Even with the dropping prices of DSLRs and the rising appeal of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, the so called “bridge” camera is as popular as ever. “Bridge cameras” are big-bodied, big-zoom point-and-shoot cameras that have the look and heft of a more expensive and feature-heavy camera but still maintain the simplicity of the standard and compact point-and-shoot cameras.
People will usually purchase “bridge cameras” as they become more serious about photography. They may want to experience shooting with a bridge camera before they take the plunge and obtain a camera with interchangeable lenses. The same applies when purchasing cameras for the photographer in your family. You want to ease them gradually into their progression from a compact camera to a DSLR kit.
Here are some notable selections from the B&H website.
The Canon SX50 HS Digital Camera is another example of a bridge camera that has a slate of features and a nice substantial body, but costs less than you would expect. The 12.1MP CMOS Sensor and DIGIC 5 Image Processor are enhanced with a 24mm to a supertelephoto 1200mm (35mm equivalent) focal range. You can capture high-resolution JPEG and RAW still images, as well as full HD 1080p video with stereo sound. The 2.8" Vari-Angle LCD monitor features a resolution of 461,000 pixels and an electronic viewfinder. High Speed AF provides fast 0.19-second focusing, improving upon the SX40 HS's 0.38-second, and a reduction in shooting lag time from 0.45-second (on the SX40 HS) to 0.25-second to help you capture every shot you need.
Other features include High-Speed Burst HQ, which enables continuous capture at 13 fps for up to 10 frames, and a Smart AUTO mode which automatically chooses the best camera settings for the situation, selecting from 58 predefined scenarios. Other extras include Face ID, which adjusts focus and exposure priority based upon up to 12 pre-registered faces. Shooting modes include Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Program, plus Movie Digest for tallying up the day’s work in one clip. The PowerShot SX50 is available in black and is also available with basic and deluxe accessory kits.
The PowerShot SX160 IS replaces the older SX150 in Canon’s range of enthusiast long zoom point-and-shoot cameras. The SX160 has been outfitted with an upgraded 16MP CCD image sensor, compared to the 14MP sensor of the SX150. It also has a longer 16x zoom lens with a 28-448mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range. The camera features some manual controls, AA battery power and 720p HD video capture—all of which help keep it an affordable option for beginner and intermediate-level photographers.
Although the lack of a handgrip means less stability when shooting with the SX160, it also means a far more compact form factor that can slip easily into your pocket or bag. The camera does have several other pluses, including optical image stabilization, a 3-inch LCD screen, Smart AUTO with 32 predefined situations, HDMI connectivity and a new High Speed AF that dramatically increases focus speed. It’s available in black and red.
The PowerShot SX500 IS Digital Camera is another long zoom compact point-and-shoot camera from Canon. It manages to pack a 24-720mm optical zoom range into a rather compact, pocket-sized shell. The 24mm f/3.4-5.8 wide-angle lens, 30x optical zoom and Intelligent Optical IS support detailed image capture from ultra-close-up to telephoto. The camera features a 16MP CCD image sensor, DIGIC 4 image processor and 720p video recording. It also features a 3-inch LCD screen, enhanced zoom framing assist and a dedicated video capture button.Another highlight of the SX500 is that it supports zooming while you shoot video. However, it does offer a slightly limited ISO range of 80-1600. The camera does have a built-in flash and it also supports continuous shooting, HDMI connectivity and several photo effects. The SX500 IS comes in black only.
As smart phones continue to evolve with more advanced integrated cameras, digital camera manufacturers have been forced to rethink their long zoom compact point-and-shoot models. Nikon’s answer to this encroaching threat is the Android-equipped Nikon COOLPIX S800c Digital Camera. The 16MP S800c is a compact point-and-shoot camera with an Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system and built-in Wi-Fi, which allows it to function similarly to a smart phone. The camera also features a considerable zoom range of 25-250mm (35mm equivalent), a NIKKOR ED glass lens with an aperture of f/3.2-5.8 and 10x optical zoom. It’s equipped with a 16MP 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS image sensor and Optical Lens-Shift Vibration Reduction as well.
The S800c captures Full HD 1080p video with stereo sound, and it has a generous 3.5” OLED display for intuitive, clear menu navigation, composition and review. The camera is equipped with built-in GPS as well. The S800c’s integrated Wi-Fi and Android technology means you’ll also have access to Google Play, which supports a huge app library where you can download photo-editing apps and games. The S800c allows you to edit the photos right after you take them and upload them to your favorite social media sites—without computers or cables. You can also wirelessly transfer images and movies from your camera to a smart phone or tablet. You can email your photos and movies as well, which means you can instantly share your holiday cheer with friends and family. The S800c is available in black or white.
As cameras continue to shrink, it’s becoming more difficult to find a compact point-and-shoot camera with a substantial hand grip. The Nikon COOLPIX P510 is a compact point-and-shoot camera that still provides a comfortable hand grip for more handheld stability. It also features a very respectable zoom range of 24-1000mm (35mm equivalent). It’s equipped with a 42x Optical Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens with f/3.3-5.9 aperture and Optical VR Image Stabilization as well, which ensures that you’ll consistently produce detailed images, from close up and from a considerable distance.
The P510 has a 16.1MP CMOS image sensor that supports high-resolution still images and Full HD 1080p video capture with stereo sound. It also has a 3-inch Vari-Angle Hi Res display that tilts for easier review and composition of images from multiple angles. Plus, like the S800c, the P510 is equipped with GPS, which is useful if you’re interested in adding a geographical narrative to your photo albums. Other features include the Easy 360 Panorama mode, 7 fps continuous shooting, 3D photo capture, an electronic viewfinder and more. The P510 is available in black and red.
The COOLPIX L810 from Nikon is another compact point-and-shoot camera with an exceptionally long zoom range and a comfortable hand grip for accurate, steady shooting from any distance. The L810 features a 26x Zoom-NIKKOR ED glass lens with an aperture of f/3.1-5.9 and zoom range of 22.5-585mm (35mm equivalent). Plus, like the P510, the L810 is equipped with Optical VR Image Stabilization. If you prefer shooting mostly wide-angle landscapes one day and telephoto shots the next, the L810 has the versatility to match your creative impulses from day to day.
For making movies, the L810 is limited to 720p HD video capture, but it does support stereo sound. It has a 16.1MP CCD image sensor for shooting high-resolution images, and its 3-inch display features an anti-reflective coating and five-level brightness adjustment. You can take this camera anywhere because the L810 is powered by four AA batteries—one of the most universal and easily acquired types of battery—unlike other cameras' battery packs that require a wall outlet to recharge. The camera’s other features include a Smart Portrait System, 3D photo capture, SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card support, 20 scene modes and more. The L810 is available in black, blue and red.
As we wrote above, although DSLR cameras are becoming more affordable, compact point-and-shoot cameras with powerful zoom lenses seem as popular as ever, and it’s easy to see why when you look at the Panasonic LUMIX FZ200 Digital Camera. It has the professional look of a DSLR, as well as a super long zoom range of 25-600mm (35mm equivalent). Plus, since Panasonic was one of the first manufacturers to pioneer the long zoom compact camera, it’s appropriate that a decade later the zoom has grown significantly at both the wide angle and telephoto ends.
The FZ200 features a 24x Leica Optical Zoom Lens that works with a 48x Intelligent Zoom and Power Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S), which ensures you’ll capture detailed, blur-diminished images throughout the focal range. Additionally, the lens has a constant maximum f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range for low-light shooting, even when the lens is fully extended. The camera also features a 12.1MP MOS image sensor and LSI Venus Engine image processor. In addition to capturing high-resolution stills, it supports Full HD 1080p video capture as well. Like the Nikon P510, the FZ200 is equipped with a 3-inch Free-Angle display that tilts so you can compose images from above your head or at waist level with far greater ease. The FZ200 has a 0.2-inch electronic viewfinder as well. Plus, there is a host of features that will inspire creativity including: 12 fps continuous shooting, a Panorama shot mode, 3D photo capture and 14 different filter options. The FZ200 is available in black only.
The Panasonic LUMIX FZ60 is another DSLR-esque compact point-and-shoot camera with a broad 25-600mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range. It’s equipped with a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 24x Zoom lens that features an aperture range of f/2.8-8.0. The camera also has 48x Intelligent Zoom, 30.3x Extra Optical Zoom and Power O.I.S., which all work together to produce detailed, crisp wide-angle and telephoto images.
The FZ60 is outfitted with a 16.1MP High Sensitivity MOS sensor that’s capable of capturing up to Full HD 1080i video at 60 fps. Plus, like the FZ200, the FZ60 features an LSI Venus Engine image processor, a 0.2-inch color viewfinder and a 3-inch Intelligent LCD screen that affords intuitive menu navigation, composition and review. The camera also features full manual override, an Auto retouch feature, HDR mode, Panorama shot mode, 3D photo capture and pop-up flash. The FZ60 is available in black only.
Although more affordable than the FZ60, Panasonic’s LUMIX DMC-LZ20 Digital Camera provides similar features and a 25-525mm (35mm equivalent) long zoom range, which is almost as powerful as the FZ60.The LZ20 features a 16MP CCD image sensor, optical image stabilization, a 21x optical zoom, Extra Optical Zoom function and Panasonic’s unique iA Mode. Plus, the 25mm wide-angle lens has about twice the shooting area as a standard 35mm lens.
The LZ20 also supports Full HD 1080i HD video capture. And, the camera’s 3-inch LCD screen provides aid to composition, as well as instant playback and menu navigation. Other features include full manual control, a built-in flash, SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card support and creative control functions like continuous shooting, still image scene select and more. The LZ20 is available in black only.
Any Pentax fans looking for a compact point-and-shoot camera with a long zoom should focus on the X-5 Digital Camera. It has a considerable zoom range of 22.3-580mm (35mm equivalent), as well as an articulated LCD and a high-resolution electronic viewfinder that will enable effortless composition and convenient playback. The 26x super telephoto zoom lens will minimize the distance between you and your subject. Plus, a 16MP CMOS backlit image sensor will ensure high-resolution images and sharp Full HD 1080p video capture.
The PENTAX Zoom lens features an aperture range of f/3.1-5.9. It works with the camera’s optical zoom, 39x Intelligent Zoom and triple shake reduction system to produce images through the entire focal range with ease. The X-5 also supports a Super Macro mode for capturing the smallest details from as near as 1 cm. It features an Auto Macro function as well, which automatically switches the focus mode to Macro when the camera detects that the subject is close to the lens. Other features include HDMI connectivity, Auto Picture Mode and Fast Face Detection technology. The X-5 is available in black and silver.
Although Samsung doesn’t have many contenders in the long zoom compact point-and-shoot arena, their WB100 Digital Camera provides a compelling choice for anyone in the market for a solid, middle-of-the-road camera. This compact point-and-shoot camera features a 22-580mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range and a 16.2MP CCD image sensor that supports both high-resolution still images and 720p HD video capture. The lens has an aperture range of f/3.1-5.9, which works together with 26x optical zoom and Dual IS optical and digital image stabilization to ensure rich, detailed images throughout the zoom range.
Plus, like the COOLPIX L810, the WB100 offers the option of using AA batteries instead of a lithium-ion pack. This should make it an attractive choice for travelers and tourists. The camera also features a 3-inch rear touch screen LCD, Smart Auto function, Live Panorama, Picture in Picture image capture, Smart Filter, Magic Frame and Split Shot. The WB100 is available in black and red.
Sony excels at providing professional quality consumer products wrapped in a user-friendly package. And the Cyber-shot DSC-HX200V Digital Camera from Sony is no exception. It provides a thorough 27-810mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range, as well as a host of other features. The camera is equipped with a 30x Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens with an aperture range of f/2.8-5.6 and optical SteadyShot image stabilization with 3-Way Active Mode. It has an 18.2MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor and a BIONZ image processor. Plus, it even has 105MB of built-in memory.
Like most of the cameras in this roundup, the DSC-HX200V supports Full HD 1080p video, but at an impressive 60 fps. The higher frame rate yields crisper high-speed shots. The camera also features a 3-inch Xtra Fine LCD TruBlack display and an optical viewfinder. Sony really equipped this camera with a laundry list of features, but some of the more impressive functions include built-in GPS and a compass for recording location data, a 360° Intelligent Sweep Panorama HR mode, Smile Shutter technology, an Anti-Blink function, up to 10 fps burst shooting and 3D photo capture. The DSC-HX200V is available in black only.
Fujifilm continues to upgrade their long zoom HS Series cameras, and the Fujifilm FinePix HS25EXR builds on the popular HS20EXR from last year. The HS25EXR comes in a smaller package than its predecessor, and Fujifilm also shaved off a few features to reduce the price somewhat. However, it still features an impressive 24-720mm (35mm equivalent) manual zoom range and a 16MP EXR CMOS image sensor.
The HS25EXR also features Dual IS (Sensor-Shift + High ISO), EXR Auto, Motion 360 Panorama and Full HD 1080p video capture at 30 fps. For the smaller price tag, consumers still get a tilting 3-inch LCD screen and a (slightly smaller) electronic viewfinder than the one on the HS20EXR. However, one cutback which is more of a positive than a negative is the switch to AA batteries, instead of a lithium-ion battery pack. Running on AA batteries means you should always be able to find power for your camera, no matter where you are in the world.
Other features include a 60x Intelligent digital zoom, electronic image stabilization, manual exposure settings, Film Simulation mode, 8 fps high speed continuous shooting, 3D viewing and 3D printing. The HX25EXR is available in black only.
The FinePix S4200 is another bridge compact point-and-shoot camera from Fujifilm. It features a more modest zoom range of 24-576mm (35mm equivalent). The camera is equipped with a Fujinon 24x optical zoom lens with a 42-step electronic powered zoom, a 14MP CCD image sensor and Dual Image Stabilization with High Sensitivity + CCD Shift Image Stabilization. It supports HD 720p video capture and is powered by AA batteries.
The S4200 also features a 3-inch LCD screen, electronic viewfinder, motion panorama and easy uploading to social media sites via the bundled MyFinePix Studio software. The camera has an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot and a mini HDMI output for viewing your pictures and video on a large HDTV screen. It also supports several shooting functions including SR AUTO, blink detection, face recognition and more. The S4200 is available in black only.
The FUJIFILM FinePix S4500 Digital Camera is another point-and-shoot camera that dreams of being a DSLR. One of the ways it achieves that dream is by equipping itself with a 24-720mm (35mm equivalent) 30x optical zoom lens, which allows you to shoot super close-up macros or distant telephoto shots.
Nice extras include the professional grade Super EBC coating that reduces ghosting (the same process used for Fujinon broadcasting video lenses and large-format professional camera lenses) and lens flare and the 42-step zoom control for smooth transitions. Another area in which the camera tries to emulate its DSLR cousins is with the electronic viewfinder and a large 3.0" LCD monitor. Standard for most cameras these days is the ability to shoot 720 HD video, and Dual Image Stabilization, which reduces motion and blur for clear, clean images. It includes Auto Modes from Scene Recognition modes to Blink Detection to Tracking Auto Focus. It is available in black and there are also basic and deluxe accessory kits for the camera.
Olympus offers a few different compact, long zoom cameras. The SP-820UZ iHS is equipped with iHS image processing technology and a monster zoom range of 22.4-896mm (35mm equivalent). The 40x Ultra Wide-Angle Optical Zoom lens (f/3.4-5.7 aperture range) and Dual Image Stabilization provide quality image capture from near to far. The camera features a 14MP CMOS image sensor, TruePic V image processor and Full HD 1080p video. Plus, framing your photos and videos is easily accomplished on the 3-inch LCD screen.
The SP-820UZ supports Multi-Motion Movie IS for video stabilization and full resolution burst shooting at up to 3 fps. It can also shoot 3MP bursts at up to 30 fps. Additional features include an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot, Hand-Held Starlight and HDR adjustment, Smart Panorama and enhanced iAuto exposure control. The SP-820UZ iHS comes in black and silver.
Although some feature-laden long zoom cameras are becoming more comparable in price to HDSLRs than compact point-and-shoot cameras, there are still plenty of affordable models available. The Olympus SP-620UZ Digital Camera is a perfect example. It features a notable zoom range of 25-525mm (35mm equivalent), while keeping a compact form factor that can slip easily into your pocket or purse. The SP-620UZ is equipped with a 16MP CCD image sensor, True Pic III+ image processor and a fixed 3-inch LCD screen.
The SP-620UZ also features Intelligent Auto, Dual Image Stabilization, high-definition 720p video recording and a multi-shot 3D imaging mode for playback on 3D monitors and televisions. Plus, it’s Eye-Fi card compatible, which makes it easy to share stills and HD videos with family and friends. The simple layout of this camera, as well as its affordability and basic functionality, make it an ideal choice for the less experienced user. The SP-620UZ is available in black only.
The SP-810UZ Digital Camera is another compact, long zoom point-and-shoot camera from Olympus. Amazingly, Olympus has squeezed a 24-864mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range into a slim little shell. It’s an ambitious endeavor aimed at travelers and tourists. Like the other models in this roundup, the SP-810UZ is flexible enough to get up close for creating striking macro images, while also being able to capture detailed shots from hundreds of feet away without changing lenses. The 24mm Ultra Wide-Angle f/2.9-5.7 aperture lens, 14MP CCD image sensor, TruePic III + image processor and Dual Image Stabilization ensure that even a novice user will come away with pleasing images.
The SP-810UZ also supports HD 720p video capture. And the micro HDMI port allows you to easily share your high-definition adventures on a large HDTV screen. For shot composition and instant playback, the camera is equipped with a fixed 3-inch LCD screen. Several other models in this roundup support tilting LCD monitors and although a fixed screen might not save you time, it will definitely save you money. Other camera features include Beauty mode, 3D photo capture, in-camera panorama and an in-camera help guide. The SP-810UZ is available in black only.
The Olympus SZ-12 is a compact, 24x long zoom camera with a zoom range of 25-600mm (35mm equivalent). The camera’s f/3.0-6.9 aperture lens and Dual Image Stabilization support quality image capture for both wide and macro shooting. Like the SP-810UZ, the SZ-12 also features a 14MP CCD sensor, TruePic III + image processor and 720p HD video capture. It also has a 3-inch fixed LCD screen that supports intuitive menu navigation, composition and review.
The camera’s other notable features include a retro-chic “smart grip” at the front of the camera, a Beauty Mode, 10 Magic Art Filters that should spark your creativity and multi-shot 3D image capture that you can play back on a 3D monitor or 3D TV. The camera has a one-touch video record button as well, which makes shooting video fast and easy. The SZ-12 is available in black, silver and red.
The penultimate camera in this roundup is the SZ-31MR iHS from Olympus. It’s a feature-rich, long zoom compact camera that takes the place of the Olympus SZ-30. The SZ-31MR combines a 24x Wide-Angle Optical Zoom Lens (25-600mm zoom equivalent in 35mm format) with a new 3-inch touch panel LCD and powerful iHS technology to deliver high-quality images and Full HD 1080p video—even in low-light conditions. The camera also features a 16MP BSI CMOS image sensor, Dual Image Stabilization and a Dual TruePic V image processor.
The camera also supports a Multi-Recording function that facilitates still-image capture while shooting video by simply tapping the touch-panel LCD. Other features include 10 fps High Speed continuous shooting, 3D photo capture, backlight HDR, Beauty mode with makeup and more. The SZ-31MR is available in black and silver.
Leica also has a contender for the bridge between digital cameras and DSLRs. It is the Leica V-Lux 4 Digital Camera, and it boasts the new Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens with 24x optical zoom, which runs the gamut of focal lengths from 25-600mm in the 35mm format. The fast aperture of f/2.8 throughout the zoom is equal to that of any professional grade interchangeable zoom lens. It also features a new 12.1MP CMOS sensor that delivers great quality and fast autofocus. An increased ISO sensitivity range, up to 6400, provides low-noise imagery in limited light.
The V-LUX 4 is capable of capturing Full HD 1080 AVCHD video at up to 60 frames per second. The full range of 24x zoom is available while shooting, and a one-touch dedicated button can switch you from video to photo and back again in an instant. The V-LUX 4 is also capable of recording MP4 video capture for quick and fast uploading of videos to the Internet. A built-in stereo microphone with wind filter lets the audio match your video.
For image composition, the V-LUX 4 includes both a 1.3 million-pixel electronic viewfinder and a 3.0" LCD screen. The viewfinder offers 100% image view and displays all the menu settings and capture options. The LCD, which is used for playback, can also tilt and rotate for a variety of shooting angles. Available in black only.
These cameras all offer the convenience and simplicity of a point-and-shoot camera with the long zoom ranges necessary to capture images at any distance, from portraits to group shots to sweeping landscapes. The only difficulty you may experience is deciding on just one.