Whether you’re a beginner seeking to get into photography or an experienced professional looking to upgrade, you’re going to want the camera that best fits your needs. With new technology constantly being revealed by top brands and new camera models fashioned towards specific types of photographers, there is a lot to choose from. This process does not need to be intimidating, but rather to be used as an opportunity to become more synchronized with you gear and develop into a better photographer.
What type of photographer are you?
Before you begin your journey towards some new camera gear, you must know what you intend on photographing. This makes a difference because if you’re shooting astrophotography, you’re going to need a powerful camera with specific accessories such as a telephoto lens. If you’re into photographing wildlife or sports, you’re going to want a camera with features that assist you in following your subject and getting the right focus during fast action sequences. For event photography, photojournalists, and any other type of professional photography, you’re going to want the ability to shoot in RAW mode, so you can professionally edit your images postproduction.
Prices & Types of Cameras
Budget may or may not matter as much as the type of camera that best matches your style. There are so many options that you should be able to find the right thing for you regardless of your budget or skill level. Sure, you can get the top-of-the-line camera, but if you’re a novice and want a simpler more relaxing experience while shooting photos, you won’t need the most expensive camera. For professionals who need more power and features to create a final product, you’re going to need control over all functionality of the camera and settings and should be looking at the best cameras offering the highest quality megapixels and resolution while allowing for thousands of photos to be taken in a short period. Lastly, if you’re into something specific such as vlogging or content creation, you will need to look for certain specifications and features designed for recording video which you may not find in either the top or entry level cameras.
Point & Shoot cameras – These cameras are designed to be compact, relatively inexpensive, and easy to use. Most use a free built-in lens with autofocusing systems and flash unit which will set the exposure based on whatever situational shooting mode you’re operating in. Since the lens is fixed and Point and Shoot cameras are very compact, they can easily fit in your pocket without much bulk. Because of the easy automated mechanics, you can pull it out and start taking pictures right away without any preparation to the camera. Point and shoot cameras generally have a massive field of depth which means it cannot separate the foreground from the background, bringing the whole frame into a sharp focus. They also cannot interchange lenses like you can with a DSLR or mirrorless but the higher end point and shoot cameras will have powerful optical zoom with a versatile lens. These are great cameras for those looking for a superior quality picture over their phone cameras and perfect for novice to intermediate photography. Price can start as low as $50 for a cheap camera but wouldn’t look at anything under $400 if you want a good camera and can range to over a thousand for the best options.
DSLR cameras – The “digital single lens reflex” camera is the modernization of the old school professional analog SLR cameras. The digital imaging sensor of a DSLR camera transforms the light from the sensor into a digital image and stores it on the camera’s memory card vs the nostalgic film that needs to be developed. This essentially allows for the camera to display a preview of the image after it’s taken, and the ability to take thousands of photos in a single shoot. DSLR cameras generally have the best features and specifications for professionals while giving full manual modes over every function like phase detection, auto focusing, shutter speeds, ISO, stabilization, and RAW modes, giving you full control. DSLR cameras use interchangeable lenses, offering you more flexibility with your field of view and aperture for artistically focused, blurred or zoomed shots. The battery life on DSLR cameras are very good and one of the main reason many professionals choose a DSLR over a mirrorless camera, enabling thousands of photos. These are for intermediate to professional photographers and a price starting at around $600 and range into the thousands.
Mirrorless cameras – Arguably the most popular type of camera among photographers. Mirrorless cameras don’t use a reflex mirror like a DSLR, rather captures the light directly to the imaging sensor which then displays the image on an electric viewfinder. Mirrorless cameras are lighter and more portable than DSLR, but because of all the digitalization, it requires more power resulting in shorter battery life than a DSLR. The digitalization can sometimes cause a pixilation or lag in cheaper models but is easily overcome by any mid-tier mirrorless camera or better. Because there is no mirror, these cameras are very quiet while offering more stability and lightning fast focusing speeds even while shooting in fast FPM. Mirrorless cameras can be the most versatile with models showcasing all the bells and whistles with every feature and auto mode available and uses interchangeable lenses for any style of photography. Mirrorless cameras have much larger sensors which are great for shooting in harsh lighting conditions and allow you to preview your shot prior to taking the picture. This means you can check your frame to adjust exposure, focus, aperture, and anything else you want to ensure your image is exactly as you envision. Mirrorless cameras can be for any level of photography, rookie to expert. Because of the digitalization, these cameras can perform any task while providing high-resolution, crystal-clear imagery or video. Prices start at about $700 and range into the most expensive cameras available. I recommend models between $1,500 to $2,000 if you’re taking your first step from novice to intermediate photography.
Lenses & Accessories
With a DSLR and mirrorless camera, you’re going to want to consider what types of lenses and accessories will best suit your needs. There are a ton of different types of lenses designed for specific types of photographs such as fisheye lenses, macro lenses, and tilt shift lenses which can be its own article, but for the sake of such an important aspect of photography, I will highlight the most frequently used types of lenses.
- Fixed Prime lens – Fixed focal lengths make this lens ideal for better optical quality of a specific subject at a known range.
- Zoom lens – Offers flexibility to photograph a wide range of subjects without having to swap lenses.
- Wide angle lens – Presents a large depth of field with shorter focal lengths, usually under 35mm. Best for shooting landscape and architecture.
- Telephoto lens – These lenses have long focal lengths usually beginning around 85mm allowing you to shoot photos of your subject from a far distance making this an ideal lens for sports or wildlife photography. Telephoto lenses produce narrow focal planes due to the long focal length, which blurs the background while bringing the foreground into focus making them great for portrait photography as well. Telephoto lenses are available in both prime and zoom lens options.
You will also need accessories to safely store and transport your gear, a tripod, and lens accessories for compatibility and visual enhancements such as polarization filters.
Photography is an everlasting artistic journey. Enjoy the process. Experience the moment. Record the memories.