Definition: Bridge camera
The Bridge camera occupies a niche between the DSLR and the consumer level, cheaper, “point-and-shoot” cameras. They are a response to market demand for an intermediate complexity camera.
A bridge camera tends to be in the size and weight range of the smallest DSLRs. However, they usually have one retractable lens. This lens is built in – therefore it’s not an interchangeable photographic lens. The single lens build enables a more compact format.
The modern (digital) bridge camera will feature full manual controls (ISO setting; shutter speed; aperture) as well as other functions like white balance. This makes them similar to DSLRs, but without the range of control settings that DSLR users enjoy.
Lenses can vary widely. Each bridge camera has its lens merits. However, zoom capability can be dependent on cropping the shot, rather than true lens zoom. This electronic zoom function has a varying degree of success dependent on what the user is trying to achieve. Nevertheless some hi-tech lenses are coming to the market. These zoom lenses for bridge cameras are highly capable and effective lenses through a wide range of focal lengths (eg: up to 2000mm in extreme cases). Of course these more sophisticated lenses should be tested before purchase to ensure they meet the needs of the buyer. It is worth considering price too. Very sophisticated lenses may raise the price to the level of a DSLR.
Bridge camera models are a useful market segment to examine if you are interested in good results quickly without needing to work with the complexity of a DSLR. However, they do not give the user the same degree of artistic or photographic control that a DSLR will provide.
The sensible buyer will examine the reason for buying a camera. If you buying for ease of taking a picture without significant photographic skill or knowledge a bridge camera may suit. As with all purchases of expensive equipment, get an expert to help you if possible. Take the opportunity to try the model you want before you buy too.
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