What matters in buying a cameraTips from a pro to avoid the hype
Buying a New Camera? Let’s Make It Easy
Colin showing off the big Canon SLR style camera vs the small ‘mirrorless’ Fuji cameras we love.
Gimmicks vs Good Advice:
Note: These tips assume you have a bit of interest in a camera that will allow you to set things to improve your photos, and an interest in buying a good quality camera.
On Camera Sizes:
You’ll see 4 basic camera sizes/systems today:
- phone camera
- compact/snapshot camera
- mirrorless “4/3rds” cameras (a brand new category)
- SLR cameras (the bigger ones where you can change lenses)
See the ‘Putting It All Together’ section for details on each camera type.
big vs small… it’s up to you which camera has the features and quality you need— we love them both!
- digital zoom (what you want: a real zoom with the lens is called an ‘optical zoom’)
- X amount higher resolution is SO much better (ignore talk of megapixels)
- Instagram-like effect settings! (Instead, you can do that better in Instagram or a computer app)
- direct printing from camera to one brand of printer
- bundled kits full of stuff you’ll rarely use (what you really need: 2 good batteries, UV glass filter to protect the lens, 2 or more camera cards)
- built-in Wi-Fi
- face recognition & eye focusing
- touchscreen focus (and anything that makes focusing easy)
- better low-light focus
What Makes A Camera Usable & Good Quality?
- Think about how big a camera you want to carry around
- How good it is in low light (research ‘high ISO noise’ and lens brightness ‘F Stops’ for your camera choices)
- Sensor Size = Key Quality Differentiator (more info below)
- In general, price usually does equate to quality
- How easy are the controls to find and set
- Does the physical camera build quality feel like it’ll take a few drops (if you are that sort of person)
- For action photos of kids/sports— fast focusing is another quality that really matters
- If you want to pursue a photo hobby, can the camera be set to Manual mode?
The Pro Look:
an SLR or mirrorless camera will give you that soft ‘pro look’ background
The amount a camera photo looks good in low light, and has that ‘pro’ look of a soft background and sharp subjects relates to the sensor size. The sensor is what actually records the photo inside your camera.
As you go up in camera size, the sensor gets bigger as well. Your phone’s camera sensor is tiny, a snapshot camera’s is around postage-stamp size, but then an SLR sensor is 1.5″ in size. Each increase in size brings better quality images (and of course costs).
The Megapixel Myth:
Don’t let the tech terms throw you— just remember that the bigger the camera sensor, the better the photo can be, in several key ways.
Get Great Light
PR Professional Looking for a Work Camera?
Check out my article on specific camera recommendations for my clients HERE.
I love to help my clients to be able to take the best photos themselves, and give them tips on cameras and technique. This article lays out your camera purchase options.
Want Tips on a Family Video Camera?
Check out my article on the different ways to get video HERE.
Putting It All Together: Summary
Sensor size = Better Quality
- Phone cameras have the smallest, so worst in low light, least ‘pro’ look to shots (ALL the background is in focus… like the sign sticking out of the subject’s head)
- Snapshot cameras: Little bigger sensor, little better quality… very easy to carry (the Fuji X30 technically is in this range BUT has such high quality lens it’s the top of the class)
- Mirrorless cameras (also called 4/3rds): a really nice compromise on size, quality in low light, pro looking images and since they are a premium camera, they tend to have better lenses, etc
- SLR (like a Canon Rebel, etc) : biggest sensor, but you pay for it in camera size
- Pro SLRs: Really just for people who are into photography… not just taking nice photos. They have the biggest and best sensors.
Easy to Use:
This is what’s lost in most camera design today… the simplicity is gone.
Look for a camera with easy to find key settings that really will improve your photos. The + – buttons for changing exposure, the white balance settings and the mode settings.
A camera should be easy to set, and, you know… just feel good to hold.
SLR vs Mirrorless Cameras:
We are very excited about the new ‘Mirrorless’ cameras. This is the biggest change since cameras went digital.
They are high-quality, easier to find settings on, more compact than SLRs, and usually even a better price than many SLRs. Read my article about them HERE.
Also, check out this article. It has more in-depth comparisons on the differences between SLR & Mirrorless cameras:
Free Learning with Ken:
My free 1 hour teaching video courtesy of RIT & HuthPhoto:
Get the handouts:
I created special, simple photo formula handouts for my class. They also included links to some of the ideas we discussed above.