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Bridge Camera versus Proper DSLR

Prefer A DSLR

1. Because you want the choice of using multiple different types of lenses, whether it be Fish Eye lenses, Macro lenses, or various Zoom or Telephoto lenses (perhaps you don’t need anything more than 100-200mm, for doing a mix of portrait photos and general photos of all sorts of subjects; or, maybe you intend to photograph wild animals in their natural habitat, in which case you’ll want maybe a 400-600mm lens or longer, so you can stay hidden and capture the animals totally at ease, without spooking them).

2. Because you want good performance in low light conditions. Larger sensors off this, especially Full Frame digital sensors, which are the equivalent of 35mm film cameras. At the time of writing (March 2016), a 1-inch sensor was the largest most Bridge Cameras offered, and this was a problem for the FZ1000, which didn’t perform all that well in low light; even the Panasonic GH4, with its slightly larger Micro Four Thirds sensor, wasn’t the best performer in low light situations. So, Bridge Cameras aren’t going to be a good choice if you think you may be taking photos in conditions where natural light isn’t adequate.

3. Because you’re thinking of moving up to a DSLR, anyway, at some point. In hindsight, I should have put my money straight into purchasing a proper DSLR, like the Panasonic GH4 I now own, rather than going for the intermediate choice of buying Panasonic’s FZ1000 Bridge Camera. This camera has all the features of a proper DSLR, and I still had to learn how to use them. But, once I’d mastered these features, it wasn’t long before I found I was needing more than the camera could offer – either a longer or wider focal length from the lens, or a narrower aperture to get everything into clear focus (the FZ1000 has an aperture limit of f8; a lot of times, I really could have done with f11, f16 or f22, but I didn’t have that option on the FZ1000 and wasn’t able to switch lenses to solve the problem (the clearest photos were often tantalizingly out of reach of the FZ1000, for a number of situations in which I found myself). After only a year of using the FZ1000, which cost me just under £800 (US$1,150 approx.), I was forced to either accept the limitations of the FZ1000, or dip into my piggy bank and pay a further couple of grand, for a proper DSLR (plus a couple of lenses to get me the range that I had with the single lens system on the FZ1000). If I’d have gone straight for the Panasonic GH4, I would either have saved myself 800 quid, or been able to invest that into an extra lens. In hindsight, knowing what I now know about using the main DSLR features, I wouldn’t have purchased the FZ1000; I would have gone straight for a proper DSLR.

Prefer A Bridge Camera

1. Because you’re a casual photographer or may be traveling a lot and don’t want to be burdened by multiple lenses; yet you still want to have a quality camera that can take pretty decent photos. Bridge Cameras, particular those with lens systems that offer a variety of zoom ranges, from wide angle to telephoto, are great, because you can take with you a decent range of lenses in a single camera. Camera’s like the Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony’s RX10 offer DSLR-like performance and image creating technology in an all-in-one package.

This is really the sole, main reason to purchase a Bridge Camera – the convenience of not having to fuss about extra lenses, yet still having a sophisticated image creation machine to take high quality photos. Even as camera technology advances, the FZ1000 will still be a very good, high end camera for the keen photographer. In early 2016, I had another look at the price of this camera, and discovered you can get one brand new for under £500 (US$720, approx.); these good quality cameras are becoming ever more affordable.