By Ann Young 6 days ago Camera & Lenses
If you need a huge zoom lens, choose a bridge camera.
Which is the best bridge camera to buy instead of bulky DSLRs and entry-level dynamic range camera? 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 digital single-lens reflex camera replacement. The bridge camera provides nearly identical manual control, user-friendly automatic modes, and an incredible zoom lens. Bridge cameras are smaller and more lightweight than DSLR cameras for portraits. They’re usually used for travel, wildlife, street, and landscape photography.
Sensor: 20.1MP CMOS 1-inch | Lens: 24 - 480 mm f/2.8-4.5 20x Zoom | Video: 4K Ultra HD | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen: 3-inch touchscreen 1.04m dots | Weight: 2.1 lbs
⊕ Amazing picture quality
⊕ Well-designed body with a convenient grip
⊕ Amazing continuous autofocus and subject tracking
⊕ Awesome 4K footage quality
⊖ Heavy noise reduction when shooting in JPEG
⊖ 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.
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.
Sensor: 16MP CMOS 1/2.3-inch | Lens: 24-1200 mm f/2.8-5.6 50x Zoom | Video: Full HD | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen: 3-inch 920k dots | Weight: 1.5 lbs
⊕ 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.
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.
Sensor: 16MP CMOS 1/2.3-inch | Lens: 24–3000 mm f/2.8-8 125x Zoom | Video: 4K Ultra HD | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen: 3.2-inch 921k dots | Weight: 3.12 lbs
⊕ 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.
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.
Sensor: 20.1MP CMOS 1-inch | Lens: 25-400 mm f/2.8-4.0 16x Zoom | Video: 4K Ultra HD | Viewfinder: EVF / LCD | Screen: 3-inch 921k dots | Weight: 1.83 lbs
⊕ 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 bridge camera provides good picture quality at ISO 1600, while a great number of bridge cameras can’t boast of image excellence at ISO 800. In general, I like its bright images, dynamic range, and first-rate clarity.
Sensor: 18.9MP MOS 1/2.3-inch | Lens: 20-1200mm f/2.8-5.9 60x Zoom | Video: 4K Ultra HD | Viewfinder: LVF | Screen: 3-inch touchscreen 1.04m dots | Weight: 1.36 lbs
⊕ 4K UHD video support
⊕ Reasonable price
⊕ 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.
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.
What else I like about the Panasonic Lumix FZ82 bridge camera during practical testing is its speed. On the one hand, fast burst shooting at 10 frames per second. On the other hand, 49 contrast measuring points allow autofocus to do its job in a matter of milliseconds.
Sensor: 20.1MP CMOS 1-inch | Lens: 24-600mm f/2.4-4 25x Zoom | Video: 4K Ultra HD | Viewfinder: OLED EVF | Screen: 3-inch touchscreen 1.44m dots | Weight: 2.32 lbs
⊕ 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
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.
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.
Sensor: 16.1MP CMOS 1/2.3-inch | Lens: 21-1365 mm f/3.4-6.5 65x Zoom | Video: Full HD | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen: 3-inch 922k dots | Weight: 1.43 lbs
⊕ Impressive zoom range
⊕ Comfortable to use
⊕ Sturdy body
⊕ Manual controls and RAW support
⊖ Doesn’t have touchscreen controls
⊖ Slow lens
⊖ Same size as beginner-level DSLRs
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.
Sensor: 12.1MP MOS 1/2.3-inch | Lens: 25-600 mm f/2.8-4.5 24x Zoom | Video: 4K Ultra HD | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen: 3-inch touchscreen 1.04m dots | Weight: 1.52 lbs
⊕ Impressive battery charge duration (380 images)
⊕ Allows setting the focus and exposure manually
⊕ RAW support
⊖ 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.
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.
Sensor: 20.1MP MOS 1-inch | Lens: 25-400 mm f/2.8-4.0 16x Zoom | Video: 4K Ultra HD | Viewfinder: LCD | Screen: 3-inch 920k dots | Weight: 1.83 lbs
⊕ 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 accidentally rotated
This Lumix bridge 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 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.
Sensor: 20.3MP BSI-CMOS 1/2.3-inch | Lens: 24-1200mm f/3.4-6.5 50x Zoom | Video: Full HD | Viewfinder: LCD | Screen: 3-inch 461k dots | Weight: 0.98 lbs
⊕ Simple and time-saving file transfer via WiFi or NFC
⊕ Manual focusing and exposure settings
⊕ Increased image quality thanks to a larger sensor
⊖ Doesn’t have an integrated viewfinder, rotatable screen, or hot shoe
⊖ Battery lasts only for about 210 photos on a single charge
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.
Sensor: 16MP BSI-CMOS 1/2.3-inch | Lens: 24-1200 mm f/2.9–6.5 50x Zoom | Video: Full HD | Viewfinder: | Screen: 3-inch 460k dots | Weight: 1.31-inch
⊕ 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
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.
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.
Sensor: 20.2MP CMOS 1-inch | Lens: 24-600 mm f/2.8-5.6 24x Zoom | Video: Full HD | Viewfinder: LCD | Screen: 3.2-inch touchscreen 1.62-dots | Weight: 1.5 lbs
⊕ Movable touch-screen display
⊕ External flash supports built-in EVF and Canon Speedlites
⊕ Connections for a microphone and headphones
⊖ Slow focus
⊖ Relatively long process of switching-on
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.
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.
Sensor: 20.3MP CMOS 1/2.3-inch | Lens: 21-1365mm f/3.4-6.5 65x Zoom | Video: 4K Ultra HD | Viewfinder: OLED EVF | Screen: 3-inch 922k dots | Weight: 1.36 inch
⊕ Pleasant performance
⊕ Great image stabilizer
⊕ Proper 4K video quality
⊖ No touchscreen
⊖ Relatively poor build quality
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.
Sensor: 20.1MP CMOS 1-inch | Lens: 24-600 mm f/2.4-4.0 25x Zoom | Video: Full HD | Viewfinder: XGA OLED Tru-Finer | Screen: 3-inch 1.22m dots | Weight: 2.41 lbs
⊕ 4K/30p and high frame rate video
⊕ Headphone and microphone connections
⊕ First-rate EVF
⊖ No touchscreen
⊖ Menu system is not modernized
⊖ Inconvenient buttons
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.
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.
Sensor: 20.4MP Exmor R CMOS 1/2.3-inch | Lens: 4.3-215 mm f/2.8-6.3 50x Zoom | Video: Full HD | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen: 3-inch 921k dots | Weight: 2.1 lbs
⊕ High results at the maximum optical range
⊕ Hand-operated zoom
⊕ Movable LCD
⊖ No raw format
⊖ Small sensor and a great number of pixels
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.
Canon PowerShot SX60 HSOUR CHOICE
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Fujifilm FinePix S1WITH VIEWFINDER
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Nikon COOLPIX P1000FOR WILDLIFE
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300FOR VIDEO
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Panasonic Lumix FZ2500/FZ2000FOR MACRO
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To choose the best bridge camera for photography, 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 for street photography and other genres 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 for wildlife photography 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.
Bridge cameras are usually equipped with the sensor almost identical in size to the ones in highest megapixel 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 lenses present in many bridge cameras. Moreover, remote shutter release may be added to some cameras.
Similar to the best cameras for macro photography, bridge cameras are modernized with an optical or sensor-shift stabilizer. In such a manner, it keeps the camera steady and reduces blurring.
Although most vloggers record videos in Full HD format, if you are filming a clip to further upload it to YouTube and want to surprise your audience with a high-quality picture, 4K 60fps support should be your priority.
4K offers more options for editing and trimming your video later, but this feature is suitable for advanced bloggers, not beginners.
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.
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.
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