There are four main categories digital cameras, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
1. Compact Cameras
Compact Cameras are very simple to use and very portable and offer scene modes such as Portrait and Landscape to allow you to take these types of shots. They offer lenses with usually around x5 optical zoom and up to 20 Megapixel sensors. Back in the film days, every household had a basic Compact Camera in the messy drawer in the kitchen!
As sensor technology has improved, it has given rise to a range of compact cameras for the more advanced photographers. With larger sensors offering better image quality, as well as improved low-light capabilities, they offer both Automatic and manual shooting modes with better quality lenses offering up to x35 optical zoom. These Advanced Compact Cameras can be significantly more expensive – in many cases more expensive than an entry-level DSLR Camera., although much more compact and handy for travelling.
Smartphones have now replaced the traditional compact camera and have increased the popularity of photography – there are more pictures taken now than ever before and most people now carry a smartphone with excellent camera features. Their smaller sensors and tiny lenses put a limit on image quality but their design makes taking and sharing images so simple!
2. Bridge Cameras (Superzoom)
Although many of the Advanced Compact Cameras could be classified as Bridge Cameras, this category of camera usually features the Superzoom with lenses covering wide-angle to super-telephoto focal lengths, some up to an incredible x125 optical zoom.
Many Superzoom / Bride Cameras offer DSLR style handling without the need to invest in additional lenses. They offer both Automatic and manual shooting modes, HD Video modes and the option to capture images as RAW or JPEG. Although they offer a huge zoom range, the downsides would include limits with shooting in lower light and the “compromises” in quality that need to be made to enable such a range of focal lengths. That said, these cameras are a great stepping stone for people wanting to move up from smaller compact cameras but don’t want the expense of a DSLR and multiple lenses to worry about.
3. Compact System Cameras
Compact System Cameras are the relatively new kid on the block. They have a full range of automatic, manual modes, plus a choice of interchangeable lenses but are much smaller and lighter than DSLRs.
Fujifilm, Sony & Panasonic currently lead the field with this format of camera. Sometimes referred to as Mirrorless Cameras (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras – MILC) because, as the name suggests, it doesn’t have a movable mirror as seen in DSLR’s. Although these cameras have viewfinders, the image you see is an electronic representation provided by the sensor.
These types of cameras are growing popularity (I now shoot exclusively with Fujifilm Cameras) but just be aware that the lens and accessory choices are not as varied as the more established DSLR models. That said, the quality of the lenses (and I can only speak about the Fujifilm lenses) is fantastic! The best I have ever come across!
DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex and is still the favourite of countless enthusiasts and professional photographers. Nikon and Canon cameras dominate this market.
DSLR’s have a vast range of interchangeable lenses and most can use the same lenses as older film-based predecessors, giving the photographer plenty of creative scope and lens choices. Most DSLR’s use a “crop” sensor called APS-C but a few top of the range and professional models use “full-frame” sensors. The viewfinders are optical, meaning that you are actually seeing what the lens sees, not an electronic representation like the other styles of cameras.