In this article, we’ll discuss ‘how to choose a camera for a high quality photo and not go broke?’ Cameras can cost $5, $50 and even 3500 dollars. And also, be compact, mirrorless and mirrored. We understand this variety in order to understand which model is right for you.
For many years, the path of a beginner photographer was monotonous: first a compact camera, then (when it gets boring to shoot in automatic mode and you want to be creative) an inexpensive mirrorless camera, and, finally, when money appears, a good DSLR. However, over the past five years, there has been a literal revolution in the world. Smartphones have learned to shoot so well that sales of compact cameras have collapsed several times. Naturally: why carry an extra device with you when you can take an excellent picture with your phone.
Nevertheless, let’s try to answer the question: which camera is better to buy for high-quality pictures in the realities of 2021. And let’s start with the minimum requirements.
Camera Phone: Shooting for Social Networks and Home Archives
As we already noted, cameras and smartphones are now inseparable. If the former had their trump cards in the form of a high-resolution matrix and a zoom lens, now phones have it all. A good example of this is Xiaomi Mi Note 10, which went on sale at the end of 2019. Its main camera shoots at a resolution of 108 megapixels, and there is also a 5x optical zoom (and even a 50x hybrid, but it is better not to count on it). Such a device is not cheap – about $550.
Do you want cheaper? Here is also a good option, Realme XT with a 64-megapixel camera. By the way, we tested it quite recently, and were satisfied with the quality of the images.
The beauty of smartphones is that you don’t have to learn the intricacies of photography. For example, when shooting a portrait, many smartphones allow you to instantly adjust the level of background blur – you can do this even after shooting. Cameras are just beginning to approach mobile gadgets in terms of ease of use.
Compact Camera: Budget Solution for Beginners
Actually, we are all about smartphones: we were initially trying to figure out how to choose a camera for a quality photo. First, about the main thing: why do we need these compact cameras, if there are such wonderful camera phones? We explain point by point.
Best Shooting Quality. Here, of course, it all depends on the model, and in many respects specifically on the matrix. If you take the simplest devices, alas, most likely they will disappoint you. Something more or less worthwhile will require a budget of 100 dollars. – for example, here’s a Canon IXUS 190.
Full Zoom. If even in advanced smartphones the zoom can be selected only stepwise (1x, 2x, 5x), then in cameras the zooming is smooth. And it is performed at the expense of optics, and not by connecting different lenses (as in camera phones). The same Canon IXUS 190 has an optical 10x zoom that even an expensive smartphone will envy.
Convenience of Shooting. It is much more convenient to hold any camera in your hand than a smartphone. Especially when it comes to active shooting – for example, on a hike or from a car window. The physical button for shooting is also more convenient, besides, even in the models of the middle price range, there is a manual mode with a wide selection of settings.
If you think that buying a compact camera with good image quality is an unrealistic task, pay attention to the top models. For example, here is the Fujifilm XF10 in terms of size – a real compact. But in terms of the quality of shooting, it will easily plug basic DSLRs into the belt.
Mirrorless Cameras: The Trend of Our Time
Mirrorless (or system) cameras have always been considered a kind of transitional stage on the path to a DSLR. But they have progressed noticeably lately. Until such time that some professional photographers have switched to mirrorless cameras. So, what good do we have in this segment?
Large Matrices. As a rule, APS-C and higher sensors are used in mirrorless cameras (with the exception of basic models).
Removable Optics. If you are just taking your first steps in photography, you don’t need it. But as soon as you want to shoot snails in close-up or, conversely, birds in the branches, you will need an appropriate lens.
Small Size. Due to their design, mirrorless cameras are quite compact – at least noticeably smaller than most DSLRs. Do not think that this moment is not so important – try to drag your DSLR on your shoulder for half a day.
When choosing a mirrorless device, pay attention to the parameters traditional for this technique: matrix size (we recommend APS-C), zoom magnitude, ergonomics, and, of course, dimensions. Do not expect that a good camera will cost you 250 – 500 dollars: get ready for an amount of $1,000 or more. Here is a good option with a good matrix, a convenient flip-down screen, Wi-Fi and other useful chips.
DSLR Cameras: The Last Stronghold of Retrogrades
In the early 2000s, DSLRs were the lot of pros or at least advanced amateurs. But there was a great desire to make them available to as many users as possible. This is how inexpensive models appeared, costing (today) less than 1500 dollars. And amateurs happily rushed to spend money, saying “but I will not have a simple camera, but a DSLR.”
Let professional photographers peck us, but today we do not see any serious advantages in cameras of this type. They are large, heavy (relatively mirrorless), they must be carried in a wardrobe trunk … But okay, let’s strain and remember a few advantages of SLR cameras.
The ability to choose a lens. Mirrors always have interchangeable optics. Some sell already complete with a lens (kit) or without it at all (body). In theory, you can only buy the camera itself, and then find a lens that suits your needs. Or watch the “whales” with a suitable lens.
Upgradeability. Don’t think that DSLRs are cool on their own: to a large extent, the quality of the images depends on the lens. Optics absolutely identical in focal length can differ in price by an order of magnitude. This is because there are simple lenses, and there are professional ones. The owner of a DSLR can always make a good upgrade by simply replacing the lens with a more expensive and high quality one.
The ability to use “fixes”. “Fixes” are lenses with a fixed focal length, that is, without zoom. Due to the simplicity of the design, even professional models of such optics are available to amateurs – that is, they are inexpensive. Strictly speaking, “fixes” can be used in mirrorless cameras, but not all of them have the ability to change lenses.
A basic DSLR will cost you about $500 dollars. Basic Canon models such as the EOS 4000D Kit can be considered as possible options.
Of course, you can fully experience the advantages of DSLRs with full-frame models. Roughly speaking, they have the largest sensor (not counting the mega-expensive medium format). Magazines can easily take a picture from such a camera for printing, and large-format advertising media can be printed from them. But a full-frame camera costs from $2000. (and this is body).
Paired with a good lens, such a device will cost you a three thousand dollars – it’s clear that there is no point in buying one for home use.
The Bottom Line: Which Camera to Choose?
So, back to our original question: which camera is the best to buy for quality photos?
Camera Phone. If you are not ready to carry an extra gadget with you, but want to always be ready to shoot.
Compact Camera. If you want a small camera with good image quality. You can carry it in your pocket or backpack.
Mirrorless Machine. If you want to shoot in more than automatic mode. For more creative freedom, choose models with interchangeable lenses.
Mirror Apparatus. If you inherited good lenses or want to be able to update. We see no other reasons.