Many predicted bridge cameras would be wiped out by the rise of affordable DSLRs and compact system cameras, but the combination of immense optical zoom versatility and advanced features at an affordable price explains their enduring appeal. The best bridge cameras now offer DSLR-like levels of control and fast, wide-aperture lenses, along with raw shooting and other useful extras such as Wi-Fi and articulated screens. Image quality didn't used to be a bridge camera forte due to widespread use of small 1/2.3-inch sensors. These days, however, there are models with much larger 1-inch designs that rival the image quality of some compact system cameras.
1. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000
A 1-inch sensor and 4K video recording gives this bridge camera the edge
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 | User level: Enthusiast
The FZ1000's 16x optical zoom is lower than typical bridge cameras, but that's due to its sizeable 1-inch sensor that delivers a big boost in image quality. This isn't just any old lens, either, but rather a Leica optic with a large f/2.8 maximum wide-angle aperture that narrows to a still-respectable f/4 at full zoom. This helps you capture shots in low light without resorting to high ISO sensitivities, whilst the Hybrid 5-axis Optical Image Stabilisation minimises camera shake. 4K (Ultra HD, strictly) 3840 x 2160 video recording, advanced autofocusing, a superb 2,359,000-dot electronic viewfinder and raw shooting all help make the FZ1000 our top pick.
Read the full review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000
2. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
If you can do without a massive zoom range, the RX10 is a stellar performer
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 | User level: Enthusiast
Like the Panasonic FZ1000, the RX10 has a relatively large 1-inch sensor. The zoom range is restricted to 8.3x though, which is pretty low for a bridge camera, but instead you get a large f/2.8 constant aperture to help low light shooting and create images with an attractively shallow depth of field. There's manual control and raw capability, too, plus a tilting screen to aid composition. Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC pairing comes as standard, and you also get a hotshoe for adding an external flash unit. A new RX10 II is due imminently, so clearance deals on this original version make it a steal.
Read the full review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
3. Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
This feature-packed bridge camera has a lot to offer to enthusiasts
Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch CMOS | Megapixels: 16.1 | Zoom range: 65x, 21-1365mm-equivalent | Screen type: 3-inch articulating, 922,000 dots | Viewfinder: Yes | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 6.4fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
The SX60 HS is a more conventional bridge camera than our top two options, as it uses a smaller 1/2.3-inch sensor, enabling a huge 65x optical zoom range. It's still got full manual control, though, plus an articulated screen, a good quality electronic viewfinder and the ability to shoot in raw. Inbuilt Wi-Fi with NFC is another bonus. Annoyingly there's no eye sensor on the viewfinder, so you have to activate it manually. Image quality is very good, with bright and punchy colours, but it does struggle a little with very dark conditions and if you examine images at 100%, you'll see some speckling and noise.
Read the full review: Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
4. Nikon Coolpix P610
It may lack raw capability, but otherwise the P610 is a solidly-specced contender
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 | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Choosing between this and the Canon SX60 HS is tough, as both cameras perform similarly and the difference in zoom range is slight. The P610 just loses out on a place in our top three as it can't shoot raw images, but it does undercut the Canon on price. Image quality is high up to ISO 800, with great colour reproduction and reasonable detail, whilst low light shots look good up to ISO 1600. It's a pity there's no eye sensor for the viewfinder, but you do get Wi-Fi with NFC pairing, plus an articulating screen which is useful for composing shots from awkward angles.
Read the full review: Nikon Coolpix P610
5. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72
The FZ72 may be showing its age, but falling prices keep it in the game
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 | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
The FZ72 is one of the cheapest bridge cameras in our selection, yet it still sports a great zoom range with an impressive 20mm-equivalent wide angle focal length. Its lens aperture also opens up 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 attractive image quality. We would rank the FZ72 higher, but there?s no Wi-Fi and the relatively low screen and electronic viewfinder resolutions are a let-down. You?ll also have to do without an eye sensor to automatically switch between the two displays.
Read the full review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ72
6. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V
A great all-rounder that's just starting to be outclassed by newer rivals
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 | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Sony's premium superzoom bridge camera is closely matched with the Panasonic FZ72, but it loses out due to its higher price, JPEG-only image capture and lesser zoom range. Still, the HX400V claws back some ground by offering Wi-Fi. It's also pleasure to use thanks to its ergonomic design and the tilting screen is another nice touch, though it won't fully articulate. But more disappointing is the relatively low resolution electronic viewfinder. Although there's no raw support, JPEG images have great colours and plenty of detail. Some image smoothing is visible at 100% image size, but it's a common trait amongst small sensor bridge cameras.
Read the full review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V
7. Sony Cyber-shot HX300
It may be a poor man's 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
Can't stretch to Sony's HX400V? Stepping down to the HX300 still gets you the same 50x optical zoom and 20.4-megapixel Exmor R sensor with its respectable image quality and Full HD video recording. It's also just as robust as its sibling, and you're treated to manual controls which include a DSLR-like zoom ring around the lens barrel. You'll have to do without the HX400V's Wi-Fi connectivity, GPS location tagging and hotshoe mount, plus a few other minor features. But if you're just after a bridge camera that nails the basics and are happy to shoot in JPEG only, the HX300 ticks the right boxes.
Read the full review: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX300
8. Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR
Fancy a bridge camera with the controls and quality feel of a DSLR?
Sensor size: 1/2-inch CMOS | Megapixels: 16 | Zoom range: 42x, 24-1000mm-equivalent | Screen type: 3-inch articulating, 920,000 dots | Viewfinder: Yes | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 11fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
With 'only' a 42x zoom range, the HS50 is beaten by many other small-sensor rivals, but it feels more like an SLR thanks to its chunky size and traditional zoom ring around the lens barrel. The HS50 shoots in raw as well, which is somewhat rare at this level. It also boasts an articulating screen and an eye sensor for the excellent electronic viewfinder, however there's no Wi-Fi. Autofocusing is first class and image quality is pretty good, but detail smoothing is visible when viewing photos at full size and the HS50 scores much lower than the Sony HX400V and Panasonic FZ72 in our lab tests.
Read the full review: Fujifilm FinePix HS50 EXR
9. Nikon Coolpix P900
Unleash your inner paparazzo with the P900's class-leading 83x optical zoom
Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch CMOS | Megapixels: 16 | Zoom range: 83x, 24-2000mm-equivalent | Screen type: 3-inch articulating, 921,000 dots | Viewfinder: Yes | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 7fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p | User level: Enthusiast
Thought Canon's 65x SX60 HS was the limit for optical zoom range? Well Nikon has rewritten the rule book, as the P900's incredible 83x lens currently gives it the accolade of world's longest-zoom bridge camera. Such a massive lens does make this one hefty snapper, however. It's considerably larger than Nikon's P610 and 60% heavier, yet it shares many of the same features, like Wi-Fi with NFC pairing and an articulating screen. Image quality is also very similar to that of the P610, but the price certainly isn't. The P900 will cost you around 80% more, which is hard to justify.
Read the full review: Nikon Coolpix P900
10. Olympus Stylus SP-100EE
Here's a bridge camera that thinks it's a sniper rifle!
Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch CMOS | Megapixels: 16 | Zoom range: 50x, 24-1200mm-equivalent | Screen type: 3-inch fixed, 460,000 dots | Viewfinder: Yes | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 7fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/Enthusiast
Lastly we've got something a little different: the world's only camera to sport a sniper rifle-style dot-sight to help you frame and track subjects in the distance. But sadly, the SP-100EE doesn't include many other enticing features. The 50x zoom range is good, if not outstanding, and there's no sensor on the viewfinder or raw format shooting. The LCD screen is also fixed and Wi-Fi connectivity is absent. In good light, image quality isn't bad. However, zoom in and the SP-100EE is especially prone to smoothing fine detail in distant subjects, creating an unattractive painterly effect when images are viewed full size.
Read the full review: Olympus Stylus SP-100EE