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Which bridge camera brand to buy in 2019

By Hollie Hennessy

Unique Which? reliability data can help you choose a bridge camera brand that's a worthy investment. We survey owners of Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony bridge cameras to find out which brands have less faults over time. 

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In this article:

Issues with the control buttons are the most commonly seen problems with bridge cameras. Our survey found that 18% of faults were buttons that stopped working altogether, or only worked intermittently. 

Whether you're buying a superzoom bridge camera for taking photos of distant subjects or something a little more advanced and compact in size, you should be able to rely on your camera for years. However, even the simplest of bridge cameras can suffer from problems such as a stuck shutter, producing black photos or very bright and over-exposed shots. That's why it's important to find a bridge camera brand you can trust.

Each year in our unique reliability survey we ask thousands of Which? members to tell us whether they are pleased with their bridge camera, or have experienced faults.

Our survey data takes into account the reported fault rates, severity of these faults and the how quickly they occurred. In our latest analysis we've looked at the performance of the biggest bridge camera manufacturers – including Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony – and have calculated a reliability rating for each so you know which brands are the most and least reliable.

 Difference between the best and worst bridge camera brands

There is quite a big difference in the highest and lowest average test scores for bridge cameras. And although they are all pretty reliable, there are also some brands that do better than others. The lowest manages 89%, whereas there are others that are well into 90%-plus territory. 

 The most reliable bridge camera brands

The table below summarises this year’s reliability results. Customer score relates to whether their customers would recommend it. The more stars for reliability, the fewer the problems reported.

Only logged-in Which? members can view which brands achieved the ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Brand Reliability rating Reliability score Customer satisfaction score
95% 78%
90% 73%
89% 72%
95% 80%
93% 74%
Table notesThe above data is based on a survey conducted on 764 Which? members April-July 2019.

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Member Content

 Common bridge camera problems

The most common faults with bridge cameras are problems with the control buttons. A camera isn't much use when the buttons you use to control it stop working or only work intermittently. Some 18% of faults recorded were related to this. 

Similarly, the zoom malfunctioning defeats the point of buying a camera often marketed for a large, far-reaching zoom. Issues with the zoom lens are a common problem for bridge cameras (14%), with the lens sticking, jamming or malfunctioning. Typically, it's sand or grit interfering with the lens extension mechanism that causes it, or the camera's been dropped with the lens extended.

 Which bridge camera brand stays fault free for longest?

The graph above shows how the brand that stays fault-free for longest compared with the worst brand, as well as the overall average. Which? members can see how brands compare for faults over a six-year period in the table below.

Only logged-in Which? members can view which brands achieved the ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access. 

Brand name % fault-free after one year % fault-free after three years % fault-free after six years
95% 94% 94%
94% 90% 86%
93% 87% 86%
98% 94% 94%
97% 93% 92%
Table notes
Results based on feedback from more than 695 bridge camera owners, surveyed in April/July 2019.

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Member Content

How we measure faults and reliability in bridge cameras

Our reliability scores don't just take into account the number of faulty products. We also look at how severe these faults were and when they happened. We judge major or catastrophic faults more harshly than minor annoyances, and also penalise faults that occur when the product is new and hasn't had much use. We ask our respondents to describe their faults as minor, major or catastrophic based on the following guidelines:

  • Minor: a fault that doesn’t affect the product’s performance significantly or a fault that only occurs occasionally with minimal impact. This issue may be irritating or annoying but it isn’t frequently problematic and you can easily work around it. For example, not being able to record audio with video.
  • Major: a fault that has a noticeable effect on the product’s performance. This fault affects how you use the product and can be problematic, for example, a problem with the lens.
  • Catastrophic: a fault that renders the product unusable, with the fault needing to be repaired or parts replaced before it can be used again. For example, a fault with the shutter or failing to capture photos/video.

 Bridge camera brands rated

Choose a brand from the list below to find out more detail about its performance in our survey.

Canon bridge cameras overview table
Number tested in the past three years 2
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 21 October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2019 of 764 bridge camera owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 21 October 2019.

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Member Content
  • Find out how well Canon bridge cameras score for reliability compared to other big brands like Nikon and Panasonic.
  • See which faults are most likely to affect a Canon bridge camera, from the zoom becoming useless to just a couple of buttons.
  • Find out how happy Canon customers are and whether they'd recommend the brand to a friend.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Fujifilm bridge cameras overview table
Number tested in the past three years 0
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 21 October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2019 of 764 bridge camera owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 21 October 2019.

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Member Content
  •  Fujifilm no longer make bridge cameras, but you can find out how their previous models score for reliability.
  • See how satisfied customers were with Fujifilm bridge cameras.
  • Interested in what faults are most likely to occur? Find out which ones cropped up most with Fujifilm models.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Nikon bridge cameras overview table
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 21 October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2019 of 764 bridge camera owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 21 October 2019.

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Member Content
  • Nikon are quite well-known in the photography word, alongside brands such as Canon, Sony and Panasonic. See how they stand up against the rest when it comes to reliability.
  • Even though cameras are quite reliable, it doesn't mean customers will be satisfied. Find out how happy owners are with their Nikon bridge cameras.
  • Even the best of cameras can develop a fault - see which ones are most likely to occur with Nikon models, they can be as small as the battery not working, to the whole screen conking out.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Panasonic bridge cameras overview table
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 21 October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2019 of 764 bridge camera owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 21 October 2019.

Key

Member Content
  • Panasonic regularly release bridge camera models, and we've tested a few over the last few years. But how long will one of them last? See our reliability score to find out whether they'll be a worthy investment.
  • Camera issues can range from something small like a couple of pixels in the LCD screen, to the camera not turning on at all. We found out which are the most common with Panasonic bridge cameras.
  • Are people happy with Panasonic? We asked if they were satisfied with the brand and if they'd recommend them to a friend, resulting in our customer score.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access
Sony bridge cameras overview table
Number tested in the past three years 2
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 21 October 2019) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey conducted in July 2019 of 764 bridge camera owners. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 21 October 2019.

Key

Member Content
  • Sony cameras are some of the most popular, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's because they last the distance. See how reliable they are compared to other popular brands like Canon and Panasonic.
  • From dead batteries to dead LCD screens - see which issues are likely to be a problem with Sony bridge cameras.
  • Are Sony cameras popular? We asked how likely customers were to recommend them to their friends.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access

Head to our bridge camera reviews

Know which bridge camera brand you want? Use the links to go straight to our reviews and find your ideal model:

 How we calculate the best and worst brands

Every year we survey thousands of bridge camera owners, asking how satisfied they are with their bridge camera and how likely they would be to recommend it to a friend. We also track faults, taking into account when these issues occurred and how severe they are. We use this data to create customer and reliability scores for the most popular bridge camera brands.

Our reliability surveys, combined with our extensive lab tests, mean we can recommend the best bridge camera you should buy.

This data is crucial for our testing, too. If a brand falls far below the category average, we take away the manufacturer’s Best Buys and won’t recommend any of their products unless a marked improvement in reliability is shown.

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