Camera Buying Guide
We all like to take photos, whether it’s capturing everyday moments, recording spectacular scenery or snapping holiday shots, there’s no limit to the types of images we record. As a result, there’s an abundance of cameras to suit which ever type of photographer you may be.
It’s best to have a clear picture of what you need before you start comparing models…
What type of camera
user are you?
Beginner, enthusiast, advanced or expert? The more advanced user will be after specific functionality that will help get the most professional looking shot. If you’re just getting started, then you’ll probably be more keen on a model that will offer full auto options.
How much time do you
spend taking photographs?
Have you constantly got your eye behind a viewfinder or is your camera only for special events and the occasional holiday snap? How much you use your camera and its functionality will impact the battery life, so consider having a spare battery for back up as there is nothing worse than the power down at a critical time.
Where will you be
using your camera?
If you’re an outdoor adventurist, a highly durable action camera might be your style. Or perhaps you will be capturing every day moments at home and you need a compact camera that is on hand and easy to use.
How will the size and weight
of a camera impact its use?
Whilst you might love taking the best possible shot, carrying around a bag with lots of accessories might not be something you have room for. Conversely, perhaps having easy access to all your equipment is essential and you need to incorporate an ergonomic camera back pack into your budget.
What functionality or accessories
are must haves?
Do you want to take video? Is having a range of accessories and lenses important? If you’re looking at action cameras, do you need to consider the mounting options? If you already have equipment is it compatible with other brands?
How will you share
Do you need WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity? Will you post them on social media, print photobooks or create artworks? The current standard of picture quality is 10 megapixels but there are models on the market of up to 21.1. Ten megapixels will give you high enough quality for standard printing. The higher the megapixel the great the quality of the image, but also the greater the size of the file, so understanding how you’re going to use your images in the future is important.
Choose A Type Of Camera
DSLR or Mirrorless
DSLR cameras use a mirror to direct the image from the lens to the viewfinder. This mirror flips up when you take the shot allowing the light to hit the image sensor. What you see in the viewfinder is a preview. Mirrorless cameras don’t use a mirror and so what you see in LCD or viewfinder is a live view of what you are shooting.
DSLRs have longer battery life as their power usage is less. They are also better for fast action photography for things like sports and active wildlife as they have faster contrast detection and have a wider array of lens options.
Mirrorless cameras weigh less and are much smaller in size. The viewfinder provides a more accurate view of what your final photo will look like, because the image in the viewfinder changes as you adjust the settings.
When Choosing a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera, here are some things to consider..
Does Sensor Size Matter?
Every camera has a sensor which is essentially a digital film that captures your shot. Some cameras have full frame sensors, which are the same size as traditional 35mm photographic film, but most standard DSLRs come with a smaller cropped sensor. They are less light sensitive and lenses behave slightly differently. For the image purist, a full frame sensor is essential, but a crop-sensor model will still produce good quality images.
Images are output in either RAW or jpeg. RAW is a professional standard and enables dramatically improved image quality and for those wishing to edit offer more flexibility in the editing phase. Many cameras have this option, however, consider how you will share and store your images as RAW files take up additional storage.
Whilst still images may be your thing, having the option to shoot video is something worth considering. High definition or 4K will give you footage that can be played back with crystal clear quality on the latest TVs.
Lenses, tripods, selfie sticks, underwater casing and chargers… there is an abundance of cool add-ons you can get for your camera. Also, some accessories are compatible between manufacturers, such as chargers, lenses etc., which can save you from having to buy new equipment.
As the name suggest, these are pocket-sized cameras – but don’t let size deceive you as they can take great quality shots and come with a range of features to suit different needs.
Who: Everyday to Enthusiasts
These are a no-frills type of camera, giving you an affordable, lightweight, compact camera that is super easy to use. These are often called "Point & Shoot" Cameras
Within compact cameras there are also ‘bridge cameras’ these cameras sit neatly between a basic auto compact camera and a full-feature DSLR camera. They have some degree of manual control but usually do not have interchangeable lenses.
Here are some things to consider when looking at compact cameras:
Optical zoom gives better quality than digital zoom and some models come with x10 optical zoom, which allows you to get ten times closer to your subject. Some feature wide angled lenses to capture perfect landscape shots.
Compact cameras are built to meet many different needs – with options such as built-in WiFi, durable water and shock proof casing, GPS tracking and auto- adjustment settings based on subject – you’re bound to find a model that fits your lifestyle.
Images are stored either on internal memory or removable memory cards. Memory cards come in a variety of capacities. The greater the storage, the more images you can fit on it.
Being able to flick from still to moving images at the flick of a button will ensure you don’t miss a moment. Consider a good output quality so that you can continue to enjoy your memories for years to come.
Some compact cameras are designed to fit your style as well as function and come in a range of fashionable colours and designs.
Let's dispel some of the jargon
There are 3 Key elements when using a camera to take a photo. These elements are ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. Click on the tabs below to learn more about each one
ISO is all about a cameras sensitivity to light, more specifically the cameras image sensors sensitivity to light. Take a look at the chart below, it gives a summary of how the ISO scale works.
The higher the number, the greater your ability to take photos in low light becomes and vice versa. The drawback here is that higher ratings can produce a grainy result in your photograph know as 'noise' so as a pro tip you want to use the lowest ISO number you can to help reduce the noise in a photo.