If you haven’t shopped for a camera in several years but are considering a purchase soon, you’ll be surprised at the number of choices. The good news is that quality is up, features are plentiful and there is a price range for everyone. Here’s a breakdown of the three basic types of digital cameras and their pluses and minuses.
Single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR)
Larger sensors for the best-quality image.
Optical viewfinder. You hold your camera to your eye to see what the lens sees.
No shutter lag or delay between pressing the shutter and the picture being taken.
Big, heavy and loud, but versatile with multiple lens choices and accessories.
Typically more expensive.
Lenses are extra.
You can photograph anything and everything with a DSLR camera and the proper lenses. It may get heavy on your shoulders on an all-day stroll, but if you want large image files for big prints, need to shoot sports or require options in lens choice, it is hard to beat a good DSLR.
Examples on both ends of the price range (body only) are the Canon EOS Rebel T2i ($579.00) and the Nikon D3x ($8,000.00).
Compact/Point and Shoot cameras
Versatile, very portable, extremely quiet and less expensive.
Features can include macro capability, in-camera panoramas and video modes.
Small sensors. Quality can suffer in low light or when making large prints.
Lack of optical viewfinder. Requires use of rear LCD monitor to frame subject.
Some degree of shutter lag.
Lens permanently attached to camera.
A compact camera can be with you at all times, a big advantage. But don’t expect to shoot sports or capture quality images in low light. If all you require is to post images to Facebook, make prints below 11-by-14 inches and can live without an optical viewfinder and a quick response shutter, you’ll be well served by a consumer P&S.
Examples on both ends of the price range are the Fujifilm FinePix AV200 ($65.00) and the Canon S100 ($430.00).
Mirrorless interchangeable system cameras
Sensor sizes between compact cameras and DSLR.
Electronic viewfinders (EV) are available on many models as well as the live view off an LCD monitor.
Flexibility of interchangeable lenses.
More compact than DSLR systems but larger than P&S cameras. Not small enough for pockets.
Features can include macro, panorama and video modes.
Lighter, quieter and generally less expensive than DSLRs.
EV displays can vary in quality and can exhibit ghosting with subject movement or when panning.
This type of camera does a nice job of combining the best qualities of both P&S and DSLR cameras in one system. If you don’t want to compromise on image quality, would like more lens choices and want to travel light, it might be time for you to consider these cameras.
Examples: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 (body only — $300.00), Olympus E-P3 (w/ two lenses — $1,500)
To view some of these cameras on-site and not just online, try Wolfe’s in Topeka for most major camera brands and a knowledgeable staff.