The acquisition of a digital camera today is not the same as it was a couple of years ago. Smartphone
cameras are improving with each passing year, which means that there are reduced options for people with limited budgets. Due to this, the number of available budget shooters has been incredibly reduced. At the same time, the entry-level DSLRs
continue to get serious competition from their mirrorless rivals. This means that people with higher budgets may opt for the premium pocket models that come equipped with large image sensors and mid-range interchangeable lens models.
With the myriad of digital camera options out there, finding the right model can be overwhelming. However, we have been able to highlight our favorite models from different categories. If you’re interested in learning more about the options available to you in today’s market, you should continue reading.
Truth be told, the camera used by a pro photographer is worlds apart from the one used by an everyday sports adventurer. The type of camera lens
and zooming capabilities are just a few differentiators. As such, what we have done is to select the cameras that we feel are the standouts in their different fields. Our selections have been influenced by specifications and features, and the fact that these cameras can actually deliver on what they have been designed to do.
We have simplified matters for the novice camera buyers by explaining the jargon, as well as providing the differentiating factors between all the available cameras. But if you are stuck and require additional help to make a decision on your preferred camera, you can get more useful information from the step-by-step guide we have provided.
What camera should I go for?
It is also possible that you already have an idea of what you prefer. If this is the case, proceed directly to our individual reviews. In the past year, we have seen many cameras launched by different manufacturers, many of which have been included in our list below.
However, if your sole interest lies in finding out how to choose the best cameras that you should be buying right now—notwithstanding the user level or market prices—you should definitely keep reading. We have extensively discussed the important features to look for, as well as the design and construction parameters, and ease of use.
At this point, it is common knowledge that smartphones have placed a serious dent in the demand for entry-level point-and-shoot cameras. Currently, it is possible to purchase a camera worth less than $100 from an online retailer, but such a camera is not worth the money if you are already in possession of a good smartphone. Therefore, avoid these very cheap digital cameras. However, the price range between $220 and $500 comes with some reliable cameras from manufacturers like Nikon and Canon.
The video quality and the precision of the zoom function are two factors that will influence the price of a digital camera. If you are only interested in acquiring a camera for use on your next vacation, you definitely have some decent digital cameras to consider at the lower end of the above price range. However, high-end professional cameras will cost as much as $2000, and sincerely, they’re worth the price tag.
You will not find one single specification that tells you that this camera is better than the other, which leads to some specs being taken at face value. Megapixels or resolutions do not matter to novices unless they already have a clear understanding of photography. But image stabilization, sensor size, and autofocus systems are some of the features that do matter.
Let’s look at some of these features in detail:
- Size – Can you easily reach all available buttons? Is the camera comfortable in your hands? How do you feel holding the camera close to your face? Consider a camera size that best suits your needs.
- Weight – Cameras in the same category will, in many cases, weigh the same. A person who has just gotten into the photography field ought to consider a camera that they can carry with them to any place or event. Most of us will be more comfortable carrying around a camera that is small and light, as compared to a bulky and weighty one. You may need to compromise on image quality, but you will at least be able to take the pictures you desire, when you desire to take them. Bulky cameras are difficult to carry around, which means that they will usually be left at home.
- Durability – Cameras differ when it comes to durability. There will always be those that are more rugged than their counterparts, as they feature sturdy magnesium and weather sealing. Depending on what you intend to shoot, you may or may not need these features.
- Menu System – It should be simple and easy for you to use. All cameras are different, but anyone, including a greenhorn, should be able to find their way with ease. A good camera should not come with an overly complicated menu that makes it hard to use.
- ISO – It controls the camera’s sensitivity to light. Increasing sensitivity allows you to shoot in dark conditions without the use of a flash. You should be on the lookout for any camera offering ISO of 1600 or higher. There are some that can shoot as high as ISO 102,000.
- Megapixels – They measure the camera’s resolution. This means that the more pixels a camera has, the better the image quality.
- Photo Quality – If you need high-quality photos, you must consider the size of your sensor. Normally, bigger sensors are the best. But you need to understand that a bigger sensor means that you must spend more money on the camera.
Construction and Design
In terms of design and construction, here are some parameters that you should look at:
Fixed or Interchangeable Lens?
Interchangeable lens is also known as DSLR. With DSLRs, you have the option of purchasing a better lens if you need better performance and photo quality. When you need wide or narrow lens angles, you can change the lens, and it’s also possible to get a wider maximum aperture lens when you need to take high-quality photos in low lighting.
The fixed-lens models come in two main forms: bridge and compact models. Bridge cameras have a similar appearance to that of DSLRs in that they have long lenses. Compacts are similar to point-and-shoot models, which have mostly been replaced by smartphones.
A fixed-lens camera has some advantages over an ILC in that it has smaller compacts. Bridge cameras normally cover a zoom range. This is a range that may prove to be expensive or heavy when using a standalone lens. However, it is really difficult to swap lenses in the ILC, and the kit lenses shipped together with the ILC are not as superior as those of a fixed lens. Generally, it’s hard to find a person purchasing a second lens.
Mirrorless or DSLR?
Those that choose an ILC are forced to make a choice between mirrorless and DSLR. Unfortunately, many assume that DSLRs provide superior-quality photography, which is not true. Mirrorless models provide the same image quality as a DSLR that has a similar sensor, as well as an equivalent lens. Currently, the performance provided by the mid-range, as well as the high-end, mirrorless models has become very competitive.
The newer models have sophisticated autofocus systems that also come with continuous fast-paced shooting speeds. It is important to remember that it is best for you to spend money on an expensive lens as opposed to spending a similar amount on the body.
DSLRs have some benefits over mirrorless cameras since they rely on the use of optical viewfinders. Cheap DSLRs’ optical viewfinders provide a better performance than the EVF (electronic viewfinders), especially when used on an affordable mirrorless camera in shooting fast action. It comes in handy in situations where the EVF may not be able to refresh fast enough. Additionally, a DSLR has a better battery life compared to the mirrorless cameras. It is possible to use old lenses that have been adapted from film cameras. Again, the current DSLR models are much cheaper than the entry-level mirrorless cameras.
Mirrorless cameras have some advantages over DSLRs too. A majority of them are smaller and have smaller lenses. You will have a better experience when shooting videos using a good mirrorless, as compared to a DSLR. This is because the view through the LCD screen, as well as the accompanying autofocus performance, will simplify things for you. The absence of a mirror means that it is possible to get real-time viewing with added features such as matching and mixing your filters and long exposure build.
The latest mid-range mirrorless models tend to have better IS (image stabilization) than the DSLRs. This is due to the fact that IS technologies normally combine optical IS with the sensor shift.
Performance and Ease of Use
A good digital camera should be easy to use and provide exceptional performance. There are several parameters to look at, though.
Is it vital to have control over the quality of the video?
If you are only interested in shooting casual videos, you will just need a camera that has great autofocus. If you require something better than this, then it’s best to consider a camera that supports 4K. It should also have advanced features such as customizable tone curves, all-intra codecs and touchscreen controls as well.
A camera that has a long zoom range is one that will be able to cover all your bases, hence, a very good travel camera. However, you can only use them to shoot sports if they come with an amazing autofocus system.
Will you take photographs out in the wilderness?
If so, you need a good body construction that has both weather and dust sealing. There are a handful of cameras that are cold-proofed and can weather temperatures of 14 degrees Fahrenheit without the need of housing.
In case you will be unable to charge the camera for more than 24 hours, you should go with DSLRs, as they have better battery lives. Alternatively, you could purchase extra batteries for use when away.
Do you require a viewfinder?
A viewfinder is vital for any person who intends to shoot in direct sunlight, more so when you are unable to use the LCD. Additionally, it is easier to keep the camera steady when your arms are not outstretched.
Will you rely on wireless internet?
Although many modern cameras incorporate Bluetooth or Wi-Fi when uploading photos, they are not created the same. You need to perform a search on the web to check for complaints about the applications or any existing connection issues present before choosing a camera.
How important is speed?
Gone are the days when one had to worry about shutter lag. Today, you only need to confirm that your autofocus system is accurate and fast enough for you to capture all the scenes that fascinate you. The only exception to this rule will be when you are interested in shooting high-speed action, as you will need a camera that can shoot continuously while providing good autofocus. You should, therefore, be looking for one that can provide an ISO of between 800 and 6400. This is because you need it to remain focused if you are to set an incredibly fast shutter speed.
The market is filled with varying camera types, ranging from point-and-shoot cameras to DLSRs—considered to be the fanciest. Prepare to be thrilled and amazed as you start the process of selecting your next camera. It is an exciting process that can also prove to be a little intimidating. You have to ask questions such as: What types are available? Which accessories will you need? What is the meaning of these numbers and letters? Having said that, it’s time to select a model that suits your style and budget!
Most modern cameras either support or already possess real zoom lenses that are known to cover bigger ranges, as opposed to the computational zoom associated with the dual-lens camera phones. In spite of the many advances that have been made in phone marketing and advanced feature integration, the phone cameras have still not been able to match the control, speed, or quality possessed by good dedicated cameras. This necessitates the use of the best digital camera when covering a special event, as not all phones come with great cameras, and not all great camera phones are good phones. Hopefully, you found a suitable camera from our list. If you didn’t, you can still browse through the numerous options provided by these same brands.