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Bridge or DSLR or mirror-less or….   Nikon or Canon, Sony or Pentax. If you are out to buy a camera, here are some simple and basic tips for you to buy a camera that will serve YOUR purpose, and won’t be just an expensive monster - difficult to carry, difficult to control, and you loose interest in photography.

Some simple questions to ask yourself before you buy a camera -

Am I a family & picnic photographer? Am I a frequent traveller who wants to travel light yet get nice pictures? Do I expect a camera to shoot nice images, and be in pocket when not in use? Am I a photographer who wants a sturdy, luxury camera and still want to keep footprint small? Or do I want complete manual control over my camera and get amazing images? The list of questions can be longer, and so are the list of appropriate answers.

Let’s make things simpler to understand. All of today’s cameras, including mobile cameras really shoot amazing images. All work in a simple principle of using light to give us nice images and of course memories we love to preserve!

But when you want to upgrade picture quality, it’s time to think of different cameras, technologies, budget size and weight. We will divide cameras into four categories- 1) Compact or point & shoot, 2) Semi DSLR or bridge camera, 3) Mirror-less, 4) DSLR. We are not considering mobile cameras here, as they are primarily phones and an add on feature is a camera, and also mobile cameras lack the power of zooming- a much needed thing in any camera.

Let’s dive into little details, and you can take a decision -


1) COMPACT CAMERAS OR POINT & SHOOT CAMERAS are excellent for those who want hassle free shooting, minimum buttons and fail proof shooting. Compact or a point & shoot cameras are compact, very light, easily fits in a pocket or a purse, and stylish too if you want to make it look like one of your fashion gadget which works! Weight of these cameras is between 120 to 300 grams. These cameras typically have a on/off switch, a toggle switch or button to zoom, and a dial to select a mode which matches your subject mood- to shoot a portrait, a close up, a landscape or a seascape. Just set it and shoot! And your memories are frozen with amazing colours! These cameras are far superior than mobile cameras. They provide a much higher level of detail, better software to process your images. They also provide a terrific optical zoom range which mobile cameras lack. Optical zoom is always a better choice over a digital zoom.

Summary

Good for : if you are looking for pure camera, much better than a mobile camera, and easy to carry.

Also good for macro shots.

Size : compact, easy to carry.

Operation : easy.

Zoom : very good.

WATERPROOF CAMERAS -

Another extension of these cameras (in terms of size & utility) is a specialised version of waterproof cameras. If you love swimming, and shoot underwater, this is the type of cameras you should think of.

Summary

Good for : if you are looking for a camera which can shoot underwater. (Check specifications, till what depth a model can go underwater.)

Size : compact, easy to carry.

Operation : easy.

Zoom : fixed to limited zoom range, depending upon model.


ACTION CAMERAS

For hard core swimmers, bikers, para-gliders, and such action packed games, there is a new category of action cameras. These can be mounted on helmets, car panels, drones, nearly everything you can think of. Popular brands are GoPro, and Nikon.

Summary

Good for : If you are searching for a very compact, lightweight mountable camera, which will shoot still and video on ground, in air and underwater, this is the choice.

Size : compact, easy to carry.

Operation : easy, at the same time because of it’s small size, LCD too gets shrunk, and navigation becomes little tricky.

Zoom : varies. Check manufacturer’s site.




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2) SEMI DSLR OR BRIDGE CAMERAS -

This camera is a a mix of a compact and a full featured DSLR, adapting best of both worlds! Convenience, compactness of small cameras, and many features from a DSLR camera are built into one. These cameras are little bigger than compact cameras, and smaller and lighter than DSLRs. This is a camera most suited for someone who wants to have compactness, ease of use, and when required, complete manual control for creative photography. These cameras have amazing zoom range, some models have a zoom of upto 83X! That too in a very small sized unit!

Summary

Good for : Perfect for a frequent traveller looking for a moderately sized and priced camera with huge zooming range. Also good for macro shots, and for shooting distant objects. Because of high zoom, good for wildlife and bird photography at a very basic level.

Size : Semi compact, easy to carry.

Operation : easy.

Zoom : From 20x to 83x.

Lens : Fixed lens, cannot be removed and attached with another lens. But, with a huge built in zoom range, we do not need an additional lens!



3) MIRROR LESS CAMERAS -

The newest type of camera design is mirror-less cameras. These cameras give a much better quality than a semi DSLR or  a bridge camera, in a smaller size than a full featured DSLR. Ideal for someone who wants to carry less weight and size compared to a DSLR.

Summary

Good for : Perfect for a discerning photographer looking for rich quality in a small package.  

Size : Small camera, lenses are little bigger.

Operation : easy.

Zoom : Depends upon lens in use.

Lens : Lens can be removed and attached with another lens.




4) DSLR CAMERAS -

A DSLR is for someone who wants a very high level of detailing in an image, wants to enlarge images, enter contests, exhibitions, and is ready to understand the fundamentals, experiment, and shoot beautiful landscapes, macro shots, sports, wildlife, bird photography, portraits, table top photography. The list is really long.

A DSLR gives you complete manual control while shooting, and a tremendous degree of satisfaction.

A DSLR can be fitted with nearly endless range of accessories, from external flash units, radio triggers, can be attached to  telescope or  microscope. There is a huge range of  lenses for different applications.



Summary

Good for : A dedicated photographer looking for higher level of detailing, and ready to carry the weight and size.

Size : Large. Weight range  (approx.) 500 grams (with lens) to 1500 grams for a pro grade camera (body only).

Operation : Easy when you get the basics clear, and then it’s a great refresher to use a DSLR.

Zoom : depends upon the lens in use. Usually a kit lens has 3x to 7x Do not expect more than 10x zooming here! No one makes even a 20x zoom for a DSLR. If you want                                higher zooming, go for a semi DSLR or a bridge camera.


Beginner’s camera buying guide