PRICE|
|Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80||VIEW PRICE|
|Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon PowerShot SX60 HSOUR CHOICE||VIEW PRICE|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300FOR VIDEO||VIEW PRICE|
|Panasonic Lumix FZ1000||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon Powershot SX540||VIEW PRICE|
|Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)||VIEW PRICE|
|Olympus Stylus SP-100EEBUDGET||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon PowerShot G3 X||VIEW PRICE|
|Canon PowerShot SX70 HS||VIEW PRICE|
|Sony RX10 IIIFOR BIRDING||VIEW PRICE|
|Sony Cyber-Shot HX300||VIEW PRICE|
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.
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.
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 either. In other words, you should use optical viewfinder if any 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.
Bridge cameras are usually equipped with the sensor almost identical in size as the one 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.
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.
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 lens present in many bridge cameras. Moreover, remote shutter release may be added to some cameras.
Unlike compact point-and-shoot cameras that are prone to shaking while shooting, bridge cameras are modernized with optical or sensor-shift stabilizer. In such a manner, it keeps the camera steady and reduces blurring.
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 & shoot cameras and heavy DSLRs. Consequently, having compared them I have found essential differences.
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.