Photography – Choosing a Camera Part 2

This article recommends certain camera models and is current as of 2014. Such is the pace of technology, the below models will be shortly superseded.

If you’re in the market for a new camera you’ve come to the right place! In Part 1 we discussed the advantages a dedicated camera offers over a smartphone. If you’ve concluded that a smartphone camera doesn’t cut the mustard, but are confused by a bewildering camera market, then read on. We’ll unravel the varying choices and come up with some recommendations.

Like when buying a new car, there’s no one size fits all. We need to figure out what’s important to you. What do you want to do with your photos?


Now ask some more questions of yourself. How important is photography to you? Do you see yourself getting fully immersed in the hobby, maybe even making a living from it? Or do you just want something that takes better photos than your phone. Maybe somewhere in between? Let’s group the choices by individual.

Wants better photos but not keen on changing lenses or spending a lot of time or money on photography.

I’d recommend either a Bridge (Superzoom) camera, or, if small size is important, a ‘Point and Shoot’ camera. For Bridge cameras, I’d look at the Olympus Stylus 1 ($879) or Canon PowerShot SX510 HS ($399). In this instance the Olympus has a physically larger sensor so it benefits from higher quality images. However if I was shopping in this market, I’d personally wait for the Panasonic Lumix FZ1000. (Available to market in July).

For ‘Point and Shoot’ (or Compact) cameras, Sony’s RX100 II ($899) is a wonderful choice. Canon’s Powershot S120 ($529) has a smaller sensor but still has quite good image quality.

Note that all the above cameras have Wi-Fi. I’d recommend it at this end of the market to enable you to easily share your images.

Interested in top quality images, would like a capable camera they can grow into.

For their smaller size, I’d go for a Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera, specifically models from Fujifilm, Olympus, Sony, Samsung or Panasonic. A big question to ask is whether or not you want a viewfinder. I personally prefer to compose an image through a viewfinder, although models without a finder will be generally smaller and less expensive. Each manufacturer has its strengths and weaknesses. Of the above, Fujifilm, Sony and Samsung will have slightly better image quality, where Panasonic excels in video functionality.

Want to go all-in with photography and invest in a system that will serve them well for years with the maximum possible image quality.

Most people in this category will be looking at getting a DSLR camera such as a Nikon D610 or Canon 6D. Also consider the smaller size and more advanced features of the mirrorless Sony A7. These cameras retail for around $2500, without a lens. The Nikon and Canon DSLRs have an outstanding catalogue of lenses and accessories, therefore, as it stands in 2014, I’d lean in this direction. Some professional photographers also use medium format cameras which have even larger sensors than the 35mm ones used in the above DSLRs. But at well upwards of $10k, they’re probably not something that will mark the start of your photographic journey!

The above recommendations are what I would look at. You might have other needs. The good thing is that all major brands produce perfectly fine products. But bear in mind that technology is advancing swiftly. If you see a heavily discounted camera, do a little research before you lay down your cash. It’s probably nearing the end of its product life and is about to be or has been replaced. And remember not to get swayed by the number of megapixels.

Also, do a little research on the web – don’t rely on a single source of information (e.g. this article or the helpful salesperson). And finally, take the time to handle your shortlisted products in a store before deciding on one. People have different sized hands; your camera needs to be comfortable for you.

The best advice though is to use your new camera and enjoy your photography!

*All prices are quoted in New Zealand Dollars and are indicative only.

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