Photography 101: Picking Your Camera

It is quite important to have the good idea of what kind of equipment you would want when starting out in photography. But there is no solid rule as to which camera you should buy because in the end a great picture is nothing to do with the quality as such. But rather the subject and effect.

For example a grainy black and white image of a building might make the image look old and used this can be achieved with the cheapest of cameras.

Their are many types of cameras these days so first I will list them and then brake them down afterwards:

Camera Phone
Point and Shoot
Bridge Camera
SLR – Single-lens Reflex
DSLR – Digital Single-lens Reflex

Camera Phone

Probably something you already own. This low featured camera is probably the most difficult to use creatively because you don’t have a whole lot of options. But times have changed and camera phones like the Iphone or anything Sony is bringing out are giving you more and more.

If you’re considering buying a new phone maybe you would like to consider the camera part as well. Its not the best starting point to photography at all but it can be useful when you need to shoot something but have left your real camera at home.

Prime example of the camera phones usefulness can be found here: Twitter and a classic picture

Point and Shoot

These cameras are just that “point and shoot” typically these are for the Auto mode users that don’t want to spend the money on a huge brick of a camera.

Now you can get great pictures from these cameras but there is a consistent number of throwaways. There is nothing wrong with that normally but it could mean missing important events.

Night shooting is not it’s strongest point either. If you’re in a concert you might find it just won’t give you anything good. Now the reason for this is because you’re likely using some degree of Auto mode where the camera guesses the settings it needs based on the environment. This can be tricky if you want to focus on one thing but the camera sets up on something else.

Again though times are changing and the newer and more expensive cameras give the user much more control. As a starting point this is probably the cheapest without getting into anything too Technical.

Bridge Cameras

These cameras are an awesome starting point for anyone budding photgrapher. As the name might suggest the Bridge camera, bridges the technological gap between point and shoots and DSLRS. They normally come fully featured like a DSLR but don’t have a removable lens. The downside is that they are not as powerful in quality and have issues in low light.

They do come with an Auto mode like most cameras so if you can brave the dials and buttons you can stick to Auto mode like and point and shoot then as you learn you can move on to the other settings.

One thing to note when you have a bridge camera: If you have a book that just talks about settings on a DSLR if you try and copy those settings you might have a different results. This is due to the fact that bridge cameras are typically fixed lens cameras. Bryan Peterson: Understanding Exposure does give a full yet brief explanation.

SLR – Single-lens Reflex

These are old school film cameras. The only reason why I mention them is that you can pick up the cameras and lenses on Ebay or as one of my friends often does, buys them from a car boot sale / garage sale really really cheaply.

They do have a disadvantage by not being digital and you will never get instant feed back but I have to be honest there is nothing more exciting that getting film developed and holding your own work in your hands.

Not something for a beginner really because film will cost you a lot of money. But if you mastered the bridge camera settings and read a few books these blasts from the past can be really inspirational.

If anything else having film will make you think 100% more about the picture your taking which will improve your eye for a photo.

DSLR – Digital Single-lens Reflex

DSLR range from 300 to 7000+ euros. Depending on what you want you can spend a huge amount of money. Lots of people say “photography as a hobby is way too expensive” and when looking at DSLR’s they are right! BUT once you get yourself kitted out with your gear (case camera lens and memory cards) the theory is you wont want to buy anything more for another 2 years (depending on wither you are one of those kids with your nose up against the shop window all the time).

These are the best cameras you can buy by far. But there is a difference between models and brands in this class. So do your research first!

As for a beginner it’s not just a dream to start with a DSLR. You still likely have an Auto mode! But I would say this: Don’t buy a DSLR unless you are serious about using the settings on it at some point. If you are not bothered about learning you can save yourself a lot of money buying a cheaper bridge camera.

Another note to remember: When I was looking for a new camera I had a lot of negative feed back on both Nikon and Canon cameras that I was considering. It seems there is a level of fanboy feelings about the two brands. Just stay objective and open minded and remember that all cameras and all lenses have a negative.

Nothing in photography is perfect… Some of us would not have it any other way!

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