Death of the Bridge?

Mark Goldstein has a nice little article on the death of the bridge camera over at PhotographyBLOG.

I talked about the bridge camera in an earlier article. My main contention is that bridge is often better for more people, but they’re going to buy dSLR anyway.

He covers the sadness I feel and know is coming true: cheap dSLRs are going to squeeze the bridge camera out of existence and this is a bad thing for photography. Though, unlike him, I feel that the market will drive them out, not the industry. Simply put, the ideal consumer for a bridge camera is not smart enough to know it is the right for them and will buy a dSLR instead.

One comment I’d like to point out deserves counterpoint: “I guess folks like Nikon think that a D50 with an 18-200VR lens can do anything a Coolpix 8800 could do, and better. They may be right.”

This is very true, but consider that a Nikon D50 with an 18-200VR lens would cost around $1275 while a Coolpix 8700 is around $480 (B&H prices to be fair). The problem here is a lot of people who can’t spring the $1300 for this combo aren’t going to get a Coolpix 8700, they’ll either get a pocket camera or a $500 dSLR w/kit lens I mentioned in the above post. Add to this the fact that either choice will make more net money for the manufacturer than the bridge camera and you have the death of a camera.

(BTW, this is the problem with Mike Johnston’s DMD suggestion mentioned in the comments: the camera would cost over $1000 retail (APS-C sensor, 24mm f/2 prime lens, anti-shake, flip-up LCD) and the market would certainly be smaller than the Sony R1 which is the same camera delta putting a more popular zoom over the useful-but-no-consumer-would-buy 24mm f/2.)

7 thoughts on “Death of the Bridge?

  1. Interesting,
    You wrote this in 2006 and and now its 2010 and not the case. Some amazing bridge cameras have come out.
    I do understand what you are saying though as i have pondered it myself (moving to an entry SLR). But i am still happy with my bridge. I guess its just marketing hype and SLR snobs who are influencing me.

    1. @Shiv. Thanks for the comment! That’s some great observations on the current state of the bridge.

      Yes, even then, bridge cameras were outstanding, especially for the travel photographer (because of the large zoom and now the comparatively larger sensor compared to a pocket digital). Another new development is that these cameras take great video in a way an SLR cannot (you lose the “film look”, but you gain smooth action shots, and AF and AE during recording as well as IS). All this conspires to cause the bridge to rule the travel photography category.

      Still, you are seeing squeeze happening. There is now a new category: superzoom pocket digitals (granted the sensor is 1/4 of the size of the bridge cameras). And entry level SLR cameras are 4-8x the size of these bridge cameras. Sony has introduced a 1/4 sized sensor (and a couple of pocket cameras and a bridge camera that uses it) with performance as good as these bridges while Canon has put the bridge-sized sensor in two pocket cameras (G11 and S90)—although they give up zoom capability and a EVF.

      I think the category will continue to exist, the main purchasers should be those who do a lot of traveling.

  2. Affordability apart–I studied the bridge camera as a good thing to own with its enormous zoom range, reconsidered that its minute sensor is not practical enough, considered an APSC dslr, reconsidered it as the "bokeh" effect is harder to achieve, standard 18-55s are compromises, considered the full frame fx sensored dslrs, reconsidered as price was and is stratospheric and back to where I was.

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