This time of year many of us ask ourselves, “What camera should I buy?” Truth is, it can be tricky to decide what camera to buy because we like to shoot different subjects which have different needs. In this jargon-free buyer’s guide our head of testing Angela Nicholson has some advice that will put you on the right track.
“What camera should I buy?” When you ask yourself this it can be helpful to ask yourself a few follow-up questions.
For example, what do you want to photograph, and when do you want to use the camera? Also, do you want to be able to change lenses and how much control do you want over the settings?
Let’s take a look at the main options available.
What camera should I buy: Compact camera
Compact cameras range in complexity from simple point and shoot models that are easy to use because they take full-control, to advanced models that let you set the shutter speed and aperture along with a host of other features if you want to.
Although the name implies small size, some compact cameras are actually quite large these days because they contain sensors that are the same size as the ones inside many DSLRs.
The lens on a compact camera is fixed and cannot be removed, but most have a zoom lens so you can change focal length if you need to.
Wideangle lenses with short focal lengths are useful when you’re shooting inside or in confined spaces, or conversely when you want to shoot landscapes, while middle focal lengths are better for flattering portraits and longer optics are good for picking out distance details.
Although there are a few exceptions, compact cameras don’t tend to have viewfinders and the image must be composed on the screen on the back of the camera.
Generally small and light
Easy to use
Better image quality than a cameraphone
Often no viewfinder
Most have a fairly small sensor, which limits image quality
Control over settings may be limited
Generally everyday snaps
Not good for
Low-light photography (although most have a small flash)
Controlling depth of field (reducing the size of the sharp area in an image)
PAGE 1 – What camera should I buy: Compact camera
PAGE 2 – What camera should I buy: Bridge camera
PAGE 3 – What camera should I buy: Compact System Camera (CSC)
PAGE 4 – What camera should I buy: DSLR camera
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