We get a number of calls and emails asking for camera buying advice, and while there is no right or wrong answer, and no way we can provide reviews on specific models, here is the first post in a series which will look at your camera buying choices:
The first consideration is which type of camera to buy; currently there are three main categories: Compact, micro four thirds and SLR.
Compact Cameras range from simple point and shoot, to cameras which give you a lot of control over the camera settings e.g. aperture and shutter speed. Point and shoot is fine if you want to hand control over to the camera and can live with the limitations of the images produced by their lenses and small sensors, buy for their small size and convenience, don’t buy if you want to improve your photography skills or image quality. The more advanced compacts such as the Canon G12 and Panasonic LX5 are good choices as they allow you to access the full range of camera controls, have good image quality, and are small in size. You can’t change the lenses on them, and you may find access to the controls fiddly. But if you’re after a small package, they are a good choice.
Micro Four Thirds or Mirrorless Cameras are a new breed that offer interchangeable lenses, excellent image quality and a good level of control. They are beginning to compete with the low end dSLRs and are a good choice if you’re looking for something smaller than an entry level SLR, they may lack some of the ease of control of an SLR, have slightly lower image quality, and not be as easy to handle as an SLR. Panasonic, Sony and others make good cameras in this range and they are definitely worth considering. You may be limited by lens choice, although adapters are available for many lenses to fit on these cameras, and you may find that you grow out of them as you progress into more advanced techniques and your performance requirements increase.
Digital SLRs are still the best option for flexibility, control, image quality and for growing with you. The range of lenses, accessories and features on these cameras is the reason to buy into this system. They may not be the smallest, but access to all of the controls is quick and easy, and if you’re serious about your photography buying the best dSLR you can afford is the right choice. They have excellent viewfinders which will assist your composition, battery life is good, and most brands will support a huge range of lenses and accessories enabling you to add to your system as your skills develop. Nikon and Canon are the two biggest brands and have a fiercely loyal following, any camera from these two companies will be great. Pentax, Sony and others also make good dSLR cameras. Buy if you want flexibility, expandability, control, image quality and robustness.
We’ll be posting more camera buying advice soon.