Camera Buying Guide
Smartphone cameras might be great for selfies on-to-go, but if you want to up your photography game, here’s what you need to know about choosing a camera to perfect the shots.
What it is: DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex. Inside the camera sits a mirror, which reflects the image seen through the lens up to the viewfinder when taking a picture.
Great for: Professional photographers and photography enthusiasts.
Advantages: Gives you more control. Photographs are richer in detail thanks to the large image sensor. There’s also less risk of blurring thanks to image stabilisation technology. You can adjust the camera's scene settings, aperture, shutter speed, ISO levels, white balance and more, to create high quality images. One of the biggest advantages is the huge range of lenses you can attach to the DSLR to capture every scene, movement, lighting and subject with absolute precision.
Some of the lenses available:
Standard / Normal Prime
Around 35-70mm focal range and allows for shooting in lower light. A higher focal length means a bigger zoom.
Offers a wide field of view, which is great for capturing landscapes or a large number of subjects.
Captures an even wider scene. Rectilinear Ultra Wide lenses keep lines straight, while Fisheyes produce artistically curved images.
Able to focus on specific details, distant subjects or high-speed movements.
- Superzoom Changes in focal lengths from wide to telephoto as you zoom, and are good for situations that do not allow you to change lenses.
One of the more specialist lenses for extreme close-up photography.
Disadvantages: Portability - it is heavy and takes up space. Due to its complex operations, the user needs to possess photography knowledge to enjoy the full advantage of the camera.
DIGITAL COMPACT CAMERAS
What it is: Simple point-and-shoot camera for everyday photography. It is the most basic type of mirrorless camera, offering limited manual control and a fixed lens.
Great for: Beginners and holiday shots
Advantages: Small, light and easy to use, digital compacts are great for holidays without weighing you down. It offers lesser control but allows you to switch between various pre-programmed automatic settings and manipulate simple exposure lighting, ISO and white balance. Many models feature optical zoom lens capability and offer an optical or sensor stabiliser for shooting in low light. They are slim and colourful with an array of trendy features such as in-built Wi-Fi, face detection and touch-screen functionality.
Disadvantages: Lesser manual control and lens versatility. They are good for fuss-free shots, but do not expect professional quality images.
COMPACT SYSTEM CAMERAS
What it is: Also known as mirrorless cameras, compacts are smaller, lighter and easier to master than DSLRs, but offer similar high-quality images. This is made possible by the removal of the mirror and prism that give DSLRs the bulk.
Great for: People wanting to step up from a point-and-shoot and get into creative photography without in-depth photography technique.
Advantages: They offer similar picture quality to a DSLR but are designed to be smaller and mechanically simpler to operate. The DSLR-like image quality is achieved with a large sensor and a high-quality optic, together with manual control and a wide aperture lens. You can choose to simply point and shoot, or adjust the settings to create sharp and richly-coloured images. Compact system cameras also allow you to change lenses to suit different types of photography, just like DSLRs.
Disadvantages: Compared to DSLRs, compacts have a smaller range of interchangeable lenses available. Plus, not all compacts come with optical viewfinders.
What it is: A small, lightweight and rugged camera, designed to handle any weather, temperature and situation.
Great for: Thrill seekers and athletics looking to capture their adventures without fear of wearing out their cameras.
Advantages: Action cameras are housed in unique casings that allow them to work in extreme temperatures, rough conditions, high altitude and underwater. They are capable of recording high-quality videos ranging from 1080p resolution to 4K. Anti-shake technology allows users to capture clear, steady footage in the midst of movement. They can be mounted to anything from helmets, bikes to pets. Some models come with video editing functions and Wi-Fi capabilities that allow you to share videos easily.
Disadvantages: Most action cameras have a fixed, wide-angle lens that creates footage with a distorted fisheye effect. This gives the recordings a unique style, but doesn’t allow users the versatility to choose other effects.
What it is: Also known as film cameras, analogues capture images onto a roll of film that needs to be developed in a photo lab or can be printed instantly.
Great for: Creative photography and high quality prints.
Advantages: A film negative lets you blow up an image easily with little pixelation. If you need high resolution prints, films give you far greater resolution at a much lower cost than its equivalence in digital megapixels. Also, film cameras require little battery power to operate. This is handy for long trips to places with limited electricity sources. You can also opt for instant cameras that let you experiment with creative and fun photography while allowing you to view the results in minutes.
Disadvantages: It’s getting harder to find films and photo labs. Without a playback option, you won’t really know what the captured images look like till the photos are developed. And with limited number of clicks on each roll of film, you don’t have the luxury to take extra back-up shots as well.