Nikon Coolpix P900 bridge cameraThe bridge camera has been around for a few years now. I got my first one, a Fuji, back in 2007 and have fallen in love with the concept ever since.  It is a hybrid crossover between a DSLR and a point and shoot or compact camera. They are sometimes referred to as super-zooms because of the extreme range of focal length offered by their lenses. These can range from an 8x optical zoom magnification to up to 83 times on the newest Nikon P900.

So what else does a bridge camera offer to make them a worthy candidate for your hard earned pounds?

A good bridge camera will have a combination of the following characteristics:

·    Full range of shooting modes to enhance the users creative options
·    LCD screen for ease of use together with an Electronic viewfinder for better composition
·    Image stabilization system for steady shots even at long focal lengths
·    Size and weight – the inbuilt lens is much lighter than DSLR telephoto lenses
·    Manual options to give shutter speed and aperture control for the more advanced user

Electronic Viewfinder

The viewfinder in an older style DLSR camera used to have nothing electronic about it. Light entered through the lens via the aperture, bounced around the pentaprism, and was finally displayed in the cameras viewfinder.  Not so any more.

Most of the point and shoot cameras available today have a 2 or 3 inch LCD screen much like your phone. To retain their compact size they do not have a viewfinder so the captured image must be viewed from the LCD screen.  Just like your phone screen this causes problems in bright light.

superzoom bridge cameraSuperzoom cameras fill or “bridge” the gap between compacts and DSLRs by offering a viewfinder that displays an electronic feed that comes directly from the camera’s sensor.
The camera manufacturer is able to eliminate bulky parts, like the mirror and pentaprism which gives a lot more freedom to their design and size of the camera.
This can both decrease the weight of a bridge camera and reduce the overall size. Basically a win / win for the photographer.

Full Range of Shooting Modes

A bridge camera is sometimes described as a DLSR with a fixed lens. Unsurprisingly as it offers many of the same features as a basic DSLR such as:
·    Manual options
·    Aperture Priority
·    Shutter Priority

Most bridge cameras though have the simplicity of a point and shoot compact camera in that they have an Automatic or Program mode.  This allows your camera to do the ‘heavy lifting’ of deciding what settings are required for your next shot.  I like this and look on it as my safety net for times when I don’t have time to think.

 

Optical Image Stabilization

It is clear that with the long telephoto capability of the more modern cameras Optical Image Stabilization is a must for these types of image capture. With high def video and bird or fast action sports shots it really is a must have feature.

 

What is a bridge camera used for?

If you are new to photography you may be asking what all the fuss is about bridge cameras, and what are they used for anyway.  Good question.
I would say that there is a bridge camera for every type of photographer.  Whether you simply want a reliable camera that will take the thinking out of your snapping, or you want to capture that bird close up with lots of depth of field and fast shutter speed you will find a camera to suit you.