Bridge camera reviews: Features explained

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<div class="rxbodyfield" style=" width: 1318px;"><div class="img-rightrx_ephox_inlinevariantcaption" contenteditable="false" inlinetype="rxvariant" rxinlineslot="105" rxselectedtext="" style="width:300px" sys_dependentid="227643" sys_dependentvariantid="1581" sys_folderid="227470" sys_relationshipid="13116925" sys_siteid="311" unselectable="on"><img alt="Bridge camera advanced features" contenteditable="false" height="199" src="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=227643&amp;sys_revision=1&amp;sys_folderid=227470&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=901&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" unselectable="on" width="300" /> <div class="rxbodyfield" contenteditable="false" unselectable="on"><p contenteditable="false" unselectable="on">Bridge cameras have much more advanced features than compact models.</p></div></div><h2>Bridge camera features explained</h2><p>One of the best reasons to invest in a bridge camera is the generous range of features you&#39;ll be able to take advantage of. Bridge cameras have many more functions and settings than you&#39;ll find on a standard compact digital camera and these can help you take better photos.</p><p>You can&#160;<a href="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=265400&amp;sys_revision=2&amp;sys_folderid=247546&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=1316&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" inlinetype="rxhyperlink" rxinlineslot="103" sys_contentid="265400" sys_dependentid="265400" sys_dependentvariantid="1316" sys_folderid="247546" sys_relationshipid="13116926" sys_siteid="311" sys_variantid="1316" title="">trial Which? today for &#163;1</a> to find out which Best Buy bridge cameras have the features you need.</p><h2>Superzoom bridge camera lenses</h2><p>Many of the most popular bridge cameras offer huge superzoom lenses. These can be a huge benefit if you&#39;re looking to get up close to a distant subject.</p><p>There are bridge cameras available with zoom factors as large as 26x or even 30x magnification.</p><p>The only alternative way of getting such a generous zoom is to use a <a href="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=84340&amp;sys_revision=36&amp;sys_folderid=116879&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=1216&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" inlinetype="rxhyperlink" rxinlineslot="105" sys_contentid="84340" sys_dependentid="84340" sys_dependentvariantid="1216" sys_folderid="116879" sys_relationshipid="13116927" sys_siteid="311" sys_variantid="1216" title="">digital SLR</a> and telephoto lens. However, because of the larger size of DSLR image sensors, the lenses have to be much larger to provide an equivalent zoom factor.</p><p>So despite superzoom bridge cameras being bulkier than pocket models, they actually provide a very compact zoom lens when compared to a DSLR.</p><p>Sometimes you&#39;ll even find lenses which have generous wide angles as well. A good wide angle, such as 28mm or the even wider 26mm, lets you fit much more into your shot without having to step further back.</p><div class="img-rightrx_ephox_inlinevariantcaption" contenteditable="false" inlinetype="rxvariant" rxinlineslot="105" rxselectedtext="" style="width:200px" sys_dependentid="227642" sys_dependentvariantid="1581" sys_folderid="227470" sys_relationshipid="13116928" sys_siteid="311" unselectable="on"><img alt="Digital camera image stabiliser" contenteditable="false" height="133" src="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=227642&amp;sys_revision=1&amp;sys_folderid=227470&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=901&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" unselectable="on" width="200" /> <div class="rxbodyfield" contenteditable="false" unselectable="on"><p contenteditable="false" unselectable="on">A good image stabiliser can help reduce blurring</p></div></div><h2>Image stabilisation in bridge cameras</h2><p>Because most bridge cameras have larger lenses than you&#39;ll find in a compact digital camera, they tend to have more effective image stabilisers.</p><p>The larger mechanical image stabilisers in superzoom bridge cameras tend to do a great job at countering trembling hand motions, preventing blurry images in the process.</p><p>By contrast, the small mechanical image stabilisers we&#39;ve tested in compact cameras tend to do a less impressive job at effectively countering small wobbling motions.</p><h2>Bridge camera viewfinders</h2><p>One of the great advantages of bridge cameras over compact models is that nearly all bridge cameras feature a viewfinder that you can hold to your eyer to compose your shots. There are two different types of viewfinders:</p><h3>Optical viewfinders</h3><p>Optical viewfinders can be found on bridge models like the Canon G10 or G11. These small window viewfinders are different to the optical viewfinders in DSLRs. They don&#39;t give you a 100% accurate depiction of the shot you&#39;re composing, as there&#39;s some cropping and the viewfinder isn&#39;t perfectly aligned with the lens.</p><p>However, when bright daylight makes the LCD screen hard to use, it&#39;s still a great advantage to have a small optical viewfinder to fall back on.</p><h3>Electronic viewfinders</h3><p>Electronic viewfinders are typically built into larger superzoom bridge cameras. They&#39;re located in the same spot you&#39;d find an optical viewfinder on a DSLR, but work along a different principle.</p><p>With an electronic viewfinder, you get a mini duplicate of the camera&#39;s rear LCD screen. The advantage to this is you can preview picture settings on the viewfinder exactly as you can on the LCD screen.</p><p>The disadvantage to electronic viewfinders is that they can sometimes be grainy and slow to refresh when you&#39;re using them in low light situations.</p><h2>Manual controls on bridge cameras</h2><p>If you&#39;re looking to try out advanced manual controls, but you&#39;re not keen on the price and expense of a digital SLR, then a bridge camera is a superb option.</p><p>Bridge cameras tend to offer the same range of manual controls you&#39;ll find on a DSLR, and they usually have handy control dials so you don&#39;t need to delve into the menu system to change settings. Some of the controls include:</p><div class="img-rightrx_ephox_inlinevariantcaption" contenteditable="false" inlinetype="rxvariant" rxinlineslot="105" rxselectedtext="" style="width:225px" sys_dependentid="227634" sys_dependentvariantid="1581" sys_folderid="227470" sys_relationshipid="13116929" sys_siteid="311" unselectable="on"><img alt="Change depth of field with aperture priority" contenteditable="false" height="165" src="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=227634&amp;sys_revision=1&amp;sys_folderid=227470&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=901&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" unselectable="on" width="225" /> <div class="rxbodyfield" contenteditable="false" unselectable="on"><p contenteditable="false" unselectable="on">You can use aperture priority to blur backgrounds.</p></div></div><h3>Aperture priority</h3><p>This changes the size of the aperture - the hole in the lens through which light passes to hit the image sensor.</p><ul><li>With the aperture at its largest, the camera is more sensitive in low light, letting you take faster shots. A large aperture also helps blur backgrounds for more artistic portrait shots.</li><li>With a very small aperture setting, less light hits the sensor. This can be used in bright shooting conditions to let you capture detail across the whole shot - the background and foreground will both be in focus.</li><li>In aperture priority mode, you can adjust the aperture to your own preferences, while the camera automatically changes every other setting to get the best results.</li></ul><div class="img-rightrx_ephox_inlinevariantcaption" contenteditable="false" inlinetype="rxvariant" rxinlineslot="105" rxselectedtext="" style="width:225px" sys_dependentid="227636" sys_dependentvariantid="1581" sys_folderid="227470" sys_relationshipid="13116930" sys_siteid="311" unselectable="on"><img alt="Blurring your subject with a slow shutter speed" contenteditable="false" height="172" src="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=227636&amp;sys_revision=1&amp;sys_folderid=227470&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=901&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" unselectable="on" width="225" /> <div class="rxbodyfield" contenteditable="false" unselectable="on"><p contenteditable="false" unselectable="on">You can use a slow shutter speed to blur your subject.</p></div></div><h3>Shutter speed priority</h3><p>You can use the shutter speed priority mode to capture fast-moving objects.&#160;</p><ul><li>A fast shutter speed will sharply capture&#160;a drop of water from a fountain, for example.</li><li>A slow shutter speed will make the water appear blurred because of its movement.</li><li>In shutter speed priority mode, you control the shutter speed only - the camera adjusts every other setting to help you get the best shot.</li></ul><h3>ISO settings</h3><p>By adjusting the ISO level, you can make the camera more sensitive in low light conditions.&#160;</p><ul><li>A high ISO level lets the image sensor take in more light.</li><li>The downside is that you lose detail with higher ISO levels. Often you&#39;ll see an increased amount of graininess, or &#39;image noise&#39;, at the higher ISO levels.</li><li>Generally speaking, it&#39;s best to keep your ISO level as low as you can get away with, depending on the shooting conditions.</li></ul><div class="img-rightrx_ephox_inlinevariantcaption" contenteditable="false" inlinetype="rxvariant" rxinlineslot="105" rxselectedtext="" style="width:225px" sys_dependentid="227636" sys_dependentvariantid="1581" sys_folderid="227470" sys_relationshipid="13116931" sys_siteid="311" unselectable="on"><img alt="Blurring your subject with a slow shutter speed" contenteditable="false" height="172" src="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=227636&amp;sys_revision=1&amp;sys_folderid=227470&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=901&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" unselectable="on" width="225" /> <div class="rxbodyfield" contenteditable="false" unselectable="on"><p contenteditable="false" unselectable="on">You can use a slow shutter speed to blur your subject.</p></div></div><h3>White balance adjustments</h3><p>Bridge cameras allow you to adjust the white balance settings to achieve the colour tone you&#39;re after. Many photographers are happy enough to trust their cameras&#39; auto white balance setting. However, if you find the colour tone to be off, it&#39;s worth trying out the white balance adjustments.</p><p>You can either opt for typical-situation white balance presets - natural daylight, or tungsten lighting, for example - or take a custom white balance reading from your actual conditions to let the camera make more precise colour tone adjustments.</p><h3>Full manual mode</h3><p>If you&#39;re a confident photographer, bridge cameras offer full manual control as well. This lets you select the aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance settings, getting precisely the shot you&#39;re after.</p><h2>Shooting in RAW&#160;with a bridge camera</h2><p>Almost all bridge cameras allow you to shoot RAW as well as with the traditional Jpeg format.</p><ul><li>The advantage of saving your images as RAW files comes when you&#39;re post-editing your shots. RAW capture uses much less in-camera processing, allowing you to take more precise control over your photos when you&#39;re editing them on your computer.</li><li>The disadvantage to shooting RAW is that the file sizes are larger than the equivalent Jpegs, and you&#39;ll need a photo-editing software package that can convert RAW photos.</li></ul><p>See our <a href="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=104746&amp;sys_revision=189&amp;sys_folderid=103964&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=1068&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" inlinetype="rxhyperlink" rxinlineslot="103" sys_contentid="104746" sys_dependentid="104746" sys_dependentvariantid="1068" sys_folderid="103964" sys_relationshipid="13116932" sys_siteid="311" sys_variantid="1068" title="">Which? reviews of the best photo editing software</a> for more on processing your photos at home.</p><div class="img-rightrx_ephox_inlinevariantcaption" contenteditable="false" inlinetype="rxvariant" rxinlineslot="103" rxselectedtext="" style="width:146px" sys_dependentid="104746" sys_dependentvariantid="1068" sys_folderid="103964" sys_relationshipid="13117031" sys_siteid="311" unselectable="on"><img alt="Hot shoe attachment on a digital camera" contenteditable="false" height="100" src="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=227650&amp;sys_revision=1&amp;sys_folderid=227470&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=901&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" unselectable="on" width="146" /> <div class="rxbodyfield" contenteditable="false" unselectable="on"><p contenteditable="false" unselectable="on">Some bridge cameras feature hot shoe connections</p></div></div><h2>Bridge cameras with hot shoes</h2><p>Some bridge cameras have hot shoe connections to let you attach an external flash, or in some cases, an external microphone.</p><p>Not all bridge cameras have hot shoe connections, and of course, not all users will want one. However, if you are likely to use an external flash gun, it&#39;s an advantage to have a hot shoe on your camera.</p><p>If you&#39;re still unsure about buying a bridge camera, see our guide to <a href="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=301039&amp;sys_revision=10&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_variantid=1068&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" inlinetype="rxhyperlink" rxinlineslot="103" sys_contentid="301039" sys_dependentid="301039" sys_dependentvariantid="1068" sys_folderid="" sys_relationshipid="13116933" sys_siteid="" sys_variantid="1068">buying the best bridge camera</a>.</p><div class="rxbodyfield"><h2>More on this...</h2><ul><li><a href="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=282452&amp;sys_revision=1&amp;sys_folderid=235077&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=1316&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" inlinetype="rxhyperlink" rxinlineslot="103" sys_contentid="282452" sys_dependentid="282452" sys_dependentvariantid="1316" sys_folderid="235077" sys_relationshipid="13116934" sys_siteid="311" sys_variantid="1316" title="">Best Buy bridge cameras</a> &#160;- see the best bridge cameras from the Which? labs test and reviews</li><li><a href="http://localhost/Rhythmyx/assembler/render?sys_contentid=260124&amp;sys_revision=1&amp;sys_folderid=235079&amp;sys_activeitemid=&amp;sys_context=0&amp;sys_siteid=311&amp;sys_variantid=1316&amp;sys_authtype=0&amp;sys_command=editrc" inlinetype="rxhyperlink" rxinlineslot="103" sys_contentid="260124" sys_dependentid="260124" sys_dependentvariantid="1316" sys_folderid="235079" sys_relationshipid="13116935" sys_siteid="311" sys_variantid="1316" title="">Best Buy Digital SLR reviews</a><strong>&#160;-</strong> read our Which? 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