There seems to be a real gray area when it comes to describing what a camera is in the two classes mentioned in the post title.
The argument has been tossed about for a while now and it seems to me that there are some very real differences.
SuperZoom – Qualities.
A Superzoom camera by definition has a long telephoto capability and is therefore able to “zoom in” on the subject matter. The more zoom the more you can see finer detail, up to a point. At some point you will get to the situation where IQ or resolution will degrade, or both at the same time. Usually there are other restrictive factors coming into play as well, such as ISO and aperture as an example.
Superzooms generally take the shape of smaller pocket-able cameras, such as travel compacts, underwater compacts, or in the case of the Fuji X10/X20, higher quality, but not as pocket-able or as much zoom. The latter two models could be classed as the minimum for a super zoom in terms of their lenses.
So what therefore are bridge cameras?
The usual thinking is a DSLR styled camera that does most of what a DSLR can do. I think that’s this is too simplistic. There are many cameras on the market that appear in the class loosely referred to as “bridgecamera” . In reality most of these cameras really only qualify as superzooms, and this includes most of the SLR styled cameras produced by Fuji as well.
You may ask why that should be, and as the old saying goes ” If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck , its most likely a duck” Well not really.
As the name suggests a ” Bridge camera should bridge something. The obvious answer is a cross between the SLR and the superzoom compacts. That being the case what should we look for in a “BridgeCamera?”
- DSLR body Design, quality fit & finish, deep hand-grip
- Fixed lens with varying focus from 22 mm to 729 mm or greater.
- Excellent Macro capabilities
- High quality LCD, swivel or tiltable
- High quality EVF
- Large dynamic range
- Manual zoom lens
- Full manual shooting including manual focus
- Fast AF ( as fast an entry level DSLR)
- Fast write times
- Good high speed frame-rate ( 6 fps or better in burst modes )
- Med/high quality high ISO ( ISO 1600 or better )
- Good low-light performance
- Minimum 500 shots per charge batteries
- Flash usable to 13/15 meters
- Accurate metering with live histogram
- Larger than standard sensor than other compacts and superzooms.
- Low noise characteristics from the sensor.
There are obviously more items than I have listed, those are the items I look for in a BridgeCamera. Perhaps the one thing above all others that distinguishes a true BridgeCamera from all the other is the ability to have a fixed lens that is manually zoom-able similar to a DSLR’s, that shoots well in full manual mode or full Auto mode but operates exactly as a lens would when using a DSLR. Essentially a real BridgeCamera is a DSLR variant with a fixed , manually operated lens, giving the most DSLR like experience for photography.