Choosing a Camera
With the wide variety of digital cameras on the market today, most beginning
photographers ask, “Which camera should I buy?” The answer to that question
usually depends on how much money you can spend and/or what type of
photography you want to do.
There are three types of popular consumer-based cameras: basic point-and-shoot,
compact, and DSLR (digital single lens reflex) cameras. The biggest difference
between the first two cameras and a DSLR is that with the latter camera you can
change lenses, whereas with the former types the lenses are fixed.
Which camera you buy should be based on your budget and the type of digital
photography (e.g. nature, wedding and event, portrait, sports, family photography)
you would like to do.
Point-and-shoot cameras are the most widely used of the three types of cameras.
Most people treat these cameras as they are named in the industry. They pick up
the camera, compose a shot and shoot. They‟re not too concerned about advance
features (e.g. White Balance and ISO controls, for instance) and control over manual
exposure. They shoot largely in Automatic mode, which means the camera sets the
exposure settings for them.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of point-and-shoot cameras.
- Relatively inexpensive, ranging from $200-$400.
- Convenient, lightweight and small enough to carry in your pocket or bag.
- The lens of a point-and-shoot usually has a range of focal lengths, from wide to medium long.
- Automatic features that help users take photos.
- Can‟t change lenses and sometimes can‟t use other accessories like external flash.
- Often slow in operation, which means you might get blurry shots, or you might miss shots all together.
- May be limited in exposure features, such wide range of aperture or high ISO speeds.
- Small LCD screen for reviewing images.
- Point-and-shoot cameras are your best buy if you‟re not looking to make digital
- photography a serious hobby or profession. If your budget for a camera is limited point-and-shoot cameras are good option.
Point-and-shoot cameras are your best buy if you‟re not looking to make digital
photography a serious hobby or profession. If your budget for a camera is limited,
point-and-shoot cameras are good option.
If all you can afford is a point-and-shoot camera, don‟t think you can‟t get make
great photos, because you can. These cameras are great for everyday family and
vacation photos. If you own a DSLR camera, a point-and-shoot makes for a great
backup and secondary camera that you can keep in your car or travel bag.
Compact cameras are very similar to point-and-shoots. Some stores and websites
use the two terms interchangeably. But in my view, I see compact cameras as a little
larger than point-and-shoots, with maybe a higher zoom and exposure range, and a
larger LCD screen. Examples of compact cameras are the Canon Powershot G11,
the Coolpix P100, and the Fujifilm FinePix S2500HD Expect to pay between $400 and
- Relatively cheaper than bottom-line DSLR cameras.
- Camera controls are often easier to access because they are not buriedinside the camera‟s menu.
- Physically larger than point-and-shoot cameras, providing better grip on thebody of the camera.
- The lens of a compact camera usually has a range of focal lengths, fromwide to medium long.
- May include additional features not included in point-and-shoots, e.g. swivel
- LCD screen and video capture.
- Pretty much the same disadvantages for point-and-shoot cameras.
- Can be heavier and more inconvenient to carry around as compared to a point-and-shoot camera.
The biggest difference with DSLR cameras is that you can exchange lenses, and
they are way faster than point-and-shoot and compact cameras. Examples of DSLRs
are the Canon 50D (which is the main camera I shoot with these days) and the
- With DSLR cameras you have the ability to use a wide variety of lenses, from extremely wide and to very long zoom lenses.
- The camera operation of DSLR cameras is a lot faster. There‟s little or no exposure lag between shots. My Canon 50D for example can fire up to 6.3 frames per second in high speed shooting.
- An external flash/strobe can be attached to these cameras, making for better camera lighting than the built-in camera flash.
- Higher exposure ranges, e.g. high ISO ranges, additional spot metering modes, Flash compensation feature.
- Larger size DSLRs make for a better grip and more steady shots.
- DSLRs are more expensive, starting at around $800, upwards to $3,000 and more.
- These cameras are of course not compact and sometimes you have to an extra lens or two in your camera bag in order to shoot in various lens ranges.
If you are looking to make digital photography a serious hobby or profession, you will
want to eventually get a DSLR. They provide you much more control over your
photography than point-and-shoots and compact cameras.