8 Tips You Should Know Before Buying Your Next Digital Camera
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Regardless of what you have been told, there is no such thing as a “do-it-all” camera. If there was a one-size-fits-all camera, competition in the industry would suffer, seedy patents would be made, one company would monopolize everything, prices would skyrocket, their profits would fail, and eventually, we would no longer have cameras at all. At least that’s how I see it. It would suck.

This is precisely why different cameras exist. Think of cameras as different tools. While all screwdrivers are tools, not all tools are screwdrivers. Even within the realm of screwdrivers, these tools come in different sizes and shapes. Like Phillips versus flat head.

Purchasing a camera is a big deal. Below are just a few things to take into consideration before dropping loads of cash on something you will be using for quite a while. Check out these camera buying tips to help you pick out the perfect gear!

There are Quite a Few Types Of Digital Cameras

Like I said, there’s no “do-it-all” camera. Here are a few varieties of cameras that you can purchase:

  • Point-and-shoot
  • Bridge
  • Mirrorless
  • DSLR

Point-and-shoot cameras

point

Point-and-shoots are basic, entry-level digital cameras. However, your smartphone may be as good 5 Ways to Avoid Blur with a Smartphone Camera 5 Ways to Avoid Blur with a Smartphone Camera I think it's safe to assume most people take their smartphone cameras for granted, despite the leaps and bounds made in pocketable picture-taking technology. Unfortunately a lot of the time our smartphones produce overly blurry... Read More as or better than certain point-and-shoot cameras. But if you are looking for something that’s purely a camera and not an electronic multi-tool, a point-and-shoot is a solid option.

These are spectacular for those with a rudimentary understanding of cameras. If you want a camera that just works, a point-and-shoot is your top pick. Point-and-shoot cameras mostly utilize automatic operations like auto-focusing, automatic white balancing, and auto-exposure. There’s little to no fiddling, unlike DSLR and mirrorless cameras which cater to power users. As the name suggests, it’s as simple as pointing the camera and shooting a picture. You’ll find them almost anywhere for around $200 or more. If you want a camera that’s capable of taking decent photos on a budget, a point-and-shoot is your best bet.

Here are a few suggestions that you should consider:

Fujifilm x100f
Image Credit: Amazon

Fujifilm X100F 24.3 MP APS-C Digital Camera - Silver Fujifilm X100F 24.3 MP APS-C Digital Camera - Silver 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor with no low-pass filter and X-Processor Pro Buy Now At Amazon $1,299.00

Bridge cameras

The next step up from point-and-shoots is the bridge or Ultra Zoom. While they offer better picture quality and a closer zoom (I’d say anything above 10x), the internal components remain basically the same. Mega Zoom cameras boast the internals of a point-and-shoot with the form factor of a DSLR. Ultra Zoom cameras primarily run on aforementioned automatic functions. Their current incarnation was actually developed as a challenge to the smartphone-versus-point-and-shoot debate. A key feature is its zoom — something most smartphones fail at. Expect Ultra Zoom cameras to clock in at around the $500 mark.

If size (or budget) still matters, compact bridge cameras are available for under $350. These act as a hybrid of the classic point-and-shoot and the Ultra Zoom. Their zoom won’t be as powerful, but they can still be used for events such as concerts and shows.

Here are a few examples of Ultra Zoom cameras:

Canon-PowerShot-G3-X
Image Credit: Amazon

Canon PowerShot G3 X Digital Camera - Wi-Fi Enabled Canon PowerShot G3 X Digital Camera - Wi-Fi Enabled 20.2 MP 1 inch CMOS sensor Buy Now At Amazon $799.00

 

Mirrorless cameras

Mirrorless cameras offer more functionality than Ultra Zoom cameras. Just as the Ultra Zoom is a hybrid of point-and-shoot and DSLR, mirrorless cameras take this concept a step further. Instead of a point-and-shoot in the body of a DSLR, mirrorless cameras offer more functionality in interchangeable lenses. But mirrorless cameras lack a mirror and optical viewfinder — standard features of a DSLR. Notably, mirrorless cameras are perfect for street, candid, and shy photographers Why Mirrorless Cameras Are Great for Street, Candid, and Shy Photographers Why Mirrorless Cameras Are Great for Street, Candid, and Shy Photographers Mirrorless cameras suit certain styles of photography more than others -- particularly when it comes to candid shots, street photography, and conquering that self-conscious feeling you get with a digital SLR strapped to your face. Read More .

Mirrorless cameras offer a few advantages over DSLRs. Most obviously, there’s size. A mirrorless option is considerably less bulky than a DSLR. Additionally, autofocus tends to be a strong point among mirrorless cameras. Usually video quality is superb as mirrorless cameras are relatively newer when compared to DSLRs. Similarly, lenses are excellent with modern systems which balance performance and affordability.

Comparatively speaking, these lenses are starting to be quite popular, and even some pros are using them. You will be able to get a decent mirrorless camera for around $600 or more.

Sony-Alpha-a9
Image Credit: Amazon

Sony a9 Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera (Body Only) (ILCE9/B) Sony a9 Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera (Body Only) (ILCE9/B) World's first Full-frame stacked CMOS sensor w/ integrated memory Buy Now At Amazon $4,498.00

 

DSLR cameras

Pentax K-S1 SLR Body Kit (White) Pentax K-S1 SLR Body Kit (White) Stylish new compact design and intuitive user interface and new 20 MP APS-C CMOS Sensor Buy Now At Amazon

Pentax-K-S1
Image Credit: Amazon

DSLRs provide the best picture quality and functionality. However, like other camera options, DSLRs come in several flavors. Entry-level DSLRs (like the current set of mirrorless bodies) start from around $600 and come with fewer features than the pro-level DSLRs. For instance, many entry-level DSLRs lack premium features such as Wi-Fi and weatherization. You are paying for the camera body rather than the lens, and also mostly to have manual features as opposed to automatic ones.

The picture quality is top-notch in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. But you may end up paying more for lenses than the camera body. When picking out a DSLR, make sure you’re getting the most from your DSLR Are You Getting The Most From Your DSLR? Are You Getting The Most From Your DSLR? A great shot is a split second event. Getting it right is knowing which camera feature to use and when. Here are ten DSLR features that could inspire you to power on your camera. Read More . Also, there’s more you’ll want to consider when using your DSLR for video What I Think About DSLR Video [Opinion] What I Think About DSLR Video [Opinion] If there's one thing that I know, it's that DSLR video production is here to stay. As a DSLR-owner, I've finally succumbed to the new wave of production, and I can't complain too much (though... Read More . Be sure to stock up on DSLR gear 3 Websites To Find DSLR Gear & DIY Tips 3 Websites To Find DSLR Gear & DIY Tips Did you just get a DSLR for making videos? Did you believe that once you got it you would instantly be making creative, beautiful videos that would make all your friends think you are a... Read More , or make your own DSLR gadgets Make Your Own DSLR Remote Shutter Release Make Your Own DSLR Remote Shutter Release One accessory you'll no doubt be after is a remote shutter; this allows you to place the camera on a tripod or rest it somewhere and trigger the shutter without the chance of shake that... Read More like a remote shutter release.

Megapixels and Zoom Aren’t Everything

zoom

Everyone is always asking me about how many megapixels my camera has. However, that’s a little like the megahertz myth. Just as clock rate isn’t everything when selecting a microprocessor, megapixels aren’t the only aspect of a camera which determines quality. Hi-res is hi-res, and unless you plan on blowing up the picture for editing purposes, current megapixel standards Got An Old Digital Camera? It Can Still Do Magical Things Got An Old Digital Camera? It Can Still Do Magical Things I have two ageing digital SLR cameras, my first originally purchased Nikon D50 from 2005 and a Canon EOS-5D which I came across second-hand a few years ago. Despite being an entry-level camera that's getting... Read More are going to be just fine. Besides, if you are uploading things to Facebook, all of your pictures will be downsized for viewing on the web anyway. Instead of concentrating on megapixels alone, think about autofocus, image stabilization, and sensor size.

Then there’s the issue of zoom. Focal length isn’t that big of an issue, and if you are buying a point-and-shoot or a Mega Zoom, don’t let 20x be the reason you don’t buy a 15x. Yes, it kind of is a big jump. However, you should just move closer when you can and save a little money. Furthermore, if you have the megapixels, you could actually blow the picture up a little! This works even for the higher-level cameras, but for those of you working with higher-level post-work, pay more attention to the megapixels.

Your Purpose is Important

purposepng

Before you go out and buy a really fancy camera, you really should take into consideration why you’re getting it. Do you want it to shoot bands at concerts? Family gatherings? Scenery while on vacation? Professional photo shoots? Headshots for actors? Your intent really matters.

Many of you are reading this may very well want a point-and-shoot or even a Mega Zoom, and this is likely for general. If you don’t plan on touching the manual controls too much and would rather the camera run on auto-pilot, this an excellent justification. It all comes down to one thing: control. Do you want to drive manual or automatic? However, another criteria which purpose brings up is location. If you’re shooting on vacation, you may consider a rugged camera What Are the Best Rugged and Waterproof Cameras in 2017? What Are the Best Rugged and Waterproof Cameras in 2017? What are the best rugged and waterproof cameras? We've rounded up some of the most indestructible and durable cameras around for all budgets. Read More . Nikon even makes a waterproof DSLR. If an indestructible camera is overkill, many DSLRs come with weatherization. Since I shoot a lot of outdoor festivals, I snagged a Pentax K-70 for its water resistance.

Those of you who want more control and have the expertise may actually want something without the training wheels. Look for the ability to control your ISO, capture modes, number of megapixels, RAW shooting (which allows for more control during post-processing), and image stabilization. Typically, high-end cameras of any category including point-and-shoot, afford greater control. But mirrorless and DSLR cameras spanning the gammut generally yield full contro. Do your research and compare camera models to see which one will best satiate your power-hungry heart.

You Don’t Need A Big Camera

big

I say this mostly in a light-hearted manner, but you don’t need a big camera. Additionally, you don’t need top of the line equipment. A seasoned eye for photography can more than compensate for high-end gear. This can be said for professionals, too. I use a Pentax K-70 as my main rig. However, often when I’m not using the K-70 I simply use my Samsung Galaxy phone. The quality, particularly in decent light and with little to no zoom, is exceptional. It’s when there are dim lighting and moderate zoom where quality degrades substantially. Even a basic point-and-shoot or bridge camera boasts enhanced quality over a smartphone camera. There’s no need to rush out and buy the latest DSLR for quality photography.

You should be more passionate about how the image looks than how the camera looks. Granted, you must occasionally sacrifice some features for size. For instance, a compact camera may fit in your pocket. But you won’t have control over the lenses and other manual operations. Chances are the image quality won’t match that of a DSLR, mirrorless camera, or even a robust bridge camera due to a lower resolution, a cheaper lens, and subpar sensor that won’t perform as well in low-light. A camera that allows for interchangeable lenses and manual operations delivers maximum control over the picture. Yet often this increased performance also comes with a beefier body.

Lenses Are Important

lenses

I could write an entirely different article about lenses, but a lens is not just a lens. With point-and-shoots and Mega Zooms, you don’t have much say in the matter. However, with mirrorless cameras and DSLRs, lenses are crucial. Lenses carry quite a bit, far beyond merely focal length and aperture. For lenses, the quality of the glass and the image it produces matter greatly. For a complex explanation of lenses, this Wikipedia article is incredibly comprehensive.

Note that lens preference depends on your image taste and is pretty subjective. Immerse yourself in the world of lenses and try as many as you can. Don’t limit yourself to one brand like Nikon and Canon. Test out Zeiss, Rokinon, Sigma, Tamron, etc. Get out there and take a look at what the world has to offer. I opted for a Pentax K-70 for its bevy of features including lens compatibility. Most Pentax bodies deliver compatibility with legacy lenses from older film cameras. That’s a huge win for Pentax as there’s a ton of choice as well as greater affordability of lenses.

If you are absolutely set on your camera brand, get a decent camera body and spend more on the lens. Lenses last forever while camera bodies are constantly changing. Granted, this is only if you are truly set on the manufacturer. Different lenses come with different mounts (i.e. an MFT lens won’t fit on an EF camera), so it’s best to think ahead of time. When selecting a camera body, consider lens compatibility as a key component. Furthermore, lenses built for cropped sensors won’t exactly work for full-frame sensors. As such, this is another facet to selecting a lens.

As a first DSLR, I suggest purchasing a camera body with a kit lens while renting or borrowing lenses when you have to. That way you get a sense of a lens and how it functions with your camera, as well as the photo quality it produces.

Always Try Before You Buy

try

As with lenses, try as many cameras as you can before buying. You could visit your local camera shop or even ask a friend to borrow their rig. This prevents buyer’s remorse and allows you to test cameras before committing yourself. Plus, there’s the edification as a buyer.

While you’re at the store (or borrowing), check the build on the camera. Does it seem cheap? Too plastic-y? If you can sacrifice a cheap build to save a little cash, then that’s your prerogative. Ultimately, the internals of a camera matter more than the externals. Granted, construction does impact longevity. Therefore, build quality can affect function. Construction also matters for certain situations. If you shoot mostly outdoors or in wet climates, you may require a camera that’s weatherized. Furthermore, see how much control you have over the images. Browse the menus and notice which options you’re offered. Is there a button for each feature for quick access, or do you have to dig through the menus to get to each and every little thing? Ease of use is a major factor.

Additionally, if you purchase a camera with a fixed lens, compare the clarity of each one you try. Does the image seem soft? How sharp are the features on your subject? Unlike an interchangeable lens camera, you can’t simply swap out lenses with a point-and-shoot or bridge camera.

Renting is an Option

rent

As with cars, you can rent cameras and lenses for a discounted rate. Just visit your local camera shop. Alternately, test gear out by using LensRentals or BorrowLenses if you don’t have anything local. Renting may be more affordable than buying initially. But the frequency of use and cost of rental equipment might mean that’s not the case.

Your Phone May Work

8 Tips You Should Know Before Buying Your Next Digital Camera fingerprint sensor samsung galaxy s8 670x447

 

Finally, check yourself before you decide you need a camera. Try your smartphone camera 10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier 10 Ways Your Smartphone Camera Can Make Life Easier "Does your phone have a camera on it?" said no one since 2005. Nobody even asks how many megapixels your phone's camera has anymore. With the ubiquity of smartphones today, and the resolution of the... Read More before snagging a pricier rig. As smartphone technology continues to evolve, better cameras get shoved into phones. It’s increasingly common that consumers simply use phone cameras rather than standalone cameras. Similarly, smartphones morphed into de facto music players. Still, there’s a reason standalone mp3 players Get the Best Standalone MP3 Player in 2017 for All Budgets Get the Best Standalone MP3 Player in 2017 for All Budgets Although streaming music is increasingly accessible, offline music files remain a debatably superior format. We rounded up the best standalone MP3 players on the market covering all budgets. Read More persist and that cameras, whether point-and-shoot or DSLR, continue to thrive. Depending on your situation, a smartphone can work just as well as a camera.

Then again, your smartphone may not offer some of the “flashy features” that cameras have. For instance, there’s GPS-tracking, and this can help you mark down where exactly you took a photo for later reference. Then there’s the ability to connect to WiFi by these cameras. What this means is you can sometimes offload videos onto a hard drive while shooting, or you can use your smartphone with the camera to control settings from the palm of your hand using a specialized app. The biggest shortcomings, however, are typically zoom and low-light performance. For the best smartphone cameras, check out flagship handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S8 The Greatest Smartphone You Shouldn't Buy: Samsung Galaxy S8 Review (and Giveaway!) The Greatest Smartphone You Shouldn't Buy: Samsung Galaxy S8 Review (and Giveaway!) The $800 Samsung Galaxy S8 is, without question, the best smartphone ever made. But you probably shouldn't buy one. Read More or even budget phones like the ZTE Axon 7 ZTE Axon 7 Review ZTE Axon 7 Review While most high-end phones cost well over $600, the ZTE Axon 7 manages to pack amazing specs into a $400 phone -- and the result is impressive. Read More .

Read Reviews!

Reviews-camera-tips
Image Credit: Amazon

This goes for almost any purchase you make, not merely cameras. Always read reviews. For cameras, look at both reviews from established sites such as CNET, PC Mag, and MakeUseOf. But real-world consumer reviews from the likes of Amazon and Best Buy are fantastic as well. These are more candid and offer a sense of image quality, build quality, and ease of use from the perspective of the average person.

Conclusion

When selecting a camera, there’s a ton to consider. Primarily, camera type is key. Additionally, specific use matters greatly. Budget is a major limiting factor. Depending on your situation, you may choose to spend more on a smartphone with an excellent camera instead of buying a standalone rig. Alternately, you might opt for a point-and-shoot or bridge camera for better quality. Those seeking top-tier functionality and quality look to mirrorless and DSLR options. Remember, look beyond buzzwords like megapixels. Instead, concentrate on specific features and lens quality. Last, read reviews. Never make a purchase without delving into reviews of specific cameras you’re considering. Once you’ve selected your camera, check out this beginner’s guide to digital photography A Beginner's Guide To Digital Photography A Beginner's Guide To Digital Photography Digital photography is a great hobby, but it can be intimidating, too. This beginner's guide will tell you everything you need to know to get started! Read More !

Your turn: what camera buying tips do you recommend?

Image credit: Nomadic Lass, Peter Stevens, Tahir Hashmi, Jung-nam Nam, jp1958, Etienne Vilois, Sascha Grant, Bob BekianJoel Dinda, delta16v, John Ragai

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  1. steve
    July 24, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Articles like this should come with a DATE WARNING - stuff written in 2013 is so far out of date.

  2. Kishore
    December 26, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Dear Everyone,
    I would like to buy a camera only for taking pictures.
    I prefer best photo quality resolution.
    Please suggest me 2 or 3 model cameras and please suggest me suitable lenses aswell.
    My budget is roughly 800$ only for body.
    Thanks
    Best regards
    Kishore

    • Aditya
      February 4, 2016 at 10:09 am

      1000d Canon

  3. Lynn
    December 1, 2013 at 5:30 am

    I already have a canon DSLR and am looking for a smaller high quality camera to carry around with me in my purse. I want a small camera in addition to already using my phone for photos. What do you think of the sony-cybershot-dsc-rx100-ii?

  4. Paul R
    July 26, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Interesting article, and quite useful.
    Seeing the first pic of what looks like a 35 mm bellows camera from another era reminds me of some useful comparisons. Smartphone cams are the pin-hole cameras of today., compacts are the box brownies and SLRs akin to bellows and plate cameras. While these comparisons are not quite fair they provide a useful comparison between the tiny lens fixed focus fixed aperture smartphone cams, the bigger lensed compacts with a variety of possible aperture focal length and shutter speed mixes, and the even bigger lensed SLR with additional control over focal length , aperture and shutter speed.
    If you want convenience and all-in-one portability for snapshots get a smartphone. If you want better control over your pictures stick with an ordinary CP and spend the rest on a good compact or entry level DSLR - although you will lose the connectivity of a smartphone you may gain the time to take more enjoyable photographs.

  5. Ron D
    July 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Any chance that you could do the same sort of thing for camcorders?

  6. Denis
    July 22, 2013 at 7:12 am

    After having lots of high quality SLR's etc I now have a Panasonic HD Camcorder and find it extremely versatile for both stills and movies - compact handy quick plenty of settings takes a 7mp still and HD video great zoom, excellent in low light - Worth considering I would probably never buy a still camera again :)

  7. Jon B
    July 21, 2013 at 2:55 am

    Good article, and quite useful. I'd be interested in your view on how important sensor size is in selecting a camera. In particular in the compact market. I notice Canon make a model with a near SLR sized (18 x 14 mm) (the PowerShot G1X). Is this feature a significant improvement or advantage?

    • Paul R
      July 26, 2013 at 12:27 am

      The sensor size affects the field of view: so, in short reply to you, yes, compared to smaller sensors it will be technically superior. Whether the difference is noticeable it is difficult to say.
      The traditional standard comes from the world of film when the 'size' of the sensor was a 35 x 24 mm film frame. In simple terms the bigger the sensor the wider the field of view. This is much easier to explain with a diagram but it basically means that a compact camera with a small sensor needs a wider angle lens (shorter focal length) than its 35mm predecessor or a full frame DSLR.
      Using a straight edge (ruler) draw 3 parallel lines across a sheet of paper.(with the long edge of the paper vertical). Put the first near the top, the second about 6 inches down the page and the third about 2 inches below the second.Mark the centre of the second line and put four marks on the top line two about 1 inch in from either edge and two about 2 inches from each edge. Now draw lines from each point on the top line through the midpoint of the second line and on to the third line. Looking at this simple diagram the top line represents the 'view', the second line is the front of the camera lens and the third line is the plane of the sensor. The proportions will not be correct of course but this should give you an understanding of how a bigger sensor will see a wider field of view.
      In the 35mm SLR world it was usually accepted that a 50mm primary lens would provide a field of view similar to natural vision. Put that lens on a full frame DSLR (Canon makes two the 1D and the 5D) and it achieves the same result. Put the same lens on a 600D (with a crop factor of 1.6) and it will behave like an 80mm lens on a full frame. Or, put the other way, to achieve a 'natural' view you would need about a 31mm (say 28mm) lens to achieve the same result. The G1X has a crop factor of approximately 2 so (not having seen one) I would suggest it has a lens with a focal length near 25mm. A smaller sensor would require an even wider angle lens. In general (with a simple lens such as on compact cameras the wider the angle the more distortion is likely at the edges. Taken to extremes this can become an issue but once again whether the difference is noticeable between one compact and another is difficult to say. Hope this helps, or other readers.

  8. Stephanie S
    July 20, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Joshua, this is an excellent article on buying cameras. I am sure there are others out there but you broke it down pretty well. What I have is what is called a "bridge camera" or at least that is what I was told it is. It isn't just a point-and-shoot but it is not a DSLR either. It is not mirrorless. It comes with a ton of features (scenes they call them) but what sold me on the camera is that besides the basic "auto" setting, I can change the aperture, the speed, all sorts of choices if I want to get special effects or the ability to fine-tune my photos. Sony and GE (yes, GE!) are two companies that sell this camera. I believe that they are same camera after seeing my granddaughter's best friend's Sony (I have the GE). Everything is the same except the brand etched on front. Anyway, I am curious if you know where this type of camera fits? Thanks for a great article.

  9. AP
    July 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    In every category you have mentioned few names except cameras in smartphones , I think HTC ultrapixel and NOKIA's pureview cameras which are best in my opinion.

    • Fritz Pinguin
      July 23, 2013 at 3:59 am

      I fully agree with the Pureview. I "upgraded" from N8 to 808 Pureview lately and I am just amazed.

  10. BChap
    July 19, 2013 at 1:11 am

    The article is somewhat dated, in that the Canon SX260 reference should be changed to SX280 which has signficantly upgraded features. That's what a normal person would look at today. I am a fan of Canon, myself.

    As good as the Canon is, a comparison buyer will find the Olympus SH-50 has even better performance, such as a faster lens, and better macro closeup distance. The latter would be better in low light situations. Other features like an HDR mode, and real-time panaromic stitching send the Olympus over the top, in my opinion.

  11. Sassah122 S
    July 18, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    I'm not sure what you mean here "Then again, your smartphone may not offer some of the “flashy features” that cameras have. For instance, there’s GPS-tracking, and this can help you mark down where exactly you took a photo for later reference." iPhones and some androids have great GPS features.

  12. Dornie
    July 18, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    The weight of a camera and lens is important especially if your traveling or just walking around without a tripod. After a while the camera can become very heavy and burdensome affecting your shooting. Cameras can vary from a few ounces up to several pounds. It can be uncomfortable holding up a camera waiting for that certain shot. As you get older a heavy camera becomes more of a problem.

    • Ron
      July 19, 2013 at 12:54 am

      Then there is the point and shot that do a raw image and fits in your shirt pocket.

      It hard to please everyone. No matter what you write on you will leave someone out. Good Job!

  13. Rob H
    July 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    The category of camera I prefer is missing - or else bracketed somewhat dismissively with point and shoot.

    My priority is that I can have a camera capable of good shots with a reasonable degree of control (speed/aperture etc) and with me always in a shirt pocket.

    For me that's the Lumix TZ range, streets ahead of the best cell-phone cameras - it does have a "point and shoot" mode but it's a pretty smart one pretty reliable if you need to grab a quick shot when an opportunity suddenly arises.

    "Shirt pocket" digital cameras range from maybe as little as USD30 to over USD300. Needless to say the USD300 models have much more to offer.

    Another issue I'd highlight is water resistance. Any camera with an extending lens, is susceptible to just a few raindrops which can get taken into the mechanism when the lens retracts and risk internal damage, possibly just condensation that will dry out but maybe worse.

  14. Tim Gray
    July 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    What about the size of the sensor? This can make a difference to the quality of the image (for example, the subtlety of colours). As important as 12 megapixel plus resolution. This is another reason why 'full size' 'SLR'-type digital cameras have better quality images (and why they're more expensive): they can easily fit in a larger size of sensor - eg the size of a 35mm negative. Some smaller 'compact' type cameras have larger sensors now and, if possible, it would be worth paying a little more for those (eg some Panasonic Lumix and Sony compacts have larger sensors). Unfortunately, the information on the sensor size of the camera is not often given in the specification data given on nmost websites.

    • Alan T
      July 19, 2013 at 1:05 am

      Fully agree with Tim, the sensor size is often the reason that your phone may not take as good a picture as a camera. It isn't that the phone manufacturer wouldn't like to use bigger sensors (as the latest Nokia demonstrates), it is just the physical size of the phone restricts it. Also,most cameras have dedicated software where as phones have to share the system, this can result in problems and image issues. For me I love my phone for pictures as I always have it but when possible I carry a Sony compact zoom in my pocket.

  15. Jolie
    July 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Can you please suggest a point and shoot camera for indoor and outdoor sport photography, zoom and settings also?

    • Alan T
      July 19, 2013 at 12:59 am

      This sort of depends a lot on is you want to go all the way to the megazoom level. If you do cameras like the Canon SX50 or the Sony DSC HX300 have huge zoom ranges, burst shooting. If you want to include Geo tag data then the Sony DSC HX200V or the Nikon P520.
      Want a smaller camera that will fit into your pocket, something like the Sony DSC HX 10V or the one I use the DSC HX 9V.

  16. Onaje A
    July 18, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Great info. People who would like to go Pro need this. Thanks.

  17. Jon
    July 18, 2013 at 9:17 am

    For some reason, I can no longer sign in, so I'm posting without signing in...

    Your article is quite disappointing on the mirrorless front. You said, "Mirrorless cameras are on the rise as the next generation of semi-professional cameras, but they still are in the early stages of development." And then you posted three cameras--three of the youngest systems on the market, and you didn't say one word about the system that started it all, and is only truly mature system that actually has a number of decent bodies by multiple manufacturers as well as a huge assortment of lenses--namely micro 4/3rds system. What's up with that? Please edit your article to actually do your readers a service, and include something about this system. Not mentioning the system that started the entire "mirrorless" revolution is more than a mere oversight. It's a travesty.

  18. Mandip Das
    July 18, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Very nice article, well done. I am considering buying either Nikon D5100 or Canon EOS 600D in a few days. I don't care about video photography much! Love to shoot black and white photos. What do you think, which one would be best for me?

    • Tom
      July 18, 2013 at 7:35 am

      Each of those has its trade-offs in the world of monochrome.

      The Nikon has better Low-light and dynamic range (not by much), which are very important for black & white, but the canon has higher resolution, and IMHO the crop factor is better.

      but if you are only shooting black and white, go nikon.

      Disclaimer: I own a canon.

    • GF
      July 18, 2013 at 7:53 am

      > Love to shoot black and white photos

      Congratulations for your tastes. Fascination of B/W is incomparable.