Camera – Types, Top Brands, Features, Buyer’s Guide & More
In this digital world, we know that cameras have created a revolution. But do you think this photography field is very easy to comprehend?
Well, imagine a beginner who has no big idea about cameras stepping into the field. Initially, everything will seem new to him/her. Because there are different types of cameras like DSLR, mirrorless, compact, action, video cameras, and a lot more.
And camera shopping can become even more confusing when you need to select the best camera from the top brands. (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Fujifilm cameras are my favorites).
So I suggest beginner photography enthusiasts and professionals to have a clear understanding of the types of cameras and their important features like ISO, resolution, sensor size, Pixel rate, lens mount, and more.
Only then you will purchase the right camera for your purpose and use the camera settings properly.
With that said, I have come up with this in-depth article related to "Cameras, its types, top Camera brands, and the important camera features". So, come along with me in this journey of learning about "Cameras"!
FILM CAMERAS VS DIGITAL CAMERAS
There are two types of cameras: Film and digital. The fundamental difference between them lies in the "camera sensor" that captures the pictures. Different film formats are 8mm, super 8, 16mm, and more used to record pictures. However, a standard format film camera has a 35mm film.
In a film camera, the "film tape" acts as the sensor. It will be placed behind the film camera’s lens. And when the shutter opens, the light hits the film, thus creating the images. But the drawback here is, for taking the next shot, you need to roll the film so that a fresh “film” is now present behind the lens.
FILM CAMERA WORKING
Once the reel size gets over, you need to reload it with a new film roll. Whereas in digital cameras you have a fixed electronic sensor instead of a standard film.
Like a film camera, this sensor is placed behind the lens. So, when you switch on the camera, the lens shutter opens, and the light enters the camera, which in turn hits the electronic sensor.
DIGITAL CAMERA WORKING
Now, remember that an electronic sensor is made of numerous light-sensitive sensors. Each light-sensitive sensor depicts one pixel. So when all the pixels combine, it results in a picture.
This is how you get views using a digital camera. But the best part about using digital cameras is that you can save it on storage devices like SSD, hard disk or share it with other devices using in-built WiFi.
TYPES OF DIGITAL CAMERAS
Now that you have understood what a digital camera is, get to know its types. The major types of digital camera include: DSLR, mirrorless, point-and-shoot (compact), bridge, medium-format, and action cameras. Indeed, whatever your video and film needs may be, instead of blowing your entire budget with a new $5,000+ cinema camera, you even can get good quality digital cameras under 300.
Then what about camcorders and other video cameras? Under what category do they come? Is that your question? Well, digital cameras like DSLR, mirrorless are specially used for still photography.
Camcorders and video cameras excel in videography. Nowadays, most of the video camera models are digital. They allow you to take videos, edit them and also share them wirelessly.
There are some changes between a camcorder and a digital camera which I will explain in detail later. DSLR, mirrorless, and medium-format cameras allow a variety of interchangeable lenses to be used along with them, so they come under the category of Interchangeable lens cameras.
Compact, action, and bridge cameras come with fixed lenses. Also, they belong to the family of Fixed lens cameras.
Though DSLR and mirrorless cameras allow interchangeable lenses to be used with them, there is still a big difference. The main change is in the way both reproduce pictures.
Yes, both have large sensors to capture the image. However, DSLR cameras have a reflex mirror in their internal design to direct the incoming light to the viewfinder. For understanding this much better, refer to the diagram below.
In a mirrorless camera, as the name suggests, you will not find this mirror. So, the light entering the camera’s lens will directly hit the image sensor to produce the image. Unlike DSLRs that use an optical viewfinder, mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder.
With that said, you can use mirrorless digital cameras for taking pictures of artwork. If you love taking time-lapse shots, then you can opt for a time-lapse DSLR camera. Both will work fine. If you own a YouTube channel, you can upgrade your camera kit by purchasing recommended camera for youtubers like Canon M50 or Nikon Z5.
Digital Single-Lens Reflex Cameras and Mirrorless cameras are the most popular types of digital cameras used for professional photography and videography.
The Name Single Reflex Camera means that the camera uses its same in-built lens for framing, focusing, and taking pictures. Be it the best camera for short filmmaking or a macro photography camera, DSLR cameras are the best.
Also, professional fashion bloggers looking for the right camera for fashion photography and modelling, then you can opt for high-range DSLRs to get this done. Also, any beginner who wants to learn photography can choose an entry-level DSLR camera; it will be very useful to explore more using interchangeable lenses. Based on the sensor size: You have full-frame DSLRs, Crop-sensor cameras(APS-C), and Micro-Four thirds format DSLRs.
Many photographers who do landscape photography as a hobby consider DSLR cameras, as they offer excellent image quality and wide dynamic range.
POINT & SHOOT CAMERAS (COMPACT CAMERAS)
When looking for a general-purpose fixed-lens camera for taking still photographs and videos, choosing a point-and-shoot camera is the best choice. For example, you may be looking for a camera to record live performances of your favorite stars. Years ago, this type of cameras was preferred by beginners and still they are one of the best camera for amateur filmmakers.
In that case, compact cameras will serve camera to record live concert performances. But only remember that low-light video or still shoots need a camera with a good zoom lens in-built, faster burst shooting rates, and a higher ISO.
So is the camera good only for concert videographers? Definitely not. Many camera experts and travel enthusiast recommend flip screen camera for vloggers.
As they are very small, they will make your travel vlogging or any low-range video shooting enjoyable. With that said, check out my articles on recommended point and shoot cameras under 500 and budget compact cameras under 300 if you wish to purchase one.
MICRO FOUR-THIRDS CAMERA
Panasonic cameras are the most sought-after MFT cameras in the market. So what is an MFT camera? I’ll tell you. Micro-Four third cameras are mirrorless cameras that use a smaller sensor (4/3 size of a full-frame camera sensor).
Camcorders are a type of video camera that is used for shooting high-quality videos. Many people think that a video camera and a camcorder are same. So let me tell the difference between a video camera and a camcorder, the early video cameras were huge and were mainly used for the TV and filmmaking process.
Also, they were able to convert optical signals into electronic signals. However, you couldn’t store those electronic signals as the early video cameras lacked an in-built storage facility.
However, as technology grew, the world of video cameras also started growing. Handycam, webcam, camcorder, surveillance cameras are some types of video cameras you see today.
Camcorders come at both budget-friendly and high-end prices. You don’t have to look for an extra storage unit as the camcorder itself contains a videocassette recorder in it. So basically, a (video camera + video cassette recorder together make up a camcorder. You can blindly trust a high-range camcorder video camera for taking nighttime videos, shooting short films in low-light, hunting, and wedding videography.
I say this because they have a good optical range and also have advanced features like built-in flash, higher resolution, big sensors for making your video work efficient.
"Do you know that you can actually play your old dv tapes even without a camcorder? It's surprising right? But yeah it's possible!"
If you compare camcorder vs DSLR, the first is suitable for video work while the latter excels in still photography (but can be used for videos also). And as I already told you, DSLRs allow interchangeable lenses to be used with them, whereas a camcorder will not allow you to do that.
Surveillance cameras, unlike the other cameras mentioned in this list, are not used for general still photography. They are hidden cameras used for security purposes. They are used in homes, banks, or any official workplace where security management is very crucial.
Even in forests, for tracking animal behavior and hunting spots, a surveillance camera is used.
And one such camera used for this purpose is a cellular trail camera. They are often tied onto trees in the forests. And how it works is that it uses any 3G, 4G, or any cellular network connectivity to transmit the information (footage) directly to your mobiles. So, if you want to shoot any documentaries related to animal behavior, a cellular trail camera will help you.
Action cameras, as the name suggests, are used for capturing videos of fast-moving objects. You might have seen your favorite YouTube influencers and vloggers holding a tiny camera for shooting their vlogs. Those are nothing but action cameras, and the most famous action cameras belong to the brand GoPro. They are waterproof and have a rugged build quality making them an excellent camera for snorkeling and diving.
You can also use these cameras for recording music videos or for vlogging as they have a clip-on facility. Not only that, action cameras, especially GoPros, can be mounted on your helmet if needed. Great right!
Another good feature about action cameras is that, they are easily compatible with your smart gadgets like laptops, PCs, and tablets. You can take a look at my article on how to connect an action camera to a PC if you're not sure how to transfer files between them.
That was just an additional piece of information I wanted to add. Well, getting back to the topic, suppose you ask me if an action camera is suitable for still photography. I would say yes, it is capable of getting pictures, but the quality of your still photographs wouldn’t be that impressive. If video work or vlogging is your job/career, then an affordable vlogging camera is a good buying choice.
TOP CAMERA BRANDS
Since 1984, Canon has been one of the top brands in terms of Camera and Lens manufacturing. Be it a beginner or a professional you can find a variety of camera options to select from this brand. The price range of Canon’s DSLR cameras starts from a price of 450$ and goes up to a maximum of 1300$.
Canon’s Powershot point-and-shoot cameras are world-famous for their amazing picture quality and affordable price. As the Company has a huge range of cameras like full-frame, APS-C, and mirrorless, it is obvious that they have a wide variety of lenses to suit each camera type: EF, EF-S, EF-M, and RF lenses.
Till 2006, this brand concentrated on manufacturing Film cameras. But after that, when the Company stepped into the industry of Digital camera manufacture, it definitely became a tough competitor to Canon. Though Nikon is comparatively less famous than Canon, they too have a pool of cameras and lenses to choose from.
Nikon’s D-series cameras and lenses are world-famous. More than professionals, it is beginners who opt for this brand because you can easily get a good-quality beginner camera at a very affordable price. The best part about their products is that they are very sturdy and durable.
Mostly they come with a weather-sealed design, which is nice. So videographers who will shoot in harsh weather conditions and wanting to purchase a good quality Nikon camera for video work can consider Nikon cameras a good option.
Nikon releases two types of lenses: DX and FX. DX lens is for a crop-sensor Nikon camera, whereas an FX lens is for Nikon’s full-frame camera. Apart from that, Nikon also launched the mirrorless camera gear manufacture in 2008, and its mirrorless range comes under the tag ‘Z.’
If you ask me whether a Canon or a Sony camera has better AF, I would say it is Sony. Their Alpha range cameras provide an outstanding AF performance that none of their A-series cameras have become a flop. Especially the A6000 camera. I just love the way it performs!
There is a lot more about the brand. Sony’s Cyber-Shot compact cameras are a huge hit and are always in demand in the camera market. Both beginners and professionals can get their desired camera from this brand as there is a lot to choose from.
If action photography is your interest, you should invest in a Sony mirrorless camera. It will take your photography career to a whole new level. Not only that, they have excellent battery life, and most of them come with a touch-screen facility as well.
BUYING GUIDE FOR PURCHASING A CAMERA
The first and foremost feature you need to look at on a camera is the "sensor size." As there are different cameras like Full-Frame, APS-C, and Micro-Four thirds, depending on the sensor size.
In a full-frame camera, the sensor size measures 36mm by 24mm. Most APS-C cameras come with a sensor size of 25.1×16.7 mm.
Full-Frame and APS-C sensors are found in DSLR, mirrorless, and professional compact cameras. Whereas in budget point-and-shoot and action cameras, the sensor size usually is less than 1-inches.
Sensor size is essential for purchasing an appropriate lens for your camera. Because while using APS-C lens on other sensor cameras, you need to consider the crop factor.
While purchasing a lens for an interchangeable lens camera, The size of the sensor on an interchangeable lens camera will also dictate something called the 'crop factor.
ISO is a measure of a camera’s sensitivity to light. So the larger the ISO value, the more sensitive the camera’s sensor will be to light. Nighttime cameras usually have an ISO greater than 1600. High-value cameras have an ISO range that goes up to 5,12,000 also. Filmmakers and commercial advertising agencies use such a high value for shooting ads.
When ISO range is more, you needn’t use an external flash while shooting in darker situations. But the problem is when ISO gets larger, you are more likely to get grainy footage. This means a lot of post-processing will be required.
The very first question we ask the vendor while purchasing a camera is what is the camera’s resolution?. Yes, because we know the higher the resolution, the better the details and sharpness of the pictures will be. “Resolution” basically refers to the size of the image a camera is capable of delivering. The resolution of any digital camera is measured in terms of megapixels (MP). Where one MP equals to one million pixels.
And we know that it is the pixels that combine to form a picture. That is why we desire a higher MP value in cameras.But the problem here is, as the resolution of a picture increases, the file size will automatically increase. So file transfer and storage of those files is not easy.
If you think the resolution is the only reason for getting a good quality picture. I’m sorry it is not like that. There is one important measure which is the “Pixel size.” This is what plays an important role in deciding the image quality of the camera.
What is pixel size? It is the total number of pixels along the length and width of an image. It depends on the image sensor of a camera. That is why a 24MP DSLR shows a better image quality than a 50MP android phone. The reason is simple: a DSLR has a larger sensor than a camera sensor, so obviously, the pixel size will increase, helping you get better quality images.
Electronic viewfinders are most common in mirrorless cameras. What an EVF means is, in a mirrorless camera, you don’t have any mirror. It is only the sensor that is placed in the camera.
The viewfinder is nothing but the tiny space through which your view and take photographs. Now an EVF will show you the image of what the sensor sees.
Optical viewfinders, on the other hand, are seen as DSLR cameras. In a DSLR camera, you have the light passing through the lens, falling on a reflecting mirror, and hitting the film. Suppose you ask me which is better. I would say EVF. Because an ‘EVF’ can display more information than an ‘OVF’ and offers a “What You See Is What You Get” view.
Suppose you are a beginner looking for a camera to learn photography. Then a manual mode camera (labeled as ‘M’)will be suitable for you. Because in auto mode (Av), the camera itself will do your job. I mean, it will set the aperture, shutter speeds, and ISO value for you. This means as a beginner, a camera that allows auto mode will reduce your photographing learning skill.
Image stabilization is equally important to both a camera and a lens. If your camera has in-body stabilization, you can get smooth footage without any camera shakes or micro jiggles. It is very important for photographers/videographers who have to shoot for long hours.
Most of the digital cameras we see in the market today allow you to take videos. The best and the standard video capture resolution for any camera is 1080p. If you are looking for the best 1080p DSLR cameras for video work, let me tell you there is a huge variety in the market. Professional vloggers for whom video quality is very crucial also go for 4k resolution cameras. These days finding a 4k resolution camera is not very difficult. That’s how technology has improved!
FRAMES PER SECOND
This is a measure of how many frames (photos) your camera is able to record within a second. The standard FPS rate for a digital camera is 30fps. A camera with higher FPS capability is very important for video work and taking fast action shots.
This includes WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC connectivity. If you are a busy person who doesn’t have time to share files manually using HDMI cables, this is a good option. And since most Camera brands have their apps for wireless transfer, transferring files to your computer or other devices will not be difficult.
That's a wrap!. I hope you found this article informative and interesting. Do share your feedback and queries in the comments section below.
Next time you wish to purchase any camera, make sure you consider the points mentioned in this article. Thank you for reading!