Bridge Cameras

Bridge Cameras are so-called because they bridge the gap between a Compact Camera and the more expensive SLR type.

Pentax X5 Bridge Camera

They can vary in size quite a lot… compare for instance the weight and dimensions of the dinky little Olympus Stylus 1 shown further down this page (also included as a “compact” on the Home page) with the larger Fuji XS-1 also shown below.  The Olympus Stylus 1 looks like a neat little SLR that has shrunk in the wash, whereas the Fuji XS-1 looks and weighs as much as or more than many SLR’s.

Bridge cameras usually have the same small sensors as those fitted to Compact Cameras. So ultimately the images they produce are not really in the same very high quality league as those produced by an SLR.

The Panasonic model shown further down this page for example has the same 1/2.3″ size sensor as the Canon A1400 but has a much wider 60x zoom range of 20–1200mm  (35mm equivalent). Compare that to the Canon A1400’s 28-140mm 5x zoom range. It’s certainly something of a bargain if a camera with a super-wide zoom lens is of interest. A SLR camera with a bag of lenses to cover the same sort of 20mm to 1200mm zoom range would cost a small fortune.

The two big advantages of Bridge Cameras are cost (compared to SLR’s) and the very wide zoom range of the lenses fitted. This in turn makes them more bulky than Compact Cameras as the lenses are by necessity quite a bit longer (meaning a larger camera depth dimension).

Bridge Cameras then are actually quite inexpensive considering the tremendous zoom range of the lenses fitted. Certainly a lot cheaper than an SLR (plus lenses) despite looking quite similar.

There’s a Page here about Sensor Sizes

Olympus Stylus 1
Bridge Camera

Olympus Stylus 1

Weight 14.25 ounces (402 grams)
Dimensions (W x H x D)
4.57 x 3.43 x 2.24 (116 x 87 x 57 mm)
Zoom Range 28 – 300mm (35mm equivalent)
12 megapixels Sensor
Sensor Size – 1/1.7″
Sensor Area – 41.5 mm² Customer Reviews and Price Customer Reviews and Price

Fujifilm XS-1

Weight 32.45 ounces (920 grams)
Dimensions (W x H x D)
5.31 x 4.21 x 5.87 (135 x 107 x 149 mm)
Zoom Range 24 – 624mm (35mm equivalent)
12 megapixels Sensor
Sensor Size  – 2/3″
Sensor Area – 58.1 mm² Customer Reviews and Price Customer Reviews and Price

Fuji also make a number of other Bridge Cameras across a fairly wide price range like the model shown here:-

FujiFilm FinePix S4200
Bridge Camera

Weight 1lb 3 ounces (538 grams)
Dimensions (W x H x D)
4.6 x 3.1 x 3.9″.  (118 x 81 x 100mm)
Zoom Range 24 – 576mm  (35mm equivalent)
14 megapixels Sensor
Sensor Size – 1/2.3″
Sensor Area – 28.1mm² Customer Reviews and Price Customer Reviews and Price

Panasonic make a number of Bridge Cameras and I seem to remember a very neat description they had for one of their (less expensive) Bridge Camera models. What they said was “it’s a camera to support people’s hobbies rather than being their hobby”. I think this sums them up very well as not everyone is super-keen on examining images at 100% magnification on their computer screens and just want a “do-it-all”camera at a modest cost.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70
Bridge Camera

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70
Weight 1lb 6 ounces (606 grams)
Dimensions (W x H x D)
5.12 x 3.82 x 4.65 (130 x 97 x 118 mm)
Zoom Range 20 – 1200mm  (35mm equivalent)
16 megapixels Sensor
Sensor Size – 1/2.3″
Sensor Area – 28.1mm²

In general though, Bridge Cameras are not really very compact (particularly in-depth) but are usually a bit smaller and lighter than an SLR. They’re not really pocket-size though… unless you’ve got big pockets. But depending on your needs and ambitions, this type of camera may well be worth exploring.

If the bigger size is not a problem, a Bridge Camera could well be all the camera you would ever need.

Important – Please note that many Bridge Cameras do have a viewfinder but there are some that don’t. So please take care to check this out carefully when exploring the net. A quick way of doing this is simply by clicking on the images that appear when looking at a Bridge Camera on Amazon. (There’s often an image showing the rear view).

Also worth mentioning is that the viewfinders are of the electronic type rather than optical. By electronic, what I mean is that what you see when looking through the viewfinder is a repeat of what appears on the LCD screen. Very useful in many ways for composition and to check settings etc but not as bright and clear a view as with the optical system of the better SLR’s.

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