Bridge cameras are cameras which fill the niche between the single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs) and the point-and-shoot camera. They are often comparable in size and weight to the smallest digital SLRs (DSLR) and there are also superzoom DSLR-shape bridge camera with retractable lens to make it more compact, but almost all digital bridge cameras lack an optical viewfinder system (film bridges generally had a lighter version of a reflex finder). In addition, SLRs normally feature interchangeable lenses, while current bridge cameras do not.[not in citation given] They are prominent in the prosumer market segment. The phrase has been in use at least since the 1980s, and continues to be used with digital cameras. The term "bridge camera" was originally used to refer to film cameras which "bridged the gap" between point-and-shoot cameras and SLRs.
Like other cameras, most current bridge cameras are digital. These cameras typically feature full manual controls over shutter speed, aperture, ISO sensitivity, color balance and metering. Generally, their feature sets are similar to consumer DSLRs, except for a smaller range of ISO sensitivity because of their typically smaller image sensor (a DSLR has a 35mm, APS, or 4/3 size CCD or CMOS sensor). Many bridge cameras have long zoom lenses which some of it initial from super wide-angle 20 or 22mm (equivalent with 35mm film camera), so the term "bridge camera" is often used interchangeably with "megazoom", "superzoom", or "ultrazoom." However, some bridge cameras have only moderate or short zooms (such as the Canon Powershot G9), while many compact cameras have superzoom lenses but lack the advanced functions of a bridge camera.
With zoom ranges and sales rapidly increasing in the early 21st century, every major camera manufacturer has at least one 'super zoom' in their lineup. Sales of bridge cameras with DSLR-shape and MILC are steady in the overall context of declining camera sales.
One fixed but versatile lens
Bridge cameras typically have small image sensors, allowing their lenses also to be smaller than a 35mm or APS-C SLR lens covering the same zoom range. As a result, very large zoom ranges (from wide-angle to telephoto, including macro) are feasible with one lens. The typical bridge camera has a telephoto zoom limit of over 400mm (35mm equivalent), although some 21st-century cameras reach up to 1000mm like the Nikon Coolpix P510 For this reason, bridge cameras typically fall into the category of superzoom cameras.
A typical example is the 24× Zoom Nikkor ED 4.6-110.4mm f2.8-5.0 on the Nikon Coolpix P90, which in 35 mm equivalent focal length terms is a 26-624mm. To reduce aberration in a lens with such ambitious specifications, these have quite complex constructions, using multiple aspheric elements and often anomalous-dispersion glass. In this example pincushion- and barrel distortion can be corrected in the camera firmware as well. The ability to fit such a wide zoom range in one single small-diameter lens makes lens interchangeability for the purposes of focal length (as opposed to performance in low light or image quality) redundant for most photographers. Most bridge cameras allow the use of secondary lenses to improve wide-angle, telephoto or macro capabilities. These secondary lenses typically screw onto the front of the primary lens either directly or by use of an adapter tube.
Superzooms typically have a large f-number (aperture) especially at the long end, although several recent models offer apertures as wide as f/2.8 at the long end. The resulting depth of field prevents using shallow field methods, and prevent photography in low light without use of either flash or a tripod.
LCDs and EVFs as principal viewfinders
Bridge cameras employ two types of electronic screens as viewfinders: The LCD and the electronic viewfinder (EVF). All bridge cameras have an LCD with live-preview and usually in addition either an EVF or an optical viewfinder (OVF) (non-parallax-free, as opposed to the OVF of DSLRs, which is parallax-free). A high-quality EVF is one of the advanced features that distinguish bridge cameras from consumer compact cameras.
All DSLRs, by definition, have a through-the-lens OVF. Newer DSLR models typically also allow 'live view' on the LCD screen as an alternative to the OVF, although frequently without autofocus or with very slow autofocus. Mirrorless cameras and dSLTs use LCD or electronic viewfinders.
Electronic viewfinder (EVF) vs DSLR optical viewfinder (OVF) comparison
Live-preview EVF advantages
The EVF of bridge cameras, and the LCD of bridge cameras and DSLRs in 'live view' mode; continuously show the image generated by the sensor. The continuous digitally-generated live view has some advantages and disadvantages compared to the optically-generated view through the OVF of DSLRs. One advantage is that the digital preview is affected by all shooting settings and thus the image is seen as it will be recorded (in terms of things like exposure, white balance, etc.) which the OVF of DSLRs is incapable of showing. Another advantage is facilitating the framing from difficult angles by making the LCD movable (vari-angle). The LCD and EVF normally show 100% of the image while previewing (WYSIWYG). The OVF of professional DSLRs normally shows 100% of the image, but the OVF of consumer DSLRs may show slightly less than 100%. In addition, automatic modes tend to work better. The camera has a view of the full image, rather than the very limited information from an autofocus sensor, and can be much smarter about picking exposure, objects to focus on, and other settings. Finally, EVFs allow the viewfinder to show a range of information beyond the photo being taken. In particular, they allow for accurate image review, particularly in bright sunlight when the image would be washed out on a DSLR LCD. They can overlay a much richer array of focusing aids, levels, camera settings, and other information than a conventional DSLR viewfinder.
Live-preview EVF disadvantages
The electronic screens of some bridge cameras do not work as well as the OVF of DSLRs in situations of low light (although some work better, allowing high gain and slow refresh). For bridge cameras with EVFs, the LCD screen might be difficult to see and use for framing in bright daylight. Also, especially with older or lower-end cameras, the screen resolution and refresh rate may be limiting compared to the very high resolution and instantaneous refresh provided by an optical path in the OVF of DSLRs. Low resolution impedes some forms of manual focusing, but most modern bridge cameras implement a method called focus zoom which automatically magnifies a central frame within the screen (manual focus point) to allow easier manual focusing. A slow refresh rate means that the image seen on the screen will have a fraction of a second lag or delay from the real scene being photographed. The electronic screens used in modern bridge cameras are gradually improving in their size, resolution, visibility, magnification and refresh rate.
Continuous operation of the sensor shortens battery life and raises temperature. A DSLR's sensor (when not in live view mode) only operates when the shutter is open, and the electronic screen is typically off more, causing less battery drain.
Examples of bridge cameras
|Brand||Model||Optical Zoom||Range, eq 35mm film (mm)||Digital Zoom||Sensor||f-number (aperture)||Video||Method of Stabilization||Method of Zooming||Burst Speed Mode||RAW||Hot Shoe||Lens Threads||Conspicuous Remarks||DxoMark Overall Score|
|Canon||PowerShot SX50 HS||50x||24-1200||4x||12 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/3.4-6.5||Full HD at 24p stereo||Optical Image||Ultra Sonic Motor (USM)||13fps, Autofocus only for the first shot or 4.1fps with Autofocus||Yes||Yes||Yes||47|
|FujiFilm||FinePix S1||50x||24-1200||2x Intelligent Digital Zoom||16 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.9-5.6||Full HD up to 60p stereo||Optical (Lens Shift) Image 5-axis (horizontal, vertical and 3 rotation axis)||Motorized||10fps||Yes||Yes||Yes||The world's first superzoom bridge camera with weather-resistant sealed based on SL1000, 0.14seconds AF, timelapse up to 10 minutes for 6 hours maximum, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n with Fujifilm Camera Remote app for remote operation of the photo, video and backup from/to mobile devices, VGA640x480 of 120fps, QVGA320x240 of 240fps, 240x180 of 480 fps high speed movie, Motion Panorama 360 degrees||Not yet listed|
|FujiFilm||FinePix S9400W||50x||24-1200||2x Intelligent Digital Zoom||16 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.9-6.5||Full HD up to 60i stereo||Optical (Lens Shift) Image||Motorized||10fps (maximum 10 frames)||No||No||No||0.3seconds AF, Motion Panorama 360 degrees, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n||Not Applicable|
|FujiFilm||FinePix S9200||50x||24-1200||2x Intelligent Digital Zoom||16 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.9-6.5||Full HD up to 60i stereo||Optical (Lens Shift) Image||Motorized||10fps (maximum 10 frames)||No||No||No||Same with FinePix S9400W, but without Wi-Fi, 0.3seconds AF, Motion Panorama 360 degrees||Not Applicable|
|FujiFilm||FinePix SL 1000||50x||24-1200||2x||16 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.9-5.6||Full HD up to 60i stereo||Optical (Lens Shift) Image||
|10fps||Yes||Yes||Yes||Preview (ongoing test)|
|46x||24-1104||2x||16.2 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.9-6.5||Full HD up to 60i stereo||Optical (Lens Shift) Image||Manual||10fps||No||No||No||S8500, S8400 (44x), S8300 (42x) and S8200 (40x) has same features and all use AA Alkaline battery||Not Applicable|
|FujiFilm||FinePix S8400W||44x||24-1056||2x||16.2 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.9-6.5||Full HD up to 60i stereo||Optical (Lens Shift) Image||Manual||10fps||No||No||No||Has 3D(MPO), Dual zoom control lever, WiFi Image Transfer and use AA battery size||Not Applicable|
|FujiFilm||FinePix HS50 EXR||42x||24-1000||2x||16 MegaPixels 1/2" EXR CMOS II||f/2.8-5.6||Full HD/HD up to 60p stereo, VGA 30p stereo, 120/240/480fps without sound||Optical (Lens Shift) Image||Manual||Top capture: 16fps max 13 frames reduced size, full size of 11fps max 5 frames, 6fps max 5 frames and 3fps max 11 frames; Best frame capture: 16fps max 7/14 frames reduced size, full size of 11fps max 7 frames, 6fps max 7 frames and 3fps max 7frames||Yes||Yes||Yes||Fast Phase Detection AF (0.04 seconds) or Accurate Contrast AF in low light. Has no 3D (MPO), while HS30 EXR has, has 360 degrees Panorama||Preview (ongoing test)|
|Kodak||Pixpro AZ521||52x||24-1248||4x||16.38 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.8-5.6||Full HD up to 30p stereo||Optical Image||Manual||9fps||No||No||No||Has time lapse, has 360 degree panorama, but has no view finder. The cheapeast superzoom bridge camera among 50x.||Not applicable|
|Nikon||P600||60x||24-1440||4x||16.1 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/3.3-6.5||Full HD at 60i with stereo sound||Optical (Vibration Reduction) Image||Motorized||7fps||No||No||No||Can take VGA up to 120p and has built-in WiFi (to transfer the photos, but not for controlling the camera) and external mic jack, but no 3D and GPS||Not Applicable|
|Nikon||P530||42x||24-1000||4x||16.1 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/3-5.9||Full HD at 60i with stereo sound||Optical (Vibration Reduction) Image||Motorized||7fps||No||No||No||Use 16.1MP sensor of Nikon P510, no 3D and no GPS (many drawbacks), but has external mic jack, price is higher than Nikon P520||Not Applicable|
|Nikon||P520||42x||24-1000||2x||18.1 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/3-5.9||Full HD at 60i with stereo sound||Optical (Vibration Reduction) Image||Motorized||7fps||No||No||No||Slightly different with P510, both has GPS and can take 3D photos||Not Applicable|
|Nikon||P510||42x||24-1000||2x||16.1 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/3.3-5.9||Full HD at 30p with stereo sound||Optical (Vibration Reduction) Image||Motorized||7fps||No||No||No||Not Applicable|
|Olympus||Stylus SP100||50x||24-1200||2x Super Resolution Zoom or 4x Usual Digital Zoom||16 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS with TruePic VII processor as Olympus OM-D E-M1||f/2.9-6.5||Full HD Stereo at 60p/30p, HD Stereo at 60p, VGA Stereo at 30p, 120fps in VGA 640x480 or 240fps in QVGA 320x240||Optical (Lens Shift) Multi-Motion Movie image stabilization for taking video while walking or panning plus digital adjustment of shutter speeds and ISO||Motorized and Manual zoom lever on the left side of the lens||7fps for 6 images, 2.5fps for 200 images, and 20fps or 60fps for 60 images in 3MP||No||No||No||The world’s first-ever camera with a built-in 'Eagle Eye' Red dot sight in a semi-transparent mirror as uses in firearms for easy moving object tracking without zoom-out and just place the object in the reflective LED red dot, has 360 degress Panorama, focus limiter with lock, Super Macro 1 cm at 50x, Interval Shooting, Backlight HDR||Not Applicable|
|Panasonic||Lumix DMC-FZ70/72||60x||20-1200 photo or 22-1320 video||2x intelligent zoom which is not affecting the image quality or 5x usual digital zoom with 2 speed zoom||16.1 MegaPixels 1/2.3" Live MOS||f/2.8-5.9||Full HD at 60i, 30p with dolby digital stereo sound zoom and mono speaker in AVCHD or MP4 with capabilities of zoom in, cut animation and video divide||Optical Image, Power OIS can handle nearly twice of hand-shake than Mega OIS and useful for slow shutter speeds, Mega OIS has better image quality and Power/Mega OIS with Active Mode is useful for shooting while walking, reduce jitter||Motorized, manual or combination of both||9fps, limited in 3 shots only or 5fps with first one-shot AF or unlimited 2fps with continuous AF, 10fps in 3M flash burst shooting||Yes, noise appears since ISO 200 uses RAW, but appears since ISO 320 uses JPEG, since ISO 800 both RAW and JPEG are too much noises||Yes, with 1st or 2nd flash slow synchronation for built-in and external flash||Yes||The first superzoom bridge camera with 20mm wide angle, 140 percent wider than 24mm (should use fill-in flash to reduce vignetting), panorama and 3D image. As Nokia does on the high-end smartphone, FZ72 can produce digital zoom with quality of optical zoom with reduce MP: 10MP at 75x, 7MP at 90x, 5MP at 108x and 3MP at 135x, Single Color make the object with color and the surrounding in BW, 200MB built-in memory, shutter speed up to 1/2,000 seconds photo or 1/20,000 seconds video, Resize, Cropping, Leveling, Copy, Title Edit, Text Stamp, DPOF. Filters can be applied before or after taking photo or video. In night photography, up to 8 seconds in Manual Mode or 15, 30 and 60 seconds in Starry Sky Scene Mode. The cheapeast superzoom bridge camera among 60x and up (below $300).||Preview (ongoing test)|
|Panasonic||Lumix DMC-LZ40||42x||22-924||2x||20 MegaPixels 1/2.3" CCD||f/3.0-6.5||HD at 30p with monoaural sound||Optical Image||Motorized||1.1fps at Full Resolution, 3fps at 3MP||No||No||No||No viewfinder, no PSAM dial (only P&M), has Creative Panorama with 13 filter effects||Not Applicable|
|Samsung||WB2200F||60x||20-1200||4x||16 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.8-5.9||Full HD at 30p stereo without speaker, HD at 30p, VGA at 30 p, 384x288 at 240fps and 176x128 at 360fps||Optical Image||Motorized, single or double speed||8fps||No||No||No||Dual-grip design with Wi-Fi and NFC, Photo Beam directly view on smartphone, AutoShare directly save on smartphone, Remote Viewfinder control the camera from the smartphone, EVF with dioptre correction, Guaranteed all of SD up to 2GB, SDHC up to 32GB, SDXC up to 64GB||Not Applicable|
|Sony||CyberShot DSC-H400||63x||24.5-1550||?||20.4 MegaPixels 1/2.3" Super HAD CCD||f/3.4-6.5||HD up to 30p with stereo sound||Optical (Lens Shift) Image||Motorized||0.71fps||No||No||No||360 degrees Sweep Panorama. Highest zoom range of any current superzoom bridge camera. DSC-H400 is cheaper than DSC-HX400V due to less features than HX series and uses CCD sensor which poor in low-light conditions.||Not Applicable|
|Sony||CyberShot DSC-HX400V||50x||24-1200||2x||20.4 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.8-6.3||Full HD 50p, 50i, 25p, 24p with stereo sound, zooming while shooting video||Optical (Lens Shift) Image||Motorized||8.5fps for 10 shots||No||Yes||Yes, 55mm||Use BIONZ X processor as advance Sony Alpha 7, has WiFi and NFC which can communicates instanly with smartphone, built-in GPS Can directly changes the photos to 4K in 4K display. Initial with ISO 80, Automatic eye sensor EVF, Dioptre correction EVF, Sweep Panorama, Maximum 4 seconds night photography||Not Applicable|
|Sony||CyberShot DSC-HX300||50x||24-1200||Still:2x, Video:4x||20.4 MegaPixels 1/2.3" BSI-CMOS||f/2.8-6.3||Full HD up to 50p with stereo sound||Optical (Lens Shift) Image||Motorized||10fps||No||No||No||HX100V and HX200V can takes 3D Sweep Panorama, but HX300 can only take 2D Sweep Panorama||Not Applicable|
|Brand||Model||Optical Zoom||Range, eq 35mm film (mm)||Digital Zoom||Sensor||f-number (aperture)||Video||Method of Stabilization||Method of Zooming||TheBurstSpeedMode||RAW||Hot Shoe||Lens Threads||TheConspicuousRemarks||DxoMark Overall Score|
Update: On June 30, 2014 all above bridge cameras on the table are still available in the shop(s) with the cheapeast price is slightly over $200, while the most expensive price is not more than $500 (prices are not directly reflect the qualities)
In late of 2012 Techradar says that when the general compact camera market is on a downturn, the DSLR-like bridge camera market is continuing well. In 2014, CNET mentioned that for the last couple years Fujifilm focus to produce rugged compact cameras and bridge cameras due to those are what still sells. At mid-2014, all major camera manufacturers have at least bridge DSLR-shape superzoom camera with 50x or up magnification, except LG and Pentax which both have bridge DSLR-shape superzoom camera with smaller magnification.
Low-end mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras offer an alternative to bridge cameras. They feature a large sensor, as on a dSLR, and an interchangeable lens, but no mirror. These share compact size, live view, and electronic viewfinder only with bridge cameras, but offer image quality as good as or superior to dSLR cameras, and an upgrade path to professional-level mirrorless models. As with dSLRs, zoom range is more limited than on a bridge superzoom camera.
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