What is a bridge camera?

What is a bridge camera?

As always, when buying a bridge camera you'll have a budget in mind. Fortunately in today's ultra-competitive market there is a bridge camera available to suit you, especially with the prices of entry-level DSLRs and CSCs falling.

If you're not bothered about an accessory shoe on your bridge camera, whether the camera records stereo sound and are happy to settle for 1080 x 720p HD video rather than the best quality 1920 x 1080p, then you won't need to spend top dollar.

If you have a bit more to spend but aren't worried about switching optics, and a whole host of manual features rather than a big lens are your main concerns, then a premium compact such as the Canon G15 or Nikon P7700 might be a better bet.

Read our mini guide to which bridge cameras may set your pulse racing.

Olympus SP-620UZ

Price: £110/US$200 (around AU$170)

What's a bridge camera? Best bridge camera

The Olympus SP-620UZ is a simple to use value for money superzoom with modest aspirations but a decent performance. In some respects it betters more ambitious models - we were able to achieve sharp results handheld at extreme tele setting, for example - something we struggled to do with the likes of Fuji's premium X-S1.

The likes of Magic Filters, 3D mode and simple but effective panorama mode make things a bit more interesting than your regular bridge camera, although it lacks manual shooting features, a viewfinder and hotshoe.

Read our Olympus SP-620UZ review

Nikon Coolpix L810

Price: £160/AU$280/US$230

What is a bridge camera? Best bridge camera

The Nikon Coolpix L810 is frill-free in terms of lacking any real photo control or many creative options, but this is reflected in its low cost. It is a fine starter option, most aptly suited to holidaying families or a casual snapper on a budget who can appreciate the benefit of a point-and-shoot camera with a bit of poke in the lens department.

Sure, the optic here can't be swapped, as it could be on a DSLR that the L810 closely resembles in looks and - to a lesser extent - layout. But with a focal range this expansive, the Nikon Coolpix L810's would-be audience won't feel they are missing out. The Nikon L810 is a superzoom for beginners, so photo enthusiasts wanting hands-on control should look elsewhere.

Read our Nikon Coolpix L810 review

Sony HX200V

Price: £310/AU$530/US$480, 18.2MP, 1080p video

What is a bridge camera? Best bridge camera

With a serious matt black finish that denotes a enthusiast-targeted piece of kit without even delving into the riches of its feature set, the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC HX200V is one of the more impressively attired superzoom cameras out there.

The camera has a rugged build, reliability and a price tag that, while not inexpensive (it could otherwise buy you a starter DSLR and standard lens kit) nevertheless feels fair when you weigh up the features and the creative possibilities of an extremely broad focal range on a relatively compact camera body.

Read the Sony HX200V review

Canon PowerShot SX50 HS

Price: £380/AU$590/US$450, 12.1MP, 1080p video

Best Canon camera

The Canon PowerShot SX50 is a bridge camera with a 50x optical zoom that covers the equivalent of 24-1200mm. This is a phenomenal zoom range that most DSLR users can only dream of, or perhaps look to achieve at huge expense. On top of this, it also boasts a 100x digital zoom, raw shooting and the same Digic 5 processor we've seen in Canon's top DSLRs.

For anybody looking to purchase a bridge camera, the Canon SX50 is easily one of the best options currently available on the market.

Read the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS review

Fuji XS-1

Price: £400/AU$800/US$700, 12MP, 1080p video

What is a bridge camera?

Fuji's bridge camera is worthy of a spotlight all of its own - if only because it costs more than most consumer DSLRs. It sports the same 2/3-inch 12MP EXR CMOS sensor as the Leica-inspired Fuji X10 compact.

Other key specs include a 26x zoom (24-624mm equivalent), bright f/2.8 maximum aperture, plus 1.44MP EVF.

Read the Fuji XS-1 review

Panasonic Lumix FZ200

Price: £430/AU$670/US$550, 12.1MP, 1080p video

What is a bridge camera? Best bridge camera

The Panasonic FZ200 offers a great number of features and direct control over the image-making process. Its versatility, efficient AF system, fast f/2.8 aperture, manual mode, 3-inch fully articulated LCD screen, option to shoot raw and wide range of creative filters make it a wonderful all-rounder.

While there are bigger or equivalent zooms on the market - and even in Panasonic's catalogue - the maximum aperture of f/2.8 throughout the whole of the 25-600mm focal range gave us the freedom to shoot anywhere, at any time.

Read the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 review

Gavin Stoker

When not wrestling wild bears or leaping tall buildings in a single bound, Gavin Stoker can be found editing British Photographic Industry News, the UK's longest running and only photo trade title. He has over 25 years of camera testing and reviewing under his belt.