Mirrorless or DSLR? Compact or smartphone? Or do you go for a medium format? These days the choice of cameras can seem endless. But if you know the differences between them that can be a great help in helping you choose the right one. Budget will also, of course, be a factor. So here is our guide to help you decide which type of camera is right for you?
The first option when it comes to cameras is the trusty smartphone. Because after all the best camera is the one that you always have with you. Smartphones have improved vastly over the years and are slowly becoming a serious player in the camera market. In fact, it’s not unusual to even see photos that were taken with a smartphone being accepted by prospective clients. There are some smartphones now that can offer high-quality resolution and are even good in low light conditions. There are so many choices out there so do your research and chose one that will do what you are looking for.
Standard compact cameras
These are generally the basic point and shoot entry-level cameras. Whilst they are normally fully automatic, there is usually also the option to adjust some settings manually. Some will also offer HD video recording, image stabilization and even Wifi connectivity which is useful for uploading photos directly onto social media platforms. Most will also have a 10x zoom lens, built-in flash and an LCD screen on the back. With prices starting at around $80 it’s often the go-to camera for people who just want to take family or vacation photos.
The next level up from the standard compact cameras are the zoom compact ranges. These are very similar to standard compact but often will have a more powerful zoom lens. For some models, this can be as much as x30. You will often have some manual exposure options as well as the usual fully automatic modes. As per standard compact cameras, they will usually have HD video recording and some models might offer extras such as GPS for geotagging or WiFi connectivity. Prices would usually start around $150 with some models being +$500.
An alternative option to the standard compact cameras are the adventure cameras. They are usually similar in their features to standard cameras and also a similar zoom. The big benefit of these cameras is that they are built to withstand the elements. Their tough casing might make them waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and even have toughened glass on the lens. If you are going to be using your camera in harsh conditions, this would be a good alternative to standard compact cameras.
Even though these cameras might look like the normal standard cameras, they offer far flexibility and control in their photo taking. Designed for more experienced photographers, they are ideal for those who want more versatility, quality and creative features. Options such as manual exposure mode and manual focusing features, optical viewfinders and external flash connections make these cameras a good option for photographers who want more control over their photos.
Compact (mirrorless) system cameras
The big step up from the compact systems is to the mirrorless cameras. The big benefit of these cameras over compact cameras is the ability to have interchangeable lenses which mean greater flexibility. But you can also benefit from all of the manual and creative features of SLR cameras without the burden of the additional weight. Mirrorless cameras have been experiencing a huge boom and they are becoming increasingly more powerful. Some of the latest models are as good as the higher-end DSLR cameras with some professional photographers also investing in these cameras as an alternative or even replacement to their usual cameras. These cameras are a great option for anyone from hobby photographers or even those who are more serious about their photography and even pros.
Traditionally the go-to option for serious amateur and professional photographers, DSLR cameras helped make the transition between film and digital. With interchangeable lenses, full manual control, superb image quality they have been top of the tree for a long time. That position is under threat from mirrorless cameras and in the years to come they may fully replace traditional DSLRs. The majority of DLSRs use a sensor size called: APS-C. The high-end ranges will have a full-frame sensor which is the same size as the traditional 35mm film. Prices start from around $400 for an entry-level model with a standard lens right through to over $3000 just for the camera body for a full-frame model.
Medium format cameras
If you have a few thousand dollars to spend, then medium format cameras are the highest quality cameras you can get. This is the next step up from full-frame DSLR cameras. With a bigger sensor than even the full-frame DSLRs, it means higher image resolution (60 megapixels). But this extra quality comes at a whopping price. For example, some medium format cameras can cost in excess of $25,000! But before you rush out and get yourself one, ask if you are actually going to need that extra quality. The reality is that photos that are taken with full-frame DSLR cameras or even mirrorless camera will be a good enough quality to print even at big sizes.
Whatever camera you choose the important thing to remember is that your photos won’t automatically become better. You will just have more tools to be able to control the photo-taking process. Yes, your photos will have a better resolution, but a poorly composed photo in poor light will still not impress anyone, even if it is taken with a medium format camera. Invest in the best quality camera that you can afford. Then upgrade when you can afford to do so. These days it seems like a new camera is released every day. As long as you follow the advice above and learn the differences in the camera systems you will be able to purchase what’s right for you.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.