Choosing the right camera for you

You want to take advantage of the sales to buy a new camera -standing in front of a mind boggling range of cameras – your mind goes completely blank – what camera should you buy?…..

Here’s our handy guide.

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There are three main types of camera:

dSLR or Digital SLR camera (the big ones!)  These cameras allow you maximum creativity by enabling you to change the type of lens you have on the front and giving you settings from full manual to fully automatic.   You can buy them with either an APS-C  or a Full Frame sensor.  An APS-C frame will change the focal length of any lens you place on the front and a full frame is more like the old style 35mm SLR cameras – what you see in the viewfinder is what you get.  These are the best types of cameras to buy if you want to learn more about photography and have maximum creativity and a hobby you can truly build.

Entry level prices are around £450 including a kit lens, mid range around the £700.

Key features to check out:

Number of pixels – unless you are going to be printing anything larger than A3 then you don’t actually need any more than 12MP, most dSLR’s come with far, far more than that, just don’t get hung up on how many!!

Size and weight.  Lugging a heavy camera around the countryside or at a sports venue may not be what you want to do so take the weight of the camera into consideration too.  Is it weatherproof or is it a ‘fairweather’ camera?

ISO values – how well can the camera cope – without using a flash – in low light situations.  Anything above ISO 3200 is very good and the higher the number the better it copes in low light.

Image Stablisation – sometimes comes ‘in camera’ or in the lens you place on the front.  Helps to stop camera shake and is a very useful feature to have BUT you will pay a higher price for it.

Shot rate or fps (frames per second)  how many can your camera take? Average would be around 3-5fps but some cameras can take over 10fps which would be fantastic for capturing those fast moving sports action shots for instance but 3-5fps will still enable you to capture a fast moving toddler!

LCD screens on the back of the camera, live-view and flip out screens.  Do you look at the back of the camera screen to compose and take your shots or do you look through a viewfinder.  Relying on a screen means you need a decent sized screen AND one that can cope with bright sunlight when it is more difficult to see what you are photographing.

HD Video – does it have it and at what resolution – a good standard these days is 1080p

Note: Canon cameras number their camera models the lower the number the better the model.

Compact System Cameras (CSC)

  • Similar to a dSLR but much smaller in size, usually with a more ‘retro’ style.
  • They have large sensors and a smaller lighter body so more convenient to carry around.
  • Still have the interchangeable lens features of a dSLR and manual control, however, the lens range is more limited and can be more expensive to be buy.
  • The functions tend be slightly more fiddly to use.
  • There is no viewfinder – you use the screen only – so bright sunlight shooting could still be tricky.
  • More likely to find wi-fi connectivity in a CSC
  • Usually offer a higher range of fps as the system is electronic (no mechanical mirror to operate as in a dSLR).

Entry level £399 – Mid range £800

Compact cameras

  • Great for beginners
  • Easy to use – offers a range of settings for automated picture taking and some manual functions
  • Convenient and light to carry
  • Screen based shot taking
  • Limited flexibility and cannot change the lens.

Entry level £50 – Upto £300

Now you have an idea as to what features you can have in a camera – decide what kind of photos you want to take and where which will help you to choose the right one.

Here’s a Camera Selection Chart for you based on research on the top sellers in each category – the list is by no means exhaustive but should be a real help in narrowing down your choices.  This entire blog can be downloaded as a handy pdf to take with you when shopping.

If you are buying on-line try the following sites for excellent service and prices.

Avoid the temptation of a ‘grey import’ these are usually products imported into the UK which will not have a UK warranty or even have VAT paid (which you could then be liable for).  They may seem fantastic value but may not be in the long term.


Remember to buy your on-line Take Better Photos (or if you are in Hampshire our workshop) no matter which camera you buy to get the most out of your new purchase.  Use TBPTBP to save £150 on our Take Better Photos on-line course.