The 9 Best Bridge Cameras of 2019

Take a look at these versatile cameras

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The Rundown

  • Best Overall: Panasonic Lumix FZ300 at Amazon, "What's really impressive is that the lens can maintain its aperture at f/2.8, thus resulting in great low-light shots."
  • Best Budget: Nikon Coolpix B500 at Amazon, "A well-rounded bridge camera that doesn't cost an arm and a leg."
  • Best Compact: Sony HX99 at Amazon, "This compact yet feature-laden bridge camera isn't really much bigger than a typical point-and-shoot."
  • Best with 4K Video Recording: Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 at Amazon, "Packing a large 20.1-megapixel MOS sensor, it's the perfect bridge camera for video enthusiasts."
  • Best Splurge: Sony RX10 IV at Amazon, "If you want a top-of-the-line bridge camera and don't mind paying a pretty penny for it, look no further."
  • Best Design: Leica C-Lux at Amazon, "It comes in two gorgeous color variants — Light Gold and Midnight Blue."
  • Best Rugged: Canon PowerShot G3 X at Amazon, "A rugged bridge camera that comes with rubber sealing for enhanced water — and dust-resistance."
  • Best Ultrazoom: Nikon Coolpix P900 at Amazon, "Allows you to shoot breathtaking photos of birds, mountains, and even the farthest of subjects, including the Moon."
  • Best Compact Ultrazoom: Canon PowerShot SX740 at Amazon, "Despite weighing a mere 10.5 ounces, this camera sports a 24-960mm Canon lens with 40x optical zoom."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Panasonic Lumix FZ300

Panasonic Lumix FZ300

Courtesy of Amazon

Having the perfect blend of innovative features and solid all-around performance, Panasonic's Lumix FZ300 is undoubtedly one of the best bridge cameras available out there. It comes with a 12.1-megapixel MOS sensor, as well as a 25-600mm Leica lens that allows for 24x optical zoom. While that may not seem much by today's standards, what's really impressive is that the lens can constantly maintain its aperture at f/2.8, thus resulting in great low-light shots throughout the camera's entire zoom range.

The FZ300 uses Panasonic's Depth-From-Defocus (DFD) technology for high-speed autofocus and five-axis hybrid optical image stabilization (OIS) to reduce blur. You can shoot images in RAW format and even develop them in the camera itself. Panasonic Lumix FZ300 supports burst shooting (full resolution) at 12fps and can capture amazing macro shots with a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm. It can record 4K (2160p) videos with stereo audio and also allows you to extract individual frames from captured videos as 8-megapixel still photos.

Other features of the FZ300 include a 1,440k-dot OLED live viewfinder, a 3-inch touchscreen with tilt and swivel adjustment, HDMI & USB support, and built-in wireless functionality that lets you control the camera remotely via a companion app.

Take a peek at some of the other best Panasonic cameras you can buy.

Best Budget: Nikon Coolpix B500

Looking for a well-rounded bridge camera that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? Nikon's Coolpix B500 is exactly what you need. Its 16-megapixel CMOS sensor uses backside illumination (BSI) technology for enhanced low-light shooting performance.

Sporting a 22.5-900mm NIKKOR lens with 40x optical zoom, the camera utilizes Nikon's lens-shift Vibration Reduction (VR) feature to improve the stability of captured photos and videos. You can choose from eighteen different scene presets (e.g. Beach, Easy Panorama, Night Landscape, Snow, and Sunset), or even have the camera select the appropriate preset automatically. Nikon Coolpix B500 uses contrast detection to maintain focus on moving subjects and supports continuous shooting (full resolution) at 7fps.

It can also record full HD (1080p) videos and includes USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC as connectivity options. Using the companion "SnapBridge" app, you can not only control the camera remotely but also share photos via email and social media platforms. Featuring a 3-inch touchscreen with a 921k-dot resolution and tilt adjustment, the B500 is powered by four regular AA (Alkaline, NiMH, Oxyride, or Lithium) batteries.

Best Compact: Sony HX99

As versatile as they are, the majority of bridge cameras tend to be a bit on the bulky side. However, there are always exceptions. Case in point: Sony's HX99. Weighing just 8.6 ounces, this compact yet feature-laden bridge camera isn't really much bigger than a typical point-and-shoot. It features an 18.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor and a 24-720mm ZEISS lens that provides 30x optical zoom.

Thanks to Sony's own BIONZ X image processing engine, the HX99 delivers excellent photos in all kinds of shooting conditions. It uses contrast detection autofocus and supports continuous shooting at 10fps for up to 155 shots. Despite its small size, Sony HX99 comes with a (manual) pop-up flash, a 3-inch touchscreen with 180-degree angle adjustment, and even a nifty OLED viewfinder that conveniently retracts into the camera's body when not in use.

The camera can shoot images in RAW format as well as record 4K (2160p) videos with full pixel readout. You also get multiple scene presets, creative photo effects, and much more. Having a lens-mounted control ring (for easy adjustment of settings like shutter speed and aperture), the HX99 includes HDMI, USB, NFC, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth for connectivity.

Best with 4K Video Recording: Panasonic Lumix FZ2500

Even though most modern-day bridge cameras are (also) quite adept at shooting videos, none of them can match the videographic capabilities of Panasonic's Lumix FZ2500. Packing a large (1-inch) 20.1-megapixel MOS sensor, it's the perfect bridge camera for video enthusiasts. The camera's 8.8-176mm Leica lens is good for 20x optical zoom and features a "galvanometer-drive iris" (used in professional video cameras) to ensure smooth and seamless iris control, even when zooming.

Being a video-centric bridge camera, the FZ2500 can record cinema-quality 4K footage (4096x2160 pixels resolution) at 24fps, with a bitrate of 100Mbps. You can also use the built-in "Cinelike D" and "Cinelike V" modes to further enhance the recorded videos with cinema-like gradation effects. The camera supports quite a few global video formats (e.g. AVCHD, MOV) which allow for trouble-free editing.

As far as photography is concerned, the Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 includes everything from advanced manual controls to RAW image capture. Other notable features include a 2,360k-dot OLED live viewfinder, a 3-inch touch-enabled monitor with tilt and swivel adjustment, and real-time output of live video feed to an external monitor via HDMI.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best 4K cameras article.

Best Splurge: Sony RX10 IV

As the newest member of Sony's acclaimed RX10 lineup, the RX10 IV packs more features than you can shake a stick at. If you want a top-of-the-line bridge camera and don't mind paying a pretty penny for it, look no further. It sports a 20.1-megapixel Exmor RS CMOS sensor, working alongside a 24-600mm ZEISS lens with 25x optical zoom.

The 1-inch sensor uses a "stacked" design and 315 phase-detection AF points (in addition to 25 contrast-detection points), gracing the RX10 IV with a blazing-fast 30-millisecond autofocus speed. The camera supports RAW image capture and high-speed shooting (with AF/AE tracking) at an astounding 24fps, made possible by Sony's BIONZ X image processing engine.

Using a well-organized menu, you can tweak everything from shutter speeds to ISO sensitivity. Numerous shooting modes are built-in as well: Scene presets, creative picture effects — the works. Sony RX10 IV features pro-style controls including a focus hold button and triple manual rings on the lens barrel. You also get a 2,360k-dot OLED live viewfinder, a (manual) pop-up flash, and a 3-inch touchscreen with angle adjustment.

For connectivity, the camera comes with HDMI, USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC.

Best Design: Leica C-Lux

Leica is a name that needs no introduction. The German company has a diverse portfolio of premium imaging hardware, with the C-Lux being among the best-designed bridge cameras available in the market today.

It comes in two gorgeous color variants — Light Gold and Midnight Blue. However, there's a lot more to the C-Lux than just good looks. The camera features a large (1-inch) 20-megapixel MOS sensor, paired with a 24-360mm Leica lens that provides 15x optical zoom. It uses 49 metering points to instantly focus on fast-moving subjects and supports continuous shooting at 10fps.

You can choose from different exposure control modes (Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, and Manual), as well as a number of metering options (Multi-zone, Center-weighted, and Spot). Leica C-Lux can shoot images in RAW format and supports 4K (2160p) video capture, too. It also comes with a pop-up flash, a 3-inch touchscreen, and even a 2,330k-dot viewfinder, despite weighing just 12 ounces.

Connectivity options include USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Best Rugged: Canon PowerShot G3 X

Considering that nearly all bridge cameras have some mix of moving parts (e.g., zoom lenses, adjustable touchscreens), it makes perfect sense to get one that can handle the troubles of everyday use. Our vote goes to Canon's PowerShot G3 X, a rugged bridge camera that comes with rubber sealing for enhanced water- and dust-resistance.

Inside its tough shell, the G3 X features a 20.2-megapixel high-sensitivity CMOS sensor. The 1-inch sensor works in tandem with Canon's DIGIC 6 image processor, allowing you to shoot ultra-clear images even in dimly-lit environments. Then there's the 24-600mm Canon lens, which is good for 25x optical zoom. The camera uses its "Intelligent IS" feature to automatically analyze movement and apply the best shake correction, resulting in steady shots and videos even without a tripod.

You can shoot images in RAW format, and record full HD (1080p) videos too. Like most modern bridge cameras, Canon PowerShot G3 X offers a plethora of shooting modes, creative photo effects, and things of that nature. It can also directly connect to many of Canon's printers.

Other features include a pop-up flash, a 3.2-inch touchscreen with angle adjustment, Wi-Fi, and NFC.

Check out our other reviews of the best Canon cameras available on the market today.

Best Ultrazoom: Nikon Coolpix P900

Since a long-range zoom lens is a feature common to all bridge cameras, it can't really be considered as a differentiating factor. And yet, it's precisely why Nikon's Coolpix P900 stands out from the crowd. Wielding a 24-2000mm NIKKOR lens, the P900 has an insane 83x optical zoom. Yep, you read that right! The ultrazoom allows you to shoot breathtaking photos of birds, mountains, and even the farthest of subjects, including the Moon.

Its 16-megapixel CMOS sensor uses backside illumination (BSI) technology, resulting in improved low-light photos. The camera uses contrast detection to maintain focus to lock focus on moving subjects and can record full HD (1080p) videos as well. You can also choose from a variety of scene presets, exposure control modes, metering options, and more. Nikon Coolpix P900 uses lens-shift Vibration Reduction (VR) to increase the stability of captured photos and videos and supports continuous shooting at 7fps.

Other notable features of the camera include a 921k-dot viewfinder, a 3-inch touchscreen, USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, and GPS.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best ultrazoom cameras.

Best Compact Ultrazoom: Canon PowerShot SX740

If you think all long-range zoom cameras all have to be chunky, Canon's PowerShot SX740 is here to prove you wrong. Despite weighing a mere 10.5 ounces, this compact zoom camera sports a 24-960mm Canon lens with 40x optical zoom. Its 20.3-megapixel CMOS sensor is bolstered by Canon's DIGIC 8 image processor, a combination that not only produces lifelike photos in all kinds of lighting conditions but improves autofocus performance, too.

To help you make the most of its long-range zoom capability, the SX740 comes with a "Zoom Framing Assist" function, which makes it easy to track moving subjects when the lens is fully extended. Then there's the "Dual Sensing IS" feature, which corrects unwanted camera movements to enhance image clarity. The SX740 lets you choose from a number of shooting modes, white balance settings, and metering options. Canon PowerShot SX740 can record 4K (2160p) footage and supports high-speed continuous shooting at 7.4fps as well.

It also includes a 3-inch LCD screen with 180-degree tilt adjustment, HDMI, USB, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Our Process

Our writers spent 19 hours researching the most popular bridge cameras on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 20 different bridge cameras overall, screened options from 8 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 500 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.