Every so often a friend will ask my advice in the purchase of a new digital camera. I’ll usually ask them what they’ll require from their camera. If the answer is, ‘I’m just looking to take family snapshots’, or ‘Something that’s easy to use’, I’ll recommend they get a compact camera.
Compact cameras are often referred to as ‘Point and shoot’, because they usually have a setting where you can just aim it and shoot. Everything is set automatically.
With most compact cameras, there are more advanced settings you can use, but they also have a setting that usually shows a green square or a simple camera. With this setting, you point and click.
As far as compact cameras go I don’t recommend any one brand. To be honest, any of the major brands are just as good as the others. Sony, Nikon, Canon, Panasonic and Casio all make great cameras. It’s just a matter of what specific features you need from your camera and how much you you’re willing to spend.
The main problem presented with the digital compact camera is that annoying little delay between the time you press the shutter release and the moment — usually about once second later — that the photo is actually taken.
I had my first digital compact for about thirty minutes before I decided something was going to have to be done. During that one second delay many of the best images are long since lost. Especially, if it’s a scene that involves action. It’s almost impossible to anticipate the exact moment to press the shutter release to capture what will happen one second in the future at the perfect moment.
This situation is going to rear its ugly head many more times that you’d think. For me it happened almost every time I took a picture.
After doing about fifteen minutes of research I discovered the only way to remedy this situation was to purchase a DSLR. DSLR is an acronym for Digital Single Lens Reflex camera.
I had owned a few SLR film cameras over the years so I was familiar with how they worked. When you look through the viewfinder of an SLR you are actually looking through the same lens that the picture will be taken. That is why it is called a single lens reflex. When you press the shutter release button, a mirror pops out of the way and what you were seeing in that mirror is then exposed to the film located behind it.
In the digital world the only thing that has changed is that instead of film being behind that mirror there is now a digital sensor.
Back in early 2003 when I was looking for a DSLR there wasn’t a large selection available. Only Canon and Nikon were making them and the cheapest ‘body only’ kit you were going to find cost $1500. ‘Body only’, means that you will have to purchase the lens Separately.
Canon had just released the 10D and after making serious comparisons between that and what Nikon had to offer, I went with the Canon. I had my 10D for almost three years before I upgraded.
A note on upgrading: It is my belief that if you purchase state of the art now you won’t have to upgrade again for about three years. Three years is about the life expectancy of digital technology with cameras. Advances are made yearly, but they’re so minor that, in reality, upgrading isn’t really necessary. I will blog on this and other available features in more detail later.
Back to the subject at hand.
When it comes to buying a new DSLR I don’t necessarily recommend any one brand, including the brand I shoot. In fact, although I love many of the features and the capabilities of the camera I currently use, I have had my issues with the company and I have long since stopped swearing by them.
The truth is that there are several companies making DSLRs these days that are worthy competitors. Of course the two longest rivals are Canon and Nikon, but there are also other many other great bodies made by the likes of Fuji, Pentax, Olympus and of course, Sony.
I think the only difference that really needs to be addressed is what glass is available for said bodies. Glass is a photographer’s term for lens. In my opinion the lens is probably the most important part of a camera.
A good comparison would be this: your head is the camera body and your eyes are the lens. You can have the best mind in the world in your head, but it’s not going to help you to see any better if you are partially blind.
When it comes down to it, Canon and Nikon have the jump on lens manufacture, with Sony threatening to become a real contender in the next few years. Sony bought out Minolta a few years ago and, considering the fact they have been making top notch video equipment since its inception, you can’t disregard what they are offering.
A few years ago when they jumped into the DSRL market a lot of professional photographers scoffed. I never did and I was happy they stepped in. The price of the average DSRL has dropped and continues to drop consistently since. And Sony’s cameras have only gotten better, while they have added dozens of new lenses.
Besides that, before the Play Station came out ten years ago what did Sony have to do with video games? I don’t believe Nintendo was taking them all that seriously then either. But what about now?
When it comes to your choice, all of the aforementioned factors should be considered. When you finally have it narrowed down to two or three choices do a Google search and see what actual owners are saying about those cameras. Add the words complaint and praise to the search and see what that gets you as well.
After all, the best advice you will find will be from someone familiar with the equipment you are considering the purchase of.