So you’ve decided to buy your first camera. You’ve been taking snaps with a mobile phone and now want to bring your photography to a level beyond that.
But what do you buy? There’s so many to choose from – different types, different brands, different prices ranges.
This short guide is intended to give you a basic understanding of the different types out there are and will hopefully help you to decide when choosing your camera.
Let’s break it all down
The first step you need to do is decide on your budget. How much are you willing to spend on your camera? It doesn’t have to be lots and you don’t need every bit of camera equipment to get up and running with photography. All you need is a camera body and a lens.
But first we need to select a camera type. The main types are:
1. DSLR (digital single lens reflex)
4. Bridge camera
Each have their own pros and cons and your needs will help to decide what is best for you. So, have a think about what you want to shoot, how often you expect to use it and your budget.
Most people starting out will want to shoot a mix of their family, friends, the landscape and some nature pictures. You may also want to shoot some video.
Let’s look at the different camera types
Basically, a Dslr (digital single lens reflex) allows you to change the lens on your camera. Different lenses offer different views and sometimes different features.
You may decide that you would like a zoom lens that allows you to shot things that are far away. Because you can change the lens on a Dslr, you will have lots of choice when shopping around for a zoom lens.
You may prefer a wide angle lens in order to shoot those vast landscapes and again, there will be a great selection of these. If you’d like to shoot insects, then a macro lens would be your choice.
This type of camera takes very high-quality pictures, which can be enhanced and printed out to quite large sizes.
Buying a high-quality Dslr allows you to purchase a variety of lens types—for example, wide angle, macro, zoom or fish-eye – and use all of them on the one body.
With a Dslr, you have total control over the photograph. You can adjust the shutter speed, the aperture and the ISO to determine the final outcome of the photo.
Be aware that Dslr cameras can be bulky so they are also less practical to carry around with you at all times.
Point and Shoot – Compact camera
The first camera many of us get is a point and shoot/compact camera. These are very handy as we can keep one in the pocket or bag and always have it on hand when a photo opportunity presents itself.
With a little knowledge and practice, they can take acceptable photos. Usually, these cameras will not have the features and functionality that allow us to get a little more creative.
Although they don’t have all the features of a Dslr, it may have zoom functions and some manual controls to allow for a little creativity. The learning curve will not as steep as with a Dslr.
Compact cameras are generally fairly cheap and easy to use. You literally just have to point them at your subject and shoot. However, if your subject/scene is far away, moving fast or very dark, then these cameras may struggle to get a good shot.
If all you want to do is take occasional photos of family events and places you visit and you don’t want a learning curve but want to have a camera with you at all times, then a point and shoot may be best for you.
A mirrorless camera is very similar to a Dslr with all the same features and functionality. Most (but not all) will allow you to change to a wide variety of lenses and the body is usually smaller and lighter than a dslr.
Mirrorless cameras use live view all the time. This means that whatever you see when looking through the viewfinder is what you will get when you click the shutter button.
The trend at the moment is very much towards mirrorless cameras. But because of this you can often pick up an excellent second hand Dslr for a very good price.
A Bridge camera is a cross between a Dslr and a compact. They are not as bulky as a Dslr but bigger than a compact. They will have a fixed lens so you will not be able to attach other lenses to the camera. However, the zoom range of the lens is often very good.
Bridge cameras are also usually cheaper. They may have features like aperture priority and shutter priority but the range of these adjustments may not be a great as on a Dslr or mirrorless camera.
There will be a slight learning curve but once you get over that, they are capable of taking good photos.
You will need to decide your budget when shopping for the camera. Obviously, the higher end cameras will cost the most but it’s very possible to buy a good Dslr camera and lens for €500 or less.
How often will you use the camera? If it’s only going to be used occasionally, then it hardly makes sense to spend a lot of money.
The Learning Curve
I’ve never come across anyone that couldn’t learn how to use their camera. Obviously, the more time you invest, then the more you’ll learn.
Just be aware that buying into a Dslr or Mirrorless camera will involve a learning curve.
Before you buy, visit a local shop and try out some cameras in your hand. It’s kinda important that it feels comfortable. Make sure you can reach all the dials and buttons comfortably. You don’t want a big and bulky setup if you have small hands, and vice versa.
What Brand is the Best?
Ha – this is a running joke in the photographic community. But generally, you will get what you pay for. Canon, Sony and Nikon are the top three manufacturers. That’s not to say the other manufacturers are not good!
I couldn’t recommend one over the other but as I said, you generally get what you pay for. Remember, whatever camera you use – be it Mirrorless, Dslr, Bridge, Compact or mobile phone, the most important part of the setup is the person behind it.
With a bit of research, knowledge and enthusiasm anyone is capable of taking beautiful photos with any of these devices.
In Short …
Here is a link to Amazon. There will always be a better range online than in the shop. But I am not recommending one over the other.
This is a selection of cameras from Nikon and Canon – the 2 most popular brands. Sony is also very good, as indeed are many of the other brands. Generally, you get what you pay for. €500 is plenty to get a very good camera and lens and you will get a great camera for less.
These are all rated as 5-star cameras and are all priced up to £400 sterling. You’ll have to convert to Euro to see how much they are. And bear in mind there may be extra charges with Brexit.
You can buy the camera body on its own and the lens separately. This gives you a bigger choice of lens to choose from but may cost a little more. Many come with both together – the camera body and a standard kit lens – often an 18-55mm lens but sometimes an 18-105mm one, which means you can zoom in more. This lens would be more useful if you want to shoot wildlife.
All of these cameras are excellent and will give great shots that will print out to A3 and bigger.
Try to avoid packages that throw in lots of other things like filters, flashguns, etc. All you need to start off with is just a camera and lens, camera charger and memory card. Too much equipment will overwhelm you and is not needed at this stage.
Don’t get hung up on the megapixel count – anything from 16/17 megapixels up is absolutely fine. My advice is to pick 3 cameras that catch your eye and then check YouTube for reviews.
I’ll give you a starting point. There’s a Nikon D7000 Digital SLR Camera with 18-105mm VR Lens Kit there. I had this camera and it’s excellent. I know one or two pros that still shoot with it. The 18-105mm lens allows you to get wide-angle shots and also to zoom in close to stuff. Pick 2 more and contrast and compare. Hope this helps.
If you have any question, leave it in a comment below or feel free to contact me anytime.