Tracking the evolution of digital cameras is something really fascinating. With each new model, there is always a curiosity and an expectation regarding what is to come. Technological development is impressive in all categories. There are camera models for absolutely every pocket, taste, need, purpose and style. But what on the one hand seems to be wonderful, on the other hand leaves the consumer, both the layman and the experienced, confused. The layman, because he is facing an industry that produces extremely sophisticated equipment with nomenclatures and specificities that only a more detailed study can clarify. The experienced, in turn, because even being a connoisseur of this universe, is faced with a fight of brands and models that happens in the smallest details.
In this sequence of articles, aimed at those who want to get started in photography, you will know the different categories of cameras available in the market, so that you can go through the first stage of choosing your new equipment. This article is not enough for you to choose exactly the best make and model for you, but it filters out the gigantic universe of digital cameras available in the market for a few models according to your needs. In the next articles you will know the other technological resources of the cameras so that within this first filtering you can compare different brands and models and finally choose your Best Cameras under $300!
Body / Category
This is the first consideration to consider when buying a camera. The industry has developed a relatively large range of different categories or types of camera. Each of these types serves a purpose and has strengths and weaknesses. The different categories reach very specific audiences, not only in terms of the goals they have with photography – from simpler family records to fine art photography – but also in terms of budget.
The first division of categories is the one that defines the possibility of changing lenses or not. So we have cameras with “fixed” lenses and cameras with “interchangeable” lenses.
Fixed lens cameras can be divided into four categories: Ultra Compact, Compact, Compact with Large Sensor and Bridges. Already the cameras with interchangeable lenses can be divided in: Mirrorless type Rangefinder, Mirrorless type DSLR, DSLR’s of entrance, DSLR’s Mid-Range and DSLR’s High-End. This division is not something sacramental, and may vary according to the source, store, brand, or even the interpretation of different photographers. We have chosen this nomenclature in this article to facilitate understanding.
Also called Point-and-shoot, something like “point and shoot”, are the cheapest cameras, basic and simple to operate. They have the smallest sensors, which greatly restricts the image quality. Many models do not have manual controls or have very restricted controls, which may be ideal for those who only want a quick and easy camera without having to go through a long learning curve. They are so easy to operate that manual reading can be dispensed with, which is totally undesirable in other cameras, since you pay a nice amount of money for the features they offer, making little sense to own them without knowing how to operate them, the Thus, they are not recommended cameras for anyone who wants to effectively learn photography.
Almost all of them have zoom, which generally has a smaller range compared to compact and bridges. Ultra-compact cameras compete in market terms with smartphone cameras. That’s because both are easy to carry everywhere because they fit in your pocket. However, ultra-compact cameras are higher quality than smartphone cameras. They have real zoom, rather than their digital zoom. This makes all the difference since digital zoom is a kind of forced approach by software, which provides a significant loss of image quality. In addition, ultracompact displays perform better in complicated lighting situations, for example in low light conditions. They also have a faster, more accurate autofocus system, longer battery life,
They can be viewed as advanced ultra compact. The differences vary from model to model. Some modern ones are even able to shoot in RAW format, the image format used by professional photographers because it works as a digital negative, a kind of image format in which there is no loss of information, unlike what happens with the JPG. This JPG compression causes the file to be smaller in size, but it loses color information, especially in the areas of lots of light and lots of shade. For a photo made to be immediately shared, JPG is a good option, but for a more carefully produced photo that will go through post-production process, RAW is almost indispensable. Many of these cameras also have larger sensors
Compact with large sensor
If a professional enthusiast or photographer was looking for a small camera for those days when carrying a monstrous DSLR is inconvenient, he would certainly consider, in addition to some other options, the purchase of a compact with a large sensor. The sensor is the digital equivalent of the photographic film, ie it is the place where the light capture takes place. The larger the sensor size, the better overall image quality, especially in low light conditions. So these compact ones can have the best of both worlds: great image quality and creative control over relatively small bodies (some models, with larger sensors, may make you disagree with the compact label). Of course they are more expensive cameras within the category of fixed lenses, but it is the price to pay for their benefits.
Mirrorless Type Rangefinder
Two elements with a strong impact on the final body size of a camera are the sensor and pentaprism. Mirrorless cameras , whose translation is “without mirror”, refer to the absence of the mirror + pentaprism set, which is present in all DSLR’s. It is this set that forms the image in the so-called viewfinder, that small place where we fit our eye to make the framing. This set is also absent in all fixed-lens cameras, including the Bridges, which, despite presenting a viewfinder , is electronic, ie the image presented there does not appear in the mirror game with pentaprism, by the electronic representation of what reaches the sensor.
So cameras Mirrorless type Rangefinder are cameras with much larger sensors in general than the compact, fairly small bodies, much like the popular cameras of the 70s, like the Olympus Trip 35 . In general, they do not have the viewfinder on top of the LCD panel, such as DSLR, or when they have an electronic viewfinder often positioned in the upper left corner of the camera.
This category is also highly sought after by enthusiastic and professional photographers looking for a small camera but with good picture quality and the possibility of lens change. The lenses these cameras use are designed specifically for them. This makes their construction also smaller and lighter. There is a fairly large price variation between the models, mainly due to the size of the sensor. Some models even offer Full Frame sensors, that is, the same size of high-end DSLR camera sensors, which requires the consumer a fair amount of money – but totally justifiable, by the way!
Here we enter the fantastic world of DSLR’s. The Digital Single-Lens Reflex , or Nonobjective Reflex Digital Cameras. This named name represents the system of mirrors and pentaprism used to form the image we see in the viewfinder, as mentioned previously.
Most cameras have the APS-C sensor. This means that it is a sensor that is considered to be large, much larger than that of compact, bridges and some mirrorless models, but smaller than the Full Frame sensor, whose dimensions are equivalent to that of 35mm (36x24mm) photographic film.
Entry DSLRs are suitable for beginners in photography, especially those on a budget. Generally what manufacturers do is produce a DSLR camera of good quality, but without some more advanced features, present in the above categories. The construction is also simpler, taking cheaper materials.
The cool thing is that they are very affordable price cameras, as well as being smaller and lighter cameras compared to the higher categories. Several advanced features are eliminated from these cameras to cheapen them. They may have fewer ISO options and shutter speeds, fewer focus points, simpler LCD panels, narrower shutter speed, poor viewfinder coverage, no mirror lock option, no exposure bracketing, white, shorter batteries and may also have no built-in focus motor, which requires lenses that have this focus motor, otherwise the lenses will work only with manual focus.
In short, they are cameras that eliminate the most advanced functions, which can be good for a beginner, since they are less intimidating; have excellent sensors and when accompanied by good lenses, undoubtedly deliver excellent results.
This category fits the photographers who want or need the full features that modern digital cameras have to offer, but do not migrate to the High End DSLR category. The main difference between these two categories is, once again, the sensor . The Mid-Range, as well as the input ones, have the sensor called “sensor with cut-off factor”, that is, smaller than the Full Frame present in the High-End. The price difference between a Mid-Range and a High-End, as a rule, is glaring. Buy cars with the money needed for a High-End!
An important aspect to consider is lens compatibility. The Mid-Range, as well as the input ones, has an advantage over High-End: they have more compatible lenses. Since the High-End has a larger sensor, the lens must have a compatible size so that the image is projected throughout its length.
There is also another advantage of the DSLR’s Mid-Range and Input compared to DSRL’s High-End: the sensor’s cut-off factor is beneficial for those who shoot with great focal lengths, that is, with telephoto lenses. If you attach a 50mm lens to a full frame camera and attach the same lens to an APS-C sensor camera and shoot the same scene, you will notice that in APS-C the image will appear closer, more precisely, behaving very close to a 75mm lens. This is because there is a cut factor, which is a multiplier factor, around 1.5x / 1.6x, depending on the model. So a 50mm lens on a camera with a 1.5x cut-off factor behaves like a 75mm in a full frame camera (50 x 1.5 = 75). Now imagine if you use a 300mm lens (very common for sports and wildlife) in a camera with cutter factor. It becomes a 450mm closer to distant objects!
Here we have the cameras with full frame top line sensor. This means that you will achieve much better results in low light situations, usually with higher ISO values than those in the lower categories. There is also better noise performance at high ISO, which is less prominent, and sometimes even more elegant.
It is also possible to shoot multiple shots faster. Which is a great advantage for shooting action and moving objects.
One advantage over the cameras that have sensor crop factor is that in small focal lengths, as in the wide angle lens, there is no multiplier, ie a lens 20mm not becomes a 30mm, which is undesirable, since that a considerable angle of the field of view is lost.
High-End cameras are huge and heavy cameras. It is practically imperative to insure the equipment to avoid headaches. However, they are the best in image quality and technological resources.