You might want to read this post first:
Choose your camera! Part 1, just in case you haven’t.
In order to compare products, you need to understand some basic terms that often appear and are important:
Focal range (zoom)
The bigger the number, the more the camera can zoom in. What you also need to understand is that the terminology scale goes from wide angle to telephoto, where wide angle means you can capture a really wide scene from up-close and telephoto means you can capture a scene that is actually far away. Somewhere between these two extremes is the normal range – usually considered to capture the scene almost as we see it.
|Less than 21 mm||Extreme Wide Angle||Architecture|
|21-35 mm||Wide Angle||Landscape|
|35-70 mm||Normal||Street & Documentary|
|70-135 mm||Medium Telephoto||Portraiture|
|135-300+ mm||Telephoto||Sports, Bird & Wildlife|
Possibility to get really close to your object and get a nice clean and sharp photo of a specific detail.
Aperture is an adjustable hole in your lens that controls how much light will be able to get to your sensor. It is marked with f/number. The smaller the number – the bigger the hole – the more light passes through – the more narrow the depth of field gets. (Depth of field aka DOF is a term which refers to an area that is in focus – narrow DOF gives you those wonderful images with blurry backgrounds)
Burst rate gives you information how fast your camera can take photos. Burst is often used for objects in motion. It is very important to check camera specifications at which quality burst photos are taken. Some consumer and prosumer cameras tend to lower the image quality in order to be able to process that big chunk of data.
VERY IMPORTANT! ISO represents your sensor’s sensitivity to light. The bigger the number – more sensitive the sensor gets – less light it needs to record the photo – more noise occurs at a photo (tiny dots because of which your photo looks like it is falling apart). It is best to use the lowest possible value if possible. But you will have to lift it up in low light conditions. Because of that you need to know how well it performs (at which point it starts to be too noisy)
Camera raw is an image format that requires post processing and is about four times bigger than normal JPEG but it saves all the data exactly as it was captured and does no compression. Because of that, through post-processing , you can get more than from a regular JPEG.
HDR stands for high dynamic range, meaning you can capture a scene that has more details in both shadow and highlighted areas, than a regular shot.
Wired remote control
Gives you the option of attaching a wired remote control trigger. It comes in handy in many situations, but especially when you have to take a photo of yourself.
Measured in number of photos it can take before battery dies out. You should know that batteries have a shorter duration in cold conditions. Also, they will last longer if you empty them completely before recharging.
Custom white balance
You know those moments when you freak out because you took a photo under tungsten light and everything has that reddish glow? It is the auto white balance that messes it all up. In most occasions it works well, but there are moments when it goes so wrong that you don’t know what to do. That is the reason why there is a custom white balance option – giving you a chance to adjust the colour correction on your photo by yourself.
There are two kinds of stabilisation, optical and digital. Optical stabilisation has a floating element (either the element is inside the lens or it is the sensor that is floating), and is most commonly used because of better performance compared to digital stabilisation. Digital stabilisation is really used in video cameras; it shifts the electronic image from frame to frame of video, enough to counteract the motion. When some still camera manufacturers declare to have digital image stabilisation, it actually means they have a high sensitivity mode giving a short exposure time, resulting in pictures with less motion blur, but more noise. What it does is that it reduces motion blur, coming from camera shake.
All compact cameras have built in flash, but it is the worst kind of light because it flattens down your image. It is useful to have a hot shoe at the top of your camera where you can attach an external flash and manipulate your light more efficiently.
Notice that I haven’t mention megapixels. Yep, they are not as important as manufacturers tend to claim. A high number of MP will be needed in situations that require large printing. How often do you need to print something for a bill board? J
What you want is a camera that will serve your needs. Point and shoot cameras are fighting their war regarding market position with built-in phone cameras. They are not as sexy, but serve the purpose without too much effort. My opinion is that the best possible choice for an average user is a prosumer camera. It will give you enough manoeuvre space to do more than just point-and-shoot if you want to, but also give you a chance to say give me the best you’ve got and do everything for me. They are usually equipped with quality optics and have excellent performance in everyday situations, without giving you a headache. Also, unlike DSLR, it won’t require a whole bunch of additional expenses regarding equipment. Of course, you can always buy something more, but it is not a requirement.
Now that you know all these fancy camera terms, you can decide which model suits you best. Make your decision based on your needs, budget and online reviews that offer performance tests and product comparison.
Review sites that I often refer to:
If you have any additional questions make sure to leave a comment!