How To Choose A Camera – #MyFriendAlexa

How To Choose A Camera – #MyFriendAlexa

Let us say a situation arises suddenly wherein you want to buy a camera at very short notice. The reasons for wanting to invest in a camera could be many. Maybe you are a college student who has been smitten by the itch to become a photographer and you want to get your feet wet straight away. Maybe you are a fifty-something dad like me who wants to gift his teenage daughter a present on her 16th birthday.

You go to the shop and that is where you are faced with the first major hurdle. You know zilch about cameras. You simply do not know what camera to pick and the shopkeeper reels of a lot of information and you are totally confused. Apart from clicking photographs informally, you have no idea about how to make an intelligent choice when it comes to buying cameras. This is when this article could be of phenomenal help to you.

There are basically two types of cameras available in the market. These are the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera and the Mirrorless camera. In order to understand the basic difference between the two, we need to get slightly technical here. I will borrow an image from Wikipedia which depicts the internals of a DSLR camera. Here is the image.

Do not get overwhelmed by this diagram. We need to be concerned only with the mechanism by which this set up operates. When we focus on something before clicking an image, the light rays pass through the camera lens (1) and get reflected by the reflex mirror (2) which rests at 45 degrees as you can see. The light rays then reach the pentaprism (7) and again get reflected a couple of times at 45 degrees and finally reach the optical viewfinder (8) through which we see the image.

After satisfying ourselves about what image we want to capture, when we actually click the button for getting an image, the reflex mirror (2) swings upwards and the shutter (3) opens up thereby allowing the light rays to pass through unhindered and impinge on the digital sensor (4) and voila! there is your beautiful image.

In the case of a mirrorless camera, the setup is a lot simpler. The reflex mirror (2) and the pentaprism (7) are simply not present. When we focus, the light rays pass through unhindered and impinge on the sensor and we get a preview of the image on the screen at the rear. Sometimes mirrorless cameras also offer an electronic viewfinder through which you can see the image. And when we actually press the button to click an image, the mechanism is just the same. The image passes through the camera and reaches the digital sensor again, but this time the image is saved.

Now, let us look at what is the best choice for you, the buyer. Mirrorless cameras are much smaller in size compared to DSLR cameras. If you are with me till now, I am sure you would be able to guess the reason why. Simply put, the mirrorless cameras do not have to make space for the reflex mirror and the pentaprism and all the other paraphernalia. That makes the camera easy to carry around in your bag. Mirrorless cameras do not weigh much.

Maybe you are a travel freak and visit every corner of the world! Or say you are a professional photographer who likes to travel with a number of lenses packed in your bag. In this situation, there is nothing better than the mirrorless camera for you especially if you like to travel light. When it comes to compactness and bulk the mirrorless camera comes out on top. At this point, I would also like to mention that the camera in your smartphone also follows the mirrorless technology.

When it comes to autofocusing, nowadays both DSLR and mirrorless cameras seem to be evenly matched. Previously DSLR used to be better for autofocusing because the DSLR used a technology called phase detection which is better than the contrast detection technology used by mirrorless cameras. But off-late many mirrorless camera manufacturers have built-in phase detection into the image sensor of the mirrorless camera. So both types of cameras seem to be more or less evenly matched when it comes to autofocus.

When it comes to previewing images, in the case of DSLR cameras what you see through the optical viewfinder is exactly the same image that the sensor sees. This is because the reflex mirror projects the image to the pentaprism and then it reaches into your eyes. Generally speaking, if you are going to use your camera in good light conditions both types are evenly matched. But in low light conditions, the image you preview in the mirrorless camera is not too good. It tends to appear grainier than the one in DSLR. So if you want to use your camera in poor light conditions more often, then you would be better off with a DSLR.

Very often our hands shake while clicking an image and as a result, the images get blurred. Manufacturers have been trying to come up with some kind of in-built mechanism for image stabilisation. Again, both types of cameras are evenly matched.  But some recent mirrorless cameras seem to be better when it comes to this factor.

Next, let us consider image quality. In the past, the smaller size of the sensors in mirrorless cameras used to affect the quality of the images. But off-late manufacturers of mirrorless cameras have managed to produce more sensitive chips thereby reducing the graininess of the image thereby managing to match the image quality of the DSLR cameras.

When it comes to shooting videos, mirrorless cameras are indeed better. The reason for this is that the DSLR cameras cannot use the phase-detection method when the reflex mirror is up and have to use contrast detection. This gives the mirrorless cameras a slight advantage while shooting videos.

When it comes to shooting speed, mirrorless cameras are again clear winners. High-end DSLR’s are of course an exception to this rule. The absence of a mirror in mirrorless cameras makes the shooting speed a lot faster.

Looking at battery life, DSLR’s provide longer battery life because they can shoot images without the LCD screen and the electronic viewfinder. As far as lenses and other accessories are concerned, DSLR cameras offer a much wider range than mirrorless cameras.

As of date some excellent DSLR cameras available in India are NIKON D5, CANON IOS 1DX II and NIKON D8 10. As far as mirrorless cameras are considered some good models are OLYMPUS OM-E DE-M1X and FUJIFILM X-T30

Now, let us consider what type of camera you should buy. If you are one of those fresh out of college chaps who are just on the brink of a possibly glorious career in photography or you want to gift your daughter a camera then I would advise you to go for a lower-end mirrorless camera. But if you are a professional photographer who wants to shoot a lot of images in dark light then you can try out DSLR even though mirrorless cameras are catching up fast.

You will also have to take into account whether you want to shoot a lot of videos. If you are serious about shooting videos, then you are better off with a mirrorless camera. I hope this article has been useful for you at least in a preliminary way. Thanks for reading.

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9 Thoughts to “How To Choose A Camera – #MyFriendAlexa”

  1. This is a very informative and detailed post. I have zero clue about cameras and this post helped me with all the necessary information.

  2. This is the most informative post on Cameras I have come across. Thanks for writing this.

  3. Was looking to buy a new dslr and found your detailed post with all the important guidelines. Thanks

  4. that’s a very informative post I must say.. thank you

  5. You have explained it so well. I have become interested in photography lately but sadly had no clue about the cameras and key points to look for. Your post has given answers to many queries of mine.
    #readbypreetispanorama for #MyFriendAlexa

  6. Judy Morris

    Thanks for this informative article I have a DSLR but good that you told that for video making mirrorless cameras work better. Considering your suggestion for next buy.

  7. I know how excited and clueless I was when I first bought my DSLR, I basically based my purchase of my friends’ opinion and what the salesperson at the store informed me. Fortunately, I got a great camera. I am sure this post would come super handy for those who wish to make their first DSLR purchase.

  8. I love the way you have structured this post and kept is simple and informative and most importantly interesting. Choosing a camera is a tough decision for a non tech person like me, your post lent a lot of insights. Keep writing such informative posts. #MyFriendAlexa #DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter

  9. Great tips to select the perfect camera. It is a very useful guide for amateurs to

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