Choosing your first camera

In Technical by Glyn DemmerLeave a Comment

Having established my friends interest in landscape and portrait photography, we then set out to get her started. This involved buying a camera. So we went off to my favourite photographic shop to see what we could get her.

There are four main types of cameras available today, namely;

  • Compact cameras; this is a point and shoot camera (P+S). Small enough to fit in a side pocket of a pair of cargo trousers or a bag. Yet with a zoom lens able to deliver good quality pictures. They are uncomplicated. Many functions operate automatically. The best quality versions can compare with mid-range DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras. They are an excellent backup to your main camera.
  • Bridge cameras; a Bridge camera “bridges” the gap between a compact camera and a larger DSLR. There is a degree of compromise as the sensor is generally not as advanced as a DSLR. They do not handle low light and high film speed situations but still deliver decent image quality.
  • Mirrorless cameras; a Mirrorless camera features a removable lens but unlike a DSLR does not have a reflex mirror, many versions retain a mechanical shutter. They accept a wide range of lenses. Some are designed with a retro feel to look like the old analogue cameras. They have digital displays and a wide variety of programmable options. Some even allow you to emulate your favourite analogue film and transparency types. 
  •  DSLR cameras;  a term synonymous with digital cameras. Yet a digital single-lens reflex camera is just another type of digital camera.DSLR’s come with different sensor sizes mostly large enough to make a good smartphone camera seem like a bad idea. A full-frame sensor matches the size of 35 mm analogue film. You can fit a multitude of lenses from macro through wide-angle and telephoto. Different size lenses serve various purposes and cover a variety of photographic requirements.

It’s not a one size fits all situation. You have to assess the options carefully. Budget is also a key factor as there will be extras required before you get out in the field. The best camera for wildlife may not necessarily be suited to portrait work. Once you have established a budget and engaged with a salesman look at the various brands on offer, most offer excellent quality.

However,  important is the ease of servicing, sensor cleaning and training options. As is the availability of loan equipment should you wish to test a lens to see if it meets your needs.

Turn to your best friend Google, check the numerous pro tips on “YouTube” as well as checking reviews. YouTube is my “go-to “ reference when I need to look up a setting or a feature.

Once you have purchased your camera it’s then time to develop your skills. Take a photo walk with enthusiasts, many pro photographers join these groups and offer invaluable advice, get out and practise to get to grips with the functionality of your camera and the changing of the settings.

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