One of the most common questions I get is "What camera should I buy". Unfortunately there's no simple answer to this question as it depends on a number of factors – what you want to use it for, the size & weight, your budget etc.
I will briefly cover some the 4 main camera types in today's blog and will go over these in more detail in future blogs.
Ok you probably didn't expect to see your phone in this list did you? Today's smartphones come equipped with ever more powerful cameras and, as they go everywhere with you, you don't run the risk of missing out on your photo opportunity…unless your battery runs out that is.
- light and compact;
- always with you;
- does more than just take photos;
- enables you to post them directly onto social media; and
- take reasonable happy snaps.
- Poorest image quality of the 4 camera types;
- Very few camera settings;
- Poor for shooting action or in poor light; and
- Expensive - don't rush out and buy a smartphone just to get the camera.
Good For: Taking happy snaps, posting pics on social media and printing no larger than 4”x6”.
Point and Shoot
Point and shoot cameras are very easy to use and can do increasingly complex tasks, yielding surprisingly good results.
- Light and compact (generally fitting into your pocket or bag);
- cheap – cameras start at $80;
- easy to use;
- many photo modes giving you some flexibility;
- better photo quality;
- can have good zoom – look for Optical zoom rather than Digital zoom; and
- can be waterproof making it a great addition for your next beach holiday.
- Few manual controls making it hard to change settings;
- Tiny viewfinder (if any), forcing the user to rely on the digital screen to see the scene, a screen which is often difficult to use on a bright day;
- Not very responsive making it difficult to capture action; and
- Relatively poor in low light conditions.
Good for: Taking happy snaps, going on holidays etc and printing reasonable sized images.
Bridge / Advanced Compact Cameras
A relatively new camera type which bridges the gap between a Point & Shoot and a DSLR. These cameras have interchangeable lenses and the photo quality can be equivalent to that of an entry level DSLR.
- Many of the benefits of a DSLR in a more compact size;
- A viewfinder (in most cases) enabling you to picture the scene, even on bright days;
- Better image quality than a Point & Shoot;
- Flexible zoom options using interchangeable lenses;
- Better low-light performance than a Point & Shoot; and
- A good intermediate step between a Point & Shoot and a DSLR.
- Less compact so won't fit in your pocket;
- Relatively few lenses available; and
- More expensive – bodies start around $300 with lenses starting from $150.
Good For: Taking with you on holidays, people who want more functionality than a Point & Shoot offers without the complexity of a DSLR.
DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex)
DSLR cameras give you the most flexibility and stunning results but at a cost. You have the most control over your photos and can shoot in just about any conditions however DSLRs are also quite complicated with many amateur photographers choosing to start off using the Automatic mode.
- Superior photo quality;
- Large selection of interchangeable lenses;
- Complete control over your photo settings;
- Very responsive enabling you to capture action; and
- Very good low light performance.
- Expensive - DSLRs range from $450 (for a basic body) to $10 000 (for a pro body) with the lenses starting at $130;
- Big and Heavy - DSLRs are the largest and heaviest camera of the four with the better models and lenses weighing the most. My Canon 1DMk4 and 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens weigh almost 3kgs and is simply enormous;
- Need a separate bag to carry your camera and lenses; and
- Complicated – with all the settings available it can get very complicated very quickly.
Good For: For photography buffs who value the superior image quality and are prepared to put the sweat equity into learning how to get the most out of their camera. Takes amazing holiday shots…. if you can handle lugging the gear around all day.
Ok so that's the 4 main camera types in a nutshell. I'll cover Point & Shoots, Bridge / Advanced Compact Cameras and, of course, DSLRs more in future posts.