Choosing the best Camera - Page 1
Table of Contents
Whether you want to buy a DSLR, a compact camera or a pocket camera, there are so many models to choose from at a bewildering range of prices, where do you start? Well, the way I choose any new toy these days is to start at the end. What do you want it to do?
Err . . . take pictures. Yes but what kind of pictures and what are you going to do with them? The other burning question is how much are you prepared to learn? And, of course, how much are you prepared to pay?
As you are reading this and have actually made it to paragraph three, I think we can assume that you are prepared to learn at least a little. So what do you want to do? Do you want something that you can keep in your pocket at all times so you can snap the kids? Your phone is likely to be able to do that pretty well nowadays, but maybe you want something more, maybe better quality photos or more flexibility in low light.
Do you need a camera that will allow you to take pictures in any lighting conditions from any distance (with the right gadget screwed on the front of course)? Is this going to be a hobby or just some quick snaps?
Best Camera For Your Needs
I haven't seen any cameras on sale in recent years that do not have a fully automatic 'point and shoot' mode, most will automatically switch on the flash for you when it is needed so you may wonder why we need all the other manual and semi automatic modes and an instruction book to make your head spin.
The answer is that, although the camera can produce good exposures most of the time, there are times when, to get the results we want, we have to apply a little know-how and select more appropriate settings than the camera would automatically choose. (see Shutter Speeds & Apertures)
Before choosing a camera with lots of knobs and dials, it is a good idea to consider whether you are ever going to bother to learn what they are all for. I've been around cameras for many years now, and I'm still learning what all the settings on my latest camera actually do. I never bother to learn how to do something until I need to, so there are certain obscure settings that I have yet to find a use for. Of course it would be nice if we could choose just the buttons we need and have each camera custom made for us but, in the real world, all we can do is choose the level of control based on how much we think we might want to get involved.
Generally speaking a DSLR (digital single lens reflex camera) like the ones pictured on this page, will have more knobs, dials and menus than a compact camera (see next page for a discussion of the pros and cons of different types of camera), this will give you more control over your pictures but will have a steeper learning curve.
Which camera would I buy?
Although I try not to give specific recommendations, if I were in the market for a new camera I would most likely go for the Canon EOS 6D. It is a full frame camera, that means the sensor is the same size as a frame of 35mm film - 24mm x 36mm (see page 4 for more details), so you get superb quality, good contrast and fantastic pictures in low light. For a full frame camera it is remarkably cheap, about $1400.00 for the body. Also it has all the internet connectivity you need to get those pictures up on the web quickly. Normally with these cameras you can save a small jpeg, for a quick upload, at the same time as your full size RAW image.
For me, it would need to be another Canon as I have a considerable investment in lenses, but I am sure that Nikon also produce a similar camera. At the time of writing (April 2015) there are rumors that there will be a Mark 2 version sometime soon, this could be good news as the price will drop while the stores clear their stocks of this model.
This is my 'dream camera' but if you are just starting out, you don't need to spend anywhere near this amount of money to get a really good quality camera, see page 2 for more recommendations.
To take a picture like this (taken with my Canon EOS 7D) you need a decent telephoto lens and full control of the shutter speed and aperture settings. It would be very difficult to do this on a pocket camera, you need a DSLR.
A short introduction to the types of cameras available and a discussion on what you need to look out for when buying a camera.
What you need to know when choosing a new lens.
Confused comparing 35mm lens focal lengths to the new DSLRs? This will make it all clear.
What you need to know before you go shopping.
More of a 'why you need a tripod' than a buyers guide, but it does include some tips on buying and using a tripod.
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