To take a professional grade portrait, do you need to invest in a high-end DSLR camera, or will an affordable bridge camera suffice? With the standard of bridge cameras available on today’s market, you can snap a professional standard portrait using a bridge camera.
Bridge cameras are good for portraits if you have one with a large image sensor, a range of focal lengths, and maximum F-stop around F/4. To capture the best portrait with a bridge camera, you should open up the aperture, set your focal length between 50-85mm, and apply an additional light source.
Read on to learn more about what you get with a bridge camera, factors that make for a great portrait photograph and camera, and discover our three favorite bridge cameras for portrait photography.
What Makes a Good Portrait Camera?
Study the best portrait photography, and they’ll reveal common features. That’s because a standout portrait photographer knows bokeh makes a subject stand out; eye contact and sharp focus on the eyes are a must, and good lighting is imperative. It is possible to shoot each of these elements together in one photograph with a bridge camera.
When you’re picking out a bridge camera for portrait photography, here are elements your camera should feature:
- Minimum F-stop of F2-F4 guarantees soft background quality that shows off your subject and lets in plenty of light.
- Fast AF and lock-on capability because, once you’ve framed your model, you want to lock-on to their eyes and ensure your camera can manage fast autofocus when the distance between the camera and your subject changes.
- Focal length matters because portraits tend to be shot between 50-100mm. However, some photographers enjoy a telephoto lens with up to a 200mm focal length, so they can position themselves further from their subject and have a versatile lens for any eventuality.
These are not the only factors that you want in a camera intended for epic portrait shots, but these are capabilities you should think about when you’re considering which bridge camera to add to your kit. Look out for our recommendations later on.
What sets a bridge camera apart from the DSLR cameras that are used by professional portrait photographers? And why would you want a bridge camera in your kit?
What Is a Bridge Camera?
Bridge cameras share many traits with DSLR cameras. They even resemble DSLR cameras, yet they tend to be more compact and lightweight. Bridge cameras’ defining difference is they have non-interchangeable lenses and offer greater zoom capacity as well as a wide-angle lens option, all in one compact unit.
Some bridge cameras are also of such quality that their aperture matches that of professional-grade lenses. However, don’t be fooled despite the features. Bridge cameras remain bridge cameras, no matter the elements they borrow from their DSLR cousins.
For one, bridge cameras have small sensors, which means fewer megapixels and noise in the picture in low-light. So, even though your bridge camera includes F/2.8, your image will lack the crisp richness you get when you shoot with a DSLR.
Why Shoot With a Bridge Camera?
Bridge cameras are a neat, contained package that offers a full range of modes and zoom capability that most DSLR lenses cannot compete with. There’s a degree of ease of use that comes with any bridge camera due to the host of features and modes. All this makes a bridge camera a great way to learn how to set the aperture, ISO, shutter speed, and even white balance.
Despite their variation from DSLR cameras, bridge cameras are a brilliant step up from compact cameras. They give you far greater creative control and have remarkable zoom capacity. They are versatile, cost-effective, and have features that utilize the full range of technology to benefit your shots and experience.
Pros and Cons of Bridge Cameras
Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of bridge cameras:
|Powerful zoom||Compromised sharpness due to f-stop and sensor|
|Wide-angle and telephoto capability||Electrical viewfinder|
|Great for learning and preparing to switch to DSLR||Noise in image in low-light situations|
|Weighs less than a DSLR|
|Features to enhance focus, ease of use, and image quality|
|Ability to shoot RAW (in some models)|
|Less overwhelming than a DSLR yet with comparable features|
So long as you purchase the optimum bridge camera for your available budget, prioritize sensor size, and get a minimum F-stop around F4, you’re on your way to getting a more than adequate camera for portraits.
Before we move on and look at some of the best bridge cameras for portraits, let’s take a look at how to overcome poor low-light shooting capability.
Enhancing Portraits With an Additional Light Source
No matter what you do with your ISO, shutter speed, or aperture, a bridge camera requires extra light in low-light settings. When you achieve a greater amount of light landing on your subject, the sensor can produce a portrait you’ll be proud of.
The in-built flash in bridge cameras is not powerful enough to lift a dark setting. It will produce harsh shadows and be too brightly lit in areas. You’ll want to diffuse your flash and have an additional light source.
Where possible, bring your subjects to a lighter setting. Alternatively, invest in a Speedlight. Carrying an additional light in your kit is a good idea, especially if you regularly find yourself in low-light environments. If you can’t run to a Speedlight, improvise a reflector to bounce a light source back onto your model.
Try it out; we promise you’ll notice the difference in quality that extra light lends to your portrait.
To round up our look at bridge cameras for portraits, we want to share some of the best bridge cameras available today.
Our Top Three Bridge Cameras for Portraits
- World’s Fastest AF acquisition speed of 0.03 sec. Optical image stabilization technology developed by Sony is valuable for handheld still and movie shooting, especially in low light or at the ultra-telephoto end of the zoom range up to 600 mm
- 315 phase-detection AF points covering Approx. 65% of the frame. Light etering mode- Multi pattern, centre weighted, spot (Standard/Large), entire screen average, highlight
- ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T 24-600mm3 F2.4-F4 ultra-zoom Lens
The Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV is a game-changer in terms of what bridge cameras deliver. It has an AF acquisition speed of 0.03 seconds. Its 24-600mm zoom lens consists of 8 extra-low dispersion glass elements that include aspherical to reduce chromatic aberration, flare, and ghosting.
There’s also image stabilization and a raft of features that combine with the 20.1-megapixel sensor to make this a knockout camera that will have you covered in any situation. Portraits? You’ve got it. Expect pin-sharp images and flattering skin tones.
- Large sensor 1 inch 20. 1MP MOS sensor provides excellent low light and color depth performance, making it perfect for wildlife, sports, new or candid shots
- Leica DC VARIO ELMARIT 16x optical zoom Leica DC VARIO ELMARIT F2. 8 F4. 0 lenses (35mm camera equivalent: 25 400mm). Minimum aperture F11, yielding F2. 8 F11 at wide end and F4. 0 F11 at telephoto end
- 5 Axis Hybrid O. I. S. Optical image Stabilizer. I. S.) plus active mode effectively compensate for hand shake to minimize Blur during zoom shooting with your Lumix camera
With a sizable one-inch (2.5-cm) sensor of 20.1 megapixels, the Lumix FZ1000 II likewise has impressive features. It has a 25-400mm (equivalent) f2.8-4 Leica lens, front and rear dials, wireless capability, post focus and fast focus tracking capabilities, and a touchscreen live video feed LCD viewing screen.
At a third of Sony’s RX10 IV price, the FZ1000 II is capable of producing gorgeous portrait shots thanks to its depth of field, and it is superb value for money.
- COOLPIX P950 offers 16. 0 Megapixels of resolution
- COOLPIX P950 features an 83X optical zoom/166X Dynamic Fine Zoom
- Built-in Bird and Moon modes along with scene modes for simple shooting
Perfect for entry-level photographers who are looking to build their confidence, the Nikon COOLPIX P950 has 16.0 megapixels and an outstanding 83X optical zoom or 166X dynamic fine zoom. Do you need this for portraiture? No, but it’s a compact, portable camera with flip out LCD viewfinder, manual control rings, and modes to make shooting easier.
It does have a smaller sensor than the previous two cameras we’ve mentioned, which means images lose sharpness when the zoom’s extended. However, with its 24-2000mm (equivalent) F2.8-6.5, it has the aperture range, speed, and lens quality that ensure adequate depth of field for portrait shots.
Keep to standard portrait focal lengths that fall between 35mm for a wide-angle portrait, or set your focal length between 50-85mm for classic portrait shots.
Check out to see if metallic prints are good for portraits here!
Bridge cameras are a brilliant option for shooting portraits. Invest in a camera with an aperture of at least F/4 and use good available light sources for crisp, sharp portraits that you can add to your portfolio.
Check out to see whether I think 85mm or 105mm lenses are better for portraits here.
- What Digital Camera: The WDC Guide to Bridge Cameras
- Digital Photography School: Bridge Camera – What is it and is it for me ?
- Picture Correct: Bridge Camera Photography Tips for Professional Results
Last update on 2021-07-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API