Before choosing a specific digital camera brand, you’ll first need to learn about the different types of cameras available on the market. Then you can decide which level of functionality best suits your needs.
A smartphone camera is the most convenient camera you could ever own, as you’re sure to have it within easy reach to capture memorable moments at any time. However, if quality is an important factor, you may need to look elsewhere.
Large sensors are needed to take quality photos in various light conditions. Smartphones have very tiny sensors and as a result struggle in low light conditions. Due to space limitations, they also lack an optical zoom feature. Smartphones are designed to be compact and easy to carry, adding the moving parts associated with optical zoom would result in a far bulkier phone.
Despite these shortcomings, in the right lighting conditions smartphones are still capable of producing stunning photos.
Here are some of the best camera phones on the market today:
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Apple iPhone 6S
Google Nexus 6P
Ultra Compact Camera
If you removed the camera from your smartphone, it would almost be comparable to an ultra compact camera. Where the ultra compact camera stands apart is with its optical zoom lens with image stabilization.
If you don’t have the luxury of getting up close and personal to the object you wish to capture (like a nature shoot), you may want to consider an ultra-compact camera. Explore the best options below.
Canon PowerShot N 12.1 MP
Canon PowerShot ELPH 520
Sony DSC-HX60V/B 20.4 MP
Compact cameras take things up a notch with their deliverability of high-quality images, improved flash and long battery life. Large sensors produce quality images at all light levels, while faster shutter speed and optical stabilizers capture moving objects sans blur. These make a great first camera for the budding photographer.
Nikon Coolpix L340 20.2 MP
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH10 16.1 MP
Large Sensor Compact
Also known as an advanced compact camera, these workhorses can have sensors one-inch or bigger. This means less image noise and improved photo quality in low-lit areas.
These cameras are for the more adventurous photographers who’d enjoy the capability of manually controlling shutter speed and aperture. Sharing images with friends and family on social media is also made easier with Wi-Fi connectivity.
If you’re ready to invest in a powerful, pocket-sized camera consider the most popular options that are used by professionals below.
Sony DSC-RX100/B 20.2 MP
Pentax Optio RZ-18 16 MP
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS100 20.1 MP
As the name implies, bridge cameras occupy the space between compact cameras and DSLRs. A bridge camera won’t fit in your pocket like a compact camera, but it will definitely make one-handed shooting a lot easier. You won’t notice much difference between the image quality of the bridge and compact cameras as they both have similar sized sensors.
To the untrained eye, a bridge camera resembles a DSLR with its raised bump above the lens and prominent handgrip. Unlike the DSLR, the lens on the bridge camera cannot be removed. Bridge cameras surpass DSLRs with their zoom range of 20x – 50x magnification.
For capturing nature, wildlife and sports photography, the bridge camera’s zoom functionality may be just what you need.
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70 16.1 MP
Nikon COOLPIX P520 18.1 MP
Fujifilm FinePix S9800
Compact System Cameras (CSC)
Like DSLRs, compact system cameras have interchangeable lenses. They may also have DSLR sensors or smaller ones, and they may or may not have electronic viewfinders. The defining feature of a DSLR camera is a mirror between the lens and the sensor that reflects the image up towards a prism assembly and viewfinder eyepiece.
CSCs do not have this mirror and as such are referred to as mirrorless cameras. Their large sensors and interchangeable lens bring them a step up from bridge cameras. CSCs were designed to offer high-quality images and interchangeable lenses without the bulk of a DSLR.
Canon EOS M 18.0 MP
Price: $259 - $459.90
Nikon 1 J1
DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera
DSLRs are the camera of choice by professionals whose creativity is uninhibited by the wide range of features and functions provided. The variety of lenses offered allows photographers to change their viewpoint from the same position.
While CSCs also offer multiple lenses, if you intend to specialize in a particular type of photography you’ll want to consider DSLRs. With their extensive range of options, you’re more likely to find the specific lens that matches your needs.
Pentax K-S2 20MP
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Nikon D4S 16.2 MP