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The 4 Best Bridge Cameras - Spring 2024 Reviews

Best Bridge Cameras

Generally speaking, the best camera with a zoom lens will be an interchangeable lens model paired with a compatible telephoto lens, but going that route can also be expensive. If you aren't a pro but still want a lot of zoom range in a convenient all-in-one package, a bridge camera (so-called because they're meant to "bridge" the gap between point-and-shoots and DSLRs) can be a good solution. While their smaller sensors don't offer the same image quality as crop sensor and full-frame cameras, they combine the simple usability of point-and-shoot cameras with unparalleled zoom range, making them a good fit for casual wildlife and sports photography or family and travel photos.

We've bought and tested over 100 cameras, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras with zoom lenses built in. If you're looking for a compact fixed-lens camera, check out our recommendations for the best compact cameras. If you're a beginner looking for your first camera, try the best cameras for beginners instead. Or, if you're interested in a camera specifically for birding or nature photography, you can check out our picks for the best cameras for wildlife photography.

  1. Best Bridge Camera

    The Sony RX10 IV is undoubtedly the Rolls-Royce of bridge cameras. While it isn't cheap, it's one of the most impressive bridge cameras on the market. That's primarily because of its larger-than-average 1-inch stacked sensor, which keeps rolling shutter effect to a minimum and makes it possible to shoot at a very quick 24 fps burst rate. Beyond that, it's a very well-built camera, with weather-sealing, a generous handgrip, and premium touches like a top display to check your settings and battery life at a glance.

    Image quality is great straight out of the camera, with RAW shooting and manual controls for more advanced users. On top of that, you get Sony's typically reliable autofocus, with a highly effective tracking feature that makes it a great choice for birding and wildlife. The camera's built-in Zeiss zoom lens also covers a wide-ranging full-frame equivalent focal length of 24–600mm, meaning you can shoot everything from landscapes to far-off wildlife.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range Bridge Camera

    If the Sony RX10 IV is out of your price range, the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II is an excellent mid-range option. It's an especially good choice if you don't need more premium features like weather sealing. Like the Sony, it uses a 1-inch sensor, allowing for better image quality than most bridge cameras. It isn't a stacked sensor, though, so the camera doesn't have the same advantage with burst rates and rolling shutter as the Sony. That said, its 11 fps shooting speed is still very respectable and will suit most photographers just fine.

    The FZ1000 II's 25-400mm equivalent focal length is quite versatile, giving you a fairly wide zoom range to work with. The camera's also packed with extra features, including a '4k PHOTO' mode that lets you pull stills out of 30 fps video clips, along with features like 'Focus Stacking' and 'Post-Focus,' which, respectively, allow you to expand an image's focal plane or adjust the focus point after the fact. However, the camera uses a slower contrast-detection autofocus system, so it isn't as quick or reliable for tracking fast-moving subjects. Despite that, the FZ1000 II offers a lot of value for its price, making it the best all-around option for most people.

    See our review

  3. Best Entry-Level Bridge Camera

    The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is one of the best entry-level bridge cameras we've tested. It's relatively small and lightweight for a bridge camera, and its simple controls and intuitive user interface make it a highly accessible option for casual or family photographers who want an all-in-one model.

    Unlike some cheaper bridge cameras, it has a viewfinder, which can help with framing and is nice to have on sunny days when it might be harder to see the screen. Its built-in lens also has a very long 21–1365mm equivalent focal length, so you can easily go from wide-angle shots and landscapes to close-ups of far-away subjects. That said, like most entry-level bridge cameras, it uses a 1/2.3-inch sensor, meaning that image quality is notably worse than pricier options like the Sony RX10 IV or the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II. Still, this is a solid bridge camera for the price, especially if you want something relatively lightweight and simple.

    See our review

  4. Best Superzoom Bridge Camera

    While every camera on this list has a zoom lens, the Nikon COOLPIX P1000 is the bridge camera to buy if you're looking for the longest possible zoom range on the market. Its built-in lens has a remarkable 125x zoom, allowing you to zoom in to a max equivalent focal length of 3,000mm, blowing all other bridge cams out of the water. It's so long that it can capture details on the moon's surface, though it's also suitable for landscapes or everyday photos at shorter focal lengths.

    The trade-off of having such a long zoom lens is that the camera is very heavy and bulky, so it isn't very portable or well-suited to travel. However, considering how much range you get, it isn't bad. While it has an electronic stabilization feature, you'll still need to use a tripod when shooting at the tail end of its zoom range to avoid camera shake. Its small sensor also means that image quality won't be as out-of-this-world as your potential subjects, but images taken in broad daylight still look decent, and you won't find this kind of zoom capability on other bridge cameras.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Nikon COOLPIX P950: The Nikon COOLPIX P950 is similar to the Nikon COOLPIX P1000 but has a shorter maximum full-frame equivalent focal length of 2,000mm. While this is still a substantial amount of zoom and may be enough for you, it falls considerably short of the P1000 and is only marginally more portable. In this case, go big or go home. See our review
  • Panasonic LUMIX FZ80: The Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 is a great budget bridge camera that offers plenty of value for its price. It's even cheaper than the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS, but it's discontinued, so you may have to find one secondhand. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 08, 2024: The Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 is discontinued and harder to find, so we've moved it to Notable Mentions. We also renamed the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS to 'Best Entry-Level Bridge Camera' to fill the gap left by the Panasonic model and better capture its market position.

  2. Mar 12, 2024: We've brushed up some of the article's text for better readability.

  3. Jan 23, 2024: No changes to recommendations after reviewing that the picks were still the best choices for users.

  4. Nov 24, 2023: Removed the Leica V-Lux 5 from the Notable Mentions because of price and lack of benefits over similar models.

  5. Sep 29, 2023: Checked article for accuracy and clarity; no change to recommendations.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras with zoom lenses built in. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for bridge cameras. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.