People often ask me about what type of digital camera should they get. It is a tough question. You can, of course, go online and check each single camera type. You can also visit a media market and test all the devices, but after a couple of hours it is highly possible that you will freak out completely. Nowadays, the camera market is huge so of course it is much harder to make a choice. I decided to write this text to support you in picking the right digital camera, so sit comfortably, take a deep breath and concentrate on your personal needs and preferences. It is time to make a decision!
Text and photo by Joanna Wróblewska
We all use digital cameras. It does not matter if they are smart phones, compacts or advanced DSLRs. It is important to find a camera that meets your expectations. The market is full of attractive photographic devices, but not all of them will fit your needs. There are millions of digital camera users with completely different preferences. Some use them for documentation purposes or blogging, others for making videos, shooting street reportages or working in a professional photography studio. Whatever you do, you can always ask yourself a bunch of basic questions before investing in an expensive camera. In some cases, an iPhone or a small compact will be good enough.
1. Photography or video making?
Many students at the SAE plan to use a digital camera for video making, which might give very creative effects. In this particular case you would be mostly interested in the camera features responsible for shooting videos. You may want to get a DSLR with changeable lenses, capable of shooting in HD. It is quite an investment but pays off in a great quality and breath-taking visual effects.
If you focus on taking pictures, video features of the camera become secondary. You should make sure that the camera is heavy enough and lies comfortably in your hands. Take a look also at the menu interface. Is is clear and easy to understand? For instance, I prefer Nikon over Canon menu structure, but it is a personal decision.
2. iPhone, compact or DSLR?
Shooting for a Tumblr blog or Instagram profile does not require an advanced camera. If you do not plan any other photographic activities, you can stick to the iPhone or another smartphone. Of course, you cannot expect the quality of a DSLR, but a cell phone has many advantages: it is light, small and almost always connected to the internet, which allows easy sharing!
A compact camera might be a perfect choice for bloggers, street photographers and journalists. Do not be discouraged by its size and stereotypical limitations. Many companies as for example Sony offer small compact cameras with changeable lenses. Cool, eh? There are also advanced compact cameras appreciated even by professionals out there! If you have doubts about getting a simple compact, consider buying a more sophisticated one like Canon G16 or Fuji X-E1 with changeable lenses.
In my opinion DSLRs are not for everybody. Some people will never use their possibilities, simply because they do not need to. If you are a professional photographer, you will probably get a less or more advanced DSLR, but it is not a must. DSLRs are heavy and quite big, so they take a lot of space. I have heard so many times that people give up on their DSLRs because they do not feel like dragging a huge backpack around.
3. Shooting indoors or outdoors?
If you work in the studio or shoot short reportages, you can take your huge DSLR everywhere with you. But if you are a traveler and do not have too much space, I would say: go for an advanced compact! It will take much less space in your backpack. Moreover, compact cameras are less fragile and will probably survive more extreme conditions.
For shooting indoors consider getting a decent quality tripod. Nothing will improve the sharpness of photographs as a good stabilization system for the camera.
4. Wide angle or close-ups?
Predicting your photography interests and most common shooting conditions might be hard, but you can at least try. Some people are interested in close-ups; others will shoot wide-angle pictures mostly. Depending on your preferences you can go for an advanced compact camera or a DSLR. If you plan to shoot many close-ups and experiment with macro, it is worth considering a camera with changeable lenses, which gives you an endless range of possibilities.
5. To print or not to print?
If you plan to print photographs in formats bigger than A4, an advanced compact or a DSLR will be the best choice. For people who are not willing to print pictures but use only digital files, a simple compact or a mobile phone might be an option.
I invite you to rethink all those aspects of choosing a digital camera before visiting a web shop or a media store. The choice will be much easier with a concrete list of the required digital camera features in your hand! And of course you can always ask your SAE supervisor or teacher for advice:)