Photography is an excellent hobby and profession that lets people capture moments in time that can be remembered for lifetimes and even generations after. From documenting essential events like weddings and celebrations, to creating modern photojournalism for news and current affairs, to merely capturing and immortalizing everyday activities, photography is something that finds use in every aspect of our lives. That is why almost all of the devices that people use today – from laptops to tablets to mobile phones come with a camera that is, more often than not, one of the main criteria people look for when buying these products.
However, you probably won’t be doing any photoshoots with your laptop’s webcam, and unless your smartphone comes with top-of-life camera hardware, you probably won’t be doing any professional photography work on that either. With all the technology available in 2018, there is also the stark difference between the amateur point and click cameras and professional-grade DSLRs. Point and click cameras are excellent for casual photography and come in a compact form-factor that can be taken anywhere, and for an affordable price should be enough to take good pictures. DSLRs, on the other hand, offer professional-grade digital photography that can capture moments in great detail, and in the hands of a professional, can take amazing photographs that are well worth the considerable investment that professional DSLRs often entail. But with the significant disparity between amateur point-and-clicks and professional DSLRs, what options are there for budding photographers and enthusiasts who want something better than compact point-and-shoot cameras, yet don’t want to invest too much money in a professional-grade DSLR that offer a dizzying number of features that most people won’t even use? The answer: the best bridge camera for budding photographers.
Bridge cameras, called so because of how they bridge the gap between amateur point and click cameras and professional-grade cameras, are excellent entry-level cameras that offer users the compact portability and ease-of-use of traditional point-and-click cameras, while still providing high-end and professional performance one would expect from a DSLR. Because bridge cameras are often much cheaper than professional DSLRs, they have been the go-to product for anyone looking to become a professional photographer or anyone enthusiastic about photography without having to break the bank for a high-end professional camera.
With all the bridge cameras available on the market today, it’s a challenge for consumers to find one that suits their needs and fits their budget. We’ve come up with this list of the best bridge camera for budding photographers to solve that problem. We tested and evaluated dozens of the best bridge cameras to come up with this list of the best of the best – the bridge cameras that outperformed the competition, delivered great overall value, and catered best to specific user needs.
What to Look For
Before we go in-depth into this list of the best bridge cameras for budding photographers, it’s essential first to gain an understanding of how we managed to come up with this list, and the criteria we considered when making our decisions. In our search for the best bridge camera for budding photographers, we examined the following factors:
Bridge cameras in general excel in quite a few things, including lens zoom and magnification. Bridge cameras usually offer some of the best and most powerful zoom options around, rivaling even DSLR magnification. If you’re in the market for a bridge camera, it’s vital to consider lens and magnification capabilities, so you can make the most out of your choice of bridge camera and maximize its innate capacity for powerful magnification.
Size and Shape
When buying a bridge camera, or any camera for that matter, it’s important to consider the size and shape of the device. Too often we’ve seen user complaints and reviews saying that some cameras are too big for users’ hands, leaving them completely unable to use them properly. If you’re in the market for a bridge camera, which typically is around half the weight and size of a DSLR and about double or triple the weight and size of a regular point-and-shoot, it’s important to know if you’ll be comfortable taking pictures using the device itself. Will it be easy for you to hold in your hands steadily? Will it be comfortable given its shape and size? These are just a few questions to ask yourself when buying any kind of camera, including bridge cameras.
Portability wise, bridge cameras are a cross between the smaller compact point and click cameras and robust yet often heavy and clunky DSLRs. Generally, with a bridge camera, you’re not going to get a device that is as portable as a compact point and click, but at the same time, you’re not going to get a device that is as heavy and difficult to carry around as a full-size DSLR. What you’re left with is something that belongs in between – portable enough for some things, and not portable enough for other things, but always a significant degree more portable than a DSLR.
You’re probably in the market for a bridge camera because it offers an excellent product for entry-level professionals and enthusiasts while keeping the price low and within budget. While there are plenty bridge cameras out there that may even be more expensive than an entry-level DSLR, we’ve put price and value into the equation so that every item in this list of the best bridge camera for budding photographers is a worthwhile model at an agreeable price.
Our Picks for the Best Bridge Camera for Budding Photographers
Sony CyberShot RX10 IV
The Sony CyberShot RX10 IV is the latest generation in the revolutionary RX10 series which sets the bar for being the best bridge camera. For those who can afford it, the Sony CyberShot RX10 IV is the bridge camera of choice for budding photographers who want a bridge camera that is as close to, or even better than, some professional-grade DSLRs available on the market today.
The Sony CyberShot RX10 IV is as powerful as a bridge camera can get, featuring an excellent 24-600mm lens that is satisfyingly fast, and the capacity to take both excellent still shots and high-quality video. The 20.1-megapixel sensor allows for unprecedented levels of detail, making this a bridge camera that even professionals would want to get a piece of.
The Sony CyberShot RX10 IV is a pricey option indeed, far more expensive than most others in the bridge camera market space. However, if the price is the only reason not to get the Sony CyberShot RX10 IV, we recommend getting the third generation Sony CyberShot RX10 III which has stood the test of time and is an excellent bridge camera in its own right.
Panasonic Lumix FZ2000
The Panasonic Lumix FZ2000, or the FZ2500 in the United States, is Panasonic’s direct response to the Sony RX10 Series, and this flagship bridge camera ticks all the right boxes and is available at an excellent price.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 comes with a 1-inch CMOS sensor at 20.1 megapixels, allowing for excellent detail and image reproduction. It boasts one of the fastest optics and autofocus speeds we’ve ever seen on a bridge camera, and while it doesn’t have as much magnification as most other bridge cameras with only 24-480mm lens, that’s still more than enough zoom for everyday use.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 is a little bulky for a bridge camera and isn’t weather-sealed so users will have to take extra care to keep this camera working in the right condition. However, we feel that its size is a worthwhile tradeoff for the high-speed optics that outmatches any other bridge camera in this list.
Nikon Coolpix P900
Famous among long-distance photographers, when it comes to lens magnification, the Nikon Coolpix P900 is king. It features the best zoom ever offered in a bridge camera and doesn’t compromise concerning image quality either.
The Nikon Coolpix P900 features the world’s longest zoom in a bridge camera. It houses 24-2000mm lens that is capable of up to 83x optical zoom, blowing away the competition which tops out at 65x optical zoom with the Canon Powershot SX60 HS. Its 16-megapixel sensor may not be able to match the Sony RX10 IV or the Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 regarding sheer image quality, but with industry-leading optical zoom, the Nikon Coolpix P900 is a class of its own.
The Nikon Coolpix P900 houses a massive lens, the equivalent of a 2000m lens on a DSLR. Not only does this make this specific bridge camera bigger and bulkier than most, but the large lens also makes it one of the least portable and the heaviest of the bunch. Besides weight and portability, the 83x optical zoom sacrifices a little image quality, but in no way does that mean the Nikon Coolpix P900 can’t take a great picture, because it can – just not as good as its competitors.
And there you have it: our picks for the best bridge camera for budding photographers. Whether you’re in it for the professional feel, enthusiast-level features, or just industry-leading lens magnification and optical zoom, we hope that you were able to find the bridge camera that’s right for you.