The bridge camera remains one of the most popular types of digital camera, owing to their huge zoom lenses, DSLR-esque handling and relatively compact proportions.
There are several factors to consider before buying a bridge camera, including whether in fact a bridge is right choice for your needs. If you're uncertain we highly recommend you read our in-depth Guide to Bridge Cameras first, just be sure.
But if you've done that, or you're already confident that a bridge camera is for you, then read our round up of the best bridge cameras of 2013...
Street price: £360
Even though it's by no means the biggest bridge camera on the market the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS it was the world's first bridge camera to feature a 50x optical zoom, extending from 24mm to an impressive 1200mm.
Paired with Canon's latest DIGIC 5 processor, the 12MP HS sensor is renowned for its high speed and good high ISO performance. The SX50 HS also offers a full tilt and swivel LCD screen, raw capture and a selection of 58 scene modes, while the hot-shoe allows for Canon EX Speedlite flash guns to be attached.
Best Bridge Camera for: Canon Compatibility
Street price: £400
The Fujifilm HS50 EXR features the highly regarded EXR sensor technology, which can be optimised to provide High Resolution, Wide Dynamic Range or Low Noise, depending on the conditions. In this case it's a 16MP chip that also incorporates an array of phase detect pixels to provide what Fujifilm claims is the fastest AF of any bridge camera in the world.
The manually operated 42x zoom lens goes from 24mm to 1000mm with a twist of the lens barrel. Additional features include a high resolution articulated LCD screen, a 1.44 million dot EVF, an impressive 11fps burst rate, full 1080p HD video, raw capture and a range of creative filters and film simulation modes.
Best Bridge Camera for: DSLR styling and operation
Street price: £350
The Nikon Coolpix P520 is one of the smaller bridge cameras of the group. Its 42x lens extends from 24mm to 1000mm, and uses lens-shift VR to minimize camera shake.
Image capture comes courtesy of an 18MP backlit CMOS sensor, while images are viewed on an impressive 3.2in 920k dot vari-angle screen. The P520 also boasts a GPS function through which images can be placed on a map using the supplied ViewNX software.
Although the P520 is a little more plasticky than some rivals this also helps make it quite a bit cheaper.
Best Bridge Camera for: Those with a premium on size
Street price: £400
The Panasonic Lumix FZ200 is the world's first, and so far only, bridge camera to offer a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range.
This is a huge benefit, enabling lower ISOs and/or faster shutter speeds to be used that other bridge cameras in the same conditions, and also affording potentially narrower depth of field. It's a Leica lens too.
The only downside is that its zoom range is a relatively modest 24x, extending from 24mm to 600mm. The FZ200 also features Lightspeed AF for superfast focusing, 12fps burst shooting, a vari-angle LCD screen and high speed video shooting at 100fps.
Best Bridge Camera for: Wildlife and nature photography
Street price: £180
Pentax was last to join the bridge sector and its 16MP X-5 undercuts its rivals quite significantly. Although it offers a much more stripped down feature set by comparison it still has everything you need, including a 26x, 22..3-580mm equivalent zoom lens, a tiltable LCD screen and an EVF.
Uniquely the X-5 is powered by AA batteries which could be handy for those travelling to remote places, though they're less efficient than Lithium-Ions. Full manual control is possible but there's no raw option.
Best Bridge Camera for: Those on a tight budget
Sony Cyber-shot HX300
Street price: £380
The HX300 is a big camera, bigger than some DSLRs, but sports an impressive 50x (24-1200mm) Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T zoom lens.
It's paired with a high resolution 20.4 megapixel back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor and Bionz processor which, as well as offering high speed processing, enables Sony's by now well-known repertoire of party tricks such as Sweep Panorama and Hand-Held Twilight modes.
Additional features include a vari-angle LCD screen, and EVF and an ISO extending up to 12,800, though sadly there's no option to shoot in the raw format.
Best Bridge Camera for: High-tech gadgety features