Photography as I see it, is the most common form of art and almost everyone is capable of it, to some extent. However, what sets professional photographers apart is the experience, an eye for the best perspective and then as always, there is that awesome camera they have. For those who do not have that privilege and have to make do with a mid-range camera, here is a guide to help you choose the camera that will not disappoint you.
Generally, for entry and mid-range, there are three types of cameras available. The simple point-and-shoot (that look rectangular and fit into your pocket), prosumer cameras (for serious amateurs) and DSLRs (for beginning professional photography). Our discussion will focus on the mid-range camera. The rectangular point and shoots are nowhere near the other two categories in features and we will ignore them. Apart from that, many facts here hold true for DSLRs as well.
As you already know, a camera is known by its features. Every camera has some basic and common features that manufacturers advocate and some other uncommon ones, the ones we tend to overlook. Other than that, there are shortcomings that the manufacturers try their best to hide.
I will focus more on the important and decisive features we tend to ignore. These include:
The quality of the built-in lenses on your camera is like the wings of a bird. The lens should be from a reputed manufacturer like Leica or Zeiss. The lens determines many other features like macro, aperture and shutter control. Make sure you do not end up buying a chicken.
Image stabilization and selective focusing
Image stabilization is extremely important for point-and-shoot photography. A good camera should essentially have a good image stabilizer. Generally Sony Cybershot and Nikon cameras have good stabilization for low and mid-range cameras. The stabilization uses some technologies to remove the blur effect from a shaking hand. This can be a vital factor for image quality. Apart from that, there should be proper metering and stabilization of the image.
(In this image, the chameleon is in focus, the flower is blurred)
The shutter and aperture control
Your photograph can be given different levels and types of exposure with the appropriate shutter and exposure control. It is extremely important to pick a camera that offers a wide range of shutter speed and aperture. This can make your camera suitable for high-speed photography and night photography. Aperture control can give you control over the depth of field.
(Taken at low shutter speed)
The next thing to watch out for is the sensor quality. Conventionally, the larger the sensor, the more the camera can perceive and the more it can pack into the pixels of the images it takes. However, information on this can only be found from a detailed review of the camera, so it is better if you read some reviews.
ISO allows you to capture photographs in a pitch-dark environment with high speed. It fills up some of the image with noise and these parts are ignored by the sensor increasing its responsiveness.
(The light reflecting off the leaves would not have been captured without a high ISO)
Macro mode takes our perspective of an image to a completely new level. We naturally see things in full focus at infinite depth. Macro on the other hand focuses on a certain spot and blurs the background.
(Macro mode performance is best judged up close)
You may not always get a perfect shot of your view on the first try and you may wish for a second shot. However, if you are clicking a moving object, your chances of doing that are limited. A camera with a fast image processing time saves us from the annoyances of waiting times between two image captures.
Image formats are a determining factor for camera prices. All cameras capture raw images. However, most of them pass the viewing and saving of raw images as a feature and compress the image instead. This is a commercial factor and allows camera manufacturers to charge extra for doing this. Always try to go for a camera that captures RAW formats if it fits your budget.
These are some well-hidden factors in camera performance. It might take some research to determine each of these factors for a camera of your choice but with the extent of free information available for each of these on the internet; it is worth the time you wait before buying the right camera.
Apart from this, there are two factors, which do not fall under the umbrella of technical factors.
The battery charge is always given as the number of images your camera can capture at the simplest mode your camera supports. This can considerably vary from other modes, as there is minimal processing of the images in this mode.
The grip of the camera can determine your total convenience and confidence level of taking pictures. An improper or strenuous grip can be quite unsettling.
Some stores will try to lure you with brand name and the price. I am not saying that you should overlook these factors totally. Nevertheless, there is more to buying a camera than these simple factors and now you know some of them.