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 costly. 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.
Below, you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras with zoom lenses built in, narrowed down from the 95 cameras we've bought and tested in our lab. If you're looking for more compact fixed-lens cameras, 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.
The Sony RX10 IV is the Rolls-Royce of bridge cameras, and though it has the price tag to match, it's one of the best bridge cameras on the market. Unlike a lot of bridge cameras, it uses a larger 1-inch type sensor with a stacked design that keeps rolling shutter effect to a minimum and makes the camera's blistering 24 fps burst rate possible. Overall, it captures great photos straight out of the camera, with RAW shooting and manual controls for more advanced users. Plus, you get Sony's typically reliable real-time autofocus tracking.
That aside, it's also 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. The camera's built-in Zeiss zoom lens also covers a fairly wide-ranging full-frame equivalent focal length of 24–600mm, meaning you can shoot everything from landscapes to far-off wildlife. The dense feature set, build quality, and excellent sensor make this one of the most capable bridge cameras we've tested.
If the Sony RX10 IV is out of your price range, the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II is an excellent option that won't cost you as much. It's an especially good choice if you don't need some of the Sony's more premium features, like weather sealing or a 24 fps burst rate. It still uses a larger-than-average 1-inch sensor, allowing for better image quality than most bridge cameras. While it isn't a stacked sensor—meaning the camera isn't as speedy as the RX10 IV, particularly when it comes to burst shooting—the camera's 11 fps shooting speed is still very quick and will suit most photographers just fine.
At 25-400mm, its equivalent focal length range is quite versatile while keeping the camera relatively portable. The camera also comes with a ton of 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. That said, the camera uses slower contrast-detection technology for its autofocus system, so it isn't as quick or reliable for faster-moving subjects. Despite that, the FZ1000 II offers a lot of value for its price.
If you're on a tight budget, the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 is one of the best cheap bridge cameras you can get. Build quality isn't as good as the pricier models above, and the camera uses a smaller 1/2.3-inch sensor, meaning worse overall image quality. However, this camera still has much to offer for the casual photographer who wants a camera with a lot of zoom. Its 20-1200mm full-frame equivalent field of view gives you a ton of reach to zoom in on far-away subjects like birds or other wildlife.
The camera has a simple, easy-to-use menu system and plenty of extra features, including a '4k PHOTO' mode like the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II and creative shooting modes for nighttime and macro photography. While the electronic viewfinder doesn't have a very high resolution, it's something you don't always see on budget bridge cameras and is nice to have for framing and stability. On top of that, the camera shoots at a quick 10 fps burst rate and has a decent battery life, making it a well-rounded choice for birding or family photos on a budget.
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. 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 the potential subjects you can capture with the camera. That said, it's well-built, and you won't find this kind of zoom capability on any other bridge camera.
Though bridge cameras aren't known for their portability, you might still want an all-in-one camera with a long zoom lens and comfortable ergonomics without necessarily giving yourself neck strain. The Canon PowerShot SX70 HS is a good option if that's the case. Though it isn't the most compact bridge camera on the market, it's relatively small, lightweight, and comfortable to shoot with, thanks to an intuitive menu system and a simple control scheme.
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 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 superzoom 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 that use 1-inch type sensors. Still, this is a solid bridge camera for the price, especially if you want something lightweight.
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.