The Best bridge, ULTra - Zoom And Compact Camera 2016

Once you could clearly define between a small compact camera and a hulking 'bridge' or ultra-zoom camera. These days though you can get huge zooms on very small devices, while many of the larger models have sacrificed telephoto shots for superior image quality. Still, there's something for everyone here, from the tiniest compacts, to feature-packed bridge cameras and even retro-styled fixed lens rangefinders.

1. Fujifilm X70 - Beautiful camera, beautiful pictures

Fujfilm X70 main

Fujfilm X70 main

Our Expert Opinion Imagine you could buy a beautifully designed compact camera, with a wealth of manual controls, with an SLR-sized image sensor and a bright lens, letting you take sumptuous photos with something small enough to fit in your pocket, and at very reasonable £549. Well, you can, and it's called the Fujifilm X70. The only drawback is that this amazing camera has a fixed lens, not fixed as in not interchangeable (though you can't change it admittedly) but fixed as in there's no optical zoom whatsoever. 

Now we're all used to taking photos on zoom-less smartphones but on a proper camera, it's something of a retro oddity still. However, if you're happy to frame your shots by walking closer or further from your subject, or cropping the big and detailed images a little if that's not possible, then you'll be very, very happy with the X70. It's not entirely retro either, it has an articulated touchscreen for example and can shoot Full HD video too. But the real reason to buy it is that it packs exquisite image quality into a teeny-weeny body.

Price when reviewed: £549. Now available for £549. For the latest prices, see our full Fujifilm X70 review. Sensor resolution: 16 megapixels, Sensor size: 23.6x15.6mm (APS-C),Viewfinder: None, LCD screen: 3in (1,040,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 1x (28mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/4.2,Weight: 349g, Dimensions (HxWxD): 66x125x47mm

2. Canon G5 X review - An SLR in your pocket?

 Canon G5 X main

Canon G5 X 

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Our Expert Opinion With its numerous dials, central bump and hotshoe the G5 X looks remarkably like an SLR, although one that's been shrunk down to measure just 112mm across. It uses a 1in sensor, putting it in direct competition with Sony's RX range of cameras, and pairs that with an integrated, bright lens. The combination means it can gather more light than most SLRs with their basic kit lenses, while still providing a slightly wider 4.2x zoom ratio. Even when the lens is retracted, you can't quite squeeze it into your trouser pocket but it's still incredibly compact and effortless to carry about all day.

The controls are comprehensive and easy to get to grips with, as is the camera itself with its good ergonomics. There's a viewfinder for those who prefer to compose shots in isolation as well as a touch screen display that can be rotated every which way if desired. Image quality is excellent, with crisp details and lifelike colours, as well as a shallow depth of field for striking compositions. It's not the fastest camera, in terms of shot-to-shot times, but if speed isn't a priority this is a corker at a great price.

Price when reviewed: £575. Now available for £579. For the latest prices, see our full Canon G5 X review Sensor resolution: 20 megapixels, Sensor size: 1in,Viewfinder: Electronic (2,360,000 dots), LCD screen: 3in (1,040,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 4.2x (24-100mm),35mm-equivalent aperture: f/4.9-7.6, Weight: 377g,Dimensions (HxWxD): 76x112x52mm

3. Panasonic LX100 review - A tour de force, the best compact

Panasonic LX100

Panasonic LX100

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Our Expert Opinion Panasonic has crafted the best compact camera we've ever seen in the LX100. Using the same-sized sensor as Micro-Four Thirds CSCs it has a huge advantage in terms of light gathering ability when compared to other compacts. Strictly speaking it doesn't use the whole sensor, but factor in its bright F1.7-2.8 aperture lens and you get something truly special. It's an extraordinary achievement, producing photos that a full-frame DSLR would be happy with.

In addition, there's a huge range of well-conceived physical controls, with two lens rings and chunky dials on top. The flash is a removable unit, with a hotshoe so you can add other accessories. It shoots great video too, with support for 4K resolutions. It's a fantastic camera and one that competes with CSCs and DSLRs, other compacts are smaller, but there is none better.

Price when reviewed: £699. Now available for £539. For the latest prices, see our full Panasonic LX100 review Sensor resolution: 12.8 megapixels (effective), Sensor size: 17.3x13mm, Viewfinder: Electronic (2,764,000 dots), LCD screen: 3in (921,000 dots),Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 3.1x (24-75mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/3.7-6.2, Weight: 407g, Size (HxWxD): 67x126x70mm

4. Canon G7 X review - SLR quality in a truly pocketable package

Sony WX350

Canon G7 X 

This relatively small camera is a real feat of engineering. It packs in a big 1in sensor and a 4.2x zoom lens into a body that will still easily slip into a jacket pocket. The combination of the lens and sensor can capture as much light as a typical SLR or CSC with its standard kit lens. It lacks a digital viewfinder, but that makes it smaller and less expensive than its immediate competition, the Sony RX100 III.

The rear touchscreen and various dials make it easy to take full control of exposures if you want a more creative take. It's friendly and responsive and will please both beginners and serious photographers. There are Wi-Fi and NFC too, so you can easily share your shots with others via a smartphone. Image quality was as good as you'd expect, it's simply one of the best compact cameras ever made.

Price when reviewed: £499. Now available for £290. For the latest prices, see our full Canon G7 X review Sensor resolution: 20 megapixels, Sensor size: 1in, Viewfinder: None, LCD screen: 3in (1,040,000 dots),Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 4.2x (24-100mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/4.9-7.6, Weight: 301g, Size (HxWxD): 64x107x40mm

5. Sony WX350 - A superb balance of zoom, camera size and price

sony Wx350

Sony WX350

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Camera design is all a matter of balance: big zooms and big sensors mean big cameras. The WX350, however, gets the balance just right for casual photographers. It packs a 20x zoom lens, the one thing you can't get on a smartphone, into a body measuring just 26mm across. Not that it won't play with your smartphone, though, thanks to Wi-Fi and NFC you can quickly share any pic you take with friends. It's stylishly designed too, with an all-black finish.

Impressive image quality across our tests was good, with the lens providing impressively sharp focus across its full range, from a nice wide 24mm equivalent to a fairly long 480mm at the zoom end. It's not a DSLR obviously, but image quality is good enough to share online in practically any situation. It's our pick of the point-and-shoot cameras this year, and you can pick one up for Christmas for as little as £180.

Price when reviewed: £199. Now available for £139. For the latest prices, see our full Sony WX350 review Sensor resolution: 18 megapixels, Sensor size: 1/2.3in, Viewfinder: None, LCD screen: 3in (460,800 dots),Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 20x (24-480mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/20-36, Weight: 164g,Size (HxWxD): 57x96x26mm

6. Nikon Coolpix S9900 - Packed with great features and the price is right

Nikon S9900 front

Nikon S9900 front

A big zoom is the one thing you can't get from a smartphone still, and the 30x zoom packed into this Nikon S9900 lets you get closer to subjects and frame shots far better than any phone. That zoom reaches from a fairly typical 25mm right up to a huge 750mm, so picking out people or wildlife from a distance is easy. It also comes with an articulated screen for taking shots over your head, or framing selfies.

It comes in a range of colours and is packed with features, such as Wi-Fi for sharing photos and GPS for keeping track of what you shot where. Image quality isn't outstanding admittedly, but it holds up remarkably well even in tougher lighting conditions and at the long end of its zoom range. This means you can take good-looking snaps in almost any conditions, and they certainly look good enough to share online. It's a great camera for the money and was our top choice from ten in our compact camera roundup this year. 

Price when reviewed: £279. Now available for £199. For the latest prices, see our full Nikon S9700 review Sensor resolution: 16 megapixels, Sensor size: 1/2.3in, Viewfinder: None, LCD screen: 3in (921,000 dots),Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 30x (25-750mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/21-36, Weight: 294g,Size (HxWxD): 67x113x41mm

7. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 - A strong all-rounder that's packed useful features

 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60

 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60

Smartphones may have largely deposed compact cameras for day-to-day snapping, but none can rival a compact ultrazoom's reach, such as this 30x zoom lens on the excellent little Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60. This isn't just a point-and-shoot camera, though, as it has good access to manual tweaks thanks to a lens ring control on the front and the usual wheel on the back. It's also fairly special in having a small viewfinder, quality isn't up to much, but it makes framing shots in bright sunlight a breeze.

It has all the latest features you'd expect, with Wi-Fi built in so you can control the camera from a smartphone, and pair it easily with NFC. Video capture is good with Full HD in various quality options and the results looked smooth and natural, with good low light footage. Image quality is pretty impressive at the long end of the zoom, and the optical image stabilisation helped keep things largely blur-free. It can even capture images in RAW format, letting you get more out of them, later on, your PC.

The TZ60 does what a good travel camera should, it packs lots of features into a small body and delivers consistent, dependable results.

Price when reviewed: £339. Now available for £219. For the latest prices, see our full Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 review Sensor resolution: 18 megapixels, Sensor size: 6.2x4.6mm (1/2.3in), Viewfinder: Electronic, LCD screen: 3in (920,000 dots),Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 30x (24-720mm), Weight: 240g, Size (HxWxD): 66x111x37mm

8. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 - Outstanding photos and videos and a pleasure to use

 SONY Cyber-shot DSC-RX10

 SONY Cyber-shot DSC-RX10

With its Sony RX10 the company continues to break new ground, this time pairing the relatively large 1in sensor found in the Sony RX100 II with a large zoom lens to create an amazing all-rounder.

At first glance the RX10 looks similar to many ultra-zoom or bridge cameras, but with a sensor four times the size it has far better image quality. The downside is that a bigger sensor means a smaller zoom multiplier, at only 8.3x. This means the RX10 sits between CSCs, which typically have 3x kits lenses and bridge cameras, with their tiny sensors.

The design makes it an amazing all-rounder then, image quality is nearer to that of a CSC or DSLR, but it has a zoom that reaches further than most such cameras. It's very capable whether shooting close up in low-light or framing shots from range. Another boon is the constant F2.8 end-to-end zoom, so zooming in doesn't through off your exposure settings. It's brilliant for video too, with great image quality plus mic and headphone jacks for audio.

There's a great range of manual controls too, making the RX10 perfect for those who like to tinker. It's an amazing camera, arguably the only one you'll ever need, and well worth the high price.

Price when reviewed: £949. Now available for £599. For the latest prices, see our full Sony RX10 review Sensor resolution: 20 megapixels, Sensor size: 1in (13.2 x 8.8mm), Viewfinder: Electronic (2,400,000), LCD screen: 3in (1,288,000), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 8.3x (24-200mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/7.6, Weight: 834g, Size (HxWxD): 90x130x130mm

9. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 - Groundbreaking lens provides excellent quality

 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200

Yet another Panasonic camera but this one is a full-sized ultra-zoom model with a 25-600mm zoom range. There are ultra-zoom cameras that better that, but the FZ200 is the only one that maintains a fast F2.8 aperture across the whole focal range. This means you can shoot in low-light conditions without too much worry, and you won't find your careful selected exposure settings thrown out of whack if you decide to tighten up your framing.

With 4x the light entering the lens - compared to a typical F5.6 ultra zoom - you can shoot in far wider conditions. The lens also provides nice depth of field effects so you can pick out your subject easily.

In addition to the lens, there's good controls, great-looking video, fast shot-to-shot times and a super-sharp 1,312,000 dot viewfinder. It's the ultra-zoom to buy if you want a great camera but aren't interested in a full-on DSLR.

Price when reviewed: £440. Now available for £298. For the latest prices, see our full Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 review Sensor resolution: 12 megapixels, Sensor size: 6.2x4.6mm (1/2.3in), Viewfinder: Electronic, LCD screen: 3in (1,312,000), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 24x (25-600mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/15.5, Weight: 588g, Size (HxWxD): 87x125x110mm

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