Long-Zoom P&S Bridge Cameras: Versatility & Performance

Long-Zoom P&S Bridge Cameras: Versatility & Performance

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These all-in-one cameras are convenient go-anywhere photo solutions.

Bridge cameras are an attractive option for everyone from casual shooters to serious enthusiasts. And these days they help bridge the gap for legions of consumers taking that big step beyond shooting with their smartphones without significantly compromising convenience or ease of use.

Long-zoom cameras also provide unmatched versatility and value, typically in compact, portable packages. The most sophisticated models have impressive feature sets. They include Wi-Fi, NFC and/or Bluetooth connectivity; 4K UHD or Full HD 1080p video capability; and advanced multi-zone autofocus (AF) and autoexposure (AE) systems. These bridge cameras also boast large, tilting, high-res touch LCDs; high-res electronic viewfinders (EVFs); as well as built-in multi-axis image stabilization (IS) systems.

Most are responsive, easy to use and deliver outstanding image quality, even at high ISOs. Moreover, many of the latest models provide really long zoom ratios—now up to an astonishing 125x. They may also offer rapid burst rates of 5–10 frames per sec (fps). Others with shorter-range zoom lenses have large sensors that deliver DSLR-level image quality.

Indeed, many of the bridge cameras on our list can give DSLRs and mirrorless cameras a real run for the money. And most even look and feel like compact DSLRs. Furthermore, all the cameras detailed here deliver a fulfilling shooting experience by providing enhanced image control and elevating the user’s involvement in taking pictures. That’s why they are a bridge to the future.

Ultra-Zoom Trends

While the number of manufacturers competing in the ultra-zoom point-and-shoot space has dwindled a bit, it’s noteworthy that the category includes models with 1-inch image sensors in lieu of the once nearly universal 1/2.3-inch sensors. And most cameras here provide 4K UHD video capture at 30 fps or higher.

These are clear signs that the target audience for this category is becoming more sophisticated and that manufacturers are responding by offering higher image quality, especially in low light, greater creative control over depth of field, and enhanced connectivity. Those are just some of the reasons why savvy shooters are putting these flexible long-rangers at the top of their wish lists.

Bridge Cameras from 50x All the Way Up to 125x Optical Zoom

Nikon Coolpix P1000

Nikon’s audacious Coolpix P1000 is simply the longest-range all-in-one digital zoom camera ever! Its 24–3000mm* f/2.8–8 Nikkor lens delivers a staggering 125x optical zoom. It literally lets users shoot the moon. In fact, to emphasize the point it has a moon mode that captures detailed close-ups of the lunar surface!

In addition, users can extend the range to 250x in dynamic fine digital zoom mode. All this is backed up with Nikon’s Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction technology that provides a 5-stop anti-shake-effect advantage. This is crucial when shooting handheld at long telephoto settings. Moreover, the P1000 incorporates a 16 megapixel backside-illuminated (BSI) CMOS sensor that’s coupled to an advanced Expeed image processor. They enable 4K UHD video at 30 or 25 fps and sensitivity settings to ISO 6400.

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Nikon Coolpix P1000

Also featured are: a 3.2-inch, 921K-dot vari-angle LCD monitor; a 2.36M-dot OLED EVF; and SnapBridge connectivity via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It also has a built-in pop-up flash; auto, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual modes; and a range of subject modes. In addition, there is an ergonomic control ring plus a Snapback zoom button that’s handy when the photographer loses track of the subject. $999.95.

Kodak PixPro AZ901

Kodak’s latest entry in the long-zoom category is the cool-looking AZ901 with a 90x optical zoom, 22–1980mm lens, which places it a solid second in this competitive class. It also boasts 4x digital zoom for a combined 360x zoom. The flagship of the Kodak Astro Zoom collection, it incorporates a 1/2.3-inch, 20MP BSI CMOS sensor coupled to a high-performance image processor. The AZ901 is capable of Full HD 1080p video capture at 30 fps and a full-resolution still burst rate of 5 fps. It also offers sensitivity settings from ISO 100 to 3200.

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Kodak PixPro AZ901

In addition, its eye-level EVF is complemented by a 3-inch, 920K-dot, articulated LCD monitor with a forward-facing option. Also, optical image stabilization minimizes the effects of handheld camera shake. Other features include: built-in Wi-Fi connectivity; RAW and JPEG capture; 9-point AF; face, smile, blink, dog and cat detection; HDR mode; and a 360º sweep panorama mode that lets users create panoramic images by simply panning the camera. $449.99.

Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80

Unveiled in 2017, Panasonic’s cleanly styled all-in-one P&S combines a 60x optical zoom, 20–1200mm f/2.8–5.9 Lumix DC Vario lens with impressive multimedia capabilities. They include 4K UHD video recording at 30 fps, a 10-fps full-res still framing rate and 8MP still image capture at up to 30 fps in 4K photo mode. It also offers sensitivity settings to ISO 6400.

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Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80

Other key features include: an 18.1MP, 1/2.3-inch High Sensitivity MOS sensor; a 1.17M-dot, eye-level EVF; and a 3-inch, 1.04M-dot, touch-screen LCD monitor. Its DFD (Depth from Defocus) autofocus system enhances continuous AF and tracking performance, while post-focus and focus-stacking functions shift focus points for enhanced control over depth of field.

Plus, Power OIS with active mode minimizes the effects of camera shake, even during video recording. The FZ80 additionally offers Wi-Fi connectivity, a pop-up flash and a hot shoe to attach optional accessories. $299.99.

Nikon Coolpix P900

This crisply styled point and shoot had the longest zoom range its class until Nikon and Kodak unveiled the first two cameras detailed here. Nevertheless, it delivers an impressive 83x zoom ratio thanks to its 24–2000mm f/2.8–6.5 Zoom-Nikkor Super ED VR lens. The lens has built-in Dual Detect Optical VR technology to provide a 5-stop advantage in minimizing the effects of camera shake. If that’s not enough, the P900 also offers 166x dynamic fine zoom and 332x digital zoom, effectively quadrupling the optical zoom range.

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Nikon Coolpix P900

In addition, the P900 is powered by a 1/2.3-inch, 16MP CMOS sensor and an advanced processor. It can capture Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps and full-res still image bursts at up to 7 fps. Other features include: a 3-inch, 921K-dot, vari-angle TFT LCD screen as well as an eye-level EVF; built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS; full auto and manual exposure control; and sensitivity settings that extend up to ISO 12,800. $599.95.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V

This sleek Sony compact P&S sports a 50x optical zoom Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens that provides a 24–1200mm focal length range and a maximum aperture of f/2.8. It also has a 100x Clear Image digital zoom function. The DSLR-styled camera incorporates a 1/2.3-inch, 20.4MP Exmor R CMOS sensor coupled to an advanced Bionz X image processor. They result in excellent responsiveness and image detail. Moreover, Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilization system minimizes the effects of handheld camera shake.

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V

A tilting 3-inch, 921K-dot Xtra Fine LCD is joined by an eye-level EVF with 8.1x and 16.2x magnification capability. Other features include: Full HD 1080p AVCHD video capture at 60 and 24 fps; full-res still bursts at up to 10 fps; ISO 100–12,800 settings; lock-on AF; 360º intelligent sweep panorama mode; built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS for geotagging; 4K still image capture; a full range of exposure modes, including manual; and a hot shoe. $399.99.

Nikon Coolpix B700

This high-spec DSLR-styled, compact point-and-shoot entry from Nikon features a 20.2MP, 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor. Its 60x, 24–1440mm f/3.3–6.5 Zoom-Nikkor ED glass lens benefits from five ED glass elements for enhanced definition. Nikon’s dynamic fine zoom function, an enhanced digital zoom, effectively doubles that reach for an impressive 120x zoom without loss of image quality.

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Nikon Coolpix B700

Furthermore, the B700’s image sensor and processor deliver a continuous full-res RAW burst rate of 5 fps, 4K UHD video capture at 30 fps and sensitivities up to ISO 3200 to facilitate low-light photography. Complementing this is a combined dual-detect, 5-axis optical and digital IS system that minimizes the effects of camera shake.

Nikon’s SnapBridge with built-in Wi-Fi, NFC plus BLE (Bluetooth low energy) assures connectivity for image storing and sharing. The B700 also incorporates a high-res, eye-level EVF plus a 3-inch, 921K-dot, variable-angle LCD monitor. Other features include: RAW capture; a PASM mode dial; a range of creative mode options; an HDMI port; and a large grip for enhanced shooting stability. $499.95.

A Trio of Large-Sensor, Medium-Long-Range Bridge Cameras

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV

Arguably the ultimate all-in-one zoom camera in current production, Sony’s DSLR-looking RX10 IV has a high-end feature array that delivers impressive performance while offering a compact solution for multimedia image-makers. Its excellent 25x Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/2.4–4 zoom lens provides a 24–600mm focal length range. Moreover, it’s complemented by Optical SteadyShot image stabilization that gives a 4.5-stop anti-shake advantage. Also, the lens focuses down to 1.2 inches for a maximum magnification ratio of 0.42x.

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV

The upper echelon P&S incorporates an upgraded 20.1MP, 1-inch Exmor BSI CMOS sensor integrated with a Bionz X processor. They achieve 24-fps continuous shooting at ISO 12,800, as well as 4K UHD video recording at 30 fps and Full HD 1080p video at up to 120 fps for slow-motion effects. A hybrid 315-point focal plane, phase- and contrast-detection AF system provides 65% frame coverage and achieves focus in as little as 0.03 sec.

Other features include: picture profiles, including S-Log2 and S-Log3 Gamma for expanded dynamic range; a 2.36M-dot OLED EVF; a 3-inch, 1.44M-dot, tilting, touch-screen LCD; wireless connectivity; step zoom; silent shooting via its electronic shutter function; and 8MP screen grabs when shooting 4K video. It’s all built into a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. $1,699.99.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500

Assertively styled as a “downsized DSLR,” the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 long-range compact features a 1-inch, 20.1MP High Sensitivity MOS sensor. It employs a 20x, Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 24–600mm f/2.8–4.5 optical zoom lens as well as built-in ND filters that let users set four levels of neutral density. Plus, seamless iris control is achieved with a nine-blade diaphragm and galvanometer-type actuator.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500

In addition, the FZ2500 captures pro-quality 4K DCI (4,096×2,160) video at a cinematic 24 fps as well as 4K UHD video at 30 fps, a true 24 fps and 25 fps with a high bit rate of 100Mbps. It can also upload video while recording via an optional Micro HDMI cable. Moreover, a contrast-based AF system features DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology, which results in 0.09-sec AF acquisition.

It can also shoot bursts of 12 fps (in AFS mode) for a maximum of 100 JPEG or 30 RAW images. Its .074x OLED LVF (live viewfinder) displays images at 2.36M-dot resolution, while a free-angle, 3-inch, 1.04M-dot LCD monitor provides touch control. Also provided is built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. $999.99.

Canon PowerShot G3 X

This robust, ruggedly handsome model in Canon’s acclaimed high-performance G series has traditional ring, wheel and dial controls. Its 25x, f/2.8–5.6 optical zoom lens provides a focal length range of 24–600mm and has built-in optical image stabilization to minimize the effects of camera shake.

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Canon PowerShot G3 X

The G3 X incorporates a 1-inch, 20.2MP high-sensitivity CMOS sensor coupled to an advanced Digic 6 image processor. This high-performance combo delivers sensitivity settings to ISO 12,800; a maximum continuous full-res burst rate of 5.9 fps; high-speed 31-point autofocus; and Full HD 1080p video capture at 60 fps.
ther features include: a 3.2-inch, 1.62M-dot, tilting touch-screen LCD; an HDMI output port; and built-in one-button sharing with Wi-Fi connectivity and NFC. Plus, a shoe-mount high-eye-point 2.36MP EVF offers a dioptric adjustment range of -3.0 to +1.0 and 90° upward tilt capability. $999.99. usa.canon.com

* All focal length ranges are in 35mm equivalents.

 

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