The 10 Best Bridge Cameras of 2018

The 10 Best Bridge Cameras of 2018

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Long zoom range point-and-shoot cameras, also known as bridge cameras, are an attractive option for everyone from casual shooters to serious enthusiasts because they provide unmatched versatility and value, typically in compact, portable packages. The most sophisticated models have high-end features including Wi-Fi, NFC, and/or Bluetooth connectivity, UHD 4K or Full HD 1080p video capability, advanced AF and AE systems, large, hi-res LCDs, built-in multi-axis image stabilization systems, tilting touchscreens, hi-res electronic viewfinders (EVFs), and comprehensive Wi-Fi options for seamless connectivity.

Most are responsive, easy to use, and deliver impressive imaging performance, even at high ISOs. Many of the latest models provide really long zoom ratios — up to an astonishing 125X — along with sizzling burst rates of 5-10 fps, and higher. Others with 20-25x-range zoom lenses have large sensors that deliver DSLR-level image quality. Indeed, many of the cameras on our Top 10 list can give DSLRs and mirrorless models a real run for the money. Some look and feel like compact DSLRs while others are slim enough to slide into your pocket or pocketbook, but all deliver a fulfilling shooting experience along with impressive real-world performance. 

Bridge camera tech trends:

While Nikon’s amazing new Coolpix P1000 sets an audacious benchmark with it’s astonishing 125x (24-3000mm-equivalent) zoom range and 4K UHD video capture capability. However it’s also noteworthy that 4 out of the 8 cameras detailed below have 1-inch image sensors in lieu of the once nearly universal 1 /2.3-inch sensors, and 4 out of 8 provide UHD 4K video capture at 30 fps or higher.

These are clear signs that the target audience for bridge cameras is becoming more sophisticated, and manufacturers are responding with cameras offering higher image quality, especially in low light, greater creative control over depth of field, and enhanced connectivity. That’s why any of the cool contemporary new models detailed below can provide an excellent backup to an enthusiast’s DSLR or mirrorless system. These are just some of the reasons why savvy shooters are opting these flexible long-rangers in increasing numbers.

Large Sensor Medium-Long-Range Zoom Cameras:

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV ():

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV

The flagship of Sony’s line of DSLR-styled all-in-one long-range zoom cameras, this beautifully contoured high-performance machine features a large 1-inch 20.1MP Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor integrated with a cutting edge BIONZ X image processor, a Front-End LSI, and 25x, 24-600mm-equivalent Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/2.4-4.0 zoom lens to deliver outstanding speed, versatility, and image quality. 

It can also capture UHD 4K video at 30 fps and Full HD 1080 video at 120 fps, provides sensitivity settings to ISO 12800, and incorporates an ultra-fast Hybrid AF autofocus system with 315 phase-detection points that enables a 24 fps full-res burst rate with full-time AE and AF.

Other key features: a 2.36m-dot OLED Tru-Finder EVF, a 3.0-inch 1.44m-dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Clear Image 2X digital zoom that uses interpolation to maintain high image quality, and the ability to save 8MP stills while recording UHD 4K video. 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 ():

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500

Assertively styled in the “downsized DSLR” mode, the new LUMIX DMC-FZ2500 long-range compact features a 1-inch 20.1MP CMOS sensor, a 20X Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8-4.5, 24-480mm-equivalent zoom lens, plus built-in ND filters that let you set 4 levels of ND (check out our hands-on review for even more key features). Seamless iris control is achieved with a nine-blade diaphragm and new galvanometer-type actuator.

The LUMIX FZ2500 can also capture DCI 4K video at 24 fps, UHD 4K at 29.97, 23.98 and a true 24, as well as 25 fps with a high bit rate of 100 Mbps, and download while recording via an optional micro HDMI cable. Its contrast-based AF System features DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology, enabling AF in as little as 0.09 sec, and it can capture bursts at up to 12 fps (in AFS mode), for a maximum of 100 JPEG or 30 (RAW) images. Its hi-res OLED LVF (Live View Finder) displays images at 2360K-dot resolution, and it also has a free-angle 3.0-inch, 1040K-dot touch-control monitor, and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. 

Canon PowerShot G 3X ():

Canon PowerShot G 3X
Canon PowerShot G 3X

This robust, ruggedly handsome member of Canon’s acclaimed high-performance G-series has traditional ring, wheel and dial controls, and incorporates a 1-inch 20.2MP high-sensitivity CMOS sensor coupled to an advanced DIGIC 6 image processor. This high-performance combo delivers sensitivity settings to ISO 12800, a maximum continuous full-res burst rate of 5.9 fps, High Speed 31-point AF, and Full HD 1080p video capture at 60 fps.

The 25X f/2.8-5.6 Optical Zoom IS lens provides an equivalent focal-length range of 24-600mm and has built-on optical image stabilization to minimize the effects of camera shake. Other features: a 3.3-inch 1.62m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD, a HDMI output port, and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC. 

Ultra-Long-Range All-In-One Zoom Cameras:

Nikon Coolpix P1000 (): 

Nikon Coolpix P1000
Nikon Coolpix P1000

This newly released, crisply styled all-in-one compact stands at the pinnacle of its class, providing an astonishing 125x zoom ratio thanks to its 24-3000mm-equivalent f/2.8-8 Zoom Nikkor lens, and a 16MP BSI CMOS sensor integrated with a high performance EXPEED image processor.

Other impressive specs include a big 3.2-inch, 921k-dot Vari-Angle LCD monitor, a 2.36m-dot OLED EVF, Dual-Detect Optical Vibration Reduction (VR) that provides a 5-stop anti-shake advantage in handheld shooting, and 4K UHD video recording at 30/24 fps. The P1000 also offers SnapBridge connectivity via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, aperture- and shutter-priority plus manual exposure modes, and sensitivity settings from ISO 100-6400.

An ergonomic control ring on the front cam be used to set a variety of functions including focus, exposure, white balance, and ISO, and 250x Dynamic Fine digital zoom lets you get out to an incredible 6000mm equivalent. 

Nikon Coolpix P900 ():

Nikon Coolpix P900
Nikon Coolpix P900

This cool SLR-styled all-in-one compact provides an astonishing 83X zoom ratio thanks to its 24-2000mm-equivalent f/2.8-6.5 Zoom Nikkor Super ED VR lens that has built-in Dual Detect Optical VR that provides a 5-stop advantage in minimizing the effects of camera shake. 

If that’s not enough, the P900 also offers 166X Dynamic Fine Zoom, and 332X digital zoom, effectively quadrupling the optical zoom range. The P900 has a 3.0-inch, 921k-dot Vari-Angle TFT LCD screen as well as an eye level electronic viewfinder (EVF), employs a 1/2.3-inch 16MP CMOS image sensor, and can capture Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps, and up to 7 full-res still images at a 7 fps burst rate. Other features: built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, and GPS, full auto and manual exposure control, and sensitivity settings up to ISO 12800 in extended mode. 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400V ():

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400V
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H400V

This understated, compact, ergonomic, DSLR-style long-ranger has an extended-range 50x Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T zoom lens that provides an equivalent 24-1200mm-equivalent focal-length range, incorporates a 1/2.3-inch 20.4 MP Exmor R CMOS sensor coupled to an advanced BIONZ X image processor for excellent responsiveness and image detail, and provides Optical SteadyShot image stabilization to minimize the effects of camera shake at long focal lengths and close focusing distances.

Other key features: 3.0-inch Xtra Fine 921k-dot LCD, a hi-res eye-level EVF, 10fps continuous shooting and Lock-On AF, Full HD AVCHD 1080p video capture at 60/24 fps, Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC and GPS, Intelligent Auto mode, 360-degree Sweep Panorama mode, Face Detection, Smile Shutter, Picture Effect, and Party modes, and a dedicated movie button. 

Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80 ():

Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80
Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80

This cleanly styled all-in-one camera combines a 60x ultra-long range zoom lens with impressive multimedia capabilities that include 4K UHD Video Recording at 30 fps, a 10 fps full-res still framing rate, 8MP still image capture at up to 30 fps in 4K Photo Mode, and sensitivity settings to ISO 6400.

Key features include an 18.1MP 1/2.3-inch MOS Sensor, a 20-1200mm-equivalent f/2.8-5.9 Lumix DC Vario lens, a 1.116M-dot eye-level EVF, 3.0-inch 1.04M-dot Touchscreen LCD monitor, a Depth–From-Defocus (DFD) AF system to enhance continuous AF and tracking performance, Post Focus and Focus Stacking to shift focus points for enhanced control over depth of field, and Power O.I.S optical image stabilization to minimize the effects of camera shake. The FZ80 also provides built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, a built-in pop-up flash, and a hot shoe. 

Nikon Coolpix B700 ():

Nikon Coolpix B700
Nikon Coolpix B700

This sleek new high-spec SLR-styled entry features a 20.2MP 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor and a 60x, 24-1440mm-equivalent f/3.3-6.5 ED Nikkor lens with 5 ED glass elements for enhanced definition. Its advanced sensor and image processor deliver a continuous full-res RAW burst rate up to 5 fps, UHD 4K video capture at 30 fps, and sensitivities up to ISO 3200 in extended mode to facilitate low-light work. A combined Dual Detect 5-axis optical and digital image stabilization system minimizes the effects of camera shake, and built-in Wi-Fi with NFC plus Bluetooth BLE assure seamless connectivity and intuitive image storing and sharing.

The B700 incorporates a 921k-dot electronic eye-level viewfinder plus a hi-res 3.0-inch 921-dot variable-angle LCD, and an HDMI port. It also provides a full range if Creative Mode options, and is ergonomic form factor includes a large grip for enhanced shooting stability. 

Long-Range All-in-One Cameras:

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS ():

Canon PowerShot SX540 HS
Canon PowerShot SX540 HS

This stylish 50X long-range compact has been upgraded with a new higher-res 20.3 MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS image sensor and an advanced DIGIC 6 image processor. The new model, which provides a 35mm equivalent focal length range of an impressive 24-1200mm, delivers notable improvements in image quality and responsiveness, enabling Full HD 1080p video capture at 60 and 30 fps, a continuous full-res burst rate of 5.9 frames per sec, and sensitivity settings up to ISO 3200 for improved low light performance. A large 3.0-inch 461k-dot touchscreen LCD lets you compose, navigate menus, and review images and videos.

Other features: Intelligent IS image stabilization with Panning IS, Macro (Hybrid) IS and Active Tripod IS settings, and a cool Hybrid Auto mode that records up to 4 sec of video prior to taking a still photo, then automatically combines the still and video into a short video recap. 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 ():

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60

This svelte, stylish 30x long-ranger packs an 18.1MP 1/ 2.3-inch MOS sensor coupled to a Venus Engine image processor to deliver impressive image quality and expanded sensitivities to ISO 6400, plus a top framing rate of 40 fps when using its electronic shutter function. It can also capture UHD 3840 x 2160 4K video at 30 fps, and includes a Photo Mode that can generate 8MP stills.

Other features: a high-performance 24-720mm-equivalent f/3.3-6.4 Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens, built-in 5-axis O.I.S. image stabilization to minimize the effects of camera shake, a unique Post Focus mode that allows you to choose a specific point of focus after taking the shot, and a 3.0-inch 1.04M-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor. 

Frank Walker

Frank Walker is a senior contributing writer for Adorama Learning Center.

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