If you're a photographer in need of serious zoom range but don't want to spend a fortune on an interchangeable lens camera and compatible telephoto lens, a bridge camera can be a good solution. While their smaller sensors don't offer the same level of image quality as most APS-C and full-frame cameras, they combine the simple usability of a compact point-and-shoot with unparalleled zoom range, making them a good fit for casual wildlife and sports photography or astrophotography.
We've tested over 70 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras with zoom lenses to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price. You can also check our recommendations for the best point-and-shoot cameras, the best cameras for wildlife photography, and the best cameras for beginners.
The Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II is the best camera with zoom that we've tested for most people. It's versatile enough for general-purpose family or travel photography. Its built-in zoom lens has a long 24-400mm focal length range (full-frame equivalent) that lets you zoom in on far-away subjects without the bulk you'd get with an equivalent telephoto lens on an interchangeable lens camera.
The camera feels well-built and very comfortable to shoot with. It has an easy-to-navigate menu system, along with plenty of customization options to configure the camera's controls to your preferences. Image quality is great right out of the camera, though sharpness declines as you raise the ISO. If you prefer to shoot in RAW, it has decent noise handling despite its small sensor.
While it doesn't have built-in sensor-shift stabilization, the camera does have an electronic stabilization feature to reduce handheld camera shake, although it's not available when shooting 4k video. Its autofocus also sometimes struggles to track moving faces, but it does a good job of keeping objects in focus. The camera also has a great battery life for heavier shooting days.
If money is no object, the Sony RX10 IV is one of the best bridge cameras on the market. Though it comes with a premium price tag, this is the most capable bridge camera we've tested, with a 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor and a built-in Zeiss zoom lens. With a long focal length range that covers 24-600mm (full-frame equivalent), you can shoot everything from landscapes to close-ups of far-away subjects. It's also weather-sealed against moisture and dust, giving you an added level of protection.
The camera can shoot at a remarkably fast 24 fps to capture bursts of fast-moving subjects. It also boasts an amazing phase-detect AF system that performs especially well when tracking subjects in video, rarely losing focus. Out-of-camera image quality is excellent, with accurate colors and crisp detail even as you raise the ISO, although noise handling is just okay when shooting in RAW at higher ISO values. The camera also has a long battery life and feels incredibly comfortable to shoot with.
That said, like other Sony cameras, its menu system is confusing to operate, and you can't use the touchscreen to navigate it. There are, however, a ton of customization options, which can help minimize the time spent scrolling through settings. All in all, though, this camera's robust weather-sealed construction, built-in Zeiss zoom lens, and dense feature set make it a great all-in-one camera.
The Nikon COOLPIX P1000 is the bridge camera to buy if you're looking for sheer zoom range. Its built-in lens has a remarkable 125x zoom, allowing you to zoom in to a maximum full-frame equivalent focal length of 3,000mm. It's so long that it can capture details on the surface of the moon, though it's also suitable for landscapes or everyday photos at shorter focal lengths.
The camera's out-of-camera image quality is good. However, it doesn't perform well in low light due to its small sensor, as photos begin to lose sharpness and gain visual noise at moderate and higher ISO levels. On the upside, it has a fully articulated screen to help you compose shots from a tripod, and it feels well-built. It can take bursts of seven photos at a speed of 7 fps to capture fast-moving subjects like birds, and it has a 60s minimum shutter speed for long-exposure photography.
Unfortunately, the trade-off of having such a long zoom lens is that the camera is very heavy and bulky, so it's not 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 its longest focal lengths, and even with a tripod, it's still hard to eliminate camera shake. Still, if you want incredible zoom capability in a convenient all-in-one package, this camera is worth consideration.
The best bridge camera that we've tested with a more portable design is the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS. It's relatively small and lightweight, and it feels very comfortable to shoot with, thanks to its intuitive menu system, large handgrip, and simple control scheme. It also has a fully articulated screen to help you shoot from different angles, though it lacks touch capability.
Its built-in lens has a very long 21-1365mm equivalent focal length, so you can easily zoom in on very far-away subjects or take wider-angle landscape shots. It delivers fairly good image quality, with a ton of dynamic range to pull out more details in highlights and shadows. It has a decent autofocus system that's particularly effective at tracking moving objects. The camera also has a quick 10 fps burst speed, so you can fire off quick bursts to capture fast-moving action.
However, it's not well-suited to shooting in low light since its smaller sensor results in images that look soft and noisy at higher ISO levels. Its battery life is okay and is advertised to last for about 325 photos depending on your shooting habits, but it doesn't support USB charging, which is inconvenient. Despite its flaws, this superzoom camera is relatively portable and still offers a lot of value for its price.
The best bridge camera we've tested for those on a budget is the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80. It has a simple, easy-to-use menu system, and it's relatively portable as far as bridge cameras go. Its built-in lens has a 20-1200mm equivalent focal length, giving you a long zoom range to shoot with, whether you want to take wide-angle landscapes or zoom in on far-away subjects.
The camera delivers adequate image quality with a great amount of dynamic range at its base ISO. That said, the image quality noticeably degrades as you raise the ISO, so it's not well-suited to shooting at night or in low light. It can shoot at a fast 11 fps in its high-speed burst mode, and its autofocus does a good job of tracking moving objects, though it struggles to track moving faces. It also has a unique '4k PHOTO' mode that pulls stills out of 30 fps 4k video capture if you want to capture very fast-moving action.
Unfortunately, its viewfinder is small and uncomfortable to use. It's not the highest resolution either, which may make it difficult to get a clear, lag-free view of your subjects. On top of that, its screen is fixed, making it a little harder to shoot from lower angles. That said, this camera's reasonably good image quality combined with its long zoom range gives it a lot of value for its price.
Mar 03, 2022: No change to recommendations after reviewing article for clarity and accuracy.
Jan 05, 2022: Renamed the Sony RX10 IV the 'Best Premium Bridge Camera' and moved the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II from 'Cheaper Alternative' to 'Best Bridge Camera'.
Dec 16, 2021: Checked that picks were still accurate and available; no change to recommendations.
Nov 25, 2021: Renamed the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS from 'Portable Alternative' to 'Best Portable Bridge Camera'.
Nov 04, 2021: Minor updates to text for clarity and accuracy; no change to recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras with a zoom lens for most people to buy according to their needs. 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 US).
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.