Are you a professional photographer or just an enthusiast that loves photography? Here’s a Camera Buying Guide to help you decide which camera is best suited for you. This guide is also suitable for newbies that are planning to acquire a camera.
What you should know before acquiring a camera
Learn the foundation of photography. If photography is your interest, you should learn the foundation of it. Schooling will most surely help find your way. If you don’t have time for that, read books, or research for online sources. Taking pictures with an ample knowledge will enhance the craft of photography.
Don’t focus on the camera specification. If you get a camera that has higher resolution (more megapixels), or bigger zoom range, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for a camera that is solely considered for its zooming and resolution features.
Don’t get stuck on “making sure that you’ll have the best camera model” dilemma. The truth is, one camera model can hardly ever beat the four major benchmarks – features, photo quality, design, and performance.
Try before you buy. Make sure that the camera fits comfortably in your hands and it’s not a bulky model that you will just prefer to leave at home. A suitable camera will let you access the commonly used functions quickly. The menus are well structured, easy to learn and logical. A touch screen camera model is capable of expanding its functionality. Yet, it could be frustrating sometimes if the menus and controls are poorly organized. The screen won’t be calibrated by your touch.
Camera Buying Guide – Types of Camera
Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR)
The most common impression for the DSLR camera is the “big fancy” camera. These type of cameras consist of two major parts – the body and the lenses. The lenses are interchangeable, and, as you may have guessed, both the lens and the body are essential when taking pictures.
During the 2000’s, the DSLR cameras replaced the film-based cameras and since then they are really popular. The DSLR cameras work by moving a mirror to direct light from the lens to an optical viewfinder (it’s the small “window” you look through). The focus on the DSLR camera can be automatic or manual. Once you mastered using the camera, the manual focus will surely be your first choice.
Pressing the shutter will let the camera record the scene on its sensor as a digital image. Typically, DSLR cameras have quite large sensors. The usual size of its sensor is like a 35mm film, or a bit smaller. If you’ll ask why, it’s because the large sensor will provide better blur background effect and better low light noise performance.
How about image quality? The lens of the DSLR is the game maker – the quality of the image mirrors the quality of its lenses. Meaning, better quality lenses will create better quality final image. The good thing about having a DSLR camera is the variety of lenses that are available on the market. The lenses will help you improve your creativity on taking pictures.
If your heart is in photography and you are dead serious pursuing it as a hobby, a DSLR camera will be your best choice. This camera is also great for professionals that are expanding their experience towards photography.
Mirrorless & Micro Four Thirds
The mirrorless cameras are getting popular in the recent years. These cameras are a bit like DSLR cameras, in terms of features. The only thing that differentiates a mirrorless camera from a DSLR is, besides having a smaller body, that it doesn’t use mirrors.
Mirrorless cameras also come with interchangeable lenses like the DSLRs. Technically, the selection of the lenses used in these cameras is not on par with the DSLR. However, this will not be a big issue and we are sure that they will definitely improve the system, hopefully sooner than later. Some mirrorless cameras boast the full frame size; it is the same size found in professional-level DSLRs. This is also the reason why the upcoming innovations on mirrorless cameras are even more appealing.
Mirrorless cameras, unlike most digital compact cameras, are commonly pricier, larger and heavier. They do, however, have better sensors and interchangeable lenses.
There are some Micro Four Thirds models out there that par the full frame sensor of the DSLR, still, most mirrorless cameras have smaller sensors than DSLRs. Mirrorless cameras won’t be as good as digital SLR’s at shooting in low light conditions, but if the right lenses are used, they are better when it comes to depth-of-field. The autofocus speed of the mirrorless camera will also need to improve and catch up with DSLRs.
The most noticeable advantages of a mirrorless camera are the compact size and the fact that it’s lighter than the DSLR. This type of camera is suitable for everyone, from amateur hobbyist to the advanced level professionals. Few years from now, the quality of the lenses will improve and it may become the top choice of professional photographers.
These are the smallest type of cameras that are primarily dedicated to photography.
The big advantage of this camera is, as you may have guessed from the name, its compactness. You can carry this little fellow anywhere and it’s perfect for capturing candid moments. You can shoot more photos using a compact camera than the bigger cameras, right?
The lens of these cameras are permanently attached (not interchangeable), and it covers wide zoom range. Also, it retracts back into the camera, keeping it small and nice.
Point-and-shoot cameras used to have their downsides too. Usually, they have smaller sensors, meaning the image quality taken with this type of camera is not that good, compared to the higher-level cameras. However, today it’s not a big issue. They had already fixed these issues in the recent years, so you can now produce good quality images using point-and-shoot cameras.
Although the image sensors used in compact cameras are much smaller than those on DSLRs, lately, a few models adopted the Four Thirds System. Automatic focus, sharper lenses, larger apertures and super zoom (up to 30x), can also be found among the features of newer compact cameras.
So why buy this camera? Like we said, these type of cameras are easier to carry around than bigger cameras, meaning you can get the most out of it, seizing every moment. Point-and-shoot cameras are cheaper compared to the DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. Keep in mind, though, if you’re getting serious about photography, expect to look for other camera models.
Camera phones are innovating faster than we thought. Undeniably, these cameras are the practical option for getting decent shots. The advantages of such compact device are golden. First of all, we have the luxury of capturing any moment, at anytime, with almost no effort. Then, the camera phone it’s a camera that we basically have around just about anytime, inside our pockets. On top of that, you can really see the joy it brings to people that are selfie-fanatics.
With a camera phone, you can practice photography regularly. You will improve your artistic appreciation, master the camera angle and the effects of lighting in photography. Many photographers are getting proficient with these compact devices. Sharpening your skills in photography will never be an issue with this camera model. The camera phone is a great medium for photo sharing. You can share your photos instantly on social media using phone application such as Instagram and other social media apps.
One of the disadvantages of having a camera phone is image quality. Technically, the larger camera models such as DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras have better components. That is the reason why they can create high-quality images compared to the camera phones.
The biggest flaw of a camera phone is its fixed lens, which means you can’t zoom without sacrificing the quality of the image. Having just one focal length to deal with, sure challenges your creativity, however, this is still a limitation.
If you want to go pro, you will need more than just a camera phone. This type of camera is only great for an imaged diary, and for honing your skills, taking pictures and selfies here and there. Always keep in mind that you can’t beat the technical components and controls of the bigger cameras.
If you are looking for a camera model that fits right in with your adventurous spirit, an action camera is the best choice. This camera is designed to shoot the unique perspective of sports and adventure. An action camera has a mountable feature that allows you to attach it to your mountain bike, skateboard, kayak, drone and kite – Yes, it is possible! GoPro and Sony are the leading action cam manufacturers on the market.
The action cameras are especially designed for capturing videos. They can also be used to create time lapses and images.
Although the action cam has been building its momentum, we don’t think that it will become the desired alternative for a proper camera. Because of its limited settings, your ability to adjust several settings are also restrained. These cameras are just for fun, not a primary shooting equipment.