Superzoom Shootout: Best Bridge Camera Reviews for 2016

best bridge camera

With the combination of a smaller body and large focal range, bridge cameras are popular with the photographic community. They are seen as the entry point to becoming a skilled photographer, and a reasonable alternative to purchasing a DSLR camera.

We round up eight of the top-rated bridge cameras available on the market.

Top Rated Bridge Cameras

 ModelCommentsPrice
panasonic_lumix_dmc-fz200_reviewsPanasonic Lumix FZ200Our pick for the Best Value for Money Bridge Camera. Takes brilliant images or shoots crystal clear video with precision.$$$
sony rx10 reviewSony RX10One of the leading Super-zoom cameras. Perfect for photography enthusiasts$$
nikon_coolpix_p610_reviewNikon Coolpix P610Great for beginners. Enough manual settings to learn the art of photography. Long zoom works well$

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 Review

Best Bridge Camera in 2016

panasonic_lumix_dmc-fz1000_camera_review

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ1000

Top rated bridge camera on the market including 1-inch sensor and 4K video recording

Sensor size: 1-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 20.1
Zoom range: 16x, 25-400mm-equivalent
Screen type: 3-inch articulating, 921,000 dots
Viewfinder: Yes
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 12fps
Maximum video resolution: Ultra HD 2160p
Battery life (CIPA rating): 360 shots
User level: Enthusiasts

Best Feature: Large maximum aperture / 1-inch sensor
What we don’t like: Touchscreen not included / not suitable for buyers seeking a portable case

Although designed with a 16x optical zoom which is lower than most bridge cameras, the FZ1000’s sizeable 1-inch sensor delivers a large boost in image quality. This isn’t an average lens either, but an impressive Leica optic with a massive f/2.8 maximum wide-angle aperture that narrows to a respectable f/4 at full zoom.

Capable of capturing shots in low light without resorting to high ISO sensitivities, whilst the Hybrid 5-axis Optical Image Stabilization minimizes shaking.

Check out the following specs and tell me why the FZ1000 isn’t the best bridge camera currently available: 4K Ultra HD 3840 x 2160 video recording, superb 2,359,000-dot EVF, and raw shooting capability.

Sony RX10 Review

sony rx10 review

Sony RX10

Great photo quality, especially when shooting Raw

Sensor size: 1-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 20.2
Zoom range: 8.3x, 24-200mm-equivalent
Screen type: 3-inch tilting, 1,290,000 dots
Viewfinder: Yes
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps
Maximum video resolution: 1080p
Battery life (CIPA rating): 420 shots
Perfect for: Enthusiasts

Best Feature: Great photo quality, especially when shooting Raw
What we don’t like: Touchscreen not included/is a VERY heavy beast!

The Sony RX10 camera features an impressive Carl Zeiss zoom covering an equivalent focal range of 24-200mm and with a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. It also includes the same market-leading 1-inch sensor as the acclaimed RX100 II.

Sony’s RX10 is an amazing photographic experience and can only be described as one of the best bridge cameras ever made. At a price range around $1000 it certainly isn’t cheap, although if you are looking for one of the top cameras on the market you certainly won’t be let down.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Review

Best Value for Money Bridge Camera

panasonic_lumix_dmc-fz200_reviews

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

Full manual controls with RAW, white balance adjustments, bracketing, and custom buttons

Sensor size: 12.1-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 12.1
Zoom range: 24x, 25-600mm-equivalent
Screen type: 3-inch articulated, 1,312,000 dots
Viewfinder: Yes
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 5.5fps
Maximum video resolution: 1080p
Battery life (CIPA rating): 540 shots
Perfect for: Intermediate / Enthusiasts

Best Feature: Brilliant images and video for a low price
What we don’t like: Doesn’t have built-in GPS or Wi-Fi / Proximity sensor for switching the LCD to EVF.

For buyers seeking the best value for money, look no further than the Panasonic Lumix FZ200. Panasonic’s Lumix FZ200 bridge camera is perfect for buyers looking to purchase a high performing camera.

Overall the quality of images taken by the FZ200 is very good. Images taken during our Panasonic Lumix review displayed impressive tonal range with detail maintained in both brightness and shadows. The Lumix camera metering system also performed well, offering even exposures both in a variety of conditions and throughout the full focal range.

You will have difficulty finding a better value for money camera than the Panasonic FZ200.


Pentax X-5 Review

Best Affordable Bridge Camera

Penatx X-5 Review

Pictures are crystal clear and it’s very easy to use

Sensor size: 1/233-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 16
Zoom range: 26x, 22-580mm-equivalent
Screen type: 3-inch tilting, 460,000 dots
Viewfinder: Yes
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps
Maximum video resolution: 1080p
Battery life (CIPA rating): 300 shots (alkaline batteries) / 500 shots (Ni-MH)
Perfect for: Beginners

Best Feature: Easy to use, superb image quality. Lacks the refinement of high-end units but for its price a great bridge camera
What we don’t like: No touchscreen

If you are looking for great performance in a super-zoom on a tight budget look no further than the Pentax X5.

Another great choice in the affordable bridge camera range is the Pentax X-5. Pentax has produced a high-quality bridge camera, holding its own against similar models in the Pentax DSLR range, for example, the more expensive K-5.

Sony Cyber-shot HX300 Review

sony_cyber-shot_hx300_review

Sony Cyber-shot HX300

Cheaper cousin of the Sony HX400V, but is that such a bad thing?

Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 20.4
Zoom range: 50x, 24-1200mm-equivalent
Screen type: 3-inch tilting, 922,000 dots
Viewfinder: Yes
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps
Maximum video resolution: 1080p
Battery life (CIPA rating): 310 shots
Perfect for: Intermediate

Best Features: Excellent image stabilization / Lens barrel zoom ring
What we don’t like: No Wi-Fi or GPS / No raw shooting

The perfect camera if your budget can’t quite afford the Sony’s HX400V. Opting for the HX300 still gets you the same 50x optical zoom and 20.4-megapixel Exmor R sensor with its acclaimed image quality and Full HD video recording. It’s also just as reliable as its Sony cousin, and you’ll have manual controls which include a zoom ring around the lens barrel. Unfortunately what isn’t included are features such as the HX400V’s Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS location tagging, and hot-shoe mount.

If you need a bridge camera that handles the basics and doesn’t mind shooting in JPEG only, we think the HX300 ticks all the right boxes.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V Review

sony_cyber-shot_dsc-hx400v_review

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400v

A great all-round bridge camera that’s packed with features for it’s price

Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 20.4
Zoom range: 50x, 24-1200mm-equivalent
Screen type: 3-inch tilting, 922,000 dots
Viewfinder: Yes
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps
Maximum video resolution: 1080p
Battery life (CIPA rating): 300 shots
User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Best Features: High build quality / Wi-Fi, tilting screen
What we don’t like:  Can’t shoot in raw / Low-resolution EVF

Sony’s flagship ultrazoom bridge camera matches up closely with the highly acclaimed Panasonic FZ72, although it’s higher price and JPEG-only image capture and lesser zoom range.

On the plus side, the HX400V gains kudos by offering Wi-Fi. It’s also a joy to shoot with thanks to its ergonomic case design and the tilting screen. The low-resolution viewfinder is a little disappointing.

Although there’s no support for RAW, images taken in JPEG have great colors and plenty of detail. Some image smoothing is visible at 100% image size, but it’s a common trait among small sensor cameras.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72 Review

panasonic_lumix_dmc-fz72_review

The FZ72 is beginning to show its age, but its a highly rated bridge camera for a very good reason

Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 16.1
Zoom range: 60x, 20-1200mm-equivalent
Screen type: 3-inch fixed, 460,000 dots
Viewfinder: Yes
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 9fps
Maximum video resolution: 1080p
Battery life (CIPA rating): 400 shots
Perfect for: Beginners and Enthusiasts

Best Features: 60x zoom / Raw format shooting
What we don’t like:  No Wi-Fi or touch sensitivity / Small, low-resolution EVF

Another affordable offering in our roundup is the FZ72. It still includes a great zoom range with an impressive 20mm-equivalent wide-angle focal length. Its lens aperture also impresses, opening as wide as f/2.8, though it does narrow to f/5.9 at full zoom. Raw format recording and full manual control give the FZ72 enthusiast appeal, as does the image quality.

Going against the FZ72 is the fact its design doesn’t include Wi-Fi and the relatively low screen and electronic viewfinder resolutions. You’ll also have to do without an eye sensor to automatically switch between its two displays.

Nikon Coolpix P610 Review

nikon_coolpix_p610_review

Nikon Coolpix P610

It may lack raw capability, but the Nikon Coolpix P600 also offers good image quality with good exposure and color

Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 16.1
Zoom range: 60x, 24-1440mm-equivalent
Screen type: 3-inch articulating, 921,000 dots
Viewfinder: Yes
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 7fps
Maximum video resolution: 1080p
Battery life (CIPA rating): 360 shots
Perfect for: Beginners and enthusiasts

Best Features: 60x optical zoom / Articulating screen / WiFi functionality
What we don’t like: No raw format shooting / Screen not touch sensitive

Choosing between this and the Canon SX60 HS is a difficult choice, as both bridge cameras perform about the same, with the difference in zoom range minimal. The P610 just loses out as it can’t shoot raw images, but it does undercut Canon’s offering on price (slightly).

Image quality is high reaching to ISO 800, with nice color reproduction and detail, whilst low light shots are good up to ISO 1600. Surprisingly there’s no eye sensor for the viewfinder, but you get Wi-Fi with NFC pairing, plus an articulating screen which is great when shooting from awkward angles.

What is a Bridge Camera? – History of Super Zoom Cameras

Have you ever wondered what is a bridge camera? Bridge cameras fit in the market between the top of the range SLR enthusiast cameras and the average consumer point and click models. The phrase ‘bridge camera’ started in the 80’s, and become so popular among photographers that even after analog cameras were replaced with digital varieties the term continued to be used. “Bridge camera” referred to film cameras which “bridged the gap” between point-and-shoot cameras and professional SLR cameras. Bridge cameras are sometimes also referred to as super-zooms or ultra-zooms.

Most modern bridge cameras are digital rather than analog. These cameras usually feature full manual control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity and color balance. Bridge camera feature sets compare to consumer DSLR models except for a smaller range of ISO sensitivity because of their smaller image specifications. You can shoot a much wider range of subjects and with more photographic controls.

Bridge Camera Buying Guide

For anyone considering purchasing a new camera, it’s important to first select the type of camera which will suit your needs.

Bridge cameras can be broken down into the following types:

  • Bridge cameras: large range of zoom options, SLR styling – ‘multi-use’ cameras
  • Travel or Superzoom cameras: the size of a compact with almost all of the zoom range of a bridge camera

bridge camera reviewsOne important consideration if you choose to travel with a bridge camera is it won’t fit in your pocket, and they mostly use sensors the same size as regular compact cameras. This means you do get more scope and options, but not necessarily greater picture quality.

Most photographers consider bridge cameras due to their large zoom lenses without considering if they actually require such a larger lens. For everyday photography, there isn’t a great deal of uses for a 500 mm or 1000 mm zoom lens. Bridge cameras with their large lenses really come into their own for wildlife and panoramic shots, as well as sports games on large fields. Long lenses are also great for travel shots too. But for most day to day photos, the majority of images are taken within the focal range provided by an average 10x zoom lens included on a compact point and click camera.

For most camera owners a viewfinder is a mandatory item, especially for older owners who don’t have the same close-range vision as younger photographers. This is a great benefit of bridge cameras, one of the few cameras types where a viewfinder is still included on most models. A viewfinder makes taking photos in sunny bright conditions simple without wearing reading glasses.

Bridge cameras are also very popular with owners who have large hands and find handling a compact camera difficult due to the small buttons and case. Common bridge cameras have substantially more space to gip and larger function buttons which make every day use much easier.