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Bridge camera is mainly a term for a medium-sized digital camera with a built-in fast wide-range autofocus zoom lens, an image sensor that is larger than that of a digital compact camera, and a bright high-resolution color LCD-screen live-view viewfinder with ocular. The predecessors were autofocus zoom lens single lens reflex cameras with a built-in lens, intermediate between sophisticated compact cameras and modern autofocus SLR systems. Also known as Prosumer cameras or ZLR for Zoom Lens Reflex, especially the popular Olympus IS bridge camera series. Other examples include the Fuji Finepix S-series, such as the S8000, and Canon's Powershot S2 IS.
The modern digital bridge cameras are offered to people who don't mind the compromise of always using a zoom lens but are not happy with the worse image resolution and smaller optical systems of digital compact cameras. Thus this class of cameras can be a "bridge" towards finally switching to an SLR system. Or the term means the "bridge" over the gap between compact and SLR.