120studio.com
June 2014 / updated October 2014



If your idea of "safari" involves more than cruising along a fenced-in area like this, you might need a bridge camera.
I took this photo with a camera having only 4x optical zoom.

Intro

You may have seen my Bridge Cameras article.   I decided to do a further comparison of features between several bridge cameras.   Not all of these cameras were introduced in 2014, but as of the time I write this, all are still available.

This should help you choose a bridge camera for your next holiday, safari, or other trip.


Canon SX50 HS     
Canon SX60 HS
Fuji HS50EXR
Fuji Finepix S1
Olympus SP100  
Panasonic DMC-FZ200
Samsung WB2200F 
Sony  HX400V/B   
AA batteries?
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
No
Aperture (max.)
f/3.4-6.5
f/3.4-6.5
f/2.8-5.6
f/2.8-5.6
f/2.9-6.5
f/2.8
f/2.8-5.9
f/2.8-6.3
Battery Charges Outside Camera?
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Burst fps
13

11
10
7
12
8
10
Custom modes on dial
Yes  (x2)
Yes  (x2)
Yes  (x1)
Yes  (x1)
No
Yes  (x2)
No
Yes  (x2)
Flash Hotshoe
Yes
Yes

Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
LCD swings or tilts out?
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
Manual Focus
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes*
Yes
Yes
Multi-Frame Noise Reduction
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
Yes
Panorama built-in mode
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
RAW capture
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
Resolution (megapixels)
12
16
16
16
16
12
16
20
Sensor Size
1/2.3"
1/2.3"
1/2"
1/2.3"
1/2.3"1/2.3"
1/2.3"
1/2.3"
Video framerate @ 1080p (max)
24
60
60
60
60
60
30
60
Video resolution (max.)
1080
1080
1080
1080
1080
1080
1080
1080
Weather Resistant
No
No
No
Yes
No
No
No
No
Zoom (max. optical)
50x
65x
42x
50x
50x
24x
60x (but goes wider, not longer)
50x
SPECIAL NOTES:
Best color rendition, good battery life.  EVF not so great.
Greatest optical zoom  currently on market
Excellent battery life
The only weatherproof bridge camera
Special viewfinder for tracking subjects
Best video, fastest lens (f/2.8 constant)
Dual grip, excellent battery life


Canon SX50 HS
Canon SX60 HS
Fuji HS50EXR
Fuji Finepix S1
Olympus SP100
Panasonic DMC-FZ200
Samsung WB2200F
Sony HX400


* the FZ200's manual focus is quirky and rather inconvenient to operate.


Comments: 

I like AA batteries in a bridge camera, but that's not strictly necessary anymore.  Nowadays, the Lithium / Li-ion battery packs are so good that you can shoot for a long time without having to recharge.  If you're going on a trip out into the boondocks, just make sure you buy a spare battery pack for your camera.  Charge it up right before you go out into the bush.   Or, bring a power inverter like this one and charge the battery packs in the vehicle while you're on safari.  Note that some cameras don't let you charge the batteries outside the camera.  (That's another reason why I like the Canon SX50... removable battery, external charger.)

The new Olympus SP100 (available here) and the Sony HX400 (available here) remarkably good detail sharpness at low ISO.   (Avoid the Sony H400, which has a CCD sensor rather than the EXMOR CMOS that's in the HX400.)   The Olympus images are just a bit cleaner-looking than the Sony, thanks to noise reduction, whereas the Sony images are sharper but have a bit more noise.   (Note that some people find the Olympus images a bit too "waxy" in appearance.)

Another one with great detail sharpness is the Panasonic DMC-FZ200 (get it here;  full review here). 

Of these three, I think I like the Panasonic image quality the best.  (Yes I'll stop dragging my feet and get the FZ200 review done...  OK, here it is.)

It comes down to preference, because some people notice luma noise very easily, while others notice the smeared details that can occur with noise reduction.  It all depends on what you're used to looking at. 

Olympus describes the SP100 images as "DSLR-quality" even in their ads.  At low ISO in daylight, this might be true.  As usual, the small sensors have their limitations, though.

It's too bad the Sony HX400 and the Olympus SP100 both lack RAW format.   The Olympus furthermore lacks a flash hotshoe.   If you're into sunsets or anything else with large expanses of sky, the Canon, Fuji, and Panasonic offerings are the way to go here.   Of the Fuji offerings, I simply cannot abide a camera that lacks manual focus. 

Based on those criteria, that narrows it down to three top choices...

...the Canon SX50 (or the new SX60);  the Panasonic FZ200;  and the Fuji HS50EXR.   The HS50EXR is now being discontinued, so that narrows down to the SX50 and the FZ200.

Oh, one more thing.  I very much wanted to like the Samsung WB2200F.  Its battery grip design is really neat, and battery grips help for practical shooting.  However, from what I've seen the WB2200F is not as good as the SX50 in terms of image sharpness.   That's significant, because the SX50 has been outdone in low-ISO detail sharpness.  So if a camera is not as good as the SX50, I would generally skip it unless it has some feature I really wanted.

The one area where you might want the WB2200F is if you do a lot of wide-angle shots.  It has the widest lens of any of them, with a "35mm zoom equivalent" of only 20mm.   By any account the WB2200F is not a bad camera, but it does lack several of the key "pro features" that I'd want in a bridge camera.  If they made it with RAW, a flash hotshoe, and C1 / C2 modes on the dial, it would be a whole lot better.

Maybe Samsung could come out with these features in a WB3300F... and keep that battery grip idea. 



Is Canon Still the Best?

The Canon SX50 HS actually does not have the best detail rendition at low ISO.   The Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic offerings are somewhat better in that category. 

But let's not jump to conclusions just yet.  The Canon SX50 still has the best overall image quality.   

Say what?  Didn't I just get done saying it's not the sharpest anymore? 

Yes, but it's more than offset by Canon's better signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range.  Furthermore, Canon has always had the best colors, as far as I'm concerned.  I've felt this way about Canon since well before my wife dropped one of her early Canon point-n-shoots down Stone Mountain and we helplessly watched it tumble down the rock face.  (It was replaced with... a Canon.)

That's why I'd still say the Canon SX50 is probably the best all-around bridge camera for the money.  Its ability to use Canon Speedlites is a huge plus, in my opinion. 

Get your Canon SX50 through this link and it really helps me out.  Or, go for the new Canon SX60 if you want even greater optical zoom.


My Canon SX50 Photo Gallery

The thing is, it's a close contest overall.   Just about any of the other offerings could be exactly what you need.  Just look through the feature sets, decide what you want to do with the camera, and pick the one that fits.  Easy!



So, Which Camera?

Just to re-cap:  I still like the Canon SX50 HS because it has RAW format, a flash hotshoe, manual focus, 50x zoom, and probably the best color rendition of any brand.   The C1 and C2 slots on the mode dial are also a huge benefit, because you can store whole banks of settings and instantly recall them.   I'd probably go for the Canon SX50.  (If you're thinking of getting the cheaper SX510 instead, you might want to read this.) 

The new Canon SX60 HS has most of the same features of the SX50, but it also has extended optical zoom (65x).  The wide end of the range now gives a "35mm equivalent" of 21 millimeters.  Use this link to buy your Canon SX60 and it helps me keep this website on line.

For vacations, the Fuji S1 is a contender not only because it has built-in panoramic mode, but because it also happens to be weatherproof.  (Buy your Fuji S1 through this link and it helps me keep this website going.)  You probably won't need manual focus as much on vacations, but for an all-around camera I'd really like to have seen that feature included on the S1. 

If you want the best video capability and also the brightest lens of the bunch, get the Panasonic FZ200 (here).  It lacks that huge zoom power, but I rank the other features as more important for all-around use.  The FZ200 also has C1 and C2 slots on the mode dial.  These are enormously useful.  Last but certainly not least, its color rendition is almost as good as the Canon.  (Out of all the choices, the SX50 and the FZ200 are my favorites in that category.)  The Panasonic FZ200 is a very attractive choice.   While its external flashes are not quite Canon Speedlites, this one from Metz should serve you well. 




                   


If were picking just one camera for, let's say a safari (as a reader asked me), I would pick either a Canon SX50 (or SX60), a Fuji S1, or a Panasonic FZ200, depending on how close I would expect to be getting to the animals.   

Bridge cameras are still a good choice for daylight photography in 2014.  Even though they don't have the sensor size afforded by a DSLR, they make up for it by providing big zoom power at a low price.   I really wish the camera makers would start putting at least 2/3" sensors in all their bridge cameras, but until that happens, you can have a lot of fun and get some nice images with the ones that are on the market right now.



I do a lot of work to bring you articles like this one.  If you found it helpful, please help me out by purchasing your stuff through these links.  Much appreciated!

Thanks for visiting my website!








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