The right digital camera is not the same camera for everyone and with so many choices, finding the right camera can become frustrating quickly. We all look for the camera to be just the right size and to take a good looking image. These two categories can be used to break down your choice for the right camera.
The Right Size
Compact Point and Shoot Cameras are the smallest in size. They are designed to fit in your pocket and function as easily as possible. These cameras are small and convenient, but lack image quality compared to larger cameras.
Super Zoom Point and Shoot Cameras are larger in size, but do not have changeable lenses. These cameras are convenient and provide extremely large ranges of zoom, but lack in image quality and low light performance. Some Super Zoom Point and Shoot cameras have low aperture lenses, which provide better performance in low light situations.
Compact System Cameras are interchangeable lens cameras which are designed to be smaller in size. They feature a range of sensor sizes from slightly larger then point and shoots to the same size as a Professional SLR.
Consumer SLR cameras are designed to provide better image quality, but are larger in size. With changeable lenses, you have the freedom to improve your camera’s image quality and performance in low light. These cameras require camera bags.
Prosumer SLR cameras are larger then consumer SLR cameras. They deliver higher image quality, quicker burst rates, and improved image quality in low light situations.
Professional SLR cameras are the largest digital cameras. They provide the highest image quality, but are also the largest in size.
The Right Quality
All cameras force us to make a decision between quality and convenience. Large cameras excel in image quality, but carrying a camera bag and additional lenses is inconvenient. Compact Point and Shoot Cameras fit in your pocket, but their image quality is blown away by an SLR. Compact System Cameras are often a nice compromise. They require only a small camera bag and have image quality greatly improved over a Compact Point and Shoot. Check out our article on Sensor Sizes to learn more about the debate of convenience vs. quality.
Built in Lens vs. Changing Lenses
Another aspect of convenience is having one lens built into a camera. While it’s certainly nice to be able to have a long zoom range, there are situations where your lens won’t get you what you want. Changing lenses can get you more zoom, a wider angle, improved low light performance, or a slimmer depth of focus.
One of the more intimidating aspects of photography is understanding what each part of a lenses’ name means. Often intimidation is enough to make most people stick with only the lens a camera comes with or even worse, stay away from cameras with changeable lenses. So I’m going to break down what the name of a common kit lens, the “18-55mm f/3.5-5.6” actually is telling you. The first numbers, 18-55mm, are the focal length. The first number, “18”, is telling you how wide the lens gets. The second, “55”, is telling you how much zoom it gives you. So a “10-24mm” lens gives you more wide angle, but less zoom then an “18-55mm”, and a “70-300mm” gives you far less wide angle, but far more zoom.
The second part of the name, “f/3.5-5.6” is telling you the aperture of the lens. Aperture describes the opening that light comes through on the lens. Learn more about Aperture in our previous post. The lower the number, the greater the amount of light coming through the lens. The more light coming through the lens, the smaller the depth of focus and the quicker the shutter speeds will be. This lens is what’s called a “Variable Aperture Lens”. This means that at the lens’ widest setting, “18mm”, your widest aperture is f/3.5 and at the lens’ maximum zoom, “55mm”, the widest aperture is f/5.6.
As most single lens cameras do not have very wide apertures, their performances in low light situations are not very good. When you invest in a camera, be sure it has a good lens or the ability to improve the lens.
What About Brand?
It certainly would be easiest to say that one brand is better then all the rest, but that simply isn’t true. Whittling down just to the type of camera is difficult. Picking which camera is perfect for you requires getting your hands on several of the cameras in your chosen category. Stop in at Bergen County Camera and we’ll help you choose which camera makes the most sense for you. If you can’t make it in, message us on facebook, or give us a call at (201)664-4113.