In 2004 I bought a Nikon Coolpix 8700, which was one of a flurry of ‘Bridge camera’ releases by various manufacturers that year. That segment of camera wasn’t new, but was taking off in a much bigger way than ever before. How you exactly define a Bridge camera isn’t an exact science. There are differing opinions. The loosest, but most accurate, definition is ‘a camera that bridges the gap between a DSLR and a point and shoot camera’.
I prefer to think of Bridge cameras as being advanced, high end units with full manual control, superzoom lenses, and a DSLR styled body. Some people might agree with me. Others, who would want to include cameras such as the Canon G11 in the Bridge category, won’t agree with me. It doesn’t really matter.
The Nikon 8700 I bought, and it’s rivals, had reasonable success. But for a while it looked like the category would die out. The 8700 was released at a time when DSLR’s cost a bomb and a Bridge camera made a good value alternative. With the decrease in DSLR sizes and prices, the death of the Bridge camera was widely predicted. And yet, a couple of years ago, there was an explosion of new models. Nikon even managed to finally bring out a successor to the 8700/8800 with the P80.
I happen to like Bridge cameras. Ultimately, a DSLR is a better camera with substantially better image quality. But a Bridge camera has it’s advantages. It’s usually smaller. And lighter. And it comes with a fabulous lens with ranges these days of 25mm-600mm or better. And it’s much cheaper.
Before anyone pipes up that you can get a DSLR to match the Bridge camera for less than the camera I’m going to mention in a moment – I’d just like to point out that actually, you can’t. Not with the lenses needed to match the range of the new Panasonic included in the price, anyway. So there. And much as I’d love a DSLR, I have my budget!
Anyway, what was I saying. I like Bridge cameras. I owned a Nikon 8700 for four years. Earlier this year I bought a Panasonic FZ35. And a couple of weeks ago I replaced that with the new Fuji HS10. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned all this. But I have camera lust once again. Panasonic have just announced a handful of new cameras, including two new Bridge cameras.
The FZ40 (FZ45 in some markets) is the direct replacement of the FZ35. But what really tickles my fancy is the FZ100. It’s an FZ40 on drugs. With ‘Go Faster’ stripes. I wish it had a zoom and manual focus ring, which I have on my Fuji. It doesn’t, but it does have some killer features of its own.
Starting with an all new 14mp MOS sensor using tech derived from Panasonic’s high end MFT range. Then there is the top quality 460k variable angle 3″ LCD screen. I like. You can attach an external microphone, and that is a serious plus – I like taking videos. Talking of videos, full 1080p HD video is there. The lens has grown to 24x, and there are some impressive fps figures. Plus lots more.
I have camera lust indeed. Now to find someone in Mexico who wants to buy my Fuji HS10! Maybe. I’ll have to think about it! I have time. It won’t hit the shelves for another month or so.