When I was starting out in photography, my first ever ‘proper’ camera was a Bridge – and I loved it!
I may not still use that particular camera today (although it’s tucked away for nostalgia!) yet I bought a bridge camera as recently as 2017 because I just think they’re amazing for what they can offer. No, I don’t shoot clients with it, and no it’s not my ‘professional’ equipment. But there’s so much a bridge camera can give you (for me, it’s when I travel) that I thought I’d write a little article to help explain what they are, and just what benefits they can gift you with….
So what is a ‘bridge’?
Bridge cams are fantastic all-in-one gadgets, whether you’re buying one a s a family, a hobbyist, or as a professional photographer. They integrate the simpleness of point-and-shoot cameras, the functions of DSLRs, and the type of focal variety you ‘d generally require a set of binoculars for! And all in a handy lightweight design.
It pretty much looks like the baby brother of a DSLR. The main difference is that is has a set/fixed lens and a huge zoom capability within a compact lens design. It’s sort of like a point-and-shoot on a rocketship!
It’s called a ‘bridge’ because that’s what it does – it’s a system that ‘bridges’ the versatile point-and-shoot cameras and the high-end functions and performance of a full-fat DSLR.
These really depend on the manufacturer and the individual camera, of course. But advanced bridges now utilize 1-inch sensing units, which lead to much better image quality. Select a cam with a 1-inch sensing unit if image quality is more crucial, or a 1/2.3-inch sensing unit if adaptability is your concern.
There are lots of bridge camera that shoot in Raw. And for someone like myself, for example, this was critical when I bought my bridge in 2017. It was less critical when I was first starting out and didn’t really know (or need to fully utilise) the Raw capabilities.
If you can shoot in RAW though, it allows you to capture all of the information the lens is seeing when the camera takes the shot. Nothing is lost. It may look exactly the same as a jPeg on screen, but once you get it home and put it into your editing software, a RAW image can be stripped back to reveal beautiful intricate details, when a jpeg would just become noisier. RAW is not necessary for everyone, depending on your level of photography. If you’re a pro, or want to work on editing more, then yes, make sure you get RAW shooting function. If you’re using it as a hobbyist, for social media or for amazing family memories, jpeg is probably gonna serve you just fine/
All the ‘extras’
Lots of bridge cameras these days even use 4K video shooting, but even those that don’t still have some awesome video options. Choose between fixed and completely-articulating LCD touchscreens, allowing you to shoot innovative video whether you’re recording the kids playing football or you’re producing material for YouTube.
And they come with the standards you’d expect – sophisticated autofocus, exposure bracketing, in-camera editing, multiple shoot modes, artistic shooting modes.
Some offer an electronic viewfinder as well – personally I LOVE this feature, as it’s such a habit of mine to view through a viewfinder and not a screen, so it feels more natural. Electronic viewfinders add a little extra ‘bulk’ to the body, but hardly worth mentioning to be fair.
Maybe the greatest advantage of a bridge video camera, and the main reason you’re thinking of buying one, is the massive zoom. Instead of needing to lug around ahuge telescopic heavy lens for your dSLR, you can get the comparable zoom of a 24-600mm focal length on most bridge cameras. It’s rather typical for a bridge to provide a 35mm comparable variety of 24-600mm, which will cover you for whatever from wide-angle ecological shooting to long-range telephoto work. Nikon even provides a bridge with a tremendous 24-3000mm variety! I don’t know if you need that much, but the alternative for a dSLR would likely need scaffolding to help you hold it!
Test the Waters…
You might be thinking of a bridge camera to ‘test the waters’ and see if photography is something you’re keen to pursue further. And I think that’s a great idea – I did it and it served me well for lots of reasons:
- Bridge cameras are more affordable than buying a separate boy and lens(es) so you don’t need a huge outlay upfront
- If you don’t know what you’re going to specialize in at the beginning, you don’t know what lens to buy (and that might mean an expensive mistake). Using a bridge gives you a huge range of focal lengths that you can experiment with, see what feels right, and then decide to move to a dSLR/Mirrorless when the time’s right
- They’re light and easy! If you’re thinking of travel photography or street photography, a bride is a cinch to carry with you
Let me know if you’ve used a bridge before or if you’re using one now. What do you love about it? What would you swap? And which is your go-to brand and model?