As is the case with all technology, digital camera technology has also undergone a major transformation over the past few years. And we continue to see further improvements every so often still.The first camera introduced to the masses by Eastman Kodak back in 1900 was nothing more than a lens fitted inside a cardboard box. It registered images on a roll of film and was a revolutionary product of its time. Buying a camera during this time was simple and straightforward.
Fast forward to a little over a century later and we now have a cornucopia of cameras to choose from for our photography needs. The Brownie box camera has long disappeared from sight and given rise to the production of the paraphernalia of photographic gear in its wake. While this gives customers a wider range of products to choose from, it also means that finding the right camera best suited to their needs has become a rather complicated process.
Sure, smartphones feature pretty decent cameras nowadays that usually suffice for most people’s day-to-day picture-taking needs. However, if you have a passion for capturing amazing images or want to take professional, high-quality pictures for your business, blog or any other similar purpose, you are likely to require a hi-tech camera with appropriate specifications.
Since the photographic gear market is brimming with endless options, it’s important to do some research and learn what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to buying a camera for a particular need.
This article will help you get familiar with the basic terms and concepts involved in camera selection, as well as the things you need to consider in order to make the right pick.
Know the Types of Cameras
From different sizes and shapes to different features and controls, there are a variety of cameras available in the market. However, all of these devices can be broadly divided into three main types.
You must have heard of DSLRs before. In fact, chances are that seeing the picture quality of your friend’s DSLR is what prompted you to buy your own camera in the first place.
A digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) is the exact opposite of the first Brownie box camera. Instead of photographic film that was characteristic of earlier cameras, a DSLR uses digital imaging sensors. They are prized for their superior image quality, creative controls and a ton of additional features including detachable lenses, flashes and the likes that allow users to capture picture-perfect views in literally every sense of the word.
2. Point-and-Shoot Cameras
A point-and-shoot camera (P&S camera), also called a compact camera is mainly designed for simple operation. If you need a good camera for taking quality pictures at your holiday trips, parties, and similar events, then a P&S camera is the ideal choice.
However, the popularity of these cameras has significantly declined as new and improved camera features in smartphones overtook them in ease of use and functionality.
3. Mirrorless Cameras
Mirrorless cameras are known for providing a fine balance between quality and versatility. They are more advanced than point-and-shoot systems but despite all the extra controls, are less bulky than an average DSLR. Their structure makes them easy to use and handle.
As is evident from the name, mirrorless cameras do not have a mirror or an optical viewfinder that is normally found in DSLRs. They have low operating noise, offer speedy autofocus and are suitable for taking fine images without having to spend too much.
What to Look for in a Camera
If you are focusing only on the megapixels, you are starting off on the wrong foot.
As far as taking premium pictures is concerned, there are three major elements that determine the overall quality of the captured image. These are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings. Together, they form the exposure triangle which is what has the biggest impact on picture quality.
While most cameras automatically adjust these settings, more often than not, manually adjusting these features ensure far more superior results. Therefore, make sure that whatever model you choose, it has simple and easy controls for changing these settings on your own.
Moreover, the imaging sensor plays a critical role in determining image quality. The bigger the size of the image sensor, the higher will be the image quality. However, needless to say, a large sensor means that the related equipment and the overall structure of the camera will also be large in size. Therefore, for performing professional-level photography, you might have to compromise on size and weight (and, in turn, the ease of handling) of the camera.
Another feature to consider when buying a camera is the Wi-Fi feature. Many cameras have built-in Wi-Fi which allows you to share your photographs directly without having to transfer them to your laptop first.
If you are an Instagram fan, then the Wi-Fi feature in digital cameras is a must-have.
Interchangeable or Fixed Lens
If you are sure that you want a fixed lens camera, then point-and-shoot cameras are your only option. However, if you want an interchangeable-lens camera (ILC) for greater flexibility in the image capturing process, then you can choose from mirrorless cameras and DSLRs.
If you are unsure whether you need an ILC or not, the following will help.
Advantages of Interchangeable-Lens Camera
- Greater adaptability for different uses
- Covers wide or narrow angle of view as per need
- Wider lens help achieve better performance in low-light conditions
- Using a better lens significantly improves the image quality
- Upgrade to better quality with relatively lower expenditure
Advantages of Fixed Lens Camera
- Compact and convenient size
- Trouble-free use
- No hassle of swapping lenses
- Just click and go!
Find Your Price Range
The price of cameras can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. However, a pricier model does not necessarily mean that it’s the top gadget that you definitely need to have.
High priced cameras are usually charged for the plethora of controls and extra features that they offer. Look into these details because there’s no need of paying for fancy features if you would probably never use them.
However, if you need advanced controls but have a very limited budget, you can search for used or second-hand cameras on sites such as eBay. Alternatively, make sure to check out different online camera stores to compare prices and find the right gear at the right price.
Remember that contrary to what you or many people for that matter might believe, there is no ‘best’ camera in the market. This is because no matter what particular model you might go for, it is unlikely to beat all others in terms of photo quality and performance as well as the overall design and features.
In the end, you will just to have to take a really deep look into why you need a digital camera and what you want to gain out of your photography endeavor. This will give you a clear idea of what features you absolutely need and what you might be willing to trade-off in order to make the right pick without blowing your budget out of proportions.
The Photographer -DepositPhotos