Amateur: Compact or 'Bridge'?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Fed, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. Fed macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2012
    In a thread not long ago, I passively asked for opinions on this Panasonic compact camera. At the time it was recommended and seemed the perfect fit for me. I'm not a photographer and certainly have no intentions of ever being one. However I'm just fed up of taking poor pictures on my iPhone and would like to make better ones. In these endeavours, I'll be purchasing Apple's Aperture to help with the editing/organising of photographs and a decent camera to snap the moments. In the next month I will finally take the plunge.

    I'm not sure if people will agree, but it seems if you accept a larger form factor i.e. bridge camera, you get more for your money? As I plan on keeping it for a while, I am prepared to sacrifice the size of a compact for the slightly larger bridge camera. But I'm having troubles picking one at the minute. Could anyone recommend a bridge camera for £300 (give or take)? Or do you just think stick with the compact? I just slightly resent paying extra for a smaller form factor. Generally speaking, will a bridge take better quality pictures?
  2. steveash macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2008
    If you want to take all your pictures in fully automatic mode and don't want to mess around with technical features then you are probably best sticking with a good compact. Bridge cameras don't add much in the way of image quality because they still have the same small sensors as compacts. The only benefit is more manual controls and perhaps a slightly better lens with a longer zoom range.

    If you opt for a camera with a larger sensor like a Micro 4/3 camera or Canon's G1X you will see an improvement in image quality but it may cost more than you are willing to pay.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    If you want better image quality then you'll need to move out of the Point and Shoot category and go with a camera that has a larger sensor.

    I'd consider the Nikon J1 or V1, it has a larger sensor then point and shoots but smaller then its mirrorless competitors (micro 4/3 and sony nex cameras). Its marketed towards people who don't want to mess with settings but desire better image quality.

    I'd say go with a micro 4/3 camera such as Panasonic GF3 or the new GF5 (going with the GF3 will be less expensive since the GF5 is so new)
  4. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    I would stick with Canon or Nikon. You will have the largest set of hardware accessories, compatible software applications, plugins, support..etc.
  5. mulo macrumors 68020


    Aug 22, 2010
    Behind you
    sony nex-3 300 quib give or take, and add a lens or two of your choice.
    lenses range from cheap to bloody expensive.

    oh and its APS-C, next stop after that is FF which you wont get in any sort of compactish camera.

    in regards to the "stick with canon and nikon blah" it accepts both brands lenses via adaptors
  6. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    You won't necessarily get "more" in terms of image quality.

    You still get a relatively small sensor and sometimes you get slower glass than in a more compact camera. For example: the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX48 has a max aperture of f/2.8-5.2 (which isn't terrible, but isn't great), yet the more compact Olympus XZ-1 (not a bridge camera) offers an improved f/1.8-2.5.

    Personally I don't understand the appeal of bridge cameras. If you just want a big zoom - then fine - they are useful.

    But otherwise a compact point and shoot will take just as good or better pictures.

    And then a entry level compact system camera will be capable of taking better pictures than any bridge camera, despite being similarly priced and as compact (or in some cases even more compact).

    Jessops (UK Camera store) have hefty discounts on all the Olympus PEN range of Micro Four Thirds system cameras. Yes (you guessed it) that is because replacements are coming in a few weeks - but it doesn't change the fact that the current generation are good cameras.

    The Olympus PEN Lite (E-PL3) (with kit lens) is now £299.00 (within your budget). If you want to go a model down, they have the PEN Mini for the same £299.00 (but you get an additional lens). And if you want to go under budget - they have the PEN Mini with just the kit lens for £229.00.

    I've linked to the black models, because cameras should be black, but they have purple or brown if you want!

    All three of these options will give you better results than a Bridge camera in nearly all conditions.

    Whilst the lenses might be smaller (a consequence of the relatively small 1" sensor) I wouldn't say the 1 Series are more compact. The V1 is bigger than most of the NEX range (despite those being APS-C). The J1 is a bit smaller - but not smaller than a PEN Mini or GF-3.
  7. rickvanr macrumors 68040


    Apr 10, 2002
    Buy an entry level DSLR with kit lens, they're small and in terms of image quality, will be leaps and bounds better then any P&S.

    Even the best P&S cameras are no where close
  8. Fed thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2012
    Thanks for all of the very useful replies so far. I'm immersed in camera-related research at the minute and found this. Can anyone provide a comment on the price and quality? I've never really opted for Sony products in the past and have absolutely no idea of their camera reputation compared to the likes of Canon and Nikon.
  9. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    I think you can do better for your money.

    Also compare the size to the NEX 5R - it is quite big.

    Sony are leaders in digital imaging sensors. Their camera sensors are used by Nikon, Leica, Olympus, Pentax, Panasonic.
  10. Fed thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2012
    I will head to Jessops over the weekend and try out a few of the cameras. Out of curiosity, one of the problems I kept reading about the TZ30 was that it doesn't contrast the sky very well. There is one reason that hails it the whole way through and then says "In overcast it takes brilliant pictures, but in direct sunlight the sky just comes off as a solid white". Though other reviews disagree (some state the opposite), is this something that can be fixed with something like Aperture in post-processing? Or is it just a limitation of the much smaller sensors in compacts?

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