Looking to buy a new bridge camera, but not sure which model is right for you?
You’ve come to the right place.
In the next 5 minutes we’re going to run down the 8 best bridge cameras in 2018, with options for all budgets and requirements.
Let’s get started!
Canon SX530 HS Powershot
Our pick for: best budget bridge camera in 2018
The Canon SX530 HS is a PowerShot series camera with a superzoom lens.
The lens offers a focal length range of 24 – 1200mm (in 35mm format equivalent) with an extremely versatile focusing range from infinity all the way to 5cm. This makes the 530 perfect for shooting macro subjects like flowers.
At such high optical zooms keeping the camera stable while hand-holding can be a little tricky. So fortunately the Canon SX530 HS has built-in image stabilization system that takes care of image shake and blurring.
The built-in image stabilization has three different modes:
- Normal IS will correct issues with hand-shake when shooting normal subjects
- Panning mode kicks in when shooting subjects that are moving in the focusing plane
- Macro or Hybrid IS mode kicks in when the subject is extremely close by.
You’ll also get a ‘tripod mode’ which will automatically deactivate stabilization when (you guessed it) shooting on a tripod.
How about the sensor?
The 530 is built around a 16 megapixel 1/2.3″ HS CMOS sensor with image processing powered by DIGIC 4+ image processor. Together these form the Canon HS system, a low light technology that produces cleaner image in low light conditions.
Yep. You can shoot video at full HD 30 fps, you’ll get an ISO range of 3200, and a continuous burst speed of 10 fps
Our pick for: best bridge camera under $200 in 2018.
The Sony DSCH300 is an entry level mirrorless camera from the Sony stable, which ships with a 20.1 megapixel Super HAD CCD sensor. CCD sensors tend to be a bit more power hogging compared to CMOS systems and this is one of the downsides of the camera.
However, on the bright side the DSCH300 has a pretty impressive 35x zoom lens. This one has a 35mm format equivalent optical reach of 25 – 875mm. That’s enough for a bird perched on a tree some 75 meters away or a signboard that is 100 meters away.
You’ll also get Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. An essential feature for shooting hand held at high zooms.
Being a compact camera has its perks when it comes to the versatility of the lens. It’s a capable macro lens with a minimum focusing distance of 1cm when shooting in wide mode.
How about video?
You’ll get 720p HD at a maximum frame rate of 30 fps only. Which should be enough for most, but if you’re looking for super high quality video then this is probably not the camera for you.
An entry level mirrorless camera with basic shooting features. But the Super HAD CCD sensor actually has a better sensitivity than traditional CCD sensors, so that’s a tick. If you are looking for a long zoom with image stabilization, decent video with built-in flash, the Sony DSCH300 is a good choice.
Our pick for: best bridge camera under $300 in 2018.
The Pentax X-5 is built around a 16 megapixels BSI-CMOS sensor. BSI (backside-illuminated) have the wiring at the back of the sensor chip. This leaves a lot of room on the top side (the side that gathers light), which produces cleaner images, even in low light situations.
The native ISO range of the camera is 100 – 6400 and Pentax uses the sensor-shift type image stabilization system.
The biggest USP of small sensor mirrorless cameras is the large focal length. The Pentax X-5 has a built-in lens that offers a 35mm format equivalent focal range of 22.3 – 580mm. That’s not as huge as some of the other systems on our list, but should be enough for most everyday shooting requirements.
Full HD video recording is possible on the camera at a frame rate of 30 fps. While that is standard, we would have loved to see a stereo mic as the built-in mic on the Pentax X-5 only records in mono.
The rear LCD screen has a size of 3”. However, the resolution of the sensor is only 460k-dots. That’s a bit low compared to some of the other cameras.
There’s also an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 230k-dots.
In an array of medium range mirrorless cameras the Pentax X-5 stands out as an unlikely winner. It has a lot of things going for it. The full HD video recording, electronic viewfinder, tilting rear LCD and the built-in image stabilization makes it the best bridge camera under $300.
Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR
Our pick for: best bridge camera under $500 in 2018.
When you are spending $500 on a bridge camera you would expect some of the best features that this segment has to offer. The Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR does not disappoint.
It’s built around a 16 megapixel EXR 1/2″ CMOS II sensor with a resolution of 16 megapixels, with image processing powered by the EXR processor II.
The fixed Fujinon lens has a 35mm optical equivalent zoom range of 24 – 1000mm. That should be enough for even a humming bird flying mid-air at a distance of 50 meters or more. The only drawback is the maximum aperture, which is f/5.6 at the tele end.
Among several useful extras there is a Focus Peak highlight feature that assists in accurate manual focus by highlighting the area where focus is acquired.
The camera has lens based image stabilization, which is a must have for a long lens like this.
The Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR is capable of shooting full HD videos at a frame rate of 60 fps, which means you’ll be able to play back your captures in acceptable slow motion.
The Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR is an excellent all round camera. Great optical zoom, image stabilization, video and still capabilities, manual shooting and RAW support. You couldn’t ask for more.
Nikon Coolpix P900
Our pick for: best superzoom mirrorless camera in 2018.
Need more zoom?
No problem. With the Nikon Coolpix P900 you’ll get an incredible 83x optical zoom.
The Nikon Coolpix P900 is built around a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor with backlit illumination technology. This ensures that the camera has a better light gathering surface compared to traditional sensors where the wiring is at the top along with the photo-diodes that capture light.
The greatest USP of the camera is undoubtedly its fantastic optical zoom range of 24 – 2000mm. Considering that an 800mm lens costs more than $6000, you have yourself a clear winner in the P900.
The lens comes with dual-detect optical Vibration Reduction technology. This technology provides up to five stops of compensation. That effectively means that you can shoot at up to five stops slower shutter speed than what the meter indicates and still get away with a sharp image.
Video mode on the camera is a decent full HD at a frame rate of 60 fps. You’ll also get a built in stereo mic.
There is a decent continuous shooting speed on the Coolpix P900 as well: 7 fps at full resolution. However, that burst lasts for only 7 frames.
Another useful feature of the camera is its vari-angle TFT LCD screen. The screen has a resolution of 921k-dots and gives 100% screen coverage.
The vari-angle flexibility allows the screen to be moved around to capture stills or videos from a very low angle, high over the head, and even around corners.
The Nikon Coolpix P900 wins the race for the best superzoom bridge camera with its class leading 83x optical zoom range.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000
Our pick for: best mirrorless for low light photography in 2018.
The best mirrorless camera for low light photography must be able to capture a lot of light, even when there is not much to go around.
One of the requirements for that is that the sensor must be large. The largest sensor available in mirrorless systems is the 1”.
Another requirement is that built-in lens should have a large wide aperture.
There are a few choices, but we have picked out the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 as the best mirrorless camera for low light photography.
First the maximum aperture range of the camera is f/2.8 to f/4. Sure you can’t shoot at f/2.8 at its tele end, and sure it does not have a focal length that is very long, but you don’t need either.
Even if you are using a full-frame DSLR, you don’t always shoot at 800mm. The longer distance you shoot over the more distortion your images are likely to have, especially when shooting over hot and dry fields in the wild.
The 1” High Sensitivity MOS sensor is capable of capturing a ton of light. Plus, the maximum aperture, at the tele end (400mm), is f/4. In camera ISO sensitivity is up to 12800, with the option to extend that up to a whopping 25600.
For any tele-lens to be able to produce great images when used hand-held it needs to have some sort of image stabilization. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 comes with a 5-axis hybrid image stabilization system that stabilizes any unintentional hand movement in 5 different axes.
A great low light camera with excellent overall performance. It may not have some of the best video features (but it can shoot 4K), but for low light photography the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 is hard to beat.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500
Our pick for: best mirrorless camera for wildlife photography in 2018.
This is an upgrade of the older Lumix DMC-FZ1000.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 is powered by a 1” 20.1 megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor. You’ll also get built-in DCI 4K video capabilities at a frame rate of 24 fps.
The optical glass in front is a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2.8 – 4.5 lens with a 20x optical zoom. In 35m format that is the equivalent of 24 – 480mm.
The optical focal range of the lens is small compared to some of the other mirrorless systems that we have covered, however, 480mm is good enough for birding and wildlife.
Plus, the f/2.8 – 4.5 aperture is good enough for low light imagery.
The rear of the camera is dominated by a 3” 1.04m-dots free-angle (Panasonic’s version of vari-angle) LCD screen. The display has touchscreen properties and there’s also a 0.74x 2.3m-dots OELD electronic viewfinder.
If you love shooting videos and are looking to explore professional features you’d love the Panasonic’s flat CINELIKE D and CINELIKE V picture profiles. These would give you professional level grading opportunities for your footage.
You can output your video over an HDMI connection with the professional 4:4:2 10-bit signal.
The reason why this is an excellent camera for shooting wildlife even though the focal length may be on the ‘shorter side’ is because of the impressive continuous shooting speed. Using the electronic shutter mechanism you can shoot at a maximum frame rate of 50 fps and using the mechanical shutter you can shoot at a speed of 12 fps.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 is a capable low light shooter, and is equally good for the shooting excellent quality video work. The larger High Sensitivity MOS sensor helps produce clean imagery even in low light conditions.
The touchscreen LCD at the back helps in precise focusing. Plus, a bunch of video shooting features lets you capture stunning videos of your subjects in the most difficult of conditions. Some of these features like the 4K PHOTO modes helps you achieve better imagery, and the continuous shooting is impressive.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC RX10 III
Our pick for: best large sensor mirrorless camera in 2018, best dslr alternative in 2018, best overall mirrorless camera in 2018.
The Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 III does not have the longest zoom on our list. But it more than makes up for that with some other excellent features, which makes it our pick for the best large sensor mirrorless camera.
First off, the sensor on the Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 III is a large 1” one. The sensor incorporates both the low-light tackling BSI and stacked architectures, which produces cleaner and more contrasting images, even in low light.
One of the other benefits of the stacked technology is the presence of a DRAM chip, which facilitates a much faster readout speed. Thanks to this DRAM chip and the upgraded BIONZ X processor, the Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 III is capable of producing continuous burst speed of 14 fps.
Another plus point of the new sensor design and the upgraded processing engine is the in-camera 4K/UHD video shooting capability at a frame rate of 30 fps. If you don’t have need for very high resolution videos, and could do with just full HD, then the Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 III is capable of shooting full HD at a frame rate of 960 fps.
At that frame rate it is possible to capture fantastic slow motion videos (recording the video at 960 frames per second and then playing it back in 30 fps).
The Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 III’s optical zoom extends from 24 – 600mm (on a 35mm format equivalence).
Anything else worth mentioning?
Yep, you’ll get built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, extending the camera’s connectivity, a series of manual control rings and a weather sealed body.
The Cyber-Shot DSC-RX10 III is an expensive camera. But it’s well worth the money. In fact, all things considered, it’s our favourite camera on this list and our pick or the best overall mirrorless camera in 2018.
Mirrorless Camera Buyer’s Guide
Not sure if a mirrorless camera is right for you? Let’s look at some of the main advantages (and disadvantages) of the format.
What Is A Mirrorless Camera?
Mirrorless cameras are designed to ‘bridge the gap’ between DSLR and compact cameras, with the aim of delivering the best of both worlds. You get the high quality sensor and manual control of a DSLR camera, combined with the easy to handle, lightweight body of a compact camera.
Optical Zooms Which Far Surpass DSLR Cameras
Unlike DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras have built in lenses which are capable of impressive optical zoom ranges. Some mirrorless cameras have optical zooms of upwards of 50x – a range which no DSLR lens is currently capable of reaching. This is why mirrorless cameras are sometimes referred to as super zoom cameras.
Unlike DSLR cameras, which use a mirror to reflect light from the lens directly into the viewfinder, mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder.
While the disadvantage is that this means the photographer does not see the exact frame being captured by the lens, the advantage is that the electronic viewfinder generally provides a more accurate representation of exposure and white balance.
Mirrorless cameras offer excellent image quality, which will be more than suitabe for most purposes.
However, that being said, the sensors contained in mirrorless cameras are generally smaller than even entry level DSLRs, so there is a small sacrifice to be made in resolution.
A bridge camera may be suitable for professional photographs printed at standard size, but if the aim is to enlarge images (say for posters), then a DSLR would be a better fit.
Mirrorless Camera Features
Mirrorless cameras offer full control over all aspects of shooting.
Controls are generally the same as DSLR cameras – with a manual setting for controlling shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc, plus the usual automatic and default settings (landscape, close up etc).
Many high end mirrorless cameras offer Wi-FI and some also offer GPS.
Normally the zoom lens will be controlled by a toggle switch on the cameras body, rather than turning the lens as with a DSLR.
Should You Buy A Mirrorless Camera?
If you are looking for a camera that will shoot high quality images, has exceptional optical zoom, and is easy to use/handle, then a mirrorless camera is a great choice.
If on the other hand, you are looking for the highest quality images possible, then you’ll probably want to go for a DSLR.
If you’re still unsure as to whether a Bridge camera is really for you then check out our Mirrorless vs DSLR comparison guide.
Thanks for reading our guide to the best mirrorless cameras in 2018.
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