Figuring out which camera to buy can be overwhelming. Before you head out and buy the newest camera that is plastered all over the commercials by a famous celebrity, take a few minutes to ask yourself these important questions. Read on to find out which camera might be the best one for you.
What is your budget?
- Deciding on your budget will rule out certain cameras. Make sure to choose a budget that will not break the bank, but will also give you the features you need.
What type of camera do you want--point and shoot, compact large sensor, ultrazoom, mirrorless, or DSLR?
Each type of camera has their pros and cons. Here is a quick rundown of the classifications:
- Point and shoot cameras-These cameras generally feature a compact design. Some are slimmer than others, but overall they travel easily in your purse or jeans pocket. Many of these cameras now feature Wi-Fi technology for quick posting to your favorite social media sites. Some of these cameras are rugged and waterproof featuring the ability to go anywhere your adventures take you. The prices of these cameras tend to be less expensive than the other categories. However, the more features that are available on a camera, the more expensive it will generally be.
- Compact, large sensor cameras-This is a newer category. Many manufacturers have upped the size of the sensors while maintaining a small form factor. It's quite impressive, actually. But you will pay dearly for this new technology. The price of these cameras generally start near the $1000 mark and go up from there. As this technology matures, the starting price point should decrease slightly.
- Ultrazoom cameras-Designed for the casual photographer, family photographer or travel photographer, ultrazooms boast a large range of focal distances. These cameras are used for photographing anything from your child's soccer game to your family vacation in Europe. Their mega zoom lenses can reach a whopping 1000mm equivalent. If versatility in shooting distances is what you are looking for, an Ultrazoom may be your best choice.
- Compact interchangeable lens cameras (aka Mirrorless)- This class of cameras gives users the flexibility of interchangeable lenses like the DSLR photographers, but the convenience of a smaller size due to its mirrorless design. Whether you are a budding photographer or an amateur shooter, this type of camera is designed for the creative person who loves the flexibility of multiple lenses, but doesn't want to lug around a DSLR.
- DSLR cameras- These cameras are known as the workhorses of the photographic world. DSLR cameras have become increasingly more affordable and more popular than ever before. This has created a new brand of buyers called "prosumers." These buyers are looking for a camera with maximum flexibility, creativity and rugged design. In a class of cameras that has generally been reserved for the professional photographer, all of the major manufacturers have released DSLR cameras that are affordable to the budding amateur photographer.
What is the purpose of your camera?
- Who or what will you be photographing? Will you mainly be photographing family/friends/selfies? Do you want to photograph landscapes or macro images? Do you want to be a street shooter? Are your pets your main focus? Answering these questions can help you make a more informed choice. The faster your subject moves, the more important fast autofocusing becomes. Some cameras have faster AF than others. Make sure the camera you pick fits your autofocusing needs.
- Are you planning to print your images? If so, what sizes are you planning to print? Larger sensor cameras have the ability to print larger images with less degradation to the pixels if they are enlarged. Overall, you should not have any problem printing images to an 8x10 size with any modern camera.
- Will you be shooting in low light situations? If so, you will want to make sure the camera you choose produces good quality high ISO images. High ISOs have a tendency to produce image grain. Some cameras are better than others at keeping this noise to a minimum.
- Do you want a special effects pallet or scene recognition mode? Some people enjoy photographing their images with a camera?s special effects pallet. Some cameras have better special effects than others. A camera might have a scene recognition mode that will help when photographing specific scenes light fireworks, night scenes and pets. If this is important to you make sure to pick a camera that will meet your creative needs.
What specs are important to you?
If you are a new photographer you might not even know what some of these things mean. No worries. We will explain it to you.
- Megapixels-The megapixel war is becoming far less important than it used to be. Most modern cameras have more than a sufficient amount of megapixels to capture your important moments.
- Sensor size-There are many options of sensor sizes. The general rule prevails: the larger the sensor, the more expensive the camera will be.
- Mode dial or manual mode option-If you are looking for more control over your camera then having a mode dial or manual mode option is very important. With a manual mode option you can control the camera's shutter speed and/or aperture. Most cameras come with an auto (green mode) if you want the camera to do the work for you.
- Image stabilization-Some cameras feature built-in image stabilization. This will help to produce a steadier image with less blur. Some companies prefer to put the image stabilization in their lenses instead of their cameras.
- LCD vs. viewfinder-Many camera companies are forgoing a viewfinder and offering only an LCD for composing images. If a viewfinder is important to you, your choices are becoming more limited than ever before.
- Wi-Fi (or NFC)-If uploading your image quickly and easily to social media sites is of upmost importance, then purchasing a connected camera will be very important to you.
- Zoom-if you are using a camera with a variable focal length it will be important to know what length will best fir your needs. Most traditional point and shoot cameras encompass the mid range focal lengths while ultrazooms will have you covered if you are looking for a long telephoto range.
- RAW vs. JPEG-If you want more control over your images in post processing, you will want a camera that has the ability to shoot RAW files. You will also want to make sure you have a software program that can recognize the cameras RAW files. Food for thought...now that Photoshop has gone subscription only, the newest cameras' RAW files can only be processed though PS if you have a subscription.
After you have looked over these questions, head over to our forum and post your answers under the "Which camera should I buy?" category so we can help you choose a camera that will best fit your needs.
Good luck with your search and go grab that shot!