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Thread: Advice on Bridge v Compact

  1. #1
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    Advice on Bridge v Compact

    I have looked at a compact Sony Cyber-shot DSC HX20V which has 18.2 mp 20x zoom and 3" LCD, also a Canon Power shot G12 which has 10mp 5x zoom and 2.8 LCD. The Sony is a compact and the Canon a bridge, but it looks to my inexperienced eye that the Sony is offering more. Am I correct. I feel that a SLR would be too heavy for me, so am looking at a good all round camera to get me started. I have a very basic little point and click at the moment.

    Many thanks

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    The Canon isn't a Bridge Camera its a Prosumer Compact.

    A bridge camera looks like a baby SLR, generally has a very large zoom and a viewfinder....not all do but thats the general theme. The sensors tend to be the same size as standard compacts - tiny in other words - so their ultimate quality is limited. Where they score is the massive zooms available, there's a Canon with a 35x Optical Zoom (24-840mm) and a Nikon with a frankly astonishing 42x (22.5-1000mm) zoom.

    The G12 and stuff like the Nikon P7100, Panasonic LX-5 etc have shorter zooms of much higher optical quality, much larger sensors giving far superior quality files, can shoot RAW files and have very high build quality. They also tend to have an optical viewfinder and readily accessible manual controls. The number of pixels in a compact camera might seem back-to-front but what you want is less to achieve more quality.

    In a nutshell the bigger the pixels (larger sensor, smaller number of pixels crammed on it) the better the end result. This is why Compact System Cameras are taking over from Prosumer models as they have larger sensors and cost about the same.

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Quote Originally Posted by black pearl View Post
    The Canon isn't a Bridge Camera its a Prosumer Compact.

    A bridge camera looks like a baby SLR, generally has a very large zoom and a viewfinder....not all do but thats the general theme. The sensors tend to be the same size as standard compacts - tiny in other words - so their ultimate quality is limited. Where they score is the massive zooms available, there's a Canon with a 35x Optical Zoom (24-840mm) and a Nikon with a frankly astonishing 42x (22.5-1000mm) zoom.

    The G12 and stuff like the Nikon P7100, Panasonic LX-5 etc have shorter zooms of much higher optical quality, much larger sensors giving far superior quality files, can shoot RAW files and have very high build quality. They also tend to have an optical viewfinder and readily accessible manual controls. The number of pixels in a compact camera might seem back-to-front but what you want is less to achieve more quality.

    In a nutshell the bigger the pixels (larger sensor, smaller number of pixels crammed on it) the better the end result. This is why Compact System Cameras are taking over from Prosumer models as they have larger sensors and cost about the same.

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Thanks Black Pearl. So, given that I don't think that I want a SLR as they seem too heavy and I want something better than my Samsung P51, am a beginner, but as determined to get better, what would you suggest for me. Your previous answer just underlines how inexperienced I am. Do I go with a top of the range compact, or a bridge, and if a bridge, what am I looking for.

    Many thanks.

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Hi Frances,

    Welcome to the CiC forums from me, great to have you join with a question.

    I started with a bridge, although something like a G12 would have taught me almost as much about photography over the two years I shot with the bridge.

    The major decider for you should be what you want to shoot - if it is distant; e.g. wildlife, outdoor sports, etc. then a bridge with a longer zoom would be indicated because you really can't shoot those subjects with a lens that only goes to approx. 120mm (equivalent), you will need something that goes to 450mm or more focal length equivalent.

    If you think you'll get serious, want high quality and don't mind spending some time at a computer doing PP (Post Processing), then do try to get one that shoots RAW, even if you don't use that feature straight away.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    AND what for heavens name is a "prosumer compact"!!!!!!

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    I do think these categories are a bit confusing, and they are not used consistently among photographers which adds to the confusion.

    Here's a perhaps more simplified (probably oversimplified) way to look at things:

    1. Some cameras have interchangeable lenses, others come with a lens built in. The DSLRs have interchangeable lenses (you can put many different lenses on the same body), as do smaller cameras such as the "Micro Four-Thirds" models and the Sony NEX cameras. If you want the flexibility of interchangeable lenses and great image quality but not the weight and bulk of a DSLR, you could consider a Micro Four-Thirds or Sony NEX camera. Some people might refer to these smaller cameras as "bridges" between point and shoot and a DSLR, but the image quality from some of these cameras (like the NEX-7 from Sony) is as good or better than what you can get from many DSLRs and other cameras costing several times as much. So they could be an end point for some photographers, not just a bridge. Plus with adapters they can use most lenses available on the market today.

    2. Among the cameras with lenses built in (typically called "compact" cameras), you have a wide range of choices from simple point and shoot up to cameras designed for serious photographers. Some professionals even use these smaller cameras when they want to travel light. Here as pointed out above the main considerations are sensor size, zoom size, and the ease of full manual controls and ability to shoot in RAW.

    Probably the top of the line of these cameras right now in terms of image quality (but not zoom) is the Sony RX100. You can get photos that are nearly as good as those with a decent DSLR, but this camera can easily fit into a coat pocket. There are other very good options out there like it as well (e.g., Canon S100 and offerings from Olympus, Nikon, Panasonic, etc.). If having a long zoom is more important to you there are other models to consider, as mentioned above.

    I think a lot of it depends on what type of photography you want to do (e.g., if it's wildlife photography you want a good zoom; if you're taking photos of people in darkly lit pubs at night you want something with a large sensor, etc.).

    Also it's worth reading this article right here in CIC: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...lr-cameras.htm
    Last edited by bhurley; 19th July 2012 at 07:53 PM. Reason: added last paragraph.

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    DSC - Digital Stills Compact:
    This is your general category of compact (fits in your pocket) camera. Zooms start at 3x and tend to go up to around 10x. Most will have good auto options but limited manual control and the image quality, though fine for family snaps and day-to-day shooting, is limited.

    Superzoom:
    Next step up, will have a zoom greater than 10x - anything up to 20x on the latest 2012 models but are still just about pocketable. Quality is usually a little better as the lenses are more expensive, the processors a little more refined and they usually have a good amount of manual controls. Ultimately they are still limited by small sensors and a menu driven interface so not the ultimate photographers camera.

    Bridge:
    Categorised by their form and zoom range. They tend to be larger, have a SLR shape to them, usually have a viewfinder as well as a rear screen (not all do so caution needs to be applied in this market) and will have excellent manual controls. Zoom ranges as of today run to 42x (Nikon P510) and are becoming more and more popular with serious photographers who can't afford longer lenses for their DSLR's. For example a 800mm lens for a Canon/Nikon will set you back £10k - a Canon/Nikon Bridge camera with at least 800mm will cost a little over £300. Quality is actually no better then a Superzoom as they still have small sensors but because of the lens range available they are very popular.

    Prosumer:
    Top end compact cameras with bigger/better sensors, superb build, manual controls, very sharp lenses and the ability to shoot/record RAW files. These are the 'Photographers choice' of small camera as they offer most of the functionality of a SLR without the bulk. The category has recently split with two distinct sensor sizes appearing. You have the traditional Canon G12 and S100, Nikon P7100, Panasonic LX-5 cameras with sensors a little larger than a basic compact and the newer Canon G1x, Sony RX100, Sigma DP1x cameras with sensors very close to those in a DSLR. If you want a camera that gives you fantastic quality but don't want bulk or a bag of lenses then this is the category to look at.


    ILC/CSC/MSC - Interchangeable Lens Camera/Compact System Camera/Mirrorless System Camera:
    Created a few years ago by Panasonic and Olympus this is the fastest growing sector of the photography market. Essentially you get an interchangeable lens camera like a SLR but because they don't have a mirror, or in many cases a viewfinder, they are tiny. Sensor sizes range from fairly small in say the Nikon One system to the same size as a DSLR with the Sony NEX, Fuji X and Samsung NX systems. Lens choice can be limited compared to a DSLR system but its getting better and in most cases all the major groups are covered. More and more brands are launching in this category (look out for a Canon very, very soon) as the manufacturers have twigged that not everyone wants the bulk or complexity of a DSLR but they still want fantastic quality.



    Which category is best for you is down to what you intend to use the camera for. Don't ever be put off the smaller, cheaper ones by people (photographers and forum users) who insist that the only way to achieve a good picture is with a big camera covered in a million buttons. If your photography will head towards wildlife and you're on a limited budget then get a Bridge camera. If you want good quality but need to carry a camera around with you every day then a Superzoom could be the perfect choice. Prosumer models are great for the photography minded who want the control, expect the best lenses and will apply lots of post production so need RAW files. If you intend to take the hobby further then the CSC sector is a great starting point. Prices, sizes and features are brilliant while still being reasonable portable. Again don't be put off by the ones with smaller sensor as they will still give outstanding results but they will be much, much smaller so could be ideal if you don't want any bulk.
    Which category is best for you is ultimately down to you.

    Hope this helps.
    BP

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Personally I would say that there is no difference between bridge and super-zoom except in the case of the Canon G line which are high quality enthuisiast cameras such as the Panasonic LX5 and maybe the latest LX7. all with short zooms.

    Most of these terms seem to mean what their writer wants them to mean [ good authority for that, top NYT guru said "Words mean what I mean them to mean"]. Often when the writer is trying to dismiss cameras as beneath their dignity.

    Unless you want a camera which is largely automatic and slips in the pocket there are two main options for you. stick with the small sensored camera or move up to the intermediate M4/3. The superzoom is a small sensor camera with big to huge zoom range. I have been using them for years and they are very versatile and competant cameras but limited in low light situations.

    If you want a quality camera you could look at the latest M4/3 Panasonic G5, quite different from the Canon G range with a much bigger sensor, 60% of the APS-C DSLR, and weighing at about 350g with the kit lens. It will also work in low light with quite good result. The weight of the DSLR comes from its lenses so M4/3 is the sensible compromise ... image quality without the weight. IMO they make both the P&S and DSLR redundant except for the professional using the later. The super-zoom remains as the alternative for the person who wants reach but cannot afford the DSLR versions which cost four figures and more.

    The versatility of words is the 'pro-sumer' which I have read and applied to superzooms before they were super, entry level DSLRs, and the M4/3 camera

    If you are serious about the super-zoom then you should consider the new FZ200 from Panasonic just annouced, Panasonic leading the market again ... but unless you become a very competant worker you will need to learn to use a good editing programme which is the companion tool to the digital camera.

  10. #10
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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    As someone who sells these things every day I would say there is a difference between a superzoom and a bridge and that a Canon G series is neither. To group them all together doesn't help the OP who wants to work out what will be suitable for them.

    While boundaries do blur the basic groups still stand and they are a good way of defining what sort of camera to look for.

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Frances.

    the question you need to answer is what do you want to photograph? For instance If you want reach for wildlife then as Robin says a bridge camera is the way to go.

    The other question is do you want to be able to change lenses. Some people don't want "the hassle". If you don't then I'd lean towards a prosumer because they have the features to grow with you. e.g. ability to shoot raw, more manual controls.

    IF you want the ability to change lenses then if it was me I'd look at some of the m4/3 cameras, you can buy some of the models for cheaper than a compact. Olympus E-PM1 with 14-42 zoom under £300 for instance or the Panasonic g3 with 14-42 for £349.

    out of interest what is your budget?

    regards

    Pete

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Welcome –
    I suggest you tell us more about what it is you want to achieve – beginning with what you want to Photograph and WHY you want to photograph it.
    Also I am curious as to why you think a DSLR would be too heavy for you.
    Also how many cameras have you've played with – and what types – and what did you like and not like about them.

    WW

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Quote Originally Posted by black pearl View Post
    Hope this helps.
    BP
    A very useful and a well written overview of the categories in easy to understand terms: I've bookmarked your post for future reference.

    WW

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    The Canon is "aging" and 2 Years onto the market, and is inferior compared to the Fuji X10 (now WDS Problem resolved because of the new Sensor), it have no OVF, smaller Sensor (1/1.7" compared to 2/3" Size) also the lens is much more slower than the Fuji for instance. Sony of course isn't bad, look at their latest RX100 for example, but the Sony Cyber-shot DSC HX20V is a bad example for me - tiny Sensor, very small...huge 18 MP (!!!) -Marketing- on that small Sensor, no raw, no manual Controls...okay it's from 2012, got full HD Recording, Panorama, 3D Modes...all the latest "bling bling" features...but in terms of IQ from Stills, my old Sony R1 from 2005/6 really blows it out of the Water....and at last, no RAW, tiny Sensor (1/2.3"), not buying. No offence, that Cam might work for many ppl...but for myself it just doesn't work.

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Thank you everyone for the wealth of advice. The reason I think that a SLR would be too heavy is that I want to "grab the moment" and they would not fit into my pocket. I have tried an elderly one which somebody very kindly loaned me, and I found it a problem to lug around along with the usual gubbins us ladies carry!

    I am going out with a friend who is a "fanatic photographer" to see what the shops have to offer and I can try before I finally commit myself.

    Again, many many thanks.

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    For instance, a RX100 is very small, even smaller than the HX20V, and Canon S100, but the only "Problem" for this Quality is: you pay 650 US $ for it currently....i hope someday in 2013 it'll cost around ~500 EUR here, than it would be mine as a digicam to take everywhere.

    I'd suggest you go into a photostore and test via "try & error" what would you like personally to your preferences best, and suits your needs.

    always good light,
    marc

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Thanks for answering.
    I interpret that as mainly “People Photography”

    Then - I think that some of the main features you will need to consider are:
    physical size; weight; battery type and battery life; easy automated shooting, but still maybe with some manual control if you wish to use the camera as a (technical) learning tool; choosing whether a screen or viewfinder or both; whether you want to use a better than Pop Up Flash – and investigating what will be the benefits; would recording movies feature; choosing the typical final product (web image or print for example) – and how much time and effort you might afford to Post Production may guide as to whether the camera is capable of recording raw files, or not.

    WW

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    I am looking at a Kodak z990, also called the Kodak Max. I have had camera all my life (I am 64 years old) I even had a Fuji ST705 SLR and a black and white darkroom in the extra bedroom (now the computer room) I have had digital cameras since Nikon first came out with the coolpix 300 (Does anyone remember that one) But I have never owned a digital larger than one I could put in my pocket. I have had a great deal of fun with them, but now I am looking for more. My wife and I will be taking a cruise to Alaska in September, hence the search for a better camera.
    What is the opinions that you might have on this Kodak z990 that I am looking at?

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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    It'll be a bargain - what with Kodak going bust and the company being sold bit by bit.

    Personally I've never been a fan of Kodak digital compacts, poor image quality, sluggish with poor menus and iffy build.

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    New Member midazolam's Avatar
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    Re: Advice on Bridge v Compact

    Quote Originally Posted by black pearl View Post
    It'll be a bargain - what with Kodak going bust .
    Price is now $149 Dollars. That is part of what is tempting me. I almost bought the Nikon P510 for $400 dollars, but I just can't afford that right now.
    Larry

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