Camera purchase guide for beginners

There are so many options available on the market today, that it can be frustrating and difficult to even start the process of searching for a (new) camera. This short camera purchase guide for beginners is designed to teach you everything you need to know about buying a (new) camera, so that you can feel confident with your purchase.

When deciding what camera to buy there are a few questions you need to be prepared to answer:

  • What will be the primary use of your camera? Nice vacation photos, documenting epic parties with friends or maybe a solid camera that will allow you to develop your hobby into a business?
  • Do you plan on upgrading every year, every few years or maybe never?
  • What is your budget?
  • Do you favour simplicity and ease of use over functions and manual control? Will size and weight be an issue?

Let’s see what are the most popular camera type available on the market today!

Camera purchase guide for beginners

DSLR

When you think of a big, professional and fancy camera, you’re probably picturing a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera. These cameras consist of two parts — the camera body and the lens. The lenses can be taken off and changed depending on the situation or your need. Being able to change the lens will give you a great creative control over the final look of your photos.

DSLRs allow you to look through the lens as you compose your image. This gives you the most accurate idea of what your final image will look like (composition wise) when you take the photo. Depending on the model, DSLRs camera bodies can have a full frame sensor (typically the size of 35mm film, or a bit smaller) or a crop one (smaller than 35mm film, for example by factor of 1.6).

When it comes to the final image quality the lens will play a great role! Simply put the better the quality of the lens, the better the quality of the final image created. If you’re interested in pursuing photography as a serious hobby or professionally then a DSLR is probably what you’re looking for.

Pros*

  • Great picture quality
  • Great autofocus
  • Great low light capability
  • Great build quality
  • Superb manual control

Cons*

  • High price
  • Mostly big and heavy bodies and lenses

*As usual these depend on the camera brand and model

Mirrorless and Micro Four Thirds

In recent years, mirrorless cameras have become hugely popular. They have a lot of the same features as DSLRs but in a smaller and lighter body (they lack a mirror inside the camera body as the DSLRs, hence the name). Like DSLRs, most mirrorless cameras also come with the option to buy separately the body and the lens. On the market there are mirrorless cameras that have a full frame size sensor, the same size as the ones found in professional level DSLRs, making them even more appealing.

The mirrorless camera bodies and the lenses designed for them are generally much smaller and lighter compared to DSLR cameras and lenses. This makes them the perfect travel companion for everybody who prefers smaller size, but do not want to compromise with the quality of the photographs.

Not all mirrorless cameras have interchangeable lenses. If you need a high quality, low weight and small camera this is the way to go. A recent example of such a camera is a Fujifilm X100F with a fixed 23mm F2.0 lens (35mm format equivalent: 35mm)

(A subset of the mirrorless camera category are Micro Four Thirds cameras, a title that refers to the size of their sensor)

Pros*

  • Very good picture quality comparable with the DSLRs picture quality
  • Mostly great autofocus
  • Manual control
  • Lower price than DSLRs, smaller and mostly lighter bodies and lenses

Cons*

  • Shorter battery life
  • Somewhat less durable than DSLRs

*As usual these depend on the camera brand and model

Compact Point-and-Shoots

The big advantage of the point-and-shoot cameras is its size. They are even smaller than most mirrorless cameras on the market today. These cameras have permanently attached lenses (i.e. not interchangeable) that generally covers a wide zoom range.

Typically, they have the smallest sensors, meaning your image quality won’t be nearly as good as it would be with a higher-level mirrorless or DSLR camera. Most models will also lack manual controls for key settings (shutter speed, aperture, ISO etc..). Autofocus speeds will most likely be lower and the lag time between pressing the shutter taking the photo will be longer.

Generally Point-and-shoot cameras are cheaper and simpler to use. If you want to get serious about photography, Point-and-shoot cameras will be a great limiting factor. But if size and weight are an issue Point-and-shoot cameras are the real winner. They will also be generally the cheapest type of cameras.

Pros*

  • Low price
  • Low weight and small size
  • Ease of use

Cons*

  • Lower picture quality compared to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras
  • Slow autofocus
  • Bigger lag from start to taking photos
  • Not really usable at higher ISO speeds

Still confused? Ask me a questions!



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