There is an abundance of amazing cameras available on the market today. Even the humble mobile phone is now capable of producing large images and some people don’t bother with a camera and rely on their phone to capture all their photographs.
Like everything, you get what you pay for and a specialised item will do a much better job than a tool that is a multi purpose device.
So, how do you decide on what camera to buy? This is a brief guide on things to look for.
Cameras come in all shapes and sizes and many different features, and of course, widely varied price tags.
To decide what to buy, think about the following:
Purpose: What do you want the camera for? If it is for travel, you want something small and light with an adjustable lens for capturing the wide range of scenes you will encounter on your trip. It should have a good battery life, be more weather proof than a normal camera and be easy to use (if you don’t want to fiddle with the dials). Most have handy movie options as well. For most people, lugging a big DSLR and all the lenses around isn’t practical and the modern compact cameras produce high quality results.
If you need a camera for the family, a compact camera is great or why not try an entry level DSLR and learn a little more about photography. For photographing people, you will need a lens (either fixed or zoom) that will be at least 110mm or more. The reason for this is that if you set your lens on say 40mm, you have to get close to your subject and the lens will then distort their face (won’t win any friends doing that!). the ‘longer’ lens allows a more natural look and you aren’t having to stand in their space to get a beautiful photograph.
If landscape is your thing, then you need a camera with a wide angle lens so you can capture the whole of the scenery you are viewing. But be careful as some wide angle lens e.g. 14mm, will distort the scene and give a ‘fish eye’ view of the world. Most modern cameras allow you to create amazing panoramas of a scene by taking multiple photographs and then the camera’s software magically stitches all of them together to create the panoramic photograph – sometimes beautifully and other times ……. not so!
Professional work – this is a very different ball game! To get high quality results you would require a quality DSLR, a range of lens and a removable flash that allows the head to be tilted. The types of lens you would need would depend on the work you wish to pursue. For example, real estate photography would require a range of wide angle lens that minimise distortion, whereas a portrait photographer would require longer focal length lens to create their portraits (plus they would need lighting, reflectors etc). Professional cameras are big and heavy – and so are professional lens – not equipment to take travelling!
Budget: This often limits any decision regardless of purpose
Skill level: Just about all cameras, including professional DSLRs offer total automatic control. Technology has improved enormously in recent years and basically, anyone can aim a camera at something and if the lighting is right, get a reasonable photograph. Easy!!! But sadly not all situations offer perfect lighting conditions, so this is where knowledge of how a camera works, what the difference lens can do, composition, framing etc can make the difference between an okay photograph and an amazing one. Try and buy a camera that offers manual override as this opens all the doors to creativity and total control of how the camera will react. The more you learn, the better your photos!
The Future: Point and shoot cameras generally don’t offer any interchangeable parts like lens. So what you buy is what you will have until the camera dies. However in recent years, a new line up of high quality point and shoot cameras have been introduced that allow users to change the lens and thus allowing for higher quality images and greater flexibility in what the camera can be used for. Some even have adaptors to take the main brand lens like Nikon and Canon. If you enjoy photography, you will find that you will start with a cheap option and then build up a kit over the years. So even when starting out, think about where you may end up with photography as this will affect your buying decision. For example, you might buy a low price Nikon body and use a kit lens with it (plastic lens), but over time you can purchase new lens that will fit the same body OR you can upgrade the body and most of your existing lens will still fit the new body. You can then add external flash equipment, gps, Wi-Fi etc So the life of the initial camera equipment can be extended and developed as your experience level increases.