We have all heard of Expensive DSLR cameras that are capable of capturing stunning images, but since they are quite complicated, not many people can use them to their full extent. At the other end of the spectrum we have point and shoot cameras that offer decent performance, but can be very limited in use. Bridge cameras are a third type of cameras, as their name suggests; these cameras “bridge” the gap between complicated professional shooting devices and simplistic cameras for amateurs. Bridge cameras sacrifice certain features that are common in DSLR cameras, such as swappable lenses, powerful sensors, processors and more, this makes them sacrifice a bit of performance as well, but they still manage to be vastly superior to lower level cameras.
The best thing about bridge cameras is the fact that not only are they more compact and easier to use, but they also cost less, making them an excellent option for people who are mid-level or beginner photographers.
We have taken some of the best bridge cameras and after making them go through rigorous tests, we have come to the conclusion that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is the best compact bridge camera out there, not only does it have a sensor as large as the kind found on DSLRs, it can also record 4K video and is quite easy to carry around. For people who want a camera that can capture images up close, the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is a superb choice with its incredible 65x optical zoom.
Bridge cameras mostly sit in the backseat when compared to DSLRs, but there are always exceptions such as the Soy Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 Mark 2; a bridge camera that packs enough power to actually beat most SLRs that are equipped with their kit-lenses. This camera provides one with the ability to shoot great pictures and videos without any complicated controls, but it also costs a crazy amount, an amount in which one can easily buy a decent DSLR or mirrorless camera.
There are several bridge camera options out there that are bound to appeal to budget buyers, one such option being Nikon’s Coolpix L340, a camera that comes with a 20.2 MP image sensor, a wide-angle capturing capability, 28x optical zoom and a 3 inch LCD display.
Now let’s take a better look at some of the most desirable bridge cameras that one can buy this year.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
The DMC-LX100 has a really retro feel to it thanks to the shape and design of its compact body, the camera is quite compact and has a number of knobs on it that make it look like a relic of the past, but do not let its looks deceive you. This bridge camera is packed with advanced features that make it a great bargain at its price, it has a 16.8 MP sensor and a shooting speed of up to 11 frames per second. The camera has a pretty decent camera zoom as well, making it a good option for taking depth of field shots, but what makes the DMC-LX100 the best camera at its price range is the fact that it offers 4K video shooting with a responsive autofocus. For people who want a good overall camera and want to avoid complicated features, this camera is a pretty great choice.
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
Canon is a pretty big brand in the DSLR world, with cameras that are highly praised for their video capturing capabilities, the company’s SX60 HS is a decently priced bridge camera with a number of superb features. Its 65x optical zoom lens allows one to take incredibly up close pictures, coupled with a swivelling LCD that makes taking shots at odd angles much easier. Its video recording is smooth and satisfactory, the camera also has an external mic jack and is capable of shooting in RAW; a feature that is not common in ultra-zoom cameras. The SX60 HS’s great features, ergonomic design and great price make it one of the best ultra-zoom options out there.
Canon PowerShot G7 X
If you are looking for a quality camera that you can carry around with you without much trouble then the PowerShot G7 X is a good option, its compact body holds enough features to make it appeal to advanced photographers and even professionals who like travelling light. This camera’s 20.1 MP sensor enables it to capture colour rich photos with a vast amount of detail. There is also a newer version of this camera; the PowerShot G7 X Mark 2 which has been updated with a handful of new features such as swivelling LCD, a 4.2x optical zoom and RAW shooting capability.
Nikon Coolpix L340
If budget constraints are an issue for you then the Coolpix L340 is a great camera to go for, it offers features that are comparable to entry-level DSLRs and does not require you to burn a hole in your pocket. Nikon has equipped this camera with a 20 MP sensor, a decent 28x optical zoom lens, a tilting 3 inch LCD and built-in Wi-Fi. The camera also has a digital zoom feature that can let you zoom up to 56x but at the cost of lowering your resolution.
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 Mark 2
The DSC-RX10 Mark 2 is by far the most expensive bridge camera that you can go for, but it is definitely worth the price, the camera’s body is loaded with a number of great features that make it a pretty versatile device. It has a large 8.3x optical zoom lens, a powerful back-lit 20.2 MP sensor and a great depth of field capturing capability. It is capable of capturing 4K footage, a feature that has yet to come to entry to mid-level DSLR and mirrorless cameras, the camera also offers a High Frame Rate movie recording mode and 40x slow motion video recording. It is a pricey device, but 4K recording capability at this price range makes the DSC-RX10 Mark 2 definitely worth considering if you are into videography.
The Two Kinds of Bridge Cameras
Bridge cameras can be categorised into two groups, the first consisting of advance model bridge cameras that offer large image sensors, powerful image processors, high-end lenses and other features that make using them quite enjoyable. These cameras also tend to be more pocket-friendly, and some of the more advanced models such as the DSC-RX10 Mark 2 by Sony are equipped with really high-end features. Bridge cameras like these cost around $450 to more than $1000 and are suited for people who want good performance and versatile devices.
The second type of bridge cameras are ultra-zoom cameras, these come equipped with fixed long-zoom lenses that can easily outperform DSLR lenses in terms of zooming. Ultra-zoom cameras are bulkier than advanced bridge cameras but are still light enough to be carried around easily. These usually cost around $300 to $600, making them viable options for photographers on a budget.
Things to Look For When Buying a Bridge Camera
Since cameras do not come cheap, it is important to make sure that you make a purchase that you can be happy with, there are a number of things that you need to focus on when buying a bridge camera, the very first being to look for a large image sensor, make sure that the camera that you go for has an image sensor of 1 inch or bigger, the larger the sensor, the better the camera will be at capturing in low light and at capturing fine details.
Another important thing to look for is the lens’ aperture, an aperture around 1.8/f or a minimum of 2.2/f is recommended, keep in mind that smaller numbers mean larger apertures. Having a “faster” lens would mean that your camera will perform better in low light since its aperture will allow more light to enter the lens.
Features such as metallic bodies, tilting touchscreens and electronic viewfinders might seem excessive, but they do make your camera more practical, a metal body makes your camera more robust, something that you should consider if you plan on carrying your camera around a lot. Touch screens make interacting with your camera easier, and a movable screen means that you can capture shots from difficult angles without much trouble. A decent electronic viewfinder will allow you to capture images with better accuracy and get your framing right as well.
Any bridge camera out there is significantly smaller than even the most compact DSLR, making these cameras really portable and a lot lighter as well, the biggest disadvantages that these cameras have is that their lens are not swappable, making them unsuitable for people who are looking for upgradability in their device. Remember, if you plan on sticking to your camera for a while, then make sure that you do not settle for less, buy a camera that you know you will be happy with.
Bridge cameras are primarily designed to be used in well-lit areas, their performance in medium to low light ranges from acceptable to decent depending on the size of the image sensor on a camera and its aperture. While most of these cameras are point and shoot based, you can tweak their settings a bit to get better results, meaning that they offer enough manual controls for one to learn the basics of photography and then maybe move on to a DSLR in the future.