Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Kind of Camera Do I Want?

I get asked this question all the time.  The answer, to be honest, is fairly straightforward.  It all depends on what you plan on doing with your camera.

Do you want to take pictures in the dark?  In a club or on the streets at night?  Most point and shoot cameras like the one above don't perform very well in darker settings.  This has to do with the small size of their sensor, the piece of electronics that detects and records the light of the scene you're shooting.  In a P&S camera, this sensor can be as small as your pinky nail, and because that sensor is so small, it's not nearly as sensitive to light as a larger sensor would be, causing images taken in the dark to be noisier (kind of like film grain but not as pretty, frankly).

If you are planning on taking pictures in the dark, you either need to use a flash, or if that's unappealing to you, use a camera with a larger sensor, like a digital SLR:

A digital SLR (SLR standing for Single-Lens Reflex; more on that in subsequent articles) has a sensor sometimes as large as a 35mm film frame, and is much much more sensitive to light.  They often can be used with what are called "fast" lenses (lenses whose aperture is f/2.8 or greater -- again, more on that in another post) which also help.

No matter where you're using it, though, the camera you have with you is far better than the camera you don't.  If a DSLR is too big for you to carry around all the time, you won't have it on you and then you're missing the shot regardless.


  1. VERY useful advice, thank you very much! following you o/

  2. Have you used a micro 4/3 camera yet? I would like something like that, but having to take a picture using the lcd screen seems lame to me.

  3. Some Micro Four-Thirds cameras still have a mirror, so some will still have a proper viewfinder, but you're right, it seems the push today is for mirrorless cameras.

  4. So apparently I'm a tard and ruined my camera from dropping it too much. The auto focus doesn't work, takes forever to turn on, and it will shut off at random intervals, but for the most part still works. It's taken thousands of photos and preserved a lot of memories over the past year and a half, but it looks like it's time for a new one.
    I need something that is durable and takes pictures quickly. Other than that, I don't have a lot of criteria for a camera. Any suggestions on something that would suit my basic needs?