A Review Of The Top 5 Bridge Camera Systems

PowerShot bridge cameras

Bridge Cameras (2017 Review)

This is a review of the top 5 bridge camera systems you can buy. But before we delve deeper into these cameras and learn more about them, let’s find out what makes these bridge cameras so popular.

What are bridge cameras?

Bridge camera systems are essentially a go-between traditional DSLRs and point & shoot systems. They have a similar form figure to DSLR systems and retain the same easy to shoot intuitive features that make compact point & shoot cameras so popular.

However, bridge cameras are known for one more feature, and that is their superzoom optical reach. Bridge cameras have fixed lenses.

But just like compact point & shoot cameras these zoom lenses will extend and contract to allow the photographer to photograph objects or scenes that are further away or closer to the camera.

These lenses routinely offer an optical zoom range of more than 500mm. That is equivalent to the 35mm format system.

Standard super telephoto lenses cost more 4K and upwards. At a price below $600, you can get yourself a bridge camera with a built-in lens that has an optical range of 2000mm!

Why are they so popular?

Very simply, bridge cameras combine the best of two genres of cameras. They have powerful optical zoom range. Along with it, they also retain the simple convenience of compact cameras.

In other words, you can simply set your camera on to Auto mode, fire the shutter and your camera would make wonderfully exposed sharp images.

They have super-long zoom lenses which at an affordable price. 

Though these lenses are no match for the professional 500mm and longer lenses made by Nikon or Canon or other third party manufacturers, they are a low-cost alternative.

Related Post: Best Zoom lenses for Your DSLR

You get yourself into the domain of birding and other genres that are depended on telephoto cameras.

Another advantage of bridge camera systems is that they have larger sensors compared to smartphone cameras.

Smartphone users looking for larger sensors, but not the complex systems that DSLR cameras are identified with will have a field day using a bridge camera.

Looking forward, would bridge cameras remain popular?

Bridge camera systems are not going to be pushed away from the market so easily. This is despite the fact that smartphones have evolved in leaps and bounds in the last few years and DSLRs have seen renewed interest, with even first-time camera buyers are looking to buy them.

Newer bridge camera models have found their way to the market.

The top 5 bridge camera systems you can buy

1. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III

Best Features

  • 1 megapixel 1” EXMOR RS BSI CMOS sensor
  • UHD /4K video recording at 30 fps and with stereo sound
  • 35mm format equivalent focal length range of 24 – 600mm
  • Maximum aperture range of f/2.4 – 4
  • Built-in Optical SteadyShot
  • 14 fps continuous shooting speed
  • 3” tilting LCD screen of resolution 1.228m-dots
  • 36m-dots EVF
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
  • Supports RAW shooting
  • 14 fps continuous shooting speed
  • Option to add external mic
  • Top LCD screen
  • Full manual shooting abilities
  • Hot-shoe for external flash

What we don’t like

  • Pretty heavy for a bridge camera. Weighs 1095 grams with the battery and memory card
  • We don’t like the ergonomics of the shutter button
  • Optical zoom is less than some of its competition

Main Features

The DSC-RX10 III is the third in a long line of hugely popular high-end digital bridge cameras. If you ever wanted a camera that could do everything, the DSC-RX10 III could very well be that camera.

This bridge camera is built around a 20.1 megapixel 1” EXMOR RS BSI CMOS sensor.

Image processing is powered by Sony’s acclaimed BIONZ X image processor. A 1” sensor immediately brings it into the same league as some of the more popular 1” mirrorless systems in the market.

BSI (back-side illuminated) sensors can handle low light situations much better than traditional sensor designs where the wiring is at the top plate of the sensor. Native ISO range of the camera is 100 – 12800.

The greatest ability of this ‘small sensor camera’ is arguably the ability to shoot UHD / 4K videos.

Optical Zoom

The built-in lens on the camera, a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* has a maximum aperture size of f/2.4 – 4 and gives a 35mm format equivalent focal length range of 24 – 600mm.

The camera also has optical image stabilization. That ensures that you can make steady images even when shooting at 600mm and while hand-holding the camera.

LCD Screen and Viewfinder

There is a large 3”tilting LCD screen at the back with a resolution of 1.228m-dots plus a 2.36m-dots electronic viewfinder.

Connectivity

So far as connectivity is concerned, there is a built-in Wi-Fi and NFC. You can very easily pair your smartphone or tablet with your camera using NFC and using wireless you can transfer the videos and stills you shot seamlessly to your computer.

The overall design is very DSLR like with a top LCD panel, a bunch of buttons and dials as well as a lens based aperture control dial.

Sale
Sony DSC-RX10 III Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera
68 Reviews
Sony DSC-RX10 III Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera
  • High zoom 24-600mm (25x) F2.4-4.0 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* lens, 20.1 MP 1" Exmor RS stacked back illuminated CMOS sensor w/ DRAM, 4K movie recording w/ direct pixel readout and no pixel binning
  • Super slow-motion movie HFR (High frame rate) up to 960 fps (40x), Fast Intelligent AF achieves autofocus as quick as 0.09-sec., Fast response up to 14fps and 1/32000 sec. Anti-Distortion Shutter
  • Enhanced operability w/ independent focus, zoom and aperture rings, Professional dust/moisture resistant magnesium-alloy body, Bright XGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder and Sharp 3" multi-angle LCD
  • Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi and NFC w/ camera apps

2. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500

Best Features

  • 1 megapixel 1” high sensitivity MOS sensor
  • Leica Dc Vario-Elmarit f/2.8 – 4.5 Lens with an optical zoom of 24 – 480mm.
  • 3” 1.04m-dots free-angle touchscreen LCD
  • DCI 4K recording at a frame rate of 24 fps
  • Full HD video recording at a high frame rate of 120 fps.
  • 4:2:2 10-bit video output via HDMI to an external recorder
  • Supports V-log recording
  • Electronic viewfinder
  • Zebra pattern for focus peaking
  • Supports S-Log2
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Native ISO of 25600
  • 12 continuous shooting speed
  • 4K still burst at a frame rate of 30 fps for a maximum of 15 mins

What we don't like

  • Loses out to the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 III because this camera does not have NFC
  • Less number of shots as per CIPA standards compared to the Sony DSC-RX10 III
  • Smaller zoom compared to the Sony
Related Post: Best Mirrorless Cameras under $500

Major Features

What makes these cameras we have listed here great to shoot images with is the fact that they have one sensor.

1” sensors are significantly larger than the traditional 1/2.3″ sensors which most point and shoot systems seem to be using.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 is yet another bridge camera system which sports a 1” sensor. This one is a high sensitivity MOS sensor.

Optical Zoom

The camera sports a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8 – 4.5 lens with a 35mm format equivalent optical range of 24 – 480mm.

To assist making sharp images when using the long zoom lens and especially when shooting hand-held, the camera comes with 5-axis hybrid optical image stabilization+.

Related Post: Best Compact Cameras under $300

Electronic Viewfinder and LCD

An electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 2.36m-dots assists in composing through the ‘traditional’ way. However, the main composing window is the 3” 1.04m-dots free-angle touchscreen LCD that dominates the back of the camera.

Video

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 is capable of recording DCI 4K video clips at a frame rate of 24 fps. You can optionally use the cine-like profiles as well as 4:2:2 10 bit-HDMI out.

When recording at full HD resolution, the camera can shoot at a high frame rate of 120 fps.

Sale
PANASONIC LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera, 20X LEICA DC Vario-ELMARIT F2.8-4.5 Lens, 21.1 Megapixels, 1 Inch High Sensitivity Sensor, 422 10-bit, HDMI Out, DMC-FZ2500 (USA BLACK)
19 Reviews
PANASONIC LUMIX FZ2500 4K Point and Shoot Camera, 20X LEICA DC Vario-ELMARIT F2.8-4.5 Lens, 21.1 Megapixels, 1 Inch High Sensitivity Sensor, 422 10-bit, HDMI Out, DMC-FZ2500 (USA BLACK)
  • The ideal hybrid camera choice for the advanced 4K video enthusiast and photography enthusiast alike.
  • Large 1-inch 20.1 Megapixel sensor and bright 20X LEICA VARIO-ELMART F2.8-4.5 lens.
  • 4K Ultra HD video recording plus exclusive LUMIX 4K PHOTO and 4K Post Focus and internal Focus Stacking modes.
  • "CINELIKE D" and "CINELIKE V" for cinema-like gradation, time code, live HDMI output (4:2:2/8 bit or 4:2:2/10 bit), and lens ND filter controls.
  • Optional V-Log L upgradability for purchase, and an out of the box unlimited recording duration.

3. Canon PowerShot G3 X digital Camera

Best Features

  • 2 megapixel 1” HS CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 6 image processor
  • 24-600mm optical zoom (25x) regarding 35mm format
  • 2” rear LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 1.62m-dots
  • Full HD videos at a frame rate of 60p
  • Option to do HDMI output
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
  • Robust dual-axis image stabilization
  • Full manual controls
  • Dedicated dial for exposure compensation
  • Excellent build quality

What we don’t like

  • The maximum aperture in the tele end is only f/5.6
  • No body based aperture control dial
  • Location of the video recording button takes a bit of time getting used to

Major Features

The Canon PowerShot G3 X is compact bridge camera built around a 20.2 megapixel 1” high sensitivity CMOS sensor.

Image processing on the camera is powered by Canon’s DIGIC 6 image processor.

Optical Zoom

The USP of the system is undoubtedly its 25x optical zoom, a 35mm format equivalent of 24-600mm. The maximum aperture of the lens ranges from f/2.8 to f/5.6. Add to that an ISO range of 100 – 12800.

That means it would be able to shoot decent images in most lighting conditions, at least in theory. In practical situations, however, the f/5.6 maximum aperture is going to be a problem when shooting in the tele-end.

LCD Screen

The rear LCD screen has touchscreen properties and can tilt. It is 3.2” in dimension and has a resolution of 1.62m-dots.

Video

The G3 X can shoot videos in full HD and at 60p. You can do an external output via HDMI.

Additionally, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity mean pairing with a compatible device and transferring what you shoot seamlessly to an external device is quite easy.

The Canon PowerShot G3 X comes with excellent build quality. Canon’s rates this as the best G-series cameras ever; and they are not lying. The camera comes with a lot of rubber sealing, and the overall construction is excellent.

Sale
Canon PowerShot G3 X Digital Camera - Wi-Fi Enabled
29 Reviews
Canon PowerShot G3 X Digital Camera - Wi-Fi Enabled
  • 20.2 MP 1 inch CMOS sensor
  • 25x, f/2.8-5.6 optical zoom lens, 24-600mm equivalent
  • ISO 125-12800
  • DIGIC 6 Image Processor
  • 1080p Full HD and Expanded Movie Options

4. Nikon Coolpix P900

Best Features

  • 16 megapixel ½.3” CMOS sensor
  • 35mm equivalent optical zoom of 24 – 2000mm
  • Five stops Optical image stabilization
  • Electronic viewfinder
  • 3” Vari-angle TFT LCD screen with a resolution of 921,000 dots
  • Continuous shooting speed of 7 fps (max seven frames only)
  • Full HD video quality at maximum 60 fps
  • Built-in wireless, GPS, and NFC
  • Built-in stereo mic
  • Full manual exposure control

What we don’t like

  • At 899 grams the camera is massive
  • No RAW support
Related Post: Best Nikon DSLR Cameras under $1,000

Major Features Discussed

The Nikon Coolpix P900 has been an incredibly reliable camera. However, it has recently started to go out of favor with the advent of newer improved camera models.

The P900 has a great fan following, who still keep it relevant.

This bridge camera is built around a 16 megapixel ½.3” CMOS sensor. Native ISO range of the camera is 100 – 6400. It can be extended, however, to 100 – 12800.

Optical Zoom

The best feature of the P900 is its optical zoom range. The versatile lens has a focal length coverage (in 35mm format equivalency) of 24 – 2000mm.

This is the largest zoom range currently available on a compact camera. Incredible how such a small frame can incorporate such a long optical zoom!

Even with that fantastic zoom, the lens can focus as close to 50cm when shooting in wide macro mode.

Built-in lens based image stabilization ensure that the camera can make steady images in most situations even when hand-holding the camera.

LCD

The P900 has a 3” LCD screen with a resolution of 921,000 pixels and a display coverage of 100%. Full HD video capable camera with a maximum frame rate of 60 fps.

Connectivity

Built-in wireless allows you to transfer your files from your camera to your hard drive. GPS, on the other hand, is useful for saving location data.

But it is not exactly the sort of feature that is that useful. In the worst case, you will end up exhausting the battery if you keep GPS switched on. With built-in NFC you have the ability to pair the camera with compatible devices.

What we Missed

For all those outstanding features on the P900 what we missed is the ability to shoot RAW images.

With the ability to shoot RAW images this camera would have given even entry level DSLRs a run for their money.

5. Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

PowerShot bridge cameras

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

Best Features

  • 16.1 megapixel HS CMOS sensor
  • DIGIC 6 image processor
  • 35mm format equivalent zoom range of 21 – 1365mm (65x)
  • Lens-based image stabilization
  • Full HD video at a frame rate of 60p
  • Built-in stereo mic and the option to plug in an external stereo mic as well
  • Rear 3” vari-angle LCD screen has a resolution of 922k-dots
  • 922k-dots electronic viewfinder
  • RAW support
  • Hotshoe for accessories
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC

What we don’t like

  • Slightly weighty at 650 grams.

Major Features

The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is a bridge camera powered by a 16.1 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor.

BSI or Back-side Illuminated sensors are designed in a way so that the wiring on the sensor chip is on the back side instead of on the front surface (where the light sensitive photo-diodes are).

This means the surface has more room to capture light and less clutter that can dissipate that light. The greatest advantage of this is in low light photography. The results are visibly better with suppressed noise.

Image processing is powered by Canon’s DIGIC 6 image processing engine. Together, the BSI sensor and the DIGIC 6 image processor creates what is known as Canon’s HS system.

The native ISO range of the camera is 100 – 3200. It can be further extended up to 6400 but at a loss of resolution. The small sensor sure does have its limitations.

The SX60 HS has RAW image support. It also has full manual shooting and the ability to use an external flash unit via the hotshoe.

Optical Zoom

The major highlight of the camera is its 65x optical zoom. On 35m format that is the equivalent of 21 – 1365mm. That should be enough for images of birds at 50 meters and for photographing wildlife from a safe distance.

Viewfinder and LCD Screen

The back of the camera is dominated by a 3” vari-angle LCD screen with a resolution of 922k-dots. Articulated LCD screens are perfect for shooting videos and for changing the shooting angle.

It is also perfect for getting those difficult to get low or high angles. The screen has 100% coverage of what the sensor sees.

For those who love composing their images through a viewfinder, the SX60 HS has an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 922k-dots.

Connectivity

These with the advent of high-speed internet connections and the availability of wireless nearly everywhere means cameras need to be able to take advantage of it.

Good for it too because with a wireless connection you are completely cable-free.

Just connect your camera to a wireless network and transfer your images and videos seamlessly to your computer over the network. Built-in NFC connectivity allows you to pair the camera with compatible devices.

Related Post: Best Canon DSLR Cameras under $1,000

Video

The SX60 HS is a capable video camera as well. It shoots full HD videos at a frame rate of 60fps. There is a built-in mic. Option to attach an external mic is also present. You can connect an external high-quality mic to ensure better audio quality with your video footages.

Sale
Canon Powershot SX60 16.1MP Digital Camera 65x Optical Zoom Lens 3-inch LCD Tilt Screen (Black)
270 Reviews
Canon Powershot SX60 16.1MP Digital Camera 65x Optical Zoom Lens 3-inch LCD Tilt Screen (Black)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC allows wireless transferring of images and video
  • 16.1 megapixel 1/2.3-inch high-sensitivity CMOS sensor combined with DIGIC 6 image processor (Canon HS SYSTEM)
  • 65x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom and 260x combined zoom with Optical Image Stabilizer
  • Bright 3-inch vari-angle LCD plus an electronic viewfinder | Capture stunning 1080p HD video in MP4 format with a dedicated movie button and zoom while shooting.
  • Please Note: A tripod can be used in certain situations to keep the camera steady.

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Rajib

Rajib's love for the road is second only to his love for photography.
Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly.
He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits.

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About author View all posts

Rajib

Rajib's love for the road is second only to his love for photography.
Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly.
He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits.

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