When it comes to selecting a camera, you’ve got a few options ranging from a point a shoot style (mostly replaced by phones these days) all the way up to the top DSLR. Many may feel that to get a great shot a DSLR is required, but they can be expensive and bulky and often require you to carry them, and their accessories, in their own bag.
I’ve found that if my camera doesn’t fit inside my handbag, or can be put inside a small backpack, then I tend not to carry it with me. Conversely, the lack of options on a phone or a simple point and shoot camera leaves me a little underwhelmed, or limited in the kind of shots I can take.
In this case, your options are a mirrorless DSLR, which are much smaller than a traditional DSLR, but with all of the customisability with lenses etc or a bridge camera. Whilst a DSLR offers more flexibility, they can be quite expensive, and perhaps a little overwhelming for someone wanting to take travel snaps. This is where I believe the ‘bridge camera comes into its own.’
Think of a ‘bridge camera’ as being the bridge between the point and shoot camera (or phone) and a DSLR. It is slightly bigger than a point and shoot camera, but still small enough to fit in a handbag and be easy to grab when the moment presents itself. It can be set to fully automatic mode, so you can just point and shoot, or you have the option to take it off manual and experiment.
With a fixed lens, you don’t need to worry about carrying a tonne of accessories, and its smart intuitive features mean that its microprocessors will compensate for the inability to change lenses by changing the internal settings, to ensure you get a great shot in a diverse range of settings.
Take your camera off automatic
Just like a DSLR camera, you can choose aperture priority, shutter priority, program or manual mode, which allows you to adjust all of the settings to your desire. This allows you to take fabulous sunset photos, vibrant beach shots and get your image in focus with a blurred background, just like on a DSLR.
Not having to change lenses in order to do this, allows for greater freedom and once you are confident with changing the settings, you will quickly be able to whip out your camera and take that great shot that quite often presents itself in a fleeting moment before disappearing.
If you’re not yet confident with manual modes, then a bridge camera has a plethora of inbuilt functions to take fabulous photos in a range of environments. Options will include the beach, sport, panorama and portrait. This takes the guess work out of setting the camera up manual, but still yields much more professional results than simply shooting using automatic mode.
Be prepared for your photos to have rich colours, custom focus and crisp images when shooting action shots. In addition to shooting in different conditions, most bridge cameras will also have ‘art’ settings, that allow you to shoot in black and white, sepia and can provide creative settings such as miniaturisation or the option of having your whole image in black and white except for one select colour.
Getting the shot
Like a DSLR, you can choose to shoot in RAW mode on a bridge camera, which gives you more editing options once you get back home.
If you have a 3D television, a fun feature on many bridge cameras is the 3D setting, which when viewed on a 3D television, gives you an amazing 3D view of your images. I personally love this for shots with lots of depth, like mountain ranges or ones with strong leading lines.
Unlike a DSLR that needs special tubes and attachments, a bridge camera will easily take macro shots. A macro shot, or an extreme close up, is an excellent way to capture images of flowers, insects or other small creatures up close and in detail. Just flick your camera to the flower mode and you can easily switch between normal and macro modes.
Point and shoot
Whilst you’ll generally get a better photo on a bridge camera than on a point and shoot camera, or a phone, a phone is a great back up.
The photo above was taken on a Samsung Galaxy 6. Newer phones now have many settings that help you take better photos, such as select focus and panorama modes. Their interactive 360 degree photos are also a fun way to relive your experience in more detail.
A phone is a great back up option if you forget your camera, or run out of battery. Often a phone will be easier to pull out in time than a camera, and is much smaller incase you need to take that sneaky shot you may technically not be meant to take.
So, if you think you can only get great travel shots on a DSLR, think again.