A digital camera, of course, is not an apartment or a car, but still a pretty serious purchase, comparable in price to a laptop or an expensive smartphone. Therefore, choosing a camera for a novice photographer is not an easy task. This article will help you find the camera that is right for you among hundreds of different models.
What are you going to shoot?
The first question to ask yourself. The final choice will largely depend on the answer to it. If you are shooting rafting on rivers, it is difficult, inconvenient and risky to carry a large SLR camera. If you photograph mainly children and animals, then you should not take a compact camera without a viewfinder – you will be late all the time and shoot tails with the backs of your heads.
It can take a long time to list the options, so it’s better to immediately briefly describe the main types of cameras in order to narrow the search circle. We deliberately do not dwell on professional solutions – the specialists themselves know everything. The purpose of this material is to help those who find it difficult to figure out the issue on their own to choose a good camera.
So, cameras are compact, system, SLR, action and instant printing. Let’s dwell on each of these types in more detail.
The name speaks for compact cameras – these are small lightweight cameras in which the selection of frame boundaries and automatic focusing is carried out directly on the matrix with the image displayed on the display screen without a viewfinder (except for professional models). This makes the design simpler, lighter and cheaper, but the obvious advantages are offset by a portion of less obvious disadvantages.
It is inconvenient to shoot in the bright sun, the image stability decreases due to the need to shoot from not pressed hands, noise appears, and the focusing speed is also low, which makes such cameras practically unsuitable for reportage shooting. In addition, the display quickly eats up battery power.
Budget digital point-and-shoot cameras are no better than smartphones, so if you have a phone with a normal camera, it’s easier to use. However, if you want to choose a camera that is inexpensive, but good – the answer will lie on the shelf of the store among compacts. You just have to spend a few hours in advance researching forums and reviews. There are good models in this class if you look carefully.
In the class of compact cameras, there are two more subspecies. The first is the ultrazoom. These are the same compact cameras with a non-interchangeable lens, which has a large zoom ratio – the range of change of the focal length (at least x25). It is the lens that sets the characteristics of the rest of the camera elements, aimed at maximizing the use of the powerful zoom.
Such a zoom allows you to take good quality shots from different distances – up to shooting astronomical objects on the best models. It is not surprising that ultrazoom is in demand among travelers and wildlife lovers – the camera is lightweight, and it is not always possible to get close.
The pinnacle of compact camera evolution is the premium model. They are versatile and incorporate the strengths of other types of cameras. They have a good matrix, manual settings, and a good lens. Some of the modes typical for SLR cameras are implemented in them: shutter priority mode, aperture priority mode, exposure compensation, focus area selection, RAW file recording, etc.
These are not cheap, but reliable cameras that shoot like DSLRs in the right hands. Usually, such models are chosen by people with wealth, who value the lightness and compactness of technology – for example, those who travel a lot. About which SLR camera is better to buy for a beginner, in the next section.
A DSLR camera has a detachable lens, a mirror viewfinder and a large matrix, which determines its main advantages. A large matrix allows you to take better quality photos – such images have richer and more natural colors, a wider range of sharpness and light sensitivity, less noise and distortion.
The presence of phase focusing sensors allows you to focus faster and more accurately, and, therefore, to take more high-quality frames per unit of time. The mirrored viewfinder also helps you focus more accurately, avoid the parallax effect typical of viewfinder mirrorless cameras, and conserve battery power. Convenient zoom, manual focus – all this is also a plus for SLR cameras, and a removable lens allows you to shoot quality in different genres.
The cons of a DSLR stem from its pros. The sophisticated mechanics of a DSLR increase the weight and dimensions of the camera, and the clicks of the mirror become annoying over time. Interchangeable lenses and the ability to diversify shots are pleasing until about the moment when you learn about their cost. Of course, you can shoot everything with the basic kit lens, which usually comes with the kit, but in this case, the point of purchasing a DSLR camera is somewhat lost.
It should be purchased by a person who is sure that he will seriously engage in photography. If you do not see a significant difference between the photos taken with a good CD and a DSLR, then you should not pretend to be a professional and overpay. It is better to choose a camera for travel from the class of system cameras.
System (Mirrorless) Cameras
A cross between a premium compact and a DSLR. In terms of the quality and size of the matrix, the ability to change the optics and the cost, system cameras are closer to SLR. The absence of a mirror makes such a camera more compact and lighter, however, it holds the battery charge worse. The battery capacity issue is partially addressed by the support for USB and external batteries.
Apparently, the future belongs to system cameras, especially in the amateur segment. Initially, the electronic viewfinder was very inferior to the optical one, but technologies are rapidly developing, and now electronics looks preferable to the human eye.
EVF is getting more complete technical information about the picture and viewing it in real time, Peaking focus function – coloring the focus area, full-frame coverage, high display brightness, digital zoom, autofocus on the face and eyes, etc.
For travel and street photography, mirrorless is preferable. The fleet of interchangeable lenses for them is expanding, the quality of sensors and assembly is growing. So far, manufacturers are beating off development costs and getting super-profits, but gradually, objectively simpler and cheaper mirrorless cameras in comparison with DSLRs will begin to fall in price.
PARAMETERSYSTEM (MIRRORLESS) CAMERASSLR CAMERAS
|PARAMETER||SYSTEM (MIRRORLESS) CAMERAS||SLR CAMERAS|
|Dimensions and weight||medium, ~ 0.5 kg||large, ~ 1-1.5 kg|
|The complexity of the mechanism and its maintenance||average||high|
|Battery capacity||300 – 400 frames||700 – 900 frames|
|Autofocus when shooting fast-moving subjects||low for cameras with only contrast focusing; medium for cameras with a hybrid, tracking autofocus allows you to shoot moving objects||phase, high speed, sufficient for shooting moving objects|
|Shooting speed (frames per second)||high||medium, the limit is reached and is due to the speed of raising the mirror|
|Optics park (interchangeable lenses)||large||huge|
|4K video recording||most models||top segment|
Instant cameras allow you to print the captured frame. Ideal for parties and parties, as instant photos, can be instantly shared with friends or family. Special cartridges are used for printing. There are both regular and stylized frames for cartoons or films.
Action cameras are small devices, often in waterproof and/or shockproof housing. They are intended for shooting from the first person, and more often video than a photo. Perfect for athletes, people involved in sports tourism or just active recreation. Due to their high functionality and narrow specialization, they are quite expensive, and in good lighting, they can give a fairly high-quality picture.
These cameras are very easy to use, almost all settings are automated. Suitable for holidays or children. You don’t have to wait for professional pictures from them, but funny and memorable ones are very possible. This is the best camera for a beginner photographer if he is between 5 and 15 years old;)
What else to look at when choosing
Now that we have dealt with the main types of cameras, let’s talk about a few important points that you should definitely pay attention to when buying. Many people buy a camera not only for photography but also for filming, so you should pay attention to the format and resolution of the video. Full HD is enough for you, you don’t have to chase the trendy 4K.
In the old days, the camera quality was often judged by the number of megapixels, but this parameter is no longer relevant. Unless of course, you are shooting billboard photos. For good photos, 20 megapixels are enough for the eyes. The size of the sensor is much more important for the quality of images.
Do not get hung up on a specific manufacturer, getting into the eternal debate about which is better – Nikon or Canon. We all have good models, we all have bad ones, and you can hardly really tell the difference between photos taken with cameras from different labels. Better trust your feelings – which camera is more comfortable to hold in your hands.
For the debate about how to choose the right camera for an amateur, many forget that buying the camera itself is just the beginning. In addition to the camera itself, it is useful to have several accessories for it:
- Memory Card. Everything is simple here: the larger the memory card capacity, the more pictures will fit on it. The faster the photo is written to the card, the faster you can take the next frame. Professionals usually carry two cards with them to hedge against the filling of the main card or its malfunction;
- A Tripod allows you to fix the camera in the desired position and take a sharp picture even at very slow shutter speeds. There are many models – on one or three legs, human-sized and tabletop. Choose depending on your goals;
- Additional Battery – the ability to extend the shooting without recharging, if you, for example, on an excursion or on a hike;
- Case, Bag or backpack. Photographic equipment is a rather demanding thing, so it is not recommended to carry it without a bag. In the case of SLR cameras and all sorts of personal belongings, this is impossible – there are too many things;
- Optics Cleaner is a handy and useful thing for camera maintenance, especially if you are shooting in difficult conditions. Although if a lens splattered with fingers is a special style for you, you can completely do without this device;
- Light Filters – optional, for those for whom it is not enough to shoot “as is”. Polarizing, Gradient, Neutral Grays and more filters let you take beautiful artistic photos. There are also filters that perform purely practical functions. For example, UV protects the lens from damage.
Finally, in light of the development of mobile photography, one cannot help but dwell on the dilemma of choosing between buying a camera and a phone with a powerful camera. The main limitation for the phone is the insufficient size of the sensor, which leads to a lower quality of images. Phones will always be a few steps behind professional technology, but they are many times more compact and lighter, and most importantly – always at hand. We will consider the advantages and disadvantages of camera phones in more detail in a separate article.
Whatever you choose – remember: the photographer is taking pictures, not the camera. Without studying the theory of photography and mastering at least its basic techniques, an arbitrarily expensive and sophisticated camera will not make your photos beautiful. We hope that this article has brought you closer to answering the question of what kind of camera should a beginner choose.
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