Do you need help in choosing a digital camera?
In my last post I talked about the thing that you need to consider when buying a camera or smartphone with a camera. In this follow up post to help you choose the right camera for you, I want to explain the different types of cameras and the pro and cons of each.
We can think of the following broad categories
- Smartphone cameras
- Compact cameras
- Advanced compact cameras
- Bridge cameras
- System cameras
Let’s start with smartphones
Convieneince – The biggest advantage of a smartphone is that it is convenient. Generally speaking, your phone is always with you.
Access to social media and photo apps – You can shoot, edit, prepare and post your pics directly from your phone.
Cost – as you already have a camera in your phone you don’t need to invest any further.
Easy of use – Camera phones are mostly automatic, you don’t need to meddle with camera settings, although some smartphones do offer advanced users some control over settings.
Image quality – The quality of final the image is a little subjective when comparing smartphones and other cameras. Smartphones these days can provide images with enough megapixels for the average users’ screen and print needs. Though, I think it is fair to say that as you move into the more advanced compact camera market and system cameras, then these cameras will have the edge over smartphones both in terms of quality and camera functionality.
Don’t forget, if you are going to use a smartphone as your main camera then you must make sure the you have enough memeory to shoot and store your images!
With all the advances in smartphone camera technology it’s hard to see the advantage of buying some of the lower end of the market compact cameras (up to £200 approx).
The more simple point-and-shoot functionality of these cameras means that there is something for all ages and abilities.
They are easy to carry and use, they normally come with supplied PC software and support for uploading to social network sites. And some of the budget point and shoot cameras may come with a zoomable lens.
If you think that you may need more advanced functions like, manual focus control, external flash or a viewfinder then you will find these cameras limiting. But if you want a camera that is simple to use and at a reasonable cost then they might be for you. Especially if your smartphone does not have a reasonable camera built in.
Check out Amazon
budget compact cameras between £50 and £200 pounds
Advanced compact cameras
An advanced compact camera will provide you with a lot more control than both smartphone and basic compact camera. These days the quality of high-zoom compacts makes them an excellent choice for travel and general photography.
And for the really adventurous a rugged compact can withstand the elements and some drops and knocks (not too many though).
The new generation of High-zoom compacts also offer zoom ranges from 18x to 30x – perfect for travellers and wildlife lovers, some models incorporate GPS and most have Wi-Fi capabilities too. Along with 4k video.
The more advanced high compact zooms will have image stabilisation which is essential for the higher zoom capability. Most advanced compacts also include manual exposure and focus controls besides full auto.
The image sensors in these models is usually larger than the cheaper compacts resulting in better picture quality in low-light.
Most advanced models have full manual, better focusing abilities and better performance in low light. Usually you will be able to attach and external flash gun too. It pays to look for a model with a viewfinder. These cameras are aimed at both the photo enthusiast and professionals alike.
Depending on your own photogrpahic needs and as your interest and photogrpahic requirments change you may find that these cameras limit you.
I personally have a Lumix LX100 and use it as my secondary camera. It suits my needs when I don’t want to use my system camera but still want good quality images and control over my photography.
Bridge cameras sit between compact and system cameras.
Bridge cameras are chunkier than compact cameras and look more like system cameras. They have built-in electronic viewfinders and controls similar to system cameras. With built in lenses, bridge cameras can sometimes have up to 60x optical magnification.
Full manual control is to be expected and with larger image sensors and good quality lens they provide better photographic performance.
Bridge cameras are a great option for users looking for an extremely high telephoto lens and advanced manual control.
When you consider the cost of system cameras and interchangeable lens, super-zoom bridge cameras offer a great all-in-one package.
A bridge camera is a good choice if want more than a compact camera but do not want to have a system camera, you want something in the middle. The bridge camera ‘Bridges’ the gap between the two and is very versatile.
Whilst manufacturers boast about the quality, speed and performance of their Bridge cameras system cameras are still normally faster, more flexible in there use and generally provide better results.
If you want a decent bridge camera then you need to look at the upper end of the bridge camera market.
Bridge cameras on Amazon
Interchangeable lens cameras or system cameras as they are referred to, offer numerous compatible lenses and accessories, that can be purchased separately, so you can build your own camera system. We need to consider two types. Single Lens Reflex Cameras and Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Cameras.
Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras have been with us for a long time and are extremely popular with both enthusiast and professional photographers. Their superior picture performance and creative control and large selection of interchangeable lenses make them a good choice for the professional and enthusiast. They can be crudely split into three groups, based on their image sensor size:
- Four Thirds – with a sensor exactly 25% the size of the old 35mm film frame.
- APS-C – sensor sizes vary by manufacturer, starting at approximately 33% the size of 35mm film.
- Full Frame – sensor 100% the size of a 35mm film frame.
These sensors generally create the possibility to capture better image quality and work better in low light situations.
Compact camera sensors tend to be very small and cannot compete on image quality with the larger sensors in these system cameras, except for a few of the top end compact cameras but these have a price-tag to go with them.
digital Single Lens Mirrorless Cameras (DSLMC) are becoming more and more popular.
Due to the removal of the reflex mirror and introduction of an electronic viewfinder, DSLMC’s are smaller than a DSLR, the interchangeable lenses for these cameras ‘are smaller and lighter as well, so portability is a major advantage of these cameras.
A Live View display enables you to see all changes made to your settings in real time, things like, white balance, speed, use of creative filters, changes in aperture and the effects of exposure compensation. With quality image performance and other added features like Face Detection and eye detection, Continuous Auto Focus (AFC) for video these cameras are feature rich.
These cameras are aimed at the more advanced or serious photographer, including professionals.
Pros and Cons
Technology has moved on so fast that DSLMC’s and DSLR’s have advanced at a fast pace. As for the pros and cons of such cameras these are difficult define. Personally, when considering these cameras I think its more about matching the features, functions and useability of these cameras to your personal needs or style of photography.
Look for digital compact camera systems on Amazon over £500 pounds
I use a DSLMC and do not miss my DSLR. I have a Panasonic Lumix GX8 with the a 12-60mm lens and find this meets most, if not all my shooting needs.