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Camera Basics - Types of Camera
Category: Photography Basics
Updated 6 months ago by renan

Types of Digital Cameras.

Purchasing a new camera can be overwhelming once you see the the various brands and models available in the market. Whether you're an amateur who wants to enhance your photography or a professional who feels that your current camera does not seem to fit your style, it would help you to understand the different types of camera, their capabilities, advantages and limitations.

Also, check out the discussion on image sensors to understand more about the different options.

1. Basic Compact (Point-And-Shoot) - These are small, light and relatively cheap cameras that uses a small sensor and fixed lenses with a short zoom range. The controls are very minimal and rely mostly on automatic focus and exposure.

2. Compact Superzoom - These cameras have the same sensors as a Basic Compact camera but has Semi-Automatic to Full Manual controls over focusing and exposure. As the name implies, it is also equipped with more advanced fixed lens system that covers a wide range of focal lengths some with zoom ranges of 50 times or more.

3. Advanced Compact - Targeted to more experienced hobbyists, these cameras use 1/1.7", 2/3" or 1" sensors which provide much better image quality compared to Basic Compact cameras with their 1/2.3" sensors. They use fixed lenses with either a fixed focal length and large aperture, or a short zoom with relatively large aperture range, or a superzoom system. The controls are similar to high-end cameras and are priced much higher compared to lower-end compacts.

action adventure camera

4. Action/Adventure Cameras - These are usually equipped with the same specs as a Basic Compact except that they are designed to be more robust. They have much higher degree of Water resistance, Dust resistance, Impact resistance and Temperature resistance, which makes them ideal for rough outings.

dslr type cameras

5. DSLR - Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras are high-end cameras that uses prisms or mirrors to allow the user to see in the viewfinder the actual view "through the lens" of the camera. This allows for more precise framing and focus adjustments. Equipped with APS-C or Full Frame sensors, with more complex and customizable controls, and a replaceable lens, this is ideal for advanced hobbyists and professional work. They do come in beginner, advanced, and high-end models that mostly vary in speed, customizability, ruggedness, and price.

mirrorless camera type6. Mirrorless - This type is sort of an evolution of the DSLR, employing the same large sensors, sophisticated controls, replaceable lens and "Through-The-Lens" view. The main difference is the lack of the prisms and mirrors found in DSLRs instead they use an electronic viewfinder or a large LCD display (or both) to give the user a precise visual of what appears in the sensor. Mirrorless comes in Four-Thirds, APS-C and Full Frame sensors and are smaller and lighter compared to their DSLR counterparts due to the removal of the mirror/prism system. Although the output quality is practically the same, mirrorless systems are known to have a slower autofocus, slower burst rate, power hungry, and more expensive than DSLRs. Sports and wildlife photographers also complain about its inability to maintain a continuous live image in the viewfinder when shooting a series of shots in continuous burst mode, which causes them to miss proper framing of moving shots.

medium large format cameras7. Medium/Large Format - These are high-end cameras that use sensors larger than a Full Frame. They provide the best possible image quality even at very high resolutions. Due to its large sensor, these cameras are very expensive, considerably large and heavy and would most of the time require a very good tripod. Some manufacturers even include a tripod head or a rail system as part of the camera. They are not known for their imaging speed though, compared to DSLRs, since the large sensor requires a lot of processing power to handle. This makes their use rather limited and specialized for professional, high-resolution advertisement or documentary work.

Conclusion - Understanding the difference between various types of cameras should go hand in hand with knowing what you want in your photography, what subjects you like to shoot, what outputs you expect to produce, and what kind of budget are you willing to invest into it. Choose a camera type that you think closely matches your needs.

Keep in mind though that the camera body is only a start. You will also need lenses, maybe a bag, an external flash, a tripod, and other accessories, so don't drop all your budget on the body. Be patient and check out all other accessories, confirm which you may need now and slowly build up your tools based on your current needs and budget.


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