The 10 Best Bridge Cameras

Updated May 23, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

10 Best Bridge Cameras
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
Ideal for anyone who's exploring photography at a higher level than just snapping pics on their phone, but who isn't quite ready to invest in an expensive DSLR system, these bridge cameras offer excellent image quality, convenience, and nearly all the features found on more professional styles. Plus, fixed lenses are allowed in far more music and performance venues than interchangeable ones are. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best bridge camera on Amazon.

10. Nikon Coolpix P900

With an 83x optical range, the Nikon Coolpix P900 is an excellent choice for birding and sports photography. Its conventional twin dials will help prepare young photographers for the level of control they'll eventually encounter on a full-sized DSLR.
  • effective telephoto stabilization
  • built-in wi-fi connectivity
  • mediocre electronic viewfinder
Brand Nikon
Model 26499
Weight 3.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Canon PowerShot G3 X

The Canon PowerShot G3 X delivers some of the best close-distance still image quality available in this class, at a price that runs in the middle of the pack. Its 1-inch sensor sits behind a lens whose clarity is drastically increased by its decreased focal length.
  • rear screen flips for selfies
  • exclusive anti-distortion processing
  • below-average maximum optical zoom
Brand Canon
Model 0106C001
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Canon PowerShot SX60

The combination of optical and digital zoom on the Canon PowerShot SX60 provides a 260x total multiplier, making it one of the more flexible options in the field. This one doesn't perform so well in low-light conditions, though.
  • supports raw images
  • helpful framing assist mode
  • somewhat poor battery life
Brand Canon
Model 9543B001
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Sony HX400V

The Sony HX400V takes crystal-clear pictures in a wide variety of settings, and it performs better than most in low-light environments, thanks to its superb Exmor R sensor. It's also able to tag photos with their GPS location, making sharing and archival simple.
  • smart lock-on auto-focus
  • intelligent panorama function
  • lacks 4k video recording
Brand Sony
Model DSCHX400V/B
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV

The high performing Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV is the latest generation of the original crossover camera, and it brings to the table an advanced motion-tracking system, as well as a literally lightning-fast, 24 frames-per-second burst shooting capability.
  • high-end lcd touchscreen
  • ideal for capturing wildlife stills
  • costs as much as a dslr
Brand Sony
Model DSCRX10M4
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

Boasting superior image quality and usability, the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 makes a fantastic alternative to a costly mirrorless setup. It combines control nearly as intricate as that of a DSLR with the price and convenience of a hybrid model.
  • large 20-plus-megapixel sensor
  • captures 4k video at 30 fps
  • low zoom offset by extended aperture
Brand Panasonic
Model DMC-FZ1000
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Lumix FZ2500

Panasonic's Lumix FZ2500 places its primary emphasis on the combination of a large, 21.2 MP 1-inch sensor and bright, clear, Leica glass. With features like cinema gradation profiles and built-in time lapse, it's ideal for budding videographers.
  • integrated neutral-density filters
  • articulating touchscreen monitor
  • frame-by-frame 4k video stills
Brand Panasonic
Model DMC-FZ2500
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Nikon Coolpix B700

The Nikon Coolpix B700 goes above and beyond by automatically switching from screen to viewfinder as you bring it to your eye. Add in a 60x lens with a maximum 1,440-millimeter focal length, and you end up with a powerful and user-friendly device.
  • great for off-angle shooting
  • supports bluetooth low-energy
  • great value for a leading model
Brand Nikon
Model 26510
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Panasonic Lumix FZ80

With a price far less than many point-and-shoots, the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 really does bridge the gap between beginner and intermediate equipment. It's even supplied with enough features and control to serve as a worthy backup for professionals.
  • responds quickly to input
  • stunningly fast auto-focus
  • 20-millimeter wide-angle setting
Brand Panasonic
Model DC-FZ80K
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

1. Sony DSC-RX10 III

The Sony DSC-RX10 III offers one of the highest video frame rates available, capturing up to 960 FPS in full HD, for an unbelievably dramatic and blur-free slow-motion effect. Its 600-millimeter aperture and powerful, backlit sensor help uphold its strong legacy.
  • anti-distortion shutter technology
  • superior built-in post-processing
  • no signal-compromising pixel binning
Brand Sony
Model DSCRX10M3
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Over The Bridge

Whether it was a personal moment with a photograph you took on your phone or with a small point-and-shoot camera, or a consistent accumulation of likes and positive comments on the pictures you post to social media, there was a point at which you said to yourself, "You know what? I'm a pretty good photographer."

Perhaps you've long harbored dreams of making a career in the art, as difficult as that can be. Maybe you just want to test your mettle behind the lens of something more substantial, something over which you can exert total photographic control.

Well, when you got around to researching more professional cameras, particularly D-SLRs and D-SLMs, you'd find that even the least expensive of these kits runs north of $500, that they're a little on the bulkier side, and that they may prove a little too intimidating right out of the gate.

Fortunately, the industry is sensitive to this perspective, and they've created a whole category just for you that we call bridge cameras. Essentially, a bridge camera takes all the ease of point-and-shoot photography and places it in a body that feels a lot more like that of a professional digital camera. Their lenses are fixed in place, and they tend to have a long optical zoom function, so you don't have to worry about carrying around extra lenses or swapping them out in the field like you do with the fancier interchangeable lens systems.

Most of the bridge cameras on our list give you a chance to get a feel for manual zoom operation on the barrel of the lens, and some of them even offer manual focus controls if you want to challenge yourself.

Once you've gotten comfortable with the feel of a larger, more interactive system in your hands, you can start to deactivate a lot of the automatic functions of the camera, slowly experimenting with manual control over things like shutter speed, aperture, and ISO sensitivity, at whatever pace you like, until you begin to learn how each affects your photos.

The Myth Of The Megapixel

When you compare cameras online–and this holds true for everything from the most expensive D-SLR to the cameras on cell phones–one of the first specs you'll see in big, bold fonts on every website and piece of packaging material associated with the camera, is its megapixel count.

A pixel is a little spot on your camera's light sensor that responds to whatever intensity of light it reads with a specific electrical signal that your camera decodes into a corresponding pixel in its image. The more pixels you have, the more tiny slices of information your camera has at its disposal to stitch together, making it so the seams between pixels become less and less visible. Such an image is normally referred to as having greater resolution. A 4K television has greater resolution than an HDTV because it has four times as many pixels packed into the same screen size.

Here's where things get tricky, though, so I'll stick to the TV metaphor for a second to clarify. A 4K TV has exactly 8,294,400 pixels, no matter the screen size. A 51" screen and a 60" screen theoretically have the same resolution, even though the pixel size, or pixel pitch in photography, is different.

Now, imagine that each pixel on your camera sensor is it's own little bucket, and that you've got a bunch of blue paint (representing light) that you want to pour into the bucket. If you have a gallon of paint and the bucket can hold two gallons, you'll be fine.

What if you wanted to use four half-gallon buckets instead of one two-gallon bucket though? Then, you could advertise that you have four times as many buckets than the guy using only one, without ever coming clean about the size. What's more, when you try to pour that one gallon of paint evenly into each of the four smaller buckets, there's bound to be some spillage where the buckets make contact with one another. The whole affair is much sloppier.

Ideally, if you wanted to use more buckets, you'd just use four two-gallon buckets. The problem there is that it takes up more space, so your sensor would have to get bigger. Sensor size is, in fact, a greater determining factor of over all image quality (an umbrella under which resolution is only one variable) than your bucket count. So, as you peruse our list, try not to get wooed too hard by the megapixels.

A Bridge Is Born

Digital photography is still a relatively new technology. The first camera to use an image sensor we might recognize today came out of the Kodak labs in 1975, shot a mere 10,000 pixels (0.01 MP), took about 23 seconds to record an image, and wrote those images to cassette tape. Not exactly cutting edge by today's standards, but we wouldn't have today's standards without it.

After a few commercial attempts to bring digital photography to the masses in the early 1990s, Nikon released its D1 in 1999, offering digital photography with interchangeable lenses at a professional level.

As these gained popularity, manufacturers of point-and-shoot digital cameras saw an opportunity to cater to a market of shooters who either couldn't afford the investment in an interchangeable lens system, or who weren't sure that that level of photography was really for them. Thus, in the early 2000s, the bridge camera came into being.

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Last updated on May 23, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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