Which Camera to Choose? (Better than a Comparison)

The question of the choice of a camera is the first arises anyone wishing to enter the world of photography. Since the beginning of the blog, it is probably the question that comes up most in the emails that i receive.

This article is an update of the first article of the blog, published in june 2010 (where the old comments i keep): He was always also valid, but lacked the presence of hybrids, and some very useful clarifications. I therefore decided to keep what was good, completing and enriching.

I decided to tackle this project after the mail of lauriane, that sums up only the questions you have on the choice of an aircraft. If you are in it, this article is for you.

The purpose of this article is to make a kind of ‘ultimate guide’ to help you choose a camera. As i don’t want it to be outdated within 15 days with the release of a new camera, i don’t no comparison and i would not advise a model in particular, but i will seek instead to guide you in your choice without either turn into a mom: You’re adults, you make the final choice of your device depending on what is most important to you.

I will start with expose you 4 families of camera, 3 the most important criteria for choosing one, and finally a method step by step to choose the final model.

Device type: Compact, bridge, hybrid or dslr

In the first place, i am willing to bet that you did your own research before falling on this blog, and that you have already heard of these 4 types of devices.

So what are the differences between these 4 families, their advantages and disadvantages?

Compact cameras

Budget: € 70 to 500


·petite size (possibility to put it in the pocket)

Financially ·abordable


Small size ·capteur (come back)

·donc failure to achieve a shallow depth of field (blur of background)

Often bad ·rendu in low-light (indoors, for example)

Low ·dynamique (difficulty to get a good record in contrast situations)

·manque of responsiveness (both in terms of development of trigger speed)

Not interchangeable ·objectif

·visee by screen in most cases

Very recently, some compact cameras with large sensors have emerged, which fills some of these drawbacks. That said, they are still a really high price, and exist at the moment for the technical prowess than for the average consumer.

Cameras bridges

Budget: € 200-350


More important than on compact ·zoom

·presence of a viewfinder in most cases


The disadvantages of the compact ·tous

More important than the compact ·encombrement

Despite his “Hangover small reflex”, the bridge is often closer to a compact: No interchangeable lenses, limited settings, relatively poor optical quality. Supposed to be a compromise between compact and dslr, i feel that the bridge is only a way to get the user of compact to slr smoothly, while leaving a few euros by the way. And bridges of entry-level slr price, it seems to me that the bridge is an investment that won’t last, and less interesting than a good compact in my opinion (which allows at least keep all over itself).

  • Slr cameras
  • A reflex consists of two parts: The first case, what you hold in your hand, with the shutter button, the screen, and the adjustment knobs. It is important in regard to ergonomics and adjustment capabilities, but what makes the quality of the image is the goal! If you associate a case very high-end with a goal first prize, you get images of poor quality, so that a conversely a high quality lens on an entry level box will give you very satisfactory results.
  • These two parts of the appliance are independent, this implies that you can change your goal according to the situation. Indeed even without having knowledge of photo, you imagine it takes different objectives to photograph a tiny insect on a flower, a portrait or even a bit shy birds remaining long-distance.
  • Objectives can sometimes be quite expensive, but they are a long term investment and allow the shots you want. But rest assured, to start the kit lens is more than enough, as long as it’s quality! If subsequently you wish to purchase another lens, i recommend you look to my guide to buying a goal.
  • Budget: € 400 to infinity
  • Benefits:
  • grand sensor (from the entry level):
  • possibilite achieve of small depths of field (nice blur of background)
  • meilleur made in low light
  • Dynamic ·bonne of the sensor (better management of contrasting situations)
  • Interchangeable ·objectif:
  • objectif specialized for every occasion, which delivers the best possible
  • meilleure reactivity to the start and the development that the bridges and compact
  • Systematic optical ·viseur: You see what you are shooting directly, without electronic intermediary (screen or electronic sight)
  • Disadvantages:
  • Significant ·encombrement (according to the range of the unit and the chosen objective)
  • Interchangeable ·objectif:
  • Expensive ·plus
  • Bulky ·plus
  • difficile to get a good image quality and a good record in low light with a type 18-200mm or 18-300mm zoom (which replicated the amplitude of zoom of a bridge)
  • Hybrid (or “Compact with interchangeable objectives”) cameras
  • I end by hybrids, because it’s more complicated to decipher for you, especially since they settle actually shorter than the others. Basically the idea of builders, it was to combine the advantages of slr (large sensor, good image quality, interchangeable lenses), with those of compact (small size, low weight). Where the name of “Compact cameras with interchangeable lenses.
  • It is in theory, in practice it is more complicated, as find it me hard to put benefits/drawbacks and other families. Indeed, there are many different models, which are not equivalent at all:

Compact ·des (ioc) interchangeable lenses but with a small sensor size, and so lose much of the benefits of the slr (but earn more compact)

  • des devices with a large sensor, but with a fixed (non-interchangeable) lens. They are not really a compact to speak for me, because they are often oriented more pros and with an excellent lens at wide apertures, focal length fixed in general.

Here’s what we can summarize as advantages and disadvantages common to all hybrids or similar:

  • compacite (does not take in the pocket, but in a small bag)
  • souvent but not always a large sensor, with the associated benefits (low depth of field, rendered in low light and contrast situations)
  • bonne reactivity (better than the compact and bridges, equivalent or slightly below the reflex)
  • the case, interchangeable lenses with their advantages and disadvantages
  • presence of an electronic viewfinder on some models

Budget: € 400 to infinity (or almost)

Well, as you can see, makes a nice leg, because half of the features depend on the models. But it’s not bad, that’s why the rest of the article is here!

The main criteria of choice of a camera

After this essential development (pun!: D), i can detail what are the necessary criteria to look for when you buy a camera, especially your first “Serious” Camera

Indeed, i imagine that if you’re here, it’s that you don’t only photos with friends in the evening and 3 shots on vacation. In this case, frankly, do you buy a compact, it will be good enough!  But if you are looking to make great photos arts, and even professionalize you, choose the criteria below is essential.

The creative modes

What is very important is that you can make fine adjustments on the technical characteristics of the device such as the aperture, the shutter speed, iso, white balance, etc… Without going into the details here, these parameters are important for getting good shots and special effects which contribute to express yourself by photographing.

(i’m not more jargon: These terms are essential to know, and for that click on the links to the articles for more details)

The most important thing, therefore, that your device allows you access to the creative modes, i.e. The program, aperture priority, priority modes to the speed and manual. They are really very country control your images. Most devices offer them, but there have to be careful on the inexpensive compacts.

In addition, you will see that usage, it is much more comfortable to have a dedicated knob that allows you to easily change mode. For me it’s a criterion for purchase for a device: If the wheel is not present, i do not buy.

Attention: Some devices allow access to these modes via the menus, including hybrids. Regarding me, i hate, but it’s personal

The raw format

If you already read the blog, you probably know the importance i give to the use of the raw format. It is really very important for the final quality of your images than to go through the phase post-processing, which is much more flexible with this format. His presence is for me a necessary criterion if you buy a serious camera.

  • If you turn to hybrids or slr, you will have the raw, but it won’t always be the case on the bridges and compact: Make sure what they are offering if you turn to these solutions.
  • The size of the sensor
  • The two previous criteria are indispensable and not negotiable, as they are not complicated to gather, even for fairly tight budgets.
  • But there is a criterion that is really important for many things:
  • image quality
  • the device versatility
  • vos creative possibilities
  • If you read the first part, you guessed: It’s the size of the sensor. Beware, i’m talking physical size of the sensor, not the number of megapixels (which is always enough today). If you want more details about this, i refer you to my article on the subject, but to summarize, a larger sensor will allow you several nice things:
  • realiser of low depth of field, which is a blur of pronounced and aesthetic background. You will not have to have it on all your images right, that is just possible. It’s an effect sought by many photographers, especially for the portrait, but which can be used creatively in all areas. Large sensor, don’t think so.
  • second cool kiss effect: Better in low light. A larger sensor will generate less noise and better quality images when you run out of light (which is quite often actually).
  • Exception still: If you compare a small sensor of today with a large sensor of 6 years ago, the most recent could be better. But to generation equivalent, the large sensor beats small to flat seams!
  • de the same way, a large sensor has a greater dynamiquequ’ a little. This is a criterion which is you almost never discussed on the comparisons but which is nevertheless very important: High dynamics will allow you to better manage the high-contrast light situations, like a very bright sky in full summer afternoon. Attention, no miracle either if you are shooting with the sun! But you will see the difference between a compact and a dslr for example. For more details, see also my video on the dynamics of the sensor
  • My big buying tip is to direct you to a large sensor camera if your budget allows. It’s always better, unless you really want to take it in your pocket (and again, it has hybrids more smaller).
  • What does a large sensor?
  • Then you say: “That is what you call a large sensor exactly? It’s a very good question! For me, it’s a large sensor, in descending order:
  • Full frame development
  • Aps – c development
  • Development of micro 4/3
  • Smaller than that, it is in my view too small to offer a real difference compared to the bridges and compact, who have in the extreme majority of cases of sensors really ridiculous (except models and expensive as the rx1 sony for example).
  • To put it simply:
  • tous reflex (even in entry level), have a large sensor. Aps – c for the most part, full frame for older children.
  • pour hybrids, some have an aps – c sensor, that is the same size as most slr cameras. This is the case of the sony nex, the samsung nx, the eos m, and several devices whose purpose is not interchangeable like some fuji.
  • Disadvantage: For technical reasons, the goals are big enough, and so they are away to slip into the pocket.
  • d’ other hybrids have a micro 4/3, slightly smaller sensor which keeps excellent opportunities. Is the panasonic g and the olympus pen series. They had a good idea: Gather around a table to agree on a standard. Big advantage for you: The micro 4/3 2 brand objectives are compatible with devices micro 4/3 of the 2 brands, so you have access to a lot more different objectives.
  • The advantage of this slightly smaller sensor, it’s that the objectives are, especially those so-called ‘pancakes’, and so the whole clearly wins in compactness.
  • enfin, there are other ioc who have sensors too small to show a real interest in the compact in my sense (which will be less cumbersome with their retractable goal). This is for example the case 1 nikon or pentax q.

So, this, you understand the key essential criteria in the choice of your camera. You already can eliminate a lot of options, by doing some research online: It is very simple to type ‘[name of your device] size of the sensor’ in google to find out what its size (here again, i’m not your mom, i won’t do it for you).

But you’re not always arrived at a final choice, as lauriane said in his e-mail.

How to choose the phone model: Step by step method

Now that you understand the ins and outs, you’ll see that it’ll be much easier here, and almost automatic. We’ll use a comparison online from now, since we have our main criteria in mind. I recommend the digital, it works well

First of all, i would like to draw your attention to a very important point: There is no need too to take the lead. Equivalent range, 2 devices of brands different are often also good one than the other, and will not fundamental difference in your practice picture. What i mean is that a compact 200 other brand will often be roughly equivalent. Ditto if you hesitate between 2 slr entry-level canon or nikon. I will come back, but it seems important to say right now.

The budget

·in € 150-200 below: Choose a good compact, well noted on the digital. You don’t need to take the lead.

·Environ 300 (or 400 by selling a kidney): Remember to turn to the opportunity. You will find a reflex (or hybrid) of 2 to 3 years of age, who work very well and will be enough to start. You will be probably more happy than a bridge or a brand-new compact. Don’t be fooled by the tricks of the wi – fi, gps and company kind: This is frankly not essential.

·plus € 400-500: Choose a dslr or a hybrid. Even entry level, you’re going to make you really happy with.

Hybrid or slr?

It’s the question you ask yourself a lot today. Clearly, many hybrids have reached a quality equivalent to slrs. However space is always a big advantage (size, weight, travel and trips, discretion, etc.). So in which situations does still choose an slr? As always, it depends on your needs and your practice picture.

In my view, the reflex is indispensable in the following practices:

· Animal picture: You will need a long telephoto and a good balance with the case, that the hybrids will not be able to offer.

· sports photo: At the moment, slrs still have the advantage in terms of responsiveness, essential in this discipline. The gap could be reduced to nothingness in the next few years, but this is still the case in 2014.

· photo shows (concerts, etc): The grip, usability and responsiveness of slrs remain essential for me in this discipline. But high range hybrids are starting to compete!

·in a lesser measure, the macro: The macro lens lineup is often reduced on hybrids, so check although he has what you need before you buy.

And that’s all! For everything else (landscape, portrait, daily life, architecture, street photography, travel, etc.), you won’t see any fundamental difference in rendering between hybrid and dslr. Especially if the sensor size is the same.

So it’s really a matter of personal preference: Some will encourage a small footprint to be able to take the camera everywhere, and others will prefer something more fat for a better grip. That’s for you to see!

How to choose between 2 or 3 finalists?

Normally, at this point, you will have 2 or 3 cameras that you try, without being able to choose: You kept the devices that correspond to the 3 main criteria mentioned above, you’ve filtered with your budget, you have chosen between hybrid and dslr. And still you have 2 hybrids or 3 slr at the same price, looking at boxes rated on comparison sites. And you don’t have any idea of the differences between them, despite reading many tests or comparisons.

And good news: There are few! As i said earlier, to equal range, the differences are fairly few in number between the competing devices. An olympus pen and a panasonic gf from same generation are quite close. Ditto for slr canon and nikon in same range.

So there is no answer to “What is nikon thing is better than the canon thing?”!

My best advice here is to go to take over in the store: Look feel you the most comfortable with. Operate the unit, see if you find the settings, if the menus are intuitive for you, you “Falls under the hand. It’s a bit like looking for an apartment finally: You have the favorite or not. It sounds innocuous, but it’s really very very important to have an intuitive grip: It’s going to make the shot, and the pleasure to photograph.

This grip will also allow you to notice small details that you might have zapped in tests, but important for you:

  • presence of a viewfinder

Adjustable screen development…

These criteria are really very personal, personally i don’t find the important swivel screen, but you have the right to take that into consideration

What lens to start?

The choice of a goal is a very broad topic also, that i can’t treat in full here, this article is already very long! If you’re interested, i wrote an article on the subject, and downright a complete digital book, and his paper at eyrolles book adaptation.

I will therefore focus on the lens to take to start. If you have a limited budget, don’t bother: Take the unit with the kit lens, because it is almost free (the kit is barely more expensive than the single unit). It is limited but is not a disaster either, and allows you to try your hand at many things. For example, i took this picture with a simple 18-55mm:

If you ever get a little over budget, i suggest getting a lens of the same kind of focus (12-50mm on micro 4/3, 17-50mm on aps – c), but with a large maximum aperture such as f/2.8. Consider looking at the brands third kind tamron and sigma, which have good alternatives at lower cost.

Choose this type of goal to avoid you from many pitfalls faced by 99% of beginners: Get a nice blur of background, and have sharp photos in low light.

When and why to change camera?

I wrote this article for those looking to buy their first serious camera, but i would like to do a few lines to help those who already have one, and are reluctant to change. In this case, there you ask the right questions, and thinking in terms of needs and limitations of your current hardware. He must have a good reason to change hardware, not just wanting to buy a newer model (if not keep your pennies and buy yourself a guitar, champagne or even a ferrari: D)

The idea is to know what points you feel limited at present. In many cases, it can be filled by an objective rather than a new device. I first suggest you watch this side here, because the goal will last you longer, and much more will influence the quality of the image.

If you need to change case, know why: Better auto focus, more iso sensitivity, the burst speed, etc.

Here, i hope that this (long) article will help you in the choice of your camera. Remember to share it with your friends who are asking the question because i remind you that these tips will still be valid, even in 1 or 2 years!

Wired rear view Camera attach Photionary.com.