Best bridge cameras

If you're shopping for a bridge camera, you've come to the right place! At Camera Labs I write in-depth reviews of cameras but understand you're busy people who sometimes just want recommendations of the most outstanding products.

So here I'll cut to the chase and list the best bridge cameras around right now. I've fully tested each one and there's links to my reviews for more details.

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Panasonic FZ150 review  


The Panasonic Lumix FZ150 makes a critical improvement over its predecessor, the FZ100, to become arguably the best all-round super-zoom camera on the market today. The earlier FZ100 was already feature-packed with a great quality 24x zoom, articulated 3in screen, flash hotshoe, external microphone input, and RAW recording capabilities, but suffered from disappointing image quality. Now Panasonic has fitted a new 12 Mpixel CMOS sensor and the quality has improved by leaps and bounds. The new sensor also supports 1080p video and fast bursts of 12 frames at up to 12fps, along with a very usable 5.5fps option with AF. Enthusiasts and video-philes will happily trade the bigger zooms of rival models for the power and control of the FZ150.

Pros: 24x zoom; RAW; 1080p movies; hotshoe; mic input.
Cons: 24x is a shorter range than rival models.
Overall: Arguably the best all-round super-zoom around.

Canon SX40 HS review  


Canon's PowerShot SX40 HS takes the earlier SX30 IS with its whopping 35x optical zoom and switches the 14 Megapixel CCD for a 12 Megapixel CMOS sensor. In tests this really does allow the SX40 HS to enjoy lower noise levels than before although the JPEG image quality is roughly similar to the Panasonic FZ150. The CMOS sensor also allows the SX40 HS to support 1080p video at 24p, a pair of slow motion modes at 120 and 240fps, and fast continuous shooting bursts of eight frames at 10.3fps. The screen is fairly average at just 2.7in / 230k and the SX40 HS is also looking out-featured by the Panasonic FZ150, but there's no denying the draw of a 35x optical zoom range which is equivalent to 24-840mm. If having the maximum zoom range is most important to you, then it's a great choice, but again do compare closely with the Panasonic FZ150.

Pros: 35x zoom; articulated screen; flash hotshoe; 1080p video.
Cons: No RAW recording; average screen.
Overall: A great choice for those who value the biggest zooms.

Sony HX100V review  


The HX100V is Sony's first DSLR-styled superzoom since the HX1 back in 2009, during which time Canon and Panasonic have further established their strong positions in this market. But the HX100V pulls no punches and packs the usual array of features we've come to expect from Sony, including a 30x optical zoom range, 16 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 1080p video, 10fps shooting (for ten frames), high resolution 3in tilting screen, 1080p video and built-in GPS. You also get Sony's industry-leading iSweep Panorama mode which can assemble a good-looking panoramic image seconds after you swing the camera in an arc. Downsides? Well it unceremoniously prods the lens cap off when powering-up and there's no hotshoe or RAW recording. But it's a great all-round super-zoom with some unrivalled gadgetry.

Pros: 30x zoom; 1080p; GPS; tilting screen; auto panoramas.
Cons: No RAW or hotshoe; noisier images than rivals.
Overall: A good all-rounder for those who like gadgets.

Canon S95 review  


Canon’s PowerShot S95 is an ideal choice for enthusiasts who want a pocket camera without compromising on control and features. It squeezes the PowerShot G12’s quality into a considerably smaller body with a brighter lens on the front. Think of it as an IXUS / ELPH for the more demanding customer, sporting wide-angle coverage, manual control, RAW file support, a large detailed screen, 720p HD video, in-camera HDR and a fast, bright lens; there’s also a neat ring control around the lens. The continuous shooting remains poor, but if you’re after a truly pocket-sized camera with this degree of control and features, there’s not many alternatives. Do compare closely with the Lumix LX5 though.

Pros: Pocket body; bright, wide lens; 3in / 460k screen; RAW files.
Cons: No zooming when filming; slow burst mode.
Overall: A great pocket camera for enthusiasts.

Panasonic LX5 review  


Panasonic's Lumix DMC-LX5 is the long-awaited successor to one of the most popular enthusiast compacts in recent years. The earlier Lumix LX3 delivered a winning combination of a bright and wide lens, sensible image resolution and high degree of manual control in a relatively pocketable package. Now two years on the Lumix LX5 builds on the success of its predecessor with a longer lens range, an accessory port and a number of discreet but worthy improvements. It certainly feels good in your hands, features a bright and wide lens with quick focusing and delivers decent quality results. The only flies in the ointment are the more pocketable Canon PowerShot S95 and an increasing number of compacts with DSLR-sized sensors like the Sony NEX-5 below.

Pros: Bright 24-90mm zoom; RAW; hotshoe; 3in/460k screen.
Cons: Slow continuous shooting; similar in size to EVIL models.
Overall: The best enthusiast's compact with a small sensor.

Sony NEX-5 review  


Sony's Alpha NEX-5 is a remarkable camera. It takes the concept pioneered by Micro Four Thirds of packing a DSLR-sized sensor into a compact mirrorless body, but employs a bigger sensor and a smaller shell. Throw-in fast continuous shooting, a large, detailed and articulated screen, HD video with a decent stab at autofocusing while filming, a respectable kit lens and a series of innovative modes which do everything from reducing noise in low light to generating 3D panoramas, and you've got a pretty impressive package. Enthusiasts wanting a compact used to go for models like the Lumix LX5 above, but the NEX cameras give you DSLR quality and flexibility from a body that's not much bigger or heavier.

Pros: Big sensor in a small body; HD movies; clever stacking.
Cons: Screen becomes hard to view in direct sunlight.
Overall: Arguably the best of the big-sensor EVIL cameras to date.

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