Hall Photography 101: What Kind of Camera is For You

Ok, I’ve gotten a fair amount of requests over how to choose a camera.  Honestly, the best way is to go to a store that has a variety of cameras handy for anyone to try them

out and play

around with it to see if you like it.  Shop around to see if you can get a good deal.  Honestly, that’s the best way to do it.

Still here?  Ok, I’ll be serious now.  First thing you need to consider is how much money you want to spend.  If you’re broke, stay with what you have (i.e.: your cellphone, smartphone, tablet (uh…..), Polaroid (high five!), etc.

Compact Cameras (Point and Shoots):

It’s not the size of it…

Compact Digital Cameras (Point and Shoots, Digicams, etc) aren’t going extinct like many “Professional” Photographers say.  They still have their uses like at parties (with all those lovely shots of you drunk and passed out on the floor).  Fact is that between cell phones/smartphones and the point and shoot, you’ll see a significant improvement in terms of performance since cameras are more purpose built and has a larger sensor and a zoom lens.  Also, Point and Shoots have nicer bells and whistles such as face detection

and, depending on model, might even allow you to use Manual settings

The major advantage of these cameras, besides price, is that they are small and light.  That means you won’t get tired carrying it around with you all day, making it ideal in any situation.  Actually, I recommend having one at all times, if your budget allows, since you never know when inspiration will strike and you’ll see something you “just have to take a photo of” or if you need to quickly record something.  Things like randomly meeting people, car accidents, random funny events, taking notes in class, etc.  Another advantage of these small cameras is that you can take photos at angles and distances that would make DSLR users jealous.  Fact is, DSLRs are pretty big and heavy, so it’s harder to get those high angle shots or shooting at close distances when you want a larger photo area, like hall shots.

If you decide on using a point and shoot rather than everything else on the list, remember there is a limit to how well the camera will perform.  Point and Shoots are “jack-of-all-trades”, but there are three things that Point and Shoots cannot do: change lens, have good low-light performance, and use wireless flashes.  The low-light performance will probably never be solved because the physics of the cameras demand a larger sensor.  Since compact cameras are meant to be small and compact, they forgo the interchangeable lens and the larger, higher-performance sensors that larger cameras have.  Without higher-quality, purpose built lenses, you can’t expect the same sharpness in point and shoots.  Also, without the larger sensor, colors, lighting, and noise performance (aka how “grainy” the shot is) are negatively effected.  While there are Point and Shoots that can perform as well as entry-level DSLRs, they cost as much as the said DSLR, so you have to decided what you want.

Why Upgrade:

:bulletblack: Better specs all around (higher resolution, zoom, face-detection and other gizmos)

:bulletblack: More control of the shot

:bulletblack: Small size and weight

:bulletblack: Has neat gadgets like histogram, face detection, multiple points of focus

Downside:

:bulletblack:You’re buying a camera

:bulletblack:No more Instagram

Why it’s not the best?

:bulletblack:Ergonomics

:bulletblack:Cannot use external/wireless flashes

:bulletblack:Still a Small Sensor (affects colors and low-light noise)

:bulletblack:Trigger lag (it takes time to focus and actually shoot the photo)

:bulletblack:LCD screen only (no viewfinder)

Mirrorless Cameras:

Overcompensating much?

Mirrorless Interchangible-Lens Cameras (MILC’s or Mirrorless Cameras) are a relatively new type of camera.  The removal of the mirror allows these cameras to be smaller, but they still retain most of the performance of DSLRs.  So you now have a camera that is small and light, allowing you to get into small spaces for shots, while retaining a moderate sensor and allowing the user a choice in various lenses.  A neat aspect about these cameras is that, with a special adaptor, a mirror-less camera can use many DSLR lenses.

I have relatively little experience with these types of cameras so I cannot give a very good review on them.  From what I’ve seen, they control almost exactly like a Compact Point and Shoot with LCD screens (and not viewfinders like in DSLR) and tiny buttons, but with various lens that range from small and compact to large honking lenses (most likely a DSLR lens on an adaptor).  Check them out if you want a compact camera with interchangeable lenses, but be sure to do your reseach before you buy.

Pros:

:bulletblack:Small and light

:bulletblack:Interchangeable lens (3/4ths lens or DSLR w/ adaptor)

:bulletblack:Higher spec than many Compact Point and Shoots

Cons:

:bulletblack:Still not a DSLR (Sensor-wise)

:bulletblack:Cannot use wireless flashes

:bulletblack:Ergonomics (especially if you have larger hands like me, it’ll be cramped and the button layout isn’t great)

:bulletblack:(with larger lens) It’s very front-heavy

DSLRs:

Big Camera does not make you a Big Man…

DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) Cameras are considered the best cameras for many forms of photography.  They have large digital image sensors and can take interchangeable lenses.  That means in terms of specs, they are superior to Compact cameras and smartphones in terms of the amount of raw power DSLRs have.  They also have nice features like Aperature priority,

HD video recording, ability to use remote flashes, etc.

Now, you’re getting a lot of power from these cameras, but they come with a price, and not just a financial one.  These cameras are bigger and heavier so you can get tired of carrying them all day long.  They are larger so good luck stuffing them in your pant’s pocket.  And of course, once you start using DSLRs, everyone just EXPECTS you to shoot bettter.  Somehow, it is ingrained in everybody’s mind that if you have a DSLR, you are automatically a pro!  Those of us who have DSLRs and those who have been shooting (with a DSLR or not a DSLR) know better.  However, to everyone else, DSLR means you are a pro photographer.  So if you decide to buy one, you better learn how to use it.  Just remember:

“It’s not the camera, it’s the shooter”

(I’m going to write a seperate article on DSLRs.  For now, the entry-level (aka cheapest) DSLR can compete with the Most Expensive Compact Cameras.  But there are special rules for DSLRs since you now have different lens and different bodies.)

Pros

:bulletblack:Mode-dials, dust reduction system, HD video, Aperature/Shutter –priority, Programable Manual, Manual, Remote flashes, etc

:bulletblack:Feels good to grip for steady shots

:bulletblack:Interchangeable lens

:bulletblack:Larger sensor = better image quality (lower noise, colors, depth-of-field)

:bulletblack:Quick trigger response

:bulletblack:View Finder and/or Electronic screen

Cons

:bulletblack:Expensive

:bulletblack:Large and heavy

:bulletblack:Knowing which is entry-level, pro-consumer, full-frame, crop-sensor………

Let’s End it Right Here

There are four things you have to take into consideration when you purchase a camera: cost, feel, specs, and how serious you are.  You cannot just grab the most expensive camera on the market and expect to be an expert on photography when you only use the “A for Automatic” setting.  Get the camera that has the specs you want at a cost you can actually afford.  Remember, you will be using these cameras for a couple of years.  Know the strengths and weaknesses of the camera you are about to buy.  They will either make it easier or harder for you as a photographer.

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~ by BlizzardTerrak on November 21, 2012.

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