It’s time to discover the best bridge camera. If you’re unfamiliar with what a bridge camera is, it’s basically the best of all worlds. The best bridge camera will combine a massive zoom with the same controls you get with any quality DSLR camera. These units also come complete with the most high-end features.
If you can’t decide between the convenience of a standard mirrorless digital camera or the massive power of a DSLR, you want a bridge camera. These are cameras with a fixed lens that are designed to feel and operate just like a DSLR while having the range and the power to give you huge versatility. Plus, they’re often way more affordable than a top-end DSLR.
But keep in mind that bridge cameras are not for everyone. The main issue with a bridge camera is that it comes with a fixed lens. You can’t attach an external lens to a bridge camera, so you’re stuck with what you get. But they are designed to be the best. If you’re looking for an extremely sharp image, the simplicity of not having to choose the proper lens for the job, and the decent sensor that comes with a bridge camera, you’re going to be very happy.
Additionally, most new bridge cameras are capable of 4K video, have great ISO settings, and impressive dynamic range. If you want a little bit of everything jammed into one amazing device, a bridge camera is going to be right for you.
Now let’s take a look at the five best bridge cameras available right now!
First on the list for today is the very best bridge camera out there. The Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV really is at the top of the pile when it comes to pure quality. Yes, it’s the most expensive bridge camera on the market, but it also has the world’s fastest AF acquisition speed of 0.03 seconds. This is because it comes included with a massive 1” Exmor CMOS sensor. This allows the camera to have an incredibly fast readout speed, a huge processing engine, and 24 frames per second of continuous shooting. The camera has 20.1 megapixels, but the quality is far beyond mere megapixels. All your images are going to be crisp, clean, and extremely vibrant.
When it comes to video recording, the camera is even better. It doesn’t merely offer 4K video. You can do 4K6 movie recording, including ultra-fast AF tracking in all your videos. But there is so much more. The camera comes with optical image stabilization, it’s great for macro photography, there’s a super-speed anti-distortion shutter, and it comes available with a heap of extra accessories to help strengthen your photography. The long zoom range is great, it’s an extremely convenient camera with settings that are easy to learn, and it’s great for taking portraits.
- Available w/ GorillaPod Kit
- 24FPS Continuous Shooting
- Fastest AF Acquisition in the World
- 325 Phase Detection AF Points
- Robust CMOS Sensor for High Resolution
- Extremely Expensive
- Touchscreen Can Be Too Sensitive
The Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 is another fantastic bridge camera that offers 4K video recording, 20.1 megapixels, and an optical image stabilizer. This camera has all the features you need for professional photography, but it comes at a bargain price. Rather than spending a fortune on something like the Sony Cyber-Shot, you can easily pick up the FZ1000 for less than $500. And yes, it’s still a great camera. It has integrated Wi-Fi for easy image transfer, you get vibrant and realistic motion in all of your videos, and it feels comfortable and professional in your hands.
Even greater than the standard image stabilization is the 5-axis correction, which gives you smooth operation and no-blur photographs even when operating with just one hand. There are several different memory options you can choose from, you have a lot of creative and artistic controls built into the camera, and you can do macro photography at up to 3cm! This is definitely one of the better bridge cameras at a reasonable price.
- Excellent for Macro Photography
- Powerful Zoom Feature
- Extra-Large Touchscreen w/ Easy Controls
- Light-Sensitive Sensor for Great Night Photos
- Shoots Amazing RAW Images
- Slightly Heavier Than Other Cameras
- Slight Learning Curve
Nikon also makes some great bridge cameras. The COOLPIX P1000 is by far the favorite model of professionals when looking at Nikon. This unit takes amazing videos in 4K UHD. It uses dual detect image stabilization to keep the blur out of your photographs. It also has vibration reduction to combat lens shift in picture mode or video mode. You have a top continuous shooting speed of 7 frames per second, plus a 3000mm zoom. The camera is great for time-lapse and macro. But the main bonus is definitely the zoom range. You can zoom much farther than with a standard telephoto lens. This means the camera is excellent for nighttime photography when taking pictures of the stars and the moon, and it’s great for wildlife photography.
Other than just having one of the best zooms out of any bridge camera, the P1000 also comes included with a very compact lens and convenient external control features, such as the smooth focus control ring, the autofocus and manual focus switching, and the snapback subject acquisition checking. This camera offers smooth operation, comfortable controls, and unmatched zoom capabilities.
- 3000mm Zoom Range
- Manual & Automatic Focusing Modes
- 36 Million Dot Electronic Viewfinder
- Great for Filmmaking
- FK UHD w/ Stereo Sound
- Picture Quality is OK/ Only 16.7MP
- Tripod Still Needed for High Zoom
The Canon PowerShot is the closest competition to Sony’s Cyber-Shot. Even the names are similar! While the SX70 still can’t really compare to the RX10, it’s still an insanely powerful camera. It has 65x optical zoom, 20.3 megapixels, a DIGIC 8 image processor, Canon’s EOS Webcam software to turn your camera into a powerful webcam, and 4K video capabilities complete with 4K time-lapse.
Like most bridge cameras, the SX70 is great for macro photography and zooming. But this model comes with a 21mm wide-angle lens that makes it fantastic for architecture, real estate, and landscape photography. You get continuous shooting at 10 frames per second, there are six different color settings that you can choose from when taking photographs, you have full control over sharpness and contrast down to the finest adjustment, and the image quality is simply beautiful. The massive sensor ensures that all your photographs, even when taken in low-light situations, are going to be superb, with bright colors and exceptional details.
- Massive Style Settings for Creativity
- Built-in OLED Electronic Viewfinder
- Zoom Framing Assist
- Large & Powerful Sensor w/ 65x Optical Zoom
- 3 Megapixels + 4K Video
- Difficult to Use in the Dark
- Hard to Understand Features
The Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 is a phenomenal bridge camera at a very low price. If you’re looking for something that fits a tighter budget, this is the bridge camera that’s right for you. It still has 4K video capture, large sensor with 18.1 megapixels, and has a great zoom range. The FZ80 also has USB charging with Wi-Fi connectivity. This makes it easy to have your camera battery charged while on the go, and share your photos across mobile devices.
The optical image stabilization works really well. And even when zooming to the maximum of 60x, your images are still going to be clear and stunning. This is the perfect bridge camera for travelers who want something compact and simple when taking professional photographs on vacation. You can take breathtaking landscape photographs, get up close and personal with macro photography, and have lots of creative freedom when it comes to capturing intense videos or taking pictures of your favorite meals to post online! The camera is also comfortable and easy to use. It comes with an ergonomic grip and a high-resolution viewfinder with a touchscreen display.
- Exceptionally Affordable
- Post Focus Technology for Social Media Posts
- 4K Video Works Very Well
- Zoom Range is Beyond Amazing
- Small & Lightweight for Traveling
- No Focus Ring
- Poor Low-Light Focusing
There are a few main points you want to consider before you purchase a bridge camera. The first major aspect to think about is the size of the sensor. In the past, sensors inside bridge cameras were more similar to what you would find inside of a smartphone today. However, all the newest bridge cameras come packed with a 1” sensor. This is more similar to the massive sensor that you will find inside of a DSLR. Always check the size of the sensor before making any purchase.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the bigger the sensor, the smaller the zoom range. It’s up to you to figure out where your priorities are. Expensive bridge cameras have the biggest sensors and the smallest zoom ranges. On the flip side, inexpensive cameras often have smaller sensors but spectacular zoom ranges.
This means that if you’re on a budget, you’re going to have more zoom than sensor. Depending on what’s more important to you, the sheer quality of your images or the ability to zoom, you’re going to have your work cut out for you when making your decision.