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The best bridge camera in 2022: ultra-zoom cameras for far off subjects

best bridge camera: Nikon P900
(Image credit: Nikon)

The best bridge camera combines the portability and convenience of a compact camera with the zoom of a telephoto lens and the ergonomics of a DSLR. Bridge cameras look and feel pretty similar to a DSLR but they have a fixed lens and usually a massive zoom range (sometimes up to 1200mm).

These hybrid cameras are great for capturing wildlife, sports or even astrophotography and they won't cost you the earth. Here, we've put together the best bridge cameras, based on size, features, zoom reach, portability and price.

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Bridge cameras are known for their massive zoom range. They're able to capture anything from a wide-angle landscape shot to a detailed shot of a bird in the distance. These versatile cameras are so popular as they are pretty lightweight for the amount they can zoom so can easily capture faraway subjects such as elephants on Safari or even the moon. There are some drawbacks to bridge cameras such as sensor size and the fixed lens they are still the best option for lots of photographers.

If you are looking for a setup that means you never have to leave the house with more than one bag then bridge cameras are great. The fixed lens will often cover a huge focal range but you're not going to be able to do much 'specialist' photography. Unlike with interchangeable lens cameras, you won't be able to experiment with different types of lenses such as a fisheye lens (opens in new tab), macro lens (opens in new tab) or tilt-shift (opens in new tab) lens and you won't be able to add a teleconverter (opens in new tab) to increase the reach of the camera further. 

The sensors on bridge cameras are normally smaller than the sensors in some of the best DSLRs and best mirrorless cameras. This means that they're not as high resolution, usually have less dynamic range and they don't perform as well in low light. Even newer models like the Nikon Coolpix P950 (opens in new tab) only has a 1/2.3" sensor. 

Despite the drawbacks and limitations, bridge cameras are still incredibly useful bits of kit. For the price, you do get a lot for your money and the focal ranges are often so large an equivalent size lens for a DSLR or mirrorless camera would set you back thousands of pounds. Check out the best bridge camera models available below...

Best bridge cameras in 2022

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker/Digital Camera World)
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Puts a powerful focal range in the palm of our hands for a value price

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 16MP
Lens: 25-1440 mm (equiv.) f/3 - f/6.5
LCD: 3in, 921k dots
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 7fps
Movies: 1080P
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

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60x optical zoom reach
+
Great value for money
+
More practical compared to a DSLR with equivalent lens

Reasons to avoid

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Frill-free construction feels a little lightweight
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Rear LCD screen is fixed rather than angle adjustable
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No 4K video

Those seeking big zoom power from a relatively compact all-in-one set up are directed to the 16 megapixel Nikon B600. Frill-free and a little lightweight in build it may be, despite its mini DSLR type looks, but that is reflected to an extent in the price, while the simplicity of operation and handling makes it accessible to a wider audience. Some three years on from its original pre-pandemic release, this camera offers plenty of visual ‘poke’ for everyday family photography and video capture

Read our full Nikon Coolpix B600 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker/Digital Camera World)
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It might "only" have a 600mm zoom but its larger 1-inch sensor produces high-quality photos and videos

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1in
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-600mm (equiv) f/2.4-4
LCD: 3in tilting screen, 1.44million dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36million dots
Continuous shooting: 24fps
Movies: 4K and Full HD
User level: Enthusiast/Expert

Reasons to buy

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Phase detect AF system
+
Great still/video quality
+
Excellent lens

Reasons to avoid

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Very expensive

Even though the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV is the most expensive camera on our list - it has a high price tag for a reason. The most exciting upgrade from the RX10 III is the 315-point phase detect AF system which makes it much better at tracking moving subjects. Sony has also included a touch screen making it the first RX10 model with one. Bluetooth and wifi connectivity make it possible to share images to your smartphone on the move and the 24-600mm lens makes it a super versatile camera. It's capable of 24fps in continuous burst mode which is a big improvement on the 14fps on the Mark III. All of these extra features make it a much better sports and action camera but you will have to dig a little deeper into your funds. 

Read our full Sony RX10 IV review  (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Nikon)
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The 3000mm zoom on the P1000 is pretty hard to beat and it can even shoot 4K video

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 16MP
Lens: 24-3000mm (equiv.) f/2.8-8
LCD: 3in articulating, 921k dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,359k dots
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 7fps
Movies: 4K UHD
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

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Five-stop VR system
+
Interplanetary zoom range
+
4K video

Reasons to avoid

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Loses sharpness at full zoom
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Huge size

At its max zoom, the Nikon P1000 has an astonishing 3000mm focal length which is even more impressive than the P950's. However, when shooting at the telephoto end you lose three full stops taking the aperture down from a solid f/2.8 to a miserable f/8. Nikon's VR (Vibration Reduction) cuts down camera shake but at longer focal lengths there is a noticeable softness in images which it doesn't fix. It boasts a higher-resolution electronic viewfinder, 4K video capabilities and raw format shooting. The biggest downside of this camera is its price tag and the fact it only has a 1/2.3-inch sensor. It's a lot of money for not a lot of sensor and there are other cameras on the list that are better value for money - albeit not with the same zoom range. 

Read our full Nikon P1000 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker/Digital Camera World)
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The predecessor of the RX10 IV is a lot cheaper and still delivers excellent image quality

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1in
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-600mm (equiv) f/2.4-4
LCD: 3in tilting screen, 1.23million dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36million dots
Continuous shooting: 14fps
Movies: 4K and Full HD
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

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Great image and video quality
+
High quality stabilized lens
+
Cheaper than the RX10 IV

Reasons to avoid

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The RX10 IV is better for action

Sony has now released four RX10 models and has a policy of keeping older models on sale, so while the RX10 Mark III is not the newest, it still gets second place in our list. It introduced an impressive 600mm maximum zoom setting, and a very respectable f/2.4-4 maximum aperture range. While it isn't a replacement for the Mark II model (still on sale), it boasts a slightly better battery life and a nine-bladed diaphragm in comparison to the Mark II's seven-bladed alternative, although it does miss out on the ND filter that made an appearance in both previous models. The camera can be found for some great prices now, so, if you don’t need the RX10 IV’s high-speed AF and shooting, this model can save you a lot of cash.

Read our full Sony RX10 III review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Future)
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It's a big name brand, but its price and performance put it in the midfield

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 20.3MP
Lens: 21-1365mm (equiv.) f/3.4-6.5
LCD: 3in articulating, 922k dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,360k dots
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10/5.7fps
Movies: 4K UHD
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Very good zoom range
+
Relatively compact for its type
+
Vari-angle screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 5.7fps with servo AF

On paper, the SX70 HS looks a close rival to the Panasonic FZ82 (above), offering a slightly longer maximum zoom and nearly matching the Panasonic's wideangle setting. But its f/3.4-6.5 maximum aperture range is on the low side and its 20-megapixel resolution can't overcome the limitations of the small 1/2.3-inch sensor size. The SX70 does handle well and it's not that big for a bridge camera, but the opposition has moved on, with bigger zoom ranges, bigger sensors or lower price points. The SX70 HS offers solid enough specifications but at a price point which makes its rivals look more tempting.

Read our full Canon PowerShot SX70 HS review  (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Future)
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We think the P950 is one of the best all-rounders in terms of zoom, image quality and price

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 16MP
Lens: 24-2000mm (equiv.) f/2.8-6.5
LCD: 3in articulating, 921k dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,360k dots
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 7fps
Movies: 4K UHD 30p
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Raw shooting option
+
Improved electronic viewfinder

Reasons to avoid

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Sharpness drops at full zoom

The insane zoom on the Nikon Coolpix P950 is the main reason it claimed second place on our list of best bridge cameras. It's without one of the best superzooms going with an impressive 83x optical zoom and an equivalent focal range of 24-2000mm. If that's not enough for you, you can even digitally extend the zoom up to 4000mm with the 166x Dynamic Fine Zoom. It features an improved viewfinder, adds RAW output and you can capture 4K video. If it wasn't for the small sensor it would've claimed the top spot but a larger sensor does have a lot of advantages. s

Read our full Nikon Coolpix P950 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Panasonic)
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7. Panasonic FZ82

You can a lot for your money with the FZ82 including a 1200mm zoom - perfect for wildlife photography

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 18.1MP
Lens: 20-1200mm (equiv.) f/2.8-5.9
LCD: 3in articulating, 1,040k dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 1,166k dots
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps
Movies: 4K UHD
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

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4K video/4K Photo modes
+
Extra-wideangle zoom
+
Value for money

Reasons to avoid

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Middle of the road specs

The Panasonic FZ82 might not have the same zoom range as the Nikon P950 but at 20-1200mm it's still pretty impressive. It has a maximum variable aperture of f/2.8-5.9 and uses a 1/2.3-inch sensor which isn't the best for low light but it does enable it to have a bigger zoom range. The price of the FZ82 is also quite a lot more appealing than the first two cameras we've mentioned and you still get a lot of useful features. It can shoot 4K video and takes advantage of Panasonic's 4K photo mode for high-speed image capture. The 20mm wide-angle focal length is also a lot wider than most bridge cameras which makes it perfect for shooting landscapes or in small, indoor spaces.

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

(Image credit: Panasonic)

8. Panasonic FZ1000 II

It might not have such an impressive zoom but with a 1-inch sensor it has much better low light performance

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1in type
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 25-400mm (equiv) f/2.8-4
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36million dots
LCD: 3in vari-angle LCD, 921k dots
Max burst speed: 12fps (50fps in SH mode)
Movies: 4K and Full HD
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

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Brilliant value for money
+
Great image quality
+
Good burst mode

Reasons to avoid

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No in-camera Raw processing
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Only 400mm zoom

The FZ1000 II is a welcome update to the original Panasonic FZ1000 bridge camera. Look closely, and you'll see that you're still getting a hell of a lot of current tech for the money. The 20.1MP 1in sensor and 25-400mm (equiv.) f/2.8-4 Leica-branded lens come together to form a capable core, with 4K UHD video, 5-axis Power O.I.S. stabilization, a 2.36million-dot OLED EVF, Wi-Fi and NFC, and raft of video-specific additions such as zebra patterning on top of it. Definitely one to snap up if you don't need the fancy tricks of the more recent FZ2000 / FZ2500.

best bridge camera: Panasonic FZ2500

(Image credit: Panasonic)

9. Panasonic FZ2500 / FZ2000

It might cost more than the FZ1000 but we think it's worth every penny

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1in type
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-480mm (equiv) f/2.8-4.5
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36million dots
LCD: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04million dots
Max burst speed: 12fps (30fps at reduced resolution)
Movies: 4K and Full HD
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

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Excellent control over video
+
Great overall image quality
+
Good burst mode

Reasons to avoid

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Sony RX10 lens is better

Panasonic already won many people over with the FZ1000, with its 1in sensor, 25-400mm (equiv.) f/2.8-4 zoom lens, 4K video and masses of control making it a fine DSLR alternative. The FZ2500 (sold as the FZ2000 in Europe) delivers plenty more, including a slightly longer lens, touch-screen control and an electronic viewfinder with a slightly higher magnification than before, but its in video where Panasonic has made the most significant improvements. So, here we get DCI 4K video and a variable ND filter, for example, although the latter can, of course, be used for stills too. The lack of weather-sealing is a pity, but its falling price, together with the occasional cashback deal, makes it a brilliant-value competitor to models in Sony's RX10 series. If you need something more for stills than video, however, you may find the FZ1000 II (above) makes more sense – particularly when you see just what you get for the money.

best bridge camera : Panasonic FZ300

(Image credit: Panasonic)

10. Panasonic FZ330

If you don't mind a the smaller sensor size, the FZ330 has a great lens

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 12.1MP
Lens: 25-600mm (equiv) f/2.8
LCD: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04million dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 1.44million dots
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 12fps (60fps in SH mode)
Videos: 4K and Full HD
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing features for price
+
Constant f/2.8 aperture
+
Good zoom range

Reasons to avoid

-
No in-camera raw processing

From its junior models right through to its various flagships, Panasonic has always been generous with features. This has allowed its models to remain appealing in the face of newer competitors, and 2015's FZ330 exemplifies this perfectly: a sub-£500/$500 camera with 4K video recording, a splash-resistant body and a 25-600mm (equiv) lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture. You simply don't get that anywhere else right now! On top of that there's a tilting touchscreen, a 1.44million-dot EVF, Wi-Fi and image stabilisation, which round off the specs to deliver a mighty fine proposition for the advanced novice or enthusiast on a budget. 

(Image credit: Nikon)
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11. Nikon Coolpix B500

You'll be hard pushed to find such an affordable bridge camera with a 40x zoom

Specifications

Type: Superzoom compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 16MP
Lens: 22.5-900 mm (equiv.) f/3 - f/6.5
LCD: 3in tiltable, 921k dots
Viewfinder: None
Maximum continuous shooting rate: 7.4fps
Movies: 1080P
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Low price
+
40x zoom
+
Image stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
No eyelevel viewfinder
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Mediocre image quality

The Nikon Coolpix B500 is a very popular bridge camera - due to just how much bang you get for your buck. Despite a lower price than many bridge cameras, it offers 40x zoom range and a lot of advanced controls – making it a great choice for those wanting telephoto reach for shooting birds and other distant subjects without paying a fortune. Drawbacks include having to make do with the LCD screen - as there is no eyelevel viewfinder - and that could be hard work if trying to track a fast moving subject, or shooting in bright sunlight. Also consider the Nikon Coolpix B600 (opens in new tab), which is similar but boasts a longer 60x zoom.

Also read Should you buy a Nikon B500? (opens in new tab)

What is a bridge camera?

The aptly named bridge camera bridges the gap between DSLRs and compact cameras. They have bigger bodies, non-interchangeable lenses with massive zoom ranges and small(ish) sensors. When bridge cameras first came out, they had really small 1/2.3-inch sensors, like the kind you find in the best point-and-shoot cameras (opens in new tab).

However, these days brands such as Sony, Panasonic and Canon make bridge cameras that have a larger, 1-inch sensor which is most closer to the size sensors in APS-C cameras. They offer better image quality and better low light performance but these features come at a price. 

While a bigger sensor is advantageous, it does mean that often you'll have a smaller zoom range so you'll need to decide what's more important - image quality or the amount you can zoom. Depending on what you plan on shooting most will determine what should be more important. If you are investing in a bridge camera to take on Safari for example, it might be a good idea to opt for something with the biggest zoom range possible but if you want a versatile, all-rounder and can forgo a 1000mm zoom I'd definitely opt for image quality. 

You'll also need to think about how much you're willing to spend. The bigger sensors do come at a higher price tag but often have features that make it worth it. For this reason, we've split the guide into 1-inch sensor bridge cameras with a smaller zoom range and 1/2.3-inch sensor bridge cameras with a massive zoom range and average picture quality. 

How we test cameras

We test cameras (opens in new tab) both in real-world shooting scenarios and, for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We only use real-world testing for our guides to instant and compact cameras – comparing results against similar models that we have tested.

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.

With contributions from