Ultra-zoom, point-and-shoot compact cameras comprise a vibrant and enduring niche because they appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers. From casual shooters to serious enthusiasts—and even some pros—these all-around imaging tools have appeal.
Bridge cameras combine the convenience and simplicity of P&S operation with the high performance of full-system cameras. They allow shooters to capture everything from the widest landscapes to dynamic close-ups in precise detail—all without changing lenses.
Along with long-zoom integrated lenses, the most sophisticated models offer advanced feature sets that include Wi-Fi and NFC (near field communication) connectivity, 4K UHD or Full HD video capability, and advanced autofocus (AF) and autoexposure (AE) systems. They also feature high-res, tilting touch-screen LCDs, multi-axis image stabilization and OLED electronic viewfinders (EVFs).
These compacts are responsive, satisfying to use and deliver impressive imaging performance, even at high ISOs. Some provide really long zoom ratios—up to an astonishing 83x—rapid burst rates of 5–10 frames per sec and beyond, plus large sensors. With the form factor and feel of compact DSLRs, the models detailed here all deliver a fulfilling shooting experience and impressive real-world performance sufficient to meet the needs of your most demanding customers.
While the number of manufacturers competing in the long-zoom camera space has dwindled somewhat over the past few years, it’s notable that three of the cameras detailed here have 1-inch image sensors in lieu of the once nearly universal 1/2.3-inch sensors. And nearly half provide 4K UHD video capture at 30 fps or higher. These are clear signs that the target audience for ultra-zoom cameras is becoming more sophisticated, and manufacturers are responding with models offering higher image quality, particularly in low light, and greater image control, especially over creative use of depth of field. These technical trends should accelerate going forward.
Moreover, any of the models we’ve selected can provide an excellent backup to an enthusiast’s DSLR or mirrorless system. They’re even a viable option for serious shooters who want to travel light while seeing the sights.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV
The flagship of Sony’s RX10 line of DSLR-styled, long-zoom cameras, this is a beautifully contoured, high-performance machine. It features a large 1-inch, 20.1 megapixel Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor integrated with a Bionz X image processor and a new front-end LSI. Its 25x, Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24–600mm f/2.4–4* zoom lens delivers outstanding speed, versatility and image quality. The lens employs a super ED (extra-low dispersion) glass element and ED aspherical lenses to minimize aberrations. In addition, the Zeiss T* coating combats flare and ghosting. Plus, triple lens rings for aperture, zoom and focus are provided, with a quiet, smooth option for the aperture ring that’s geared for video.
The RX10 IV boasts an impressive autofocus acquisition time of 0.03 second. It captures 4K UHD video at 30 fps and Full HD 1080 video at 120 fps. It provides sensitivity settings to ISO 25,600 and incorporates an ultrafast hybrid AF system with 315 phase-detection points. This enables a 24-fps, full-res burst rate with full-time AE/AF. Other key features include: Optical SteadyShot image stabilization (IS) with 4.5 steps of shutter speed improvement; a 2.35M-dot OLED EVF; a 3-inch, 1.44M-dot, tilting touch LCD; the ability to save 8MP stills while recording video; moisture resistance; and built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth. $1,700. sony.com
Canon PowerShot G 3X
This robust, ruggedly handsome member of Canon’s acclaimed, premium G series has traditional ring, wheel and dial controls. It incorporates a 1-inch, 20.2MP high-sensitivity CMOS sensor coupled to an advanced Digic 6 image processor. This high-performance combo delivers sensitivity settings to ISO 12,800, a maximum continuous full-res burst rate of 5.9 fps, high-speed 31-point autofocus and Full HD 1080p video capture at 60 fps.
Its impressive 25x, 24–600mm f/2.8–5.6 lens has built-in optical image stabilization to minimize the effects of camera shake, even at the tele end. In addition, the lens’s 9-blade aperture diaphragm produces pleasing circular background blur. Other features include: a 3.2-inch, 1.62M-dot, tilting touch-screen LCD; an HDMI output port; and built-in one-button sharing with Wi-Fi connectivity and NFC. $999.99. usa.canon.com
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500
Boldly styled to resemble a high-end DSLR, this high-spec, long-zoom compact features a 1-inch, 20.1MP High Sensitivity MOS sensor. It boasts a 20x, Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 24–600mm f/2.8–4.5 optical zoom lens along with built-in ND filters that let users set four levels of neutral density. Plus, seamless iris control is achieved with a nine-blade diaphragm and galvanometer-type actuator.
The Lumix FZ2500 can capture pro-quality 4K DCI (4,096×2,160) video at 24 fps, 4K UHD video at 30 and a true 24 fps as well as 25 fps with a high bit rate of 100Mbps. It can also upload video while recording via an optional Micro HDMI cable. Its contrast-based AF system features DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology, resulting in AF acquisition in just 0.09 sec. It can also capture bursts of 12 fps (in AFS mode) for a maximum of 100 JPEG or 30 RAW images. Its .074x OLED LVF (live viewfinder) displays images at 2.36M-dot resolution, and the camera also has a free-angle, 3-inch, 1.04M-dot touch-control monitor and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. $999.99. panasonic.com
Nikon Coolpix P900
This crisply styled, super-telephoto compact continues to sit at the pinnacle of its class. This is due to its incredible 83x zoom ratio, 24–2,000mm f/2.8–6.5 Zoom-Nikkor Super ED VR lens. The lens will fill the frame with subjects hardly visible to the shooter. And it also provides built-in dual-detect optical vibration reduction (VR) that provides a 5-stop advantage in minimizing the effects of camera shake.
In addition, to keep a subject in sight while zooming in, users can press the P900’s snap-back zoom button for a quick zoomed-out view. Once they find the subject, they can release the button and the P900 will zoom right back in. Adding to its impressive full feature set, the P&S also offers 166x dynamic fine zoom and 332x digital zoom, effectively quadrupling its optical zoom range.
The P900 has a 3-inch, 921K-dot, vari-angle LCD screen as well as an eye-level EVF. At the camera’s core is a 1/2.3-inch, 16MP CMOS sensor that captures Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps, as well as full-res still images at a 7-fps burst rate. Other features include: full auto and manual exposure control; sensitivity settings up to ISO 12,800 in extended mode; built-in Wi-Fi and NFC; plus GPS. $699.95. nikonusa.com
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX90V
This slim, stylish compact delivers high-speed operation and excellent imaging performance by virtue of its 30x, Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24–720mm f/3.5–6.4 lens with 60x digital zoom. The lens uses Zeiss T* multilayer, antireflective coating to effectively eliminate surface ghosting. It’s also coupled to an 18.2MP BSI (backside-illuminated) CMOS sensor and a state-of-the-art Bionz X image sensor.
The point and shoot also offers a 638K-dot, pop-up OLED Tru-Finder EVF plus a 180º tilting, 3-inch, 921K-dot LCD. It achieves Full HD 1080p video capture at 60p, 60i and 24p. And it incorporates 5-axis Optical SteadyShot hybrid image stabilization that works for both stills and video. Other features include: built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS; a maximum burst rate of 10 fps for 10 frames; and the ability to view 4K still images on a compatible TV via HDMI output. $449.99. sony.com
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS
The SX60 HS sports the longest zoom in the PowerShot line. The compact, DSLR-style all-in-one employs an extremely respectable 65x, 21–1,365mm ultrawide-to-super-telephoto zoom lens with intelligent IS. The system provides eight different automatically applied stabilization modes to suit various shooting situations.
Plus, with a press of one button, its zoom-framing assist function automatically has the camera zoom in and out to keep the subject in the frame while using extreme telephoto focal lengths. Additionally, a zoom memory function lets users save a zoom position and return to it immediately when the camera is powered on. They can also save a manual focus position.
The camera incorporates a 16.1MP High Sensitivity CMOS sensor integrated with an advanced Digic 6 processor to produce Full HD 1080p video at 60 fps, high-speed AF, and a maximum 6.4-fps, full-res burst rate. Canon’s HS (high sensitivity) system optimizes accurate color and fine detail in low light. Other features include: JPEG and RAW file options; a 922K-dot EVF; a 3-inch, 922K-dot, vari-angle LCD; and built-in Wi-Fi with NFC. $549.99. usa.canon.com
Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80
This cleanly styled, all-around P&S employs an ultra-long 60x, Lumix DC Vario 20–1,200mm f/2.8–5.9 ultrawide-angle lens. The camera’s impressive multimedia capabilities include 4K UHD video recording at 30 fps, a 10-fps full-res still burst rate and 8MP still image grabs at up to 30 fps in 4K photo mode. The FZ80 achieves an AF speed of 0.09 sec, and this benefit increases as the focal length grows.
Other key features include: an 18.1MP, 1/2.3-inch High Sensitivity MOS sensor; a 1.17M-dot, eye-level EVF; and a 3-inch, 1.04M-dot, touch-screen LCD monitor. Its DFD (Depth from Defocus) autofocus system enhances continuous AF and tracking performance, while post-focus and focus-stacking functions shift focus points for enhanced control over depth of field. Plus, Power OIS with active mode minimizes the effects of camera shake, even during video recording. The FZ80 also provides Wi-Fi connectivity, a pop-up flash and a hot shoe to attach optional accessories. $399.99. panasonic.com
Nikon Coolpix B700
This high-spec DSLR-type long-zoom entry features a 20.2MP, 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS sensor. Its 60x, 24–1,440mm f/3.3–6.5 Zoom-Nikkor ED glass lens benefits from five ED glass elements for enhanced definition. Nikon’s dynamic fine zoom function, an enhanced digital zoom, effectively doubles that reach for a whopping 120x zoom without loss of image quality.
The B700’s advanced sensor and processor deliver a continuous full-res RAW burst rate of 5 fps, 4K UHD video capture at 30 fps and sensitivities up to ISO 3,200 to facilitate low-light work. Complementing this is a combined dual-detect, 5-axis optical and digital image stabilization system that minimizes the effects of camera shake.
Nikon’s SnapBridge with built-in Wi-Fi, NFC plus BLE (Bluetooth low energy) assures connectivity for image storing and sharing. The B700 also incorporates a high-resolution, eye-level EVF plus a 3-inch, 921K-dot, variable-angle LCD. Other features are: RAW image capture; a PASM mode dial; a full range of creative mode options; an HDMI port; and a large grip for enhanced shooting stability. $449.95. nikonusa.com
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V
A top-tier model in Sony’s ultra-zoom lineup, this curvaceous DSLR-styled camera employs a high-res, state-of-the-art 20.4MP, 1/2.3-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor and Bionz X image processor. At its heart is a 50x, 24–1,200mm f/2.8–6.3 Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with a 100x clear image zoom function. It also provides Optical SteadyShot image stabilization with intelligent active mode for minimizing blur when moving while shooting video.
A 3-inch, 921K-dot LCD monitor is complemented by an eye-level EVF. The HX400V can shoot continuous full-res bursts at 10 fps as well as record Full HD video at 60p and cinematic 24p. Plus, lock-on AF uses multiple points with subject recognition to keep moving subjects in focus. Other key specs also include: built-in Wi-Fi/NFC; GPS; intelligent sweep panorama mode; ISO 100–12,800 settings; and a built-in hot shoe. $399.99. sony.com
Canon PowerShot SX540 HS
An upgraded version of Canon’s acclaimed 50x zoom, all-in-one compact, the SX540 HS has a higher-res 20.3MP, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that works with an advanced Digic 6 processor. The camera provides an impressive 24–1,200mm focal length range, delivering notable advances in image quality as well as responsiveness. And its improved zoom framing-assist function makes capturing faraway subjects easier with a “lock” feature. Hold the button and the camera zooms out to include a wider view to more easily locate moving subjects; release the button and the lens returns to its original zoom position, keeping the subject in focus.
It also offers Full HD 1080p video capture at 60/30 fps, a continuous 5.9-fps, full-res burst rate and sensitivity settings to ISO 3,200 for improved low-light performance. A 3-inch, 461K-dot, touch-screen LCD lets users compose, navigate menus and review content. Another feature is intelligent image stabilization with panning IS, macro (hybrid) IS and active tripod IS settings. Moreover, there’s a cool hybrid auto mode that records four seconds of video prior to taking a photo, then automatically combines the still and video imagery into a short video recap. $399.99. usa.canon.com
* All focal length ranges are in 35mm equivalents.