Things to Think about when Buying a Camera
So you have decided to buy your first camera or maybe you just need a new one. Today it is not as easy as going to your local retail store and buying one. With new cameras coming out all the time you have many more choices to pick from.
So we are going to try to break down the different camera types you might be interested in. Hopefully, this article will give you a better understanding of what’s out there so you can make a better-educated decision on your next camera purchase.
At the end of the article, I made a list of some Pros and Cons. There are more I am sure, but these are the ones that stuck out to me.
Types of Cameras
When you go to a store to buy a new camera you are faced with many different styles of cameras. You can pick from a point and shoot, Mirrorless, Micro 4/3, DSLR’s, and action cameras. (My Article on Camera Types)
On top of that, there are many features that some cameras will have and others will not. This can be one of the most frustrating things when camera shopping.
For example, you might want to be able to take time-lapse photography. One camera you are looking at has it, but the one you really want does not. This seems to happen a lot. Maybe the camera companies realized that if then put all the bells and whistles in the more expensive cameras and just a few in the cheaper ones you will opt to but the more expensive one.
Let’s start with Action Cameras.
Action cameras are great for making action videos. If you go on YouTube you will be able to find tons of action videos shot on cameras like a GoPro. Most of the action cameras also have a still image function besides the video feature.
I own a GoPro Hero4 Silver and it takes photos at 12mp. The photos are not bad, but not as good as a point and shoot with the same size MP in my opinion. Are they usable?
Are they usable? Sure it just depends on what you are looking for. When I was on my road trip I saw many people using GoPros on selfie sticks and hand held as they would a camera.
GoPro’s are a bit expensive, but there are plenty or other brands out there too.
Point and Shoot
Point and Shoots are smaller cameras that have a little fewer options but make up for it in size, weight, and ease of use. I think most people start out with or have owned a point and shoot at some point.
These cameras use to have less MP than DSLR’s but over they years have closed that gap so that is not an issue anymore. The only downside is the sensor inside is small which MAY effect printing if you want a large print. Let’s face it though not many people print anymore so that really will not be an issue. The image size will be plenty fine for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The big advantage of point and shoots are their size. Most will fit into and purse or pocket with ease. Also, they weigh very little so you will not have a sore arm or neck from carrying one around.
They have a nice zoom and a digital zoom. The digital zoom is nice but the image quality will drop some and you will have to steady the camera a bit more.
Something to watch out for is the lens. When you turn the camera on it will open a “door” on the front of the camera and the lens will extend. When I worked in the Electronic’s department at a retail store I had seen many cameras with the lens stuck out after the camera is turned off and the “door” stuck open or closed.
If you are into selfies or Vlogging you can look for a point and shoot that has a flip screen.
Waterproof cameras are like the point and shoot cameras. The differences are you can take them in the water, they normally have a little less MP, and they do not have the lens that extends.
If you are planning on going on vacation and might be going to a beach or a pool this could be great fun. If you have kids you could let them play with the camera around the water and not have to worry about it getting wet.
Most action cameras also fall under this category since more of them have a waterproof housing.
Micro 4/3 cameras are hard to find in some retail stores like Target and Wal-Mart. You might be able to find some in BestBuy or a higher end electronic store.
These cameras are a bit bigger than the point and shoot cameras but have more features and options. They are still lighter than a DSLR and some even have interchangeable lenses.
The three brands that seem to be the most popular are FujiFilm, Olympus, and Panasonic. I personally own an Olympus PEN E-P1 and like it very much even though it is an old model.
You can go read my article on camera types to learn a little more about Micro 4/3 cameras.
Like the Micro 4/3 cameras finding a really nice Mirrorless camera in a normal retail store like a Target or Wal-Mart can be difficult, yet not impossible. When I worked at Target we would have one or two different brands in the store. They were not the real good ones but they were not horrible either.
Just like the Micro 4/3 and DSLR some of the Mirrorless cameras also have interchangeable lenses. As of the writing of this article, Sony has made many leaps and bounds with their cameras and lenses.
I personally own a Sony A7R and the 50mm 1.8 and love it. Most of the major brands have or had Mirrorless cameras but some brands do not put in the effort to make them great.
Some of the Mirrorless cameras are closer to a DSLR than a normal camera. This does cause them to be a bit heavier compared to the other cameras we talked about up to this point. When you add a bigger heavy lens to it the weight will be closer to a DSLR.
They do have more options and features that the other cameras lack.
You can go read my article on camera types to learn a little more about Mirrorless cameras.
Now to the big boys. I mean that literally DLSR’s can be big and heavy. There are many brands of DSLR’s out there but the two big ones are Nikon and Canon.
Just like the other cameras, we have talked about each camera will have features that other cameras might not.Some like my Nikon D5200 have a flip out screen which is great for video or shots where the camera is close to the ground.
Some like my Nikon D5200 have a flip out screen which is great for video or shots where the camera is close to the ground. My Nikon D800 on the other, hand does not have a flip out screen making low shots difficult to take.
These type of cameras, especially from Nikon and Canon have a ton of lenses at their disposal. This gives you the option of different focal lengths you can get.
One of the downsides of DSLR’s is their weight. The bodies themselves are heavy and bulky, then add a heavy lens to the mix and you are carrying a brick.
You can go read my article on camera types to learn a little more about DSLR cameras.
Pros and Cons:
- Can take a beating
- Makes great action/adventure videos
- Can take Stills
- Stills may not be as high a quality than a point and shoot.
Point and Shoot
- Small size
- Nice still images
- Shoots video
- Digital zoom may make the image quality worse
- Lens had the chance of getting stuck rendering the camera useless
- The “door” can get stuck in the open or close position
- Better image quality
- Some have interchangeable lenses that give you better options for focal length
- Smaller size compared to a DSLR
- Lighter weight than a DSLR
- Lens selection is limited
- Image size is different the most cameras
- Options of crop or full frame sensors
- Better lens selection that is growing yet still at the moment limited
- Most are lighter than a DSLR
- Quieter sound while taking a picture
- Battery life
- Lens selection is limited at the moment
- Slower start up speed
- Lens selection
- Battery life
- Loud shutter sound when taking a picture
I hope that this article has given you a better idea of what to look for when deciding what your new camera will be.
If you have any questions or comments leave me a message below in the comments or you can use the contact form.
Also published on Medium.