So I have always taken photographs on film, when I needed to do some quick work for clients I added in a good quality “ point and shoot “ digital compact, then we decided to do the first Cross Country road trip and a friend arranged for me to use a FujiFilm XE 3 mirrorless compact camera. It was nothing short of a revelation, I still love film but the instant moments that came from the XE 3 left me astounded. On my return, it was not long before I purchased a FujiFilm XT 20 and then the game started.
Fortunately, a good friend guided me through the process but it can be a minefield, I will try and share some of my learnings in this article. The wide variety of terms and specifications complicate the buying process. So before you buy you should at least understand what pictures you intend taking, this will guide the salesman in assisting you. One of the key decisions will be to choose between a traditional DSLR ( Digital Single Lens Reflex ) or a mirrorless camera, the DSLR uses internal mirrors to reflect light from the lens into the viewfinder , a mirrorless camera drops the reflectors and the light travels directly through the lens onto a sensor and the rear LCD screen. The viewfinder simply displays a digitised version of what’s on the screen.
DSLR tech is older and the cameras are bigger and heavier, mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter lacking mirrors does not impact on image quality. So the extra weight of a DSLR may be a consideration if you walk and hike a lot. Remember the camera needs to be with you if you want to capture an image.
It’s important to consider the sensor, the sensor is the digital equal to a frame of film, it collects light from the lens and turns it into an image, the larger the sensor the more light it takes in and thus the more detail that it captures. So the benefit of a large sensor is increased detail and picture size. You can print larger prints with more detail and depth.
Then we need to look at the ISO range, ISO is the measure of film speed or how sensitive the sensor is to light, higher levels allow your sensor to pick up more light essential for low light conditions or taking pictures of fast moving objects.
Stabilisation is also important as the technology balances the blurring effect of camera shake, even if you jerk your hand while clicking the shutter the stabilisation tech. ensures that your pic will not be blurred. This happens a good deal especially if you are not using a tripod. If your camera does not have this feature look for a lens that does, it really helps if you are mobile a shooting a lot.
Your lens is critical, it collects light and focuses it onto the cameras sensor, sensor, it controls the end result ( image) in this regard you need to understand focal length and aperture, determined by the f-stop. Good lenses have better maximum apertures, which will correspond to lower f-stop numbers as well as good glass which gives much crisper images