Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New to the camera market?

This is our first 'mini-article', it will likely be followed up by more on different topics; which leads me to our first article: The Camera Market.

As of this day, there are hundreds, if not thousands of cameras available to consumers from across the globe. Making the decision in camera choice can be a daunting task, but hopefully with the tips and recommendations you'll find here, you can have an easier time picking the right camera for the job. So let's begin.

-If you are just looking to primarily take photos on trips, or of your friends and family, and perhaps are on a budget, then the most affordable and easy solution is to look into the Point-and-Shoot market. Point-and-Shoot (P&S (pos)) cameras are great due to there ease of use, size, portability, and price. The name P&S say's it all. You point, and you shoot. 99% of the time, your picture will look just the way you want it. That 1% is the infamous user-error that we all encounter, from professionals to enthusiasts. The compact and portable design of P&S cameras give the user flexibility when it comes to traveling and/or storage. At the same-time, P&S cameras are relatively cheaper than the Digital SLR market. So if you are looking into getting a camera just to shoot some friends on the weekends, or you need a camera to take pictures of things you want to sell, the most reasonable option is to look at a point-and-shoot camera. But if you are interested in photography as a hobby or art form, than you should give serious consideration to the Digital SLR options.

-For those of us who want to get into the art of photography, and learn both the technical and compositional aspects of it, then the cameras to look at are the DSLR cameras. The term, DSLR, stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. Which basically simplifies into a digital camera, with an interchangeable lens. Although they are a bit more complex, I'll save you the confusion for a future article on how cameras work etc'. For now, let's stick to the market. DSLR cameras offer the user much more flexibility when it comes to shooting a picture. They are considerably larger than P&S cameras, and can cost anywhere from $400 dollars to $8,000 dollars. DSLR cameras are perfect for those photo-enthusiasts, hobby-photographers, aspiring professionals, and even just regular users who want a more sophisticated camera. Remember that even the most professional cameras available, will almost always have an "Automatic" function, which is what you would find when using P&S cameras. So there is no need to worry about functionality and ease of use. The big, obvious difference between P&S cameras and DSLR cameras is the big lens attached to the body of the camera. This is what makes a DSLR so different compared to a P&S camera. Again, I won't get into the big technical aspects in this article, but I will say that regardless of what everybody says, a DSLR camera is great for anyone. It just depends on what you want to use your camera for, and how much you are ready to spend. Remember that with a DSLR camera, your lens is interchangeable, meaning that there are thousands of other lenses available for you to separately purchase, each giving a different effect towards your final photo outcome.

Specific DSLR Cameras:
-Now because the DSLR market is a bit more demanding than the P&S market, I'll start by talking about different DSLR options available for the consumer. Now if you are a seasoned professional, or just an ordinary photographer (like me) you probably already know the market as well as your own telephone number. So the following tips and recommendations aren't going to mean anything special to you.

If you know that you want to get into photography, and learn the compositional/technical aspect of it, then without a doubt you should look into getting a DSLR camera. Now, because we are all different, I have organized this list by price.

-If you are worried about price in the DSLR market compared to the P&S market, then there isn't anything to worry about. There are equally priced DSLR cameras to P&S cameras that perform very well. *Note: If I include the word "Body" after the model of the camera, it means that the camera is sold without a lens. You will have to purchase a lens separately. If I say "Kit", then the camera is sold as a kit with a kit lens.* Also, if I have put a *Recommended* after the camera name, it means that this is one of the few cameras in its class that I think is worth considering. Despite all the cameras that I include, and there performance, the one's that I think are really the one's to look into will have the recommendation note.

1) Canon Digital Rebel XT with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Kit lens $400 *Recommended*
-This camera is by far the most camera for the least money at this time. The body can be found for less than $350 refurbished from Canon, and with a kit lens it brings the price up to around $400. Though the design is now three years old, this camera still blows almost all other low end DSLR's out of the water.

2) Nikon D40 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G (Kit) at $450 *Recommended*
-Said to be one of the best starting DSLR cameras. The Nikon D40 with the 18-55mm kit lens. Although the paper-specifications might seem a bit 'weak', the D40 is a solid camera and a great performer. The D40 from Nikon offers a 6.1 megapixel max' resolution, 2.5" LCD, and shoots 2.5 frames per second. At the price that this camera is offered, with the lens, you are getting a great camera that can lead you through the different branched of photography and give you great performance.

3) Sony A200 with 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 (Kit) at $500 *Recommended*
-The A200 from Sony is a solid camera that has a lot of positives. Featuring a 10.2 megapixel sensor, 2.7" LCD, Built-in anti-shake (image stabilization), and anti-dust protection. Note that Sony cameras, as well as some Olympus models feature built-in Image Stabilization. This is where the camera physically moves the sensor in effort to counter any camera shake. This is very beneficial because Nikon and Canon cameras have image stabilization/vibration reduction built-into there lenses. This can cost more, and isn't as convenient as having it built-into the body, where technically every lens that you attach on the camera effectively becomes anti-shake models.

4) Canon Digital Rebel XTi (a.k.a. 400D) (Body) at $550 *Recommended*
-If you are looking into getting a DSLR, this camera is one of the easiest to recommend.

5) Canon Digital Rebel XS (a.k.a. 1000D) (Body) at $600 *Recommended*

6) Sony Alpha A300 with 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 (Kit) at $600 *Recommended*

Now I can stop here, although there are many more to list. These cameras all have great specifications. Regardless of what they are, they will perform very well. It doesn't matter how many megapixels this camera has compared to that one. It doesn't matter how fast this camera shoots and how fast that camera shoots. What matters MOST is how the camera feels, works, and functions in YOUR hands. After all, it is going to be your camera, you need to pick the one that works best in your hands.

I've seen and heard of photographers that thought that they wanted to start out in the Semi-Pro market, and got $1,600 dollar cameras, and after a couple of weeks, returned their cameras and bought budget level (beginner-level) DSLRs, like the Olympus, Sony, Nikon, and Canon models listed above. So don't worry about the paper-specifications as much as the functionality of the camera in your hands.

If you want to upgrade your current DSLR, then this article isn't really targeted towards you. We'll have an article devoted to the semi-pro/pro-model market in a few days. This article was just to give a basic idea to those looking into getting their first or more recent digital cameras.

So I hope this could help.