Have bridge cameras come of age yet?

Bobby Ironsights

TPF Noob!
Dec 3, 2006
Reaction score
Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I look at those sx canon superzooms and lust after mag numbers as I can't afford a comparable long lens for my T5i but am wary of the small sensor size
I think you answered your own question, superzoom bridge cameras will never be as good as a DSLR because of the small sensor.
The FZ1000 and RX10 are awesome cameras for good lighting conditions, they have good fast lenses (especially the RX10) but put an APS-C sensor on a superzoom with a fast lens and you are looking at an elephant trunk size lens thus its not going to happened.
  • Like
Reactions: Ido
The superzoom cameras are sold first and foremost to the stereotypical soon-to-be tourists, who don’t want to use an iPhone (or iPad) to take photos on vacation and see the superzooms as cameras that look big (so they must be good, right?), with a ton of zoom (Uncle Joe has a multi-thousand-dollar camera and that doesn’t even have 10x zoom, so we have a better camera than he does!), and don’t cost a fortune (I think Uncle Joe was ripped off when he purchased his camera!). I know, I was that guy before.
That’s why all those superzooms have such small sensors, that aren’t meaningfully bigger than any current smartphone’s camera sensor. The sensor itself is so cheap, it allows cramming a wicked “equivalent focal length” into a sanely-sized package, in a lens that isn’t very expensive either. Quality is far down on the engineers’ checklist, if it’s even on the list at all.

Some of them can be valuable tools in your situation. They give you out-of-this-world magnification for less than $500. The venerable Canon SX50 has a maximum reach of 1200mm equivalent (the actual focal length at that setting is 215mm), and only costs $350—and eBay is probably flooded with these at even lower prices. But how often do you actually need 1200mm-equivalent reach, anyway? When you fill the frame at that focal length, you can often have some issues such as heat distortion, simply because you’re shooting something that is so far away.

If you’re craving long reach but want a bigger sensor, there are some other options. You could go with a Micro Four Thirds camera and an Olympus 75-300 II or Panasonic 100-300, but then you’ll “only” get 600mm-equivalent reach, which you can get with your current camera and something like a 100-400, which I suppose isn’t any bigger than a 70-200 f/2.8. Panasonic has announced development of a Leica-branded 100-400 lens for Micro Four Thirds, which gives 800mm-equivalent reach—what you’d get with a 500mm lens for your Canon APS-C camera.
Another option is a Nikon 1-series camera (the best sensor of them all right now is in the J5) with the CX 70-300 lens, which gives around 800mm-equivalent reach as well. You can also mount lenses for Nikon DSLRs—for example, the Nikon 80-400 will get you to >1,000mm, and we haven’t even talked about teleconverters. But that option would really only be viable if you already had such lenses.

If you don’t mind the size, get a super-telephoto lens for your T5i. Some of them aren’t too expensive—you can get a Tamron/Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens for under $1,100 new, and if that’s too expensive for you, look for a used Sigma 150-500. Of course, there is merit to the exotic super-telephoto primes—500mm f/4, 600mm f/4, 800mm f/5.6—but with the slower and more “consumer-grade” zoom lenses, you still get the reach with decent sharpness, and at a truly long focal length—you will get far deeper depth of field with a camera like the SX50, than you’d get by using a 150-600/150-500 zoom on your T5i.
The Panasonic FZ1000 is a good compromise for someone who doesn't like to hassle with lenses.
The daylight IQ is (almost) as good as from an entry level DSLR. Even at ISO 3200, pictures are acceptable
most of the time. It is a very fast and versatile camera.
The Panasonic FZ1000 is a good compromise for someone who doesn't like to hassle with lenses.
The daylight IQ is (almost) as good as from an entry level DSLR. Even at ISO 3200, pictures are acceptable
most of the time. It is a very fast and versatile camera.
Yet it’s hardly useful in this situation. The OP is intrigued by the great “reach” that typical superzooms cameras offer, but the FZ1000 doesn’t get him any further than with a 55-250 Canon lens—the terrific STM model is very affordable.
What is it that you enjoy shooting that would benefit from higher magnification?

In general, super-zoom lenses and bridge cameras usually sacrifice a bit in terms of optical quality, certainly in focal ratio, and typically cannot produce a shallow depth of field (if you want a blurred background... you'd need to switch cameras because you can't switch lenses and those lenses can't pull it off.)
Yes, they have come of age. Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape recently compared a bridge camera versus a Canon d-slr and Canon lens...the bridge camera gave higher magnification and better detail in a hugely smaller, lighter, and easier to carry package. He says now he will be using the bridge camera when he wants a very long lens setup. I think the bridge cameras came of age a few years ago: the Fuji models from the mid-2000's were pretty good, shot in raw mode, shot decent video, and were small, light, and affordable. The best of the bridge cameras have excellent image quality. As in *excellent* image quality. Which is not to say "superb" image quality, which is another level entirely; but then again, for long-lens work that reaches "superb" image quality, it means a seven pound or heavier (fifteen pounds or so) lens, and basically, around an eight to eighteen thousand dollar rig.
The Canon SX60HS is a one of the better superzooms (65X).
An even longer reach has the Nikon P900 (83x) 24-2000mm eq.
Last edited:

Most reactions