“A camera teaches you how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange
Back on the road again and in search of a new camera. While in Cabo my point and shoot camera decided to quit working. I guess not surprising as it has been around for quite a few years. With all the amazing places and experiences this journey has provided not to mention this blog and sharing those experiences with readers taking photos has become something that I very much enjoy. So now the important and confusing search for a new camera. I started with a mental list of what I was looking for: takes great clear photos (obvious but important!), not too big and bulky, rugged enough to withstand cold, damp, dust, heat and being tossed into a daypack, good landscape and telephoto capabilities and auto and manual settings. Then to the internet to search the camera types, little did I know what I was in for. Here is a synopsis:
Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras (DSLR cameras): DSLR cameras are versatile and advanced cameras. The DSLR camera is larger than any compact consumer camera and putting one in your pocket is out of the question. With a DSLR camera you can set the camera to the automatic mode and just start taking pictures. However, you also have the option of taking pictures in the full manual mode, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, or program modes. Most importantly you have more control over the way the picture will be taken as far as exposure settings. Another important feature of DSLR cameras is that you can change the camera lens to fit different situations. DSLR cameras also allow you to use a variety of zoom lenses with different zoom ranges. The lenses are generally a better quality than those found on compact cameras which will result in better image quality. Another important difference between DSLR cameras and compact cameras is the image sensor size. DSLR cameras have larger image sensors which will generally produce better quality images.
Compact Digital Cameras: Digital compact cameras, also known as Point and Shoot cameras, vary in features, price, and styles. Their more compact size and ease of use is the main appeal of these types of digital cameras as most will fit in a pocket or small purse. All of the current compact cameras have a minimum three time (3X) zoom lens and at least 12 megapixels which allows for great looking, quality images that can be enlarged to 16 X 20 inch print size. These cameras are equipped with a fully automatic mode which is great for beginners or those who just want to “point and shoot” when taking pictures. In addition to the automatic mode, digital compact cameras come equipped with a number of scene modes such as landscape, portrait, sports and fireworks among others. Those scene modes make it easy for the photographer to adapt to different types of picture taking situations without having to worry about changing the camera’s exposure settings. Manual adjustments to camera settings like the shutter speed or lens aperture setting can’t be done on a basic digital compact camera. Those functions are set automatically when you take the photo. (I already own one of these waterproof models, it’s great for a camera you can beat up but not super great quality photos)
Bridge Compact Digital Cameras/Super Zoom Cameras: Bridge cameras, also known as Advanced Compact cameras are a step up from the Basic Compact camera. The main difference between Bridge cameras and Basic Compact cameras is that they allow the photographer to have more control over the camera’s exposure settings. Bridge cameras will have semi automatic, Aperture Priority,Shutter priority, and Program modes. Most will also have a Manual mode that will allow the photographer to have full control over the camera exposure settings. Many also have lenses with a much longer zoom range than other compact cameras but the lens on a Bridge camera is “fixed” and cannot be removed or replaced with a different one in the same manner that you can change the lens on a Digital Slr camera. Also, most Bridge cameras will have a smaller image sensor and a smaller lens than the ones found on a Digital Slr camera. Most bridge cameras are larger than basic point and shoot cameras but are smaller than Digital SLR cameras. Bridge cameras are great for photographers who want more control over the camera exposure settings and in some cases perhaps a longer zoom range.
Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras: These types of cameras are very similar to Digital Slr cameras. Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens cameras allow the photographer to use the camera in full manual, automatic, or semi-automatic modes the same way DSLR cameras can be operated. The lens can also be changed just like on a DSLR camera, however they use smaller lens sizes than the DSLR. The biggest difference between the two types of cameras is that Mirrorless cameras are much smaller than DSLR cameras. Their camera body size is closer to the size of compact cameras. The reason the body size is so much smaller is because they do not have optical viewfinders (mirrors) like the DSLR cameras. Instead, the optical viewfinders that are found on Digital Slr cameras use a system of mirrors and pentaprism to allow you to view the scene that will be photographed. The mirrors in a DSLR camera take up a lot of space in the body of the camera, so the elimination of the mirrors allows for a smaller body to be used for the compact system camera. Mirrorless cameras have larger image sensors than compact cameras which will result in image quality similar to that of the some of the DSLR cameras. However, the image sensor on most Compact System Cameras is slightly smaller than the image sensors found in DSLR cameras. Mirrorless cameras appeal to those who want to take pictures that are DSLR quality in a much smaller sized camera.
So in a nutshell, if I want to meet all of my criteria above and leave some room for expansion the Mirrorless Digital Cameras seem to be the best of the choices. My top picks so far are the Sony Alpha a6000 or 6300 and the Fujifilm X-T1. If anyone out there has experience with either of these or any other recommendations please drop me a note.
“The camera is no more an instrument of preservation, the image is.” – Berenice Abbott
More soon on our adventures in Palm Springs – the “normal” warm weather here seems to have been taken over by rain and wind, although I can’t really complain as we need the rain.
Pardon the blurry photo, driving and picture taking probably isn’t the best combination. These desert towns don’t seem to know what to do with copious amounts of water falling from the sky, closed roads and flash flood warnings – fun times!