What is the best bridge camera 2012? Our top 5 superzoom bridge cameras of the year
- Mon, 10 Sep 2012
What are the best bridge cameras of 2012?
Bridge cameras are also often referred to as superzooms. As the name suggests they ‘bridge' the gap between DSLRs and compact cameras in some respects, usually offering the full range of PASM controls (Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priortity and full Manual) alongside a much larger zoom range than traditional compact cameras (hence the term ‘superzoom').
In addition to offering a regular LCD monitor on the back to compose and review your images with, all of the best bridge cameras also sport an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that allows you to hold the camera to your eye as you would a DSLR.
One quick way to compare the best superzoom or bridge cameras with is by their individual zoom multiplication factor. This will fall somewhere within 18x - 42x and can help you to compare how powerful they are in relation to each other. Given the power of the zooms on offer it's advisable to ensure that your preferred model offers some kind of optical image stabilisation as this will help to keep your images sharp at extended focal lengths.
In addition, different manufacturers also offer their own unique technologies - from Sony's Sweep Panorama to Fuji's high-speed video recording. In our list of the top five superzoom bridge cameras of 2012 below, we've tried to indicate what some of these special technologies are. Be sure to check our full reviews for a better picture of precisely what's on offer..
The Fuji HS30 replaces 2011's HS20 model and comes with a number of notable upgrades, not least a much-improved Electronic Viewfinder, a faster 11fps burst rate and an expanded sensitivity range that makes it better suited to shooting in low light.
The HS30 retains the manually operated 30x optical zoom of its predecessor, which gives it a hugely flexible focal range of between 24-720mm in 35mm terms.
In addition the HS30's 16MP EXR CMOS sensor also allows it to benefit from all of Fuji's proprietary EXR shooting modes. If you're looking for an all-round superzoom packed with useful features, the HS30 is one of the best bridge cameras of 2012.
With its phenomenal 42x optical zoom the Nikon Coolpix P510 is currently the most powerful superzoom on the market and also a strong contender for the being the best bridge camera of 2012.
The Nikon P510's fixed zoom covers the 35mm focal equivalent of 24-1000mm and further benefits from Nikon's excellent, lens-based Vibration Reduction technology to reduce the effects of camera shake along with dual zoom controls for enhanced usability.
Elsewhere the P510 gets a 16.1MP CMOS sensor that's backlit for better results in low light, along with a 3in, 921k-dot LCD monitor that can be tilted for easier overhead and ground-level shooting. As if that wasn't enough there's also the ability to record 1080p Full HD movies complete with stereo sound recording.
Canon's latest superzoom has a long-reaching 35x zoom with a maximum focal length of 840mm. That gives it the ability to reach just that bit further than the competition, certainly an attractive prospect for a bridge camera.
Although updates are limited compared to the previous SX30 IS, the Canon has got all the important things right: big zoom; optical image stabilisation and the best superzoom picture quality. The 2.7in LCD screen's even mounted on a tilt-angle bracket to allow for more unusual framing. The only thing missing here is Raw capture.
Best of all though, is that the SX40 HS has already fallen quite considerably in price since it's launch - from an initial price of £460 to around £300 if you shop around.
The Sony HX200V is a feature-packed 30x bridge camera that offers the 35mm focal range equivalent of 28-810mm alongside Sony's own Optical SteadyShot technology to help counter the effects of camera shake.
Built around an 18.2MP Exmor R CMOS sensor that's backside wired for better performance in low light, the HX200V also offers a usefully wide sensitivity range of ISO 100-12,800 and also comes with plenty of useful shooting features including Background Defocus, Backlight Correction HDR and a Sweep Panorama that enables the creation of ultra-wide 180-degree images.
Other highlights include the ability to shoot 1080p Full HD movies at 50fps, full manual controls, built-in GPS functionality and a range of digital filter effects that can be applied in-camera without the need for a computer and dedicated image editing software.
The Fujifilm X-S1 is from Fuji's premium ‘X' range and, at the time of its launch, came with a price tag to match. However the street price has now fallen by around a third, making it a much more attractive and affordable proposition.
The X-S1 is built around a larger than average 2/3in EXR CMOS sensor that, together with the camera's dual-core EXR image processor, produces the best image quality in its class. The 26x optical zoom is manually operated via a rotating lens barrel and offers the 35mm focal range equivalent of 24-625mm.
Other highlights include the ability to shoot Raw images, a high-resolution 1.44m-dot electronic viewfinder and the ability to shoot 1080p Full HD movies. All in all, the X-S1 is a strong contender for being the very best bridge camera money can currently buy.