So You Want to Buy a Camera.
Well to start with, it's best to look at the end; What do you want to do with all those photos you are taking?
Today with all of the smartphone technology out there it seem a little odd why someone would purchase a dslr. Sorry...Whats a dslr I hear you ask? Well a dslr is a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. There the ones you need to have a backpack to carry around.
The Smartphone Camera is often the first choice for everyday snaps. So much so that it is estimated that around 40% of all photos are taken on a smart phone. And why not, It answers calls shows you where you are and where your heading and yes takes photos. The best part about taking photos on your iphone or other smart phone is that you can instantly share your images, thoughts and comments with friends and others through facebook, twitter, pintrest, linkdin, google+ and other social forums. If thats all you want to do with your captured memories, and you are not particularly interested in editing your photos, enlarging your photos or even printing your photos....then your decision is made!
However if you want to be creative with your photography, then a smartphone is not the answer, why? Because you can't control iso, white balance, shutter speed, aparture settings, focal length and depth of field and you cant change lenses for the appropriate style you are after. As well and most importantly you are shooting with an extremely small sensor. The iphone 6 does have auto focus, shoots at 12 megapixels and has improved noise reduction technology. The 12 megapixels is why the image looks fantastic on your phone....but again a tiny sensor. But why is that important? you ask....the answer will be explained at the conclusion of this article. Would I use one to record important memories..NO!
Ah... The old Point and Shoot, Can't tell you how many of these i've owned. I've still got one in the study somewhere. Not sure they even sell them anymore, what with an 8-12 megapixel camera phone, it seems like they are going the way of the dinosaurs. They do have a larger sensor than your smartphone and the have many more automatic settings. Like, outdoors, sunny day, shadow, sport etc etc. But because of the options of the smart phone outlined above, the point and shoot seems a bit pointless. They are however better at capturing your shots than your trustee smartphone...why?...because they have a larger sensor, and usually have quite a good zoom. Plus there are more buttons and dials to muck around with. The more expensive models have larger sensors and often take the shape of a small dslr. With these cameras it is not only possible to post your favorities to social media,.......but you can print to a reasonable size as well.
A huge step forward in design, picture quality, lens interchangeability and usually price are the popular mirrorless cameras. The top of the heap here seems to be the Sony a7 and a7r (their predecessor the a6000 is now relatively cheap). These cameras come with varying sized sensors. Firstly (in size order) is the micro four thirds. Then comes the APSC and finally the Full Frame. Full frame in the sony 7 series can set you back between $3000.00 and $4000.00. But according to many professional photographers the price is worth it! Would I buy one as my next camera...DEFINATELY. If you go for a brand name in the mirrorless camera field, then compatible lenses are not a problem. The Samsung NX1 is also an amazing camera with an APSC sized sensor, and at half the price of the new Sony. Olympus, Fujifilm and Panasonic all make fantastic mirrorless cameras. When you look at the top end models, you will note that they have an electronic viewfinder. As you move down the price range you can only preview your photos while looking at the lcd screen on the back. Not necessarily bad, but that depends on the quality of the display. For me, I want a viewfinder.
Then along comes the DSLR...almost at the top, but not quite. Canon and Nikon hold sway for the serious photographer. But both are rather big and can be heavy. Along with the DSLR come the best lenses which are made by Nikon and Canon. However, Sigma, Tamron and Tokina, all make high quality 3rd party lenses. I use a Tamron 28-75 2.8 lens and a Sigma 105mm prime 2.8 macro. Most of the pro-summer models come with an APSC sensor, with the Nikon being slightly larger. When it comes to resolutio - megapixels - they range form 16 mp, to an amazing 50.6 mp on the Canon EOS 5DS. The Nikon D810 comes a close second with 36.3mp Both of the cameras are full frame. (equal to 35mm). For me if I upgrade to a new DSLR then it will be the Nikon D810. Mainly because all of my lenses are for the Nikon mount. My current camera, a dated Nikon D7000 has an APSC sensor and has a resolution of 16.2 mp. The D7100 that replaced it is a far better camera with new software and a 24mp APSC sensor.
One of the best features of the full frame cameras is their ability to shoot in low light. My D7000 and the newer D7100(now the 7200), both have a native iso range of 100-6400 but once you need to boost the iso towads 6400, the images are almost useless with a huge amount of white noise and in high contast scenes, colour noise....there is only so much photoshop can do to recover a very noisy photo. So the full frame sensor captures more light because it is bigger, therefore much better for indoor or low light photography. These high end cameras tend to have a native iso of 50-12800. But full frame comes at a price. Canon and Nikon supply a range of high end full frame and apsc cameras. Few now have a resolution under 20mp.
So, you thought $3000-$6000 was a lot to pay for a camera....well think again...the Hasselbrad range of Medium Format cameras can set you back up to $50,000! Apart from saying most of these are film cameras with manual winding, if you own a medium format camera then you are not reading this article. OK so whta about sensor size and why is it important? I will explain in the next article, Camera Settings.
Hopefully the article was of some use. Please let me know what you think. And add suggestions.