Photography: Choosing a Camera
There is a bewildering array of cameras available and there are also smart phones and tablet computers that take photos too. How do you choose one?
At the lowest end of the range you have compact cameras like the Nikon Coolpix L29. These are good cameras, they are small and can be carried around to take snaps at family functions and a variety of events. It’s 16.1 mega-pixels and so quite good definition and it also shoots video. There are digital filters that allow you to edit your pictures with some special effects. The advantages of this camera are it’s easy to use and it’s cheap. The disadvantages are image quality, but that isn’t bad for the price. The price is kept down with the choice of batteries. It uses AA batteries, which means you can keep spare ones and change the batteries easily. The big disadvantage though is you have to use the rear screen as a viewfinder. This means holding the camera away from you and in good light, it’s hard to see the screen. The screen on most cameras like this are low resolution too. A viewfinder allows you to hold the camera close to your body and you get less shake. Even though this camera has VR (vibration reduction), the images won’t be as sharp as with a more expensive camera. They are good for everyday use though.
The next level up is the bridge camera and there is a large selection to choose from. My bridge camera is a Fujifilm S5600 which has served me well for years. There are better ones now for the price with better resolution and zoom. You can pick up a S5600 used for the same price as a compact camera and they work quite well. The S5600 is 5 mega-pixel which doesn’t seem very good compared to the more modern bridge cameras with 3 times are many. However for a website like this 1024 x 632 pixels is good enough. If you want to print your pictures, you can shoot them in a larger format and they will print at A4 with quite good quality. The big advantage of a bridge camera is the viewfinder.
Smart cameras are quite expensive, but have extra features like touch screen and wifi. Many can be controlled by remote from a smart phone. The big disadvantage for me is value for money and again no viewfinder. I don’t see a great advantage over a good bridge camera. The bridge cameras generally speaking have a great zoom too.
There are basically two types of DSLR. The FX which is full frame and very expensive and the DX which has a sensor half the size and is obviously less expensive. My Fujifilm S5600 is 5 Megapixel, but I can set my Nikon D3200 on over 24 Mega-pixels, which means I could print the pictures really big for a poster or art print. They will enlarge to sixty inches wide without loss of quality. The advantage of shooting in a large format is that is editing you can crop the part of the image you want.
I wasn’t very happy with the quality is the 18 – 55mm lens that came with my Nikon D3200 either. I can remove the lens and change it. I have been taking pictures with a 55 – 300 telephoto lens and they are much better quality. I’ve now ordered a 18 – 105 mm lens that will be more versatile and should be good quality too. The camera has VR (vibration reduction), better quality lenses and it also focuses better on the subjects. The image processing inside the camera is better too. The disadvantage is you have to change lenses to get a good zoom. It’s not often you need more than a 5 X zoom though and I’ll get 5.6 with the 18 – 105 mm lens.
An expensive camera won’t get your good pictures, that requires some knowledge of how to captures reflected light and some experience. I started taking photos of landscapes and now I’m getting into photographing events and people.
Which cameras took which images today? The first two were taken with the Fuji S5600, the bridges picture was taken by Simon James with his Samsung NX300 smart camera (I did the edit) and finally a photo taken with my Nikon D3200 (DSLR) with a 55 – 300mm lens fitted.
If you’re buying a camera, shop around. I’ve seen the Nikon D3200 at £500 with the 18 – 55mm lens, but yesterday I was sent an offer and it was priced at just over £300. The lenses too vary a lot. The 55 – 300mm lens is about £300, but I bought it for £150. I couldn’t get the 18 –105mm at such a good price, but still found one for less than £200.
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