In an age when smart phones have become the camera of choice, bridge cameras have largely been put aside and forgotten. And why not? The phone camera is simple to operate, pocket-able, and captures moments that can quickly be shared to social media. Plus. phone cameras have come a long way– I am always impressed with the capabilities of my Samsung S-8. The camera produces some impressive images. I understand the utility of a camera phone.
So, why bother with another camera? Below, I will provide five reasons to do just that: own a quality-made bridge camera. But first, it is worth explaining what a bridge camera is. A bridge camera is a hybrid– meaning it is a simple point and shoot camera, with many of the same features found on digital SLR’s. This equals versatility. The user can simply use the camera in automatic, or in manual mode (where the user is in charge of ISO, f-stop, shutter speed etc…). And, many bridge cameras offer a decent zoom lens, adding to the versatility of the camera.
Benefits of a Bridge Camera
Often times, the quality of the lens on a bridge camera far exceeds that of a phone lens (in a majority of cases). While megapixels factor into a nice image, a quality lens has more impact on the quality of the final image. Plus, a bridge camera lens, when zoomed in, produces much nicer images. In many phone cameras, the zoom feature of the lens is digitally rendered. Unlike a bridge camera, where the zoom feature is optical.
Secondly, a bridge camera offers superior image quality. Yes, an image viewed from a phone screen will appear superb–but when viewed on a larger screen, the difference between a bridge camera and a phone camera’s image quality will become evident. Even low-quality images appear top-notch.
Many factors influence image quality, such as exposure settings, available light, lens quality, and of course, the size of the sensor. Generally speaking, a larger sensor will perform better than a smaller sensor. A typical sensor for a bridge camera is approximately twice that of a phone camera sensor. Visit the link at the bottom of the page for a visual representation of sensor sizes.
Third, a quality-made bridge camera provides an array of exposure adjustments. As mentioned above, control over the exposure can enhance the quality of the image– given a firm understanding of manual exposure dynamics. For example, if the subject is a landscape, the shutter speed can be reduced, the f-stop adjusted to around 11-16, and a low ISO can be selected. And even better, the focus can be set to infinity. For low-light images, set a low shutter speed and use a tripod.
Quality of Prints
Ever order large prints, excitedly open the envelope, and frown in dismay when you see that the prints are quite grainy? Or, perhaps not as they appeared on the screen of your phone? This is often the case with pictures printed from camera phone image files (again, some exceptions apply). But with files from a quality-made bridge camera, images can be printed quite large with no major loss in image quality.
It is worth noting that the print shop can also be a factor in the quality of printed images, no matter the type of camera used. A $5,000.00 camera can produce gorgeous images on a screen, but if the print shop is not up to the task, the images will be largely average.
TIP: If unsure about the quality of a print shop, order only a few prints if you are planning on having a large quantity of pictures printed. This way, money is saved by not having all the pictures printed if the end product is not satisfactory.
Freedom from the Phone
Finally, a quality-made bridge camera has another benefit: no distracting text messages or social media breaks while out amidst the boundless beauty of the natural world. Even I am guilty of this. With a bridge camera, you take the picture, and continue on exploring. How wonderful is that? Though keep the phone packed away as a back-up, just in case. Nothing is worst than missing a shot.
The following images display the capabilities of the Kodak P-880. Images were captured using various filters (polarizers, neutral density, skylight) and exposure settings.
Bridge cameras, though a bit larger than a phone camera, offer the user versatility not to be found in a majority of camera phones. In fact, I often times find myself reaching for a bridge camera (instead of a Nikon D-SLR) before any foray into the wilderness. The versatility of a bridge camera, in my opinion, is unmatched, especially when it comes to landscape and nature photography.
*Link to sensor size chart:
*I am in no way affiliated, paid or sponsored by the Kodak Company: I have grown to trust and appreciate the performance of the camera through extensive use.