The best bridge cameras provide a massive zoom range from wide-angle to telephoto, a solid, DSLR-style build and a nice balance of auto settings and direct manual controls. If you’re in the market an all-rounder camera that offers most of what you need in one body, a bridge camera could be the ideal option.
Bridge cameras are so-called because they “bridge” the gap between compact cameras (or mobile phones) and more advanced compact system cameras or DSLRs. In this buyer’s guide we’ll help you find the best bridge camera for all-round shooting.
Most bridge cameras are shaped like DSLRs, but feature a fixed lens, and usually a small sensor which is similar to those found in compact cameras. In recent years, many bridge cameras have featured larger one-inch sensors, similar to those that you’ll find in some premium compact cameras.
Although the lens is fixed, the best bridge cameras utilise a large zoom to give you maximum flexibility. The longest zoom on our list is an astonishing 83x – so long you can quite literally shoot the moon.
Bridge cameras are usually equipped with a full complement of manual and semi-automatic modes, so they’re a great idea for enthusiast photographers looking for back-up camera when travelling.
They’re also great cameras for beginners who want to learn more about different settings and modes, without the faff and expense of an interchangeable lens system.
Why Buy a Bridge Camera?
Lots of people like compact cameras because they have a fixed lens. However, their small size can make them fiddly to operate. A bridge camera combines comfortable handling with the convenience of a fixed lens. And most bridge cameras have a wide-ranging zoom lens, which means you have a versatile optic without the need to swap between lenses.
Dust and dirt have a habit of getting on to the sensor of cameras with interchangeable lenses. That can mean your images suffer from spots and marks. Having a fixed lens reduces the chance of dirt getting on to your camera’s sensor.
Bridge cameras are also a great introduction to more creative photography than is possible with a smartphone. They allow you control over key features such as shutter speed, aperture and white balance, yet they usually also have automatic and semi-automatic shooting modes that let you focus on composition and capturing the moment rather than worrying about the exposure.
As they have a DSLR-like design, bridge cameras allow you to become familiar with the controls and layout of an advanced camera without having to worry about buying lenses.
In this guide to the best bridge cameras on the market today, we’ve chosen those that offer a combination of high image quality, a rich feature list and usability. Here’s the best of what’s currently available on the market.
The best bridge cameras you can buy today
All of our picks for the best bridge cameras are based on our experience testing these models. For a deeper dive into the many different camera types and features available, check out our range of camera buying guides.
Nikon Coolpix P950
- Camera type: Superzoom bridge
- Date announced: 7th January 2020
- Sensor: 16.0Mp 1/2.3-inch type BSI CMOS
- Lens: 4.3-357mm f/2.8-6.5 (83x zoom equivalent to 24–2000mm)
- Stabilisation: Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction
- Viewfinder: 0.39-inch 2,360,000-dot OLED with eye sensor
- Screen: Vari-angle 3.2-inch 921,000-dot LCD
- Max video resolution: 4K at 30p footage, Full HD (1080p) at up to 60p
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth and SnapBridge, HDMI (clean output), mic
- Dimensions: 140.2 x 109.6 x 149.8mm
- Weight: 1050g
Aimed at amateur wildlife photographers and others needing a long reach, the Nikon P950’s 83x zoom affords an equivalent focal length of 24-2000mm. This can be extended even further using the 166x Dynamic Fine Zoom digital option, which reaches an equivalent 4000mm.
Inside the Nikon Coolpix P950 is a 16-megapixel back-lit CMOS sensor, along with Nikon’s Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction.
The Nikon P950 can record 4K/UHD video at 30p, or Full HD video at frame rates up to 60p. Video is also recorded in stereo sound, and users can manually adjust exposure settings during filming.
A Nikon P900 replacement, the Coolpix P950 adds a larger, brighter, 921k-dot, 3.2-inch vari-angle LCD. There’s also a new 2360k-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with an eye sensor that is twice as large as before at 1cm.
Other features include support for raw files and compatibility with Nikon’s SnapBridge app for easy transfer of images from the camera to your smart device.
- 83x zoom range
- Good quality electronic viewfinder with an eye sensor
- Can shoot raw files as well as Jpegs
- Moderately high ISO results are disappointing
- 83x zoom range is overkill in many situations
Panasonic FZ1000 II
- Sensor: 20MP 1-inch BSI-CMOS Sensor
- Stabilization: 5-axis Optical Image Stabilization
- Video: 4K (UHD) - 3840 x 2160
- Slow Motion : 120 fps High-Speed Video
- Viewfinder: 2360k-dot EVF
- Lens: 25-400mm F2.8-4.0
Launched in early 2019, Panasonic’s revamped FZ1000 II packs a load of great video features, including a high speed mode that records videos at 120fps for slow motion effects.
You can also record 4K at 30fps and save it in MPEG-4 and H.264. The addition of a microphone port, 5-axis Hybrid OIS+ and the camera’s 3-inch, 1240K-dot fully articulated touchscreen also make the FZ1000 II a pretty formidable vlogging camera.
There’s even a new Auto Marking feature that lets you highlight your favourite still frames from your video footage.
A new Zoom Compose Assist tool is also quite clever. With this enabled the FZ1000 II will track your subjects even when they leave the frame when zoomed in. What it does is swap back to a wider view of the scene so you can re-compose your subject and zoom back in.
The other main upgrades in this refresh are a revamped 3-inch touchscreen that’s fully articulated, an improved electronic viewfinder, more customisation, Bluetooth and, of course, 4K video and Panasonic’s 4K Photo, Post Focus and Focus Stacking modes.
- Large 1-inch sensor
- Superb lens
- Excellent video features
- FZ2000 is only slightly more expensive, with more features
Panasonic FZ2000 / FZ2500
- Sensor: One-inch, 20.1-megapixel MOS Sensor
- Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 24-480mm (equivalent) f/2.8-4.5
- Autofocus: 49-area contrast detect
- Viewfinder: OLED Live View Finder, 2,360k-dots
- Screen: 3-inch Vari-angle TFT LCD touch-sensitive monitor, 1040k-dots
- Max video resolution: 4K
- Max frame rate: 30fps (using 4K Photo)
Panasonic’s FZ2000 is another fantastic all-round performer, with its well-performing one-inch sensor and variety of appealing features. Compared to the other models in this group, the focal length range is a little more limited, but with a maximum reach of 480mm, it should still suit pretty much any occasion.
The articulating touch-screen is great to use, as is the large viewfinder – the body of the FZ2000 is quite large to accommodate these features, which will be good news for some, and bad news for others.
Like all other current Panasonic models, it features 4K Photo – this allows you to extract 8MP stills in-camera from 4K video, in essence meaning you can shoot at 30fps. A good back-up or travel camera, the FZ2000 is also available for a much cheaper price than the Sony RX10 IV.
- 4K video/photo
- Great viewfinder
- (Relatively) limited focal length
- Large size
Canon PowerShot G3 X
- Sensor: One-inch, 20.2-megapixel CMOS
- Lens: 25x (24-600mm equivalent) f/2.8-5.6
- Autofocus: 31-point contrast-detect
- Viewfinder: N/A
- Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen 1,620,000-dot
- Max video resolution: 1080p
- Max frame rate: 60fps
Canon’s G3X is another camera which is a little older, but it’s still yet to be replaced. Canon’s G series cameras all feature one-inch sensors, and the G3X is no different. It produces excellent images, with the same amount of vibrancy and warmth which we usually associate with Canon cameras.
With its long focal length lens, you get plenty of flexibility, but while it has a very useful tilting touchscreen, there’s no viewfinder – something which is likely to be a big disappointment to many enthusiasts.
It’s also arguably a little awkward in use, having a small body thrown off body by the large lens. If you’re a Canon DSLR (or CSC) user, you’ll be at home with the menu systems, and many of the buttons, so it could be a good choice as a backup camera for travelling if you can get over using the screen to compose.
Of the one-inch sensor bridge cameras in our best bridge cameras list, it’s currently the cheapest proposition too.
- Tilting touch-sensitive screen
- Dustproof and splash proof
- No viewfinder
- Full HD only