Bridge Camera – A Complete Buyer's Guide! (Part 1)

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Bridge Camera…that’s something quite new a phrase in the world of photography. And what exactly does it mean? Why are they named so? Has it anything to do with its features? Speaking of features, how is the reception? Are they doing good in the market? Best received bridge cameras in the recent times?

Description: Bridge Camera – a Complete Buyer’s Guide!

These and many more in the pages that follow…

Bridge camera are cameras which fill the niche between the single-lens reflex cameras (SLRs)  and the Point-and –shoot camera. And hence the name… “bridge”, as they ‘bridge’ the gap between DSLRs and compact cameras in some respects, offering a longer zoom range than traditional compact cameras. They are also often referred to as superzooms.

Bridge camera is the perfect answer to those aspiring photographers who are stuck between choosing a DSLR and a compact carmera. A stalwart of the digital photography industry for the past decade, the bridge camera forms a bridge between a compact oint-and-shoot camera and a full-blown DSLR.

Description: Bridge camera is the perfect answer to those aspiring photographers who are stuck between choosing a DSLR and a compact carmera

Bridge camera, the perfect answer to those aspiring photographers stuck between choosing a DSLR and a compact carmera

It typically features some, but not all, of the manual settings and even physical controls that one would expect to find on an entry-level DSLR, including occasional command dials and chunky shooting mode wheels. But it retains some of the accessibility and user friendliness of a snap-shot camera, plus then lens can’t be removed or swapped.

Unsurprisingly, its design has aspects of the two types of camera, although the overall look and handling of a bridge camera tends to suggest what we’d term a DSLR ‘lite’.

Nearly every traditional camera manufacturer and electronics giant has a bridge model in its current range.

Features that makes it a bridge camera..

Like other cameras, most current bridge cameras are digital. These cameras typically feature full manual controls over shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white 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 36mm, APS, or 4/3 size CCD or CMOS). Many bridge cameras have long zoom lenses, so the term “bridge camera” is often used interchangeably with “megazoom”, “superzoom”, or “ultrazoom”. Since bridge models slot inbetween digital compacts and DSLRs by offering the finer points of both genres, this makes them ideal for photographers who like the simplicity of a compact camera, although accasionally find it rather restrictive in terms of lens range and picture taking features, but don’t want to make the leap to a full-blown DSLR. The models in this category, then, offer a ‘bridge’ between the two camps. Clever, eh?!

In most cases, a bridge camera also represents the middle ground in terms of physical size and handling ergonomics. Whereas a compact is largely about sleekness and pocketability, a bridge camera is typically a more sculptured affair with a chunky handgrip, sizeable rear LCD and large buttons that make function setting easier. While you could never describe a bridge camera as large, you’ll certainly need to trade up a size or two in bags if you’re currently a compact user.

Description: Lenses on bridge cameras are fixed, but offer a whopping zoom range

Lenses on bridge cameras are fixed, but offer a whopping zoom range

Lenses on bridge cameras are fixed, but offer a whopping zoom range, so its unlikely that you’ll be left wanting when it comes to taking pictures. A typical zoom range will enable you to tackle everything from landscapes at the wide-angle end through to tame wildlife and sporting action at the telephoto end. They also focus reasonably close, so you’ll be able to tackle some macro shot too. While having a fixed lens may be seen by some as a disadvantage (if you do, a DSLR is more your bag), it does mean that you’ll never have any problems with dust getting on to the sensor and spoiling your shots. When it comes to features, you’ll find that most bridge camera have a foot firmly in the DSLR camp. While they offer the point-and-shoot simplicity of compacts, should you require it, they also have a DSLR – style set of exposure modes, metering patterns and file formats. Buying a bridge camera certainly won’t prevent you from shooting using manual exposure, spot metering and the Raw file format should you so desire, such functions just maybe a little more hidden than they would be on a standard DSLR. Similarly, megapixel counts are also more likely to be in double figures, although they’re not directly comparable to a DSLR as the sensors are smaller and so won’t necessarily deliver the same results.

In most cases, then, a bridge camera can really be viewed as a DSLR with a lens that you can’t change and, as such, are a very applealing proposition. Be warned, though, if you really enjoy using your bridge camera and get more involved in your picture taking there will be a time when you’ll want to make the leap to a DSLR- this photography lark can be highly addictive!

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