Bridge cameras are considered an interesting hybrid that combine the SLR and point-and-shoot camera to get the best of both worlds. This gives them a total manual control without the use of additional devices. Bridge cameras tend to be compact while providing an extremely long zoom capacity.
Here at valrin, We did our research, studied the market, and compiled a list that take into consideration cost, design, performance, and ease of use. Here is the list of the Best Budget Bridge Camera that are available to you today:
- Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Camera.
- Nikon COOLPIX B500 Camera.
- Canon PowerShot SX540 Camera.
- Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR Camera.
- Kodak PIXPRO Astro AZ421 Camera.
Panasonic Lumix FZ80 Camera (Overall Winner)
Considered as one of the best entry level bridge camera in the market, The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is the go-to choice for many amateurs that want to get started in this field but don’t have the budget to spend on a high-end camera.
Starting with the design, It comes with a small 1/2.3-inch image sensor & a chunky zoom lens that has a focal length ranging from an ultra wide 20 mm to 1200 mm which is a little above extreme telephoto. Using the digital zoom that can go up to 60x, You can take shots that are similar to something taken with a focal length equivalent to 4800 mm.
It comes with a built-in image stabilizer based on optical & electronic stabilization and works with both photo and video. Works great for lower ranges, but as soon as you pass the 800 mm, it is advised that you get a tripod/mount to prevent any shakiness from leaking into your recordings.
Speaking of recording, The FZ80 4K videos are crystal clear, It can do 8MP JPGs at 30fps with burst shooting available at about 10fps at full 18MP resolution in either raw or JPG format. A viewfinder is included with a resolution of 1,166,000 RGB dots that offers a 0.46 scale factor.
In addition to the EVF, the Lumix FZ80 also has a 3-inch, fixed touchscreen LCD on the back that has a 1.04 million RGB dots resolution. This is a great add-on since it keep setting up parameters, choosing focus area relatively easy to do. The bad news is, No eye sensor is available so you have to press the “LVF” button each time you switch.
Final thoughts, The FZ80’s performance is more than you can expect at such a small price. The shots quality looks astonishing (almost equivalent of a $1000 DSLR). Low lighting is where it acts like an actual bridge camera. The pictures start to look subpar & motion blur kicks in if you don’t have proper stabilization in place.
- 60x Zoom Range.
- 30fps 4K Photo Capture.
- Fast Autofocus.
- Built-in Wi-Fi.
- 10fps Raw Capture.
- 24fps video capture.
- No EVF eye sensor.
- Fixed LCD.
Nikon COOLPIX B500 Camera
Jumping to the Nikon CoolPix B500, A very powerful budget bridge camera that has a track record of delivering excellent shots & nicely produced videos over its last few years in the market.
Design wise, The CoolPix b500 has the traditional bridge camera look. It feels quite sturdy and the textile on the side helps improve the overall grip.
Comes with a 1/2.3-inch sensor, a 40x optical zoom lens with 80x dynamic zoom, a focal length of 22.5–900 mm. It uses lens shift VR to reduce vibration in still pictures & electronic VR for videos.
It has a screen on the back that tilts up and down, Useful when going for those tricky shots with only a limited space at your disposal. The bad news is, The screen is not touch-sensitive so you’ll have use the buttons to manipulate the settings which can be tedious at times.
With its 16MP sensor, The Nikon B500 performs best in bright environments. In good conditions, The quality produced is clear & crisp. Images are well detailed with vibrant colors. The exposure also comes out well-balanced in most scenes.
When it comes to battery life, This bad boy can do up to 1,240 shots when using an AA Lithium battery. This is a big advantage to have if you are doing a lot of photography & don’t want to end up missing good opportunities just because the camera can’t handle more than a few hundred shots at a time.
- Amazing Quality in Daylight.
- Sturdy Build Quality.
- Great Battery Life (up to 1,240 shots).
- 40x Optical Zoom & 80x Dynamic Zoom.
- Software can be hard to learn.
- Average quality indoors.
Canon PowerShot SX540 Camera
Made in 2016, The Canon PowerShot SX540 is still one of the leading cameras when it comes to affordability & performance. It gives the opportunity for beginners to get into photography without having to break their bank.
The design of the SX540 is simple, comfortable, and relatively easy to operate. It offers a 1/2.3″ BSI-CMOS sensor with a focal length range of 24-1200 mm & 50x optical zoom lens. This is a big upgrade from its predecessor which was only up to 30x.
It Comes with a 20-megapixel CMOS sensor that offers increased image detail, and helps with image quality in lower light situations. Pictures can be shot continuously with a max speed of 5.9fps and max shutter speed of 1/2000sec.
Videos can be recorded at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 at 60p,30p fps and save in MPEG-4 and H.264 formats. This makes the camera adequate for most of the situations a beginner might find himself in.
The Canon SX540 features a Contrast Detection, Face detection, autofocusing, and auto-zooming function. The latter one uses facial recognition to automatically zoom the lens to the appropriate focal length. A big drawback that the SX540 has is the lack of a viewfinder. This makes it a little awkward to use outdoors.
Final thoughts, What this camera lacks in features like the viewfinder or raw shooting capacity, More than makes up for it in quality & performance, Which is why it was included in this list.
- Wide Angle Coverage.
- Manual Focus, Exposure Mode.
- Amazing Image Stabilization.
- 20.0MP Resolution Sensor.
- Built-in Wi-Fi.
- No Built-in Viewfinder.
- No RAW shooting.
Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR Camera (Highest Performance)
If you want a bridge camera that can do everything you can possibly think of, The Fujifilm FinePix HS50EXR is the one you are looking. It’s the only camera in this list that looks, feels, and acts like an actual DSLR.
Looking at the design, As soon as you handle this camera you’ll feel its weight. Around 800g, This camera feels very solid & premium. The zoom lens can go up to 42x optical & 84x digital, which is more than what most people will need in their lifetime. Plus has a focal length going from 24mm up to 1000mm.
It comes with a 3-inch 920k-dot LCD monitor, 920k-dot electronic viewfinder with eye-sensor for automatic switching, a 16 megapixel ½-inch Illuminated CMOS sensor, and can deliver a full 1080p HD movie recording at up to 60fps. The continuous shooting is at 11fps with an autofocus lag of 0.05sec.
This bridge camera also has a lot of very useful features like full manual control, record files in raw format, panorama mode, digital filters, and even a shutter speed that can go from 30 seconds all the way down to 1/4000th of a second.
Final words, The HS50EXR is one of the most premium bridge cameras you can get you can get your hands on a starter. If you actually decide to get this bad boy, it will take you a very long time before you even start thinking about getting a new one.
- Wide Range of Shutter Speeds.
- 42x Optical Zoom & 84x Digital Zoom.
- Auto Viewfinder Switch.
- 16MP & 1080p at 60fps.
- Higher price range.
- No touchscreen.
Kodak PIXPRO Astro AZ421 Camera
Last but not least, We have the Kodak PixPro AZ421. One of the most affordable bridge cameras that you can find in the market today. This decrease in cost slightly affected the overall performance of the camera, But for such a low price, you’ll have a hard time trying to find anything close to what this can offer.
Comes with a 16megapixel 1/2.3″ CCD image sensor and a 42x zoom lens with optical image stabilization, and a focal length range of 24-1008mm. On the back, it has a 3.0 inch 460k-dot LCD screen. Sadly, the highest video resolution you can record is 720p at 30fps.
Feature wise, it comes with a couple of different options like shooting modes, panorama mode, Eye-fi support, and an ISO range going from 80 all the way up to 3200 which helps offer a more accurate color reproduction in low light situations.
Overall, This camera is easily the worst in this list when it comes to the features available. But if you don’t have the budget or just don’t feel like spending money, This camera will be a great way to get you on the road as cheaply as possible.
- Extremely Affordable.
- Simple & Easy to Use.
- 42x Zoom Lens.
- The Highest video resolution is 720p.
- No support/warranty available.
Conclusion: Best Budget Bridge Camera
From what already saw, We can clearly conclude that the winner is the Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is the best budget bridge camera in this list. With a zoom of 60x, a 4k 30fps capacity, and a 10fps raw capture, this manufacturer was able to successfully product an amazing product & make it as affordable as possible.
If you enjoyed our article, make sure to leave your suggestions down below about anything we may have forgotten to put in the list.