It’s hard to find cameras with better zooming capabilities than the Nikon Coolpix B500 in this price range, but other cameras such as the Lumix FZ80 are also great. I tested a lot of different models, and was able to pick 5 out of them. We will talk about each one in detail!
Bridge cameras are interesting choices, that act as a bridge between compact point-and-shoot models and interchangeable lens cameras, hence the name. I can comfortably say that these cameras are pretty interesting choices, especially for those that want to get into this hobby but aren’t quite sure what to expect from it. A lot of photographers I know have started with bridge cameras and when they felt comfortable in their skills went for more advanced models such as DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.
Now as far as the price of these cameras goes they are pretty affordable, however, for those that are with more limited budgets out there, I will present you the best bridge cameras under $300. All of these picks are chosen based on their performance, features, value for the price, and distinct qualities that make them excellent for you. Now without further ado, let’s get on with it.
|Panasonic LUMIX FZ80 4K|
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Best For Travel
|Nikon COOLPIX B500|
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|Canon PowerShot SX530|
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Best For Beginners
|Fujifilm FinePix S4800|
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Best Small Option
|Canon PowerShot SX420|
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The Top 5 Best Bridge Cameras Under $300
5. Canon PowerShot SX420
First off in this list we have an interesting camera, the Canon PowerShot SX420. This is a pretty affordable bridge camera that delivers great image quality in its compact DSLR styled body. It is pretty light and small and it has made some interesting improvements upon its predecessor which were received universally well. I think that this camera will do plenty of justice for every beginner photographer, let’s take a look.
The Canon PowerShot SX420 has a pretty small body despite packing 42x optical zoom, which is its main feature and the one that separates it from smartphone cameras of these days. More on that later. The Canon PowerShot SX420 weighs just 11.5 ounces in total complete with the battery and memory card. The body is also pretty ergonomic, especially the handgrip on the front which allows you to get a pretty good grip and overall with its lightweight you can operate it one-handed easily.
The controls of the Canon PowerShot SX420 are pretty basic but still extremely intuitive. Such as the zooming ring around the shutter button and the other buttons located in the back that make things easier for your needs. The camera has a display on the back, but it isn’t a touchscreen, unfortunately, but then again for this price, it is something that we can overlook.
The lens of the Canon PowerShot SX420 is its major selling point like I mentioned earlier and allows you to zoom with up to 42x times optically, which is perfect at this price. I should also mention that the lens is made out of 12 elements, pretty interesting to see when you consider its just 11.5-ounces in weight. The lens also has a built-in image stabilization system and extends up to 8 inches in maximum zoom.
The Canon PowerShot SX420 is equipped with a 1/2.3-inch CCD 20-megapixel image sensor which is pretty good when it combines with the DIGIC 4+ processing engine. Like expected from its size this sensor will deliver some good images but not so much in low light scenarios. Its ISO range spans from 100 to 1,600 at max which is unsatisfactory. However, this camera delivers some good results with its different modes that allow you to take good photographs and progress your skills.
4. Fujifilm FinePix S4800
Moving on with our list we have the Fujifilm FinePix S4800, which is a nice DSLR-like bridge camera that was produced in 2013 initially and since then it has been one of the best for those who want to dive into this hobby without spending a lot. IT has a compact body, good image quality and some nice special Fujifilm features that are our favorites a must consider for beginners.
While you wouldn’t expect a high-end feature-rich and super-speed camera at this price point, there are some things you shouldn’t sacrifice on. The most important thing about this camera is that it is pretty small as it measures about 4.8×3.66×3.94-inches, and it also weighs about 589 grams with the battery and memory card installed. I found out that it is pretty comfortable to hold even for photographers with larger hands and its ergonomics are top-notch, nothing negative to note here.
one of my favorite things about the Fujifilm FinePix S4800 is that it delivered some of the Fujifilm’s creative controls without making things very complicated and confusing. The ease of use was also one of its strong points and it has tons of modes that will make things pretty interesting overall such as the MPO and the Motion Panorama features beside everything else. The LCD is 3-inches large and it has a good resolution of 230k dots.
The Fujifilm FinePix S4800 has a pretty interesting lens that was also used in its predecessor a 30x optical zoom lens. This might not sound pretty interesting but it has a pretty wide 24mm equivalent wide-angle at its lowest and goes up to 720mm telephoto, something which not a lot of lenses can say. This lens has 17 elements which are divided into 12 groups of aspherical and extra-low dispersion elements that do their job rather well in all the intended modes, including macro and fast focus.
The Fujifilm FinePix S4800 is packed with an interesting CCD image sensor which is 16 megapixels in resolution and is of the 1/2.3-inches in size. I can confirm that this camera has a nice enough ISO range that spans from 64 to 1,600 natively but can be boosted up to 6,400 if the need arises. Like I said not the most impressive in terms of specs, but this camera can get a lot done.
3. Canon PowerShot SX530
The third entry on this list comes from Canon again, the Canon PowerShot SX530. This bridge camera despite being a budget and bridge model has som respectable specs that will make any beginner photographer happy. It has a superb sensor of the highest quality, a great zoom range, a nice amount of controls, a lightweight body, a small size, and so much more in this value-based package.
The Canon PowerShot SX530 looks like a mini Canon EOS DSLR from every angle, mostly thanks to the deep and secure handgrip that delivers exceptional ergonomics and the protruding lens. I can confirm that this camera is pretty lightweight and small as it weighs just 442 grams and measures 4.72×3.23×3.62-inches in total. Like I said it feels pretty good in hands and it is very fun to use.
The control layout of the Canon PowerShot SX530 is classic EOS, with the mode dial on top that lets you select between Auto, Scene, Aperture Priority, Shutter pRiority, Manual, and much more. The zoom toggle is also right next to the shutter button and everything in between feels pretty natural with this camera. The 3-inch display is not touch screen but it gets the job done and with the WiFi and NFC capabilities it is a joy to connect.
The Canon PowerShot SX530 has a pretty powerful 50x optical zoom that is equivalent to the wide-angle 24mm to the super-telephoto 1200mm at its most extreme. I can confirm that you will have plenty of fun with this lens as it is a joy to use. On top of that, it has clever image stabilization in the lens which eliminated blur in high-zoom ranges. It also has some interesting features such as the Framing Assist Lock that kept thinks stable on the telephoto range.
This bridge camera is packed with a 16 MP CMOS 1/2/3-inch image sensor that gets the job done in any scenario. It is also a backside-illuminated model and works rather well with the DIGIC 4+ image processing engine. The ISO range spans from 100 to 3200 natively and it delivers a great performance in low light scenarios which was pretty surprising.
2. Nikon COOLPIX B500
The runner up on this list is the Nikon COOLPIX B500, an immensely attractive bridge camera that will teach many beginner photographers about the basics of photography and deliver some excellent photographs. This camera can get a lot done with its high-resolution sensor, electronic viewfinder, a variety of modes, Full HD recording and so much more, let’s take a closer look.
When I first received this product it looked like the COOLPIX L840 which is not a bad thing. However, it had one big difference which we will talk about in a minute. It is a pretty comfortable camera to hold in the hands which is a thing that I value a lot. It is not the smallest but it is not big as well, like a miniature DSLR camera. The handgrip is pretty ergonomic and on the back, it has a thumb grip to keep things stable, no weak points here.
The big difference between this and the L840 is the new mode dial that makes things much easier for any photographer. Both in terms of efficiency and creative control, since you don’t need to access the menus and stuff to get to the modes. There is the rocker for the zoom around the shutter and the rear panel is pretty conventional as expected from Nikon. The screen has a hinge meaning you can flip it for shooting selfies and vlogging for example.
This amazing bridge camera has a 40x zoom range that spans from 22.5mm equivalent super wide to the extreme 900mm super-telephoto on the other end. While it is a little shorter than the Canon model we talked a little earlier it is still pretty good. The maximum aperture of this beast is about f/3 and it closes down to f/6.5 at full zoom, and it delivers some pretty special photographs.
The most impressive thing about the Nikon COOLPIX B500 is that it packs a 16-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, which is sized 1/2.3-inches. I can comfortably say that it works very well with the whole ISo range that spans from 80 to 3,200 natively. Low light photographs came out pretty good overall and I am quite impressed with it. Complete with the contrast-detect sensor it managed to focus very well in both normal and macro focus modes.
1. Panasonic Lumix FZ80
The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is the best bridge camera under the $300, and not just that. This camera is the most well-balanced bridge camera to ever be released as it has amazing ease of use, versatility, functionality, image quality and so much more.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 has a pretty classic DSLR shape, and it feels the part as it weighs about 616 grams in total. It doesn’t feel heavy at all, instead, it feels substantial and of the higher quality. It also has some excellent ergonomics that make you feel comfortable while holding the camera even for photographers with larger hands.
The camera has a good range controls on it, including the familiar mode dial that was in the other models in its lineup. The modes in the dial include Intelligent Auto, Creative Video, Custom, Panorama, Scene Guide, Creative Control and video, which all do their jobs to perfection. There are not a lot of buttons but it is pretty good overall. It has a nice electronic viewfinder and the 3-inch 1040k dot resolution LCD touchscreen delivers a great performance.
One of the biggest selling points of this camera is its incredible lens that has a 60x optical zoom range. Thi lens covers the scenes from an ultra-wide 20mm equivalent perspective to 1200mm super extreme telephoto range at its maximum extension which is marvelous. It delivers excellent photographs in all the range and even at the extreme zoom, it delivered exceptional quality.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 is equipped with a superb 18 megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor. It is of the 1/2.3-inch size and it has the Venus Engine image processor to deliver things to perfection. The ISO range spans from 80 to 3,200 natively and can be expanded up to 6,400. Definitely the best at this price point and maybe even if you go higher in the price range.
As you can see, each camera has its pros and cons, so in the end, you will be the decider. To get the best camera for your needs, you will first need to decide what you are going to use it for, then look at how the camera performs in that specific field.
You should also keep in mind that the lens also plays a big role when it comes to zooming. For example, my brother doesn’t own a zoom camera, but he has a Nikon D5100. He uses his zoom lens for Nikon d5100 to get bridge-camera like quality images.
What i mean by this is that you’re not limited to just bridge cameras. Go out and explore!
Camera Tester & Reviewer
I spend most of my time taking photos & videos of everything in sight. Yes, I am a stock photographer and I’ve probably taken more than 700,000 photos so far.