This post is also available in: Deutsch
As the name suggests, bridge cameras bridge the gap between two design principles: They combine the features of SLR cameras and compact cameras in terms of equipment, functions and quality features. They are significantly larger than compact cameras and at the same time offer a feel that is very similar to that of DSLRs.
Like compact cameras, bridge cameras have built-in lenses. The sensor is smaller than with the DSLR, which is why bridge cameras are usually equipped with compact and fast lenses. Since the lens cannot be changed, the image sensor hardly gets dirty, if at all. In addition, no stray light can fall on the sensor and interfere with the camera’s automatic exposure, because the bridge camera works without a mirror. However, the small sensor can have a negative effect on the image quality: Particularly in poor lighting conditions, the sharpness of detail can be impaired and image noise can increase.
The zoom lenses of bridge cameras are comparatively strong and have a large focal length range. However, the image design properties are reduced compared to SLR cameras with special lenses: The focal length range usually does not extend to the extreme wide angle. Even the image quality in macro mode is usually only limited.
With most bridge cameras, values for the f-number, shutter speed and light sensitivity can be set manually. The camera zoom is often operated directly via the adjustment ring on the lens. Many modern bridge cameras offer a possibility for optical image stabilisation to compensate for camera shake. Most bridge cameras also have an electronic viewfinder that allows the brightness of the image to be assessed beforehand. Finally, the camera electronics are usually able to automatically correct certain aberrations of the lens at different apertures and focal lengths.
Bridge cameras are often referred to as “prosumers” because they have features of both professional and consumer cameras. Compared to a DSLR, a bridge camera is more compact and handier. At the same time, it lacks the versatility and flexibility provided by interchangeable lenses.
Nevertheless, the bridge camera is ideally suited for most applications: Its powerful optical zoom and image quality are clearly superior to those of a compact camera. Due to the lack of a mirror mechanism, the camera operates almost noiselessly, which is advantageous in noise-sensitive environments. Bridge cameras are usually lighter and cheaper than SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses, but offer an extended range of functions compared to compact cameras. They are therefore particularly suitable for ambitious amateur photographers and beginners.