The modern digital technology market offers such a huge selection of cameras that those who decide to purchase a camera for the first time will simply be confused by such a variety of models and prices. To understand how to choose a camera and which model is best for you, you should familiarize yourself with the main types of cameras and understand how they differ from each other.
Types of cameras, or Which camera to choose
All cameras currently on the market can be divided into several classes depending on their design features. To decide which camera to choose, you should first familiarize yourself with the characteristics of each type of camera. The main categories of modern cameras are:
- Compact cameras, or compacts. As a rule, these are small cameras with a display viewfinder and a fixed lens. The lens can be telescopic (after turning it off, it slides inside the camera) or fixed.
- SLR cameras, or DSLRs. They got this name because the design of their optical viewfinder is based on the use of a mirror. Most models are also equipped with a display viewfinder. The lenses of these cameras are interchangeable. Weight and dimensions are quite large.
- Hybrid or mirrorless cameras. They are a cross between compacts and DSLRs. They are equipped with interchangeable lenses, but the design does not contain a mirror, that is, only a display viewfinder is provided.
Each of these camera classes has its own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it is necessary to decide which camera is better to buy, based on the purpose for which this camera will be used.
How to choose a camera for family and home
If your goal is everyday shooting, that is, simply capturing moments of life for a home album, then give preference to compact cameras. They are easy to use and do not require special knowledge or skills. To understand how to choose a camera for a family, pay attention to the following characteristics:
- Resolution (number of megapixels). To obtain a high-quality image of 10×15 in size, a camera with a matrix resolution of 8 megapixels is enough. The most relevant today are models with a resolution of 10-12 megapixels. Cameras with more megapixels are only needed if you are going to print large posters.
- Matrix size. Very little attention is often paid to this parameter, and the quality of the images, in particular, the amount of noise in the photo, largely depends on it. It is expressed as a fraction. The average for models in the lower price range is 1/2.3", and for the top of the model range – 1/1.6".
- Image stabilizer. Natural hand shaking can sometimes cause shots to be out of focus, especially in low light conditions. The presence of a stabilizer allows you to almost completely get rid of this problem.
- Zoom. It is digital and optical. Optical zoom provides high-quality approximation by changing the location of the lenses. Using the digital zoom at multiple magnifications will inevitably result in loss of picture quality.
Other characteristics such as camera screen size, number of slots, type of memory card and batteries do not affect the quality of the pictures, but make the camera easy to use.
How to choose a camera for beginner photographers
If your goal is to take artistic photos or become a professional photographer, you should look into SLR cameras. How to choose a camera for beginners is a really difficult question.
When choosing a professional camera, first of all, beginners should decide on the choice of manufacturer. Nikon and Canon are the undisputed leaders in this segment. Their advantage over other manufacturers such as Sony or Pentax is a large selection and a much greater availability of accessories and components. It is worth noting that all leading camera manufacturers keep up with each other in terms of technical innovations and have completely similar models for each price segment.
Thus, the main parameter from which a novice photographer should proceed when choosing a SLR camera is ease of use. To understand which camera will be the most ergonomic and which interface is the most convenient, perhaps only by conducting a test drive for each model you like directly in the store.
Mirrorless cameras are a compact alternative
Often conventional compacts are not able to meet the creative demands that arise when shooting, for example, travel photography, sports events or amateur reporting. Capable SLR cameras are too bulky, heavy and therefore not very convenient in many situations. So how do you choose a camera for travel and active shooting, so as not to sacrifice either the capabilities of the camera or your comfort? There is an alternative, and it is called "mirrorless camera".
Mirrorless cameras are a convenient hybrid between a DSLR and a compact camera. The absence of an optical viewfinder reduces their size and weight, as well as lowering the cost of the camera. At the same time, in terms of technical characteristics, mirrorless cameras are sometimes almost as good as DSLRs.
Interchangeable optics give you plenty of shooting options. Wide-angle lenses allow you to cover the maximum amount of space around, standard lenses are suitable for shooting specific objects, such as landmarks. Just like DSLRs, mirrorless cameras are often sold without a lens, allowing you to choose a lens based on your individual needs.
What to look for when buying
Whatever type of camera you choose, it is very important to check its serviceability. This must be done directly in the store in the presence of the seller. To check:
- Examine the camera. Make sure that there are no external damages, the buttons are pressed easily and do not sink. All parts of the camera should fit snugly, there should be no gaps or backlashes.
- Turn on the camera. Check if the focus is working. Take some photos, record a short video. Take a close look at the footage. Pay attention to sharpness and sound.
- Make sure there are no damaged pixels on the sensor. To do this, take a picture of a solid background, preferably gray, and ask to see it on a large monitor. Having a few problematic pixels is generally acceptable, but if you find them, you still have the right to ask for a replacement camera.
- Check the operation of the charger and other accessories, if any.
- Be sure to issue a warranty card and do not forget the receipt. It is advisable to keep the box from the camera until the warranty period expires.
Of course, knowing how to choose a SLR, compact or hybrid camera will help you choose the right model. But it is also important to remember that the degree of satisfaction with the purchase will largely depend on how correctly you can determine what exactly you need the camera for. Therefore, before buying, be sure to think about whether it will be a problem for you to buy a large number of expensive additional materials, such as tripods, lenses and flashes, which are necessary for SLR and mirrorless cameras and whether you are ready to learn and understand complex technology or want to follow the principle of "saw – pressed – removed.