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Digital Camera Buying Guide 2018-2019-Best Dslr Cameras Under $500 ,$300 ,$400 Australia, Usa, Uk

Digital Camera Buying Guide 2018-2019-Best Dslr Cameras Under $500 ,$300 ,$400 Australia, Usa, Uk

Best camera under 500 australia,dslr photography for beginners ,canon camera comparison,best compact digital camera 2018.

Digital Camera Buying Guide 2018-2019-Welcome to Online Camera Store : Best Camera Comparison and Digital Camera Buying Guide 2018-2019- a great page for Choosing a camera and best camera Buying Guide of Best Dslr Cameras Under $500 ,$300 ,$400 In 2018-2019

Thinking about buying a camera but don’t have a right place where to start? No worried, You are in the perfect place and On this page you’ll find our best camera and  buying guide to buy a camera best suited to your needs.

 we test virtually every type of camera, and we can guide you through the options, which lets you quickly compare different models to find the right one for you.

 Top 10 Camera At a Glance

List of top 10 best point and shoot camera under 300 for the year 2018 and 2019

Canon PowerShot SX280 12MP Digital Camera

What’s good from this point and shoot digital cameras is that it can offer as much as 12.1 Megapixel High- Sensor. Working with Canon processor, this camera could make the renowned Canon HS SYSTEM. Because of these features, it becomes possible for you to make shots even in the place with low light. It sure has exceptional low-light performance. With the speed of ISO 6400, you can capture clearer images with maximum detail. Surely, you will be satisfied with the result.

This compact camera is also good when it comes to its optical zoom. Why not? With 25mm wide-angle lens, you will get 20 times more powerful optical zoom than you normally find in other cameras. Working with optical image stabilizer, you are ensured to get bright and vivid results. The lens-shift technology in it is the one that will help you to reduce unwanted camera movement that used to cause blurry images. Thus, it becomes possible for you to get such amazing results.

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera

Since it is important to know how much megapixel is offered from its CMOS Sensor, we will tell you here. Did you know? This camera can offer up to 20.2 MP CMOS Sensor. Although there are others that might be higher than it, it still gives you exceptional results. With Canon DIGIC 6 Image Processor, you get HS SYSTEM to get amazing performance with the speed up to ISO 12800. The image quality is sure to be outstanding one and is fast to get.

One thing that you might want to know from this compact camera is that it offers Star Shooting Mode. Normally, it would be difficult to shoot breathtaking images and videos of the stars.

However, this mode works with supportive functions, like Night Display, Color Adjustment, and Star Emphasis in order to make it possible for us to capture starry sky easily. Of course, the images captured are all impressive. There is no need buy more expensive camera to capture the stars of the night sky.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 IS (Black)

Are you interested in slim point and shoot camera? Anyone would want to get such thing and this is what you will get from this camera here. However, even if it is compact in its design, it is still reliable camera to choose. It can offer as much as 20.0 Megapixel CCD Sensor to you. Combined with DIGIC 4+ Image Processor, it is capable of giving stunning image quality to you. 10x optical zoom with optical image stabilizer will also be there to help you take shots with flexibility and ease.

Talking about creative freedom when capturing, you can rely on this camera pretty much. It has reliable modes and effects for you to use. There is Fisheye Effect to get a classic photographic distortion without fisheye lens. There is Miniature Effect to give emphasis on perspective by the way of blurring the top and bottom of the image. There is also Toy Camera Effect to make vignette effect by the way of darkening the edges of the image. They would be of help to you.

Nikon D3300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR

If you are a fan of Nikon, this compact camera might be the best one for you. Unlike the others, it can even offer as much as 24.2 Megapixel CMOS DX-Format Sensor. With ISO speed all the way from 100 to 12800, you can expect to get outstandingly beautiful low-light shots with greatly maximum detail. Not to mention, it can be expendable to even 25600. When it comes to its outcomes, there is no need for you to doubt this camera for you will really get what you deserve from it.

Well, it is not like you can’t record video with it. Most digital cameras nowadays are made to let you do such thing too. Dazzling 1080p Full HD video with sound is something you will definitely get from it. This camera helps you to smoothly record ultra-sharp HD movies. Not to mention, it even allows you to apply special effects to make the movies more interesting and creative. This camera is just fun to work with. It lets you do all possible things for capturing and recording.

Canon PowerShot SX510

Although price can change from time to time, you need to know that this camera is currently priced lower than its kind. That makes it quite an affordable choice for you. Of course, it has worthy features to consider. Let us tell you here that it can offer you up to 30.2 Megapixel High Sensor. It works together with DIGIC 4+ Image Processor in order to offer the best quality of images possible. Moreover, it offers even up to 18x optical zoom to you as well.

Well, since it is superzoom  digital camera we are talking about here, you can expect to get good screen from this camera here. For that, you need to know that this camera really offers large 3.0-inch LCD with a screen resolution of 922,000 dots. Because of that, you will be able to view objects easily from wide angle with it. Not to mention, there is built-in Wi-Fi which will allow you to transfer both images and videos to compatible mobile devices. All will be useful for your needs.

Panasonic DMC-ZS60K Lumix

Panasonic is great to consider as well. It offers up to 18 Megapixel Sensor which makes it possible for it to deliver high-resolution photos even with fewer image artifacts for you. What’s amazing coming from it is that it offers even as much as LEICA Optical Zoom Performance. Such performance is great for travel photography. Of course, there is no reason that it would be bad for everyday photography. Thus, this camera is worth for you to rely on.

Furthermore, this camera comes with touch-enabled LCD as well. Thus, you will be able to get wider viewing experience. This is important if you want to capture scenery or memorable moments. Of course, this camera is also the choice for those looking for camera that offers 4K Ultra HD. Among the offered features, there are LUMIX PHOTO and also Post Focus that should come in handy when capturing photos. This camera will help you capture with the best results.

Fujifilm X70 Digital Camera

Fujifilm has been quite well-known when it comes to camera since a long time ago. If you find other brands offering digital camera, you can surely find it as well from Fujifilm. The Fujifilm digital camera here for example, is pretty much worth to take into account. It has up to 16.3 MP APS-C sized X-Trans II Sensor with EXR Processor II. Because of that, outstanding detail and sharpness can be produced. Both things are significant when it comes to photos and videos after all.

Of course, such good thing won’t work for camera that has lens that is not good enough to work with. For that, you don’t have to worry. This Fujifilm camera is equipped with newly developed 18.5mm (28mm equivalent) F2.8 wide-angle fixed lens. With the camera having such lens, it can cover everything right from snapshots to landscapes. This is the kind of camera that is good for everyday use. Capturing family moments will be great with just this camera.

Canon EOS Rebel T5 Digital SLR Camera

Kit with EF-S 18-55mm IS II Lens

Along with Fujifilm, Canon has been gaining so much fame for a long time already. It gets so much trust from the people who like photography. Of course, Canon produces more than one digital camera that would be great for 2016. This one here is as nice as the others to consider. It offers up to 18 MP CMOS sensor.

Combined with DIGIC 4 Image Processor and EF-S 18-55mm IS II standard zoom lens, this camera expands the possibility to take pictures.

Indeed, it would be easy to take pictures when it is daylight. However, people also like to take ones when it is dark. Thus, you will need camera that can still give amazing results even in low light.

Fortunately, this is something that is offered by this camera too. It is because this camera offers broad range of light sensitivity right from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. Just so you know it is expendable even to ISO 12800. Even without the need of flash, you can still get detailed-looking results.

Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera

Nikon is another good brand worth to take into account as well. You can know by looking at this camera here. This one is sure to offer as much as 24.3 Megapixel CMOS Image Sensor. With EXPEED Processor, it works nicely to produce outstandingly vivid pictures. However, just because it is a camera, it does not mean that it is meant to take pictures only. With this quick shutter speed camera too, you will be able to produce full HD videos. It is great to record any occasions.

Did you want to know how this camera looks like? Well, since it is digital camera, you must have guessed that it should appear pretty compact. This is true, of course. To tell you the truth, this camera is designed to have slim unibody. Due to its monocoque body design, this camera is actually pretty lightweight. Furthermore, you will still get LCD display from it too. This should help you with your photography activities.

Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera

Have you heard camera with the best Auto Focus system? If you don’t know about it, you should know here that it is this digital camera that has such thing in. Indeed, this camera has the capability to lock focus on a subject in even as little as 0.05 seconds. Even with that great ability, it is still capable of getting us up to 24.2 MP APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor so that we can obtain the best quality of images possible. There is no doubt that it does offer great performance.

How about the body design then? Although the important ones would be the features, it is not a bad idea at all to concern yourself about it as well. If you do know Sony cameras, you might have been able to imagine how it would look like to you. Yes, it is pretty much compact in its design. With that, you can be sure it is lightweight as well. Moreover, this camera has weather-sealed body. So, you can be at ease since external factors would not come to harm it.

Canon PowerShot SX260 HS 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera

with 20x Image Stabilized Zoom 25mm Wide-Angle Lens and 1080p Full-HD Video

Entry-level or experienced photographers understand the importance of using a powerful digital camera, capable of capturing stunning photos. Most of the latest top rated point and shoot cameras reviews, underline the smooth functionality of Powershot SX260 from Canon. Why should you opt for this particular model? Well, it comes with 12.1 MP and also a precise 1/2.3 inch high sensitivity CMOS sensor, more than enough to take brilliant photos, irrespective of the lighting conditions. The camera incorporates a user-friendly 3 inch TFT color LCD which people can use at will. Furthermore it has 20 x optical zoom and can be used to record full 1080p HD videos.

Canon SX530 HS 9779B001 PowerShot

If you are interested in getting a simple point and shoot camera, then one of the best models this year is Canon Powershot SX510. The excellent picture quality is possible thanks to 12.1 MP CMOS sensor and Canon DIGIC 4 image processor. The lens will guarantee you a 30x optical zoom to increase your chances of capturing some unique photos. This camera doesn’t just take wonderful pictures, but it also records videos in Full HD, a feature very rare for models in this price range. The 3 inch LCD screen will enable you to have a clear sight of your objective.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS Digital Camera

For a very affordable price you can get your hands on this point and shoot camera from Canon which has a compact size, enabling it to fit right into your pocket. For such a small camera, it has a very impressive 16 MP sensor, granting you the ability of capturing some high-quality photos. To save battery life you can even activate its ECO mode, which will decrease the picture quality slightly. This camera is even able to capture 720p HD videos and has built-in Wi-Fi, to give you the opportunity of sharing photos on social networking sites.

Canon PowerShot A2500 Digital Camera

One of the best point and shoot cameras is Canon Powershot A2500 because its compact design can capture some excellent pictures or videos. The features behind its excellent operation are: 16 MP CCD sensor, DIGIC 4 Image processor and 28 mm wide-angle lens with Digital Image Stabilizer. The camera can recognize 32 different shooting situations thanks to the Smart Auto system. For a very advantageous price a customer with an average budget can get this successful model from Canon. Even the power consumption can be decreased if you select its Eco Mode.

Olympus Stylus TH-2 iHS Digital Camera

If you like hitting the waves every now and then or adore the underwater world then a good waterproof camera is what you need to make quality photos or record breath-taking videos. A very good solution is the Olympus Stylus TH-2 iHS with its 12 MP BSI CMOs sensor, which combined with the TruePic VI image processor provide you with excellent photos. The 3 inch OLED display which has 610K dots will make sure you will have a great look before you take the picture you want. Besides being waterproof to a depth of 50 ft, it is also shockproof from a height of 7 ft.

Nikon COOLPIX L820 16 MP CMOS Digital Camera

Nikon COOLPIX L820 is viewed by experts as a very good suggestion for a digital camera. Its greatest feature is its fantastic 30x optical zoom, which for a camera coming in this price range is an impressive achievement. Another useful feature is its great low-light performance, thanks to its powerful 16 MP CMOS image sensor. The Full HD clips it can record also are accompanied with an excellent surround sound. It is designed to be ergonomic as well, so you have a strong grip on it.

Fujifilm FinePix S4200 Digital Camera

A reliable compact camera is Fujifilm FinePix S4200 because is has the right kind of features to allow you to take excellent quality photos and videos. To help you navigate through its menu and also to take a good look at the picture you are about to take, it has a 3 inch LCD. The 14 MP CCD image sensor combines its capability with the powerful lens to allow you to take advantage of its 24x optical zoom. Also, you will be able to record 720p HD videos. The excellent price-quality ratio turns it into one of the top rated point and shoot cameras in 2018.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-WX50 Digital Camera

An affordable camera with great picture possibilities is Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX50. The well balanced set of features has even led it to become a very popular choice around the US. It excellent quality photos are captured largely due to its 16.2 MO Exmor R CMOS sensor. You can also record Full HD movies which later you can play on a standard HDTV. Its menu is very easy to learn and intuitive, so you will be able to navigate through it without much difficulties. Everything will be displayed on the 2.7 inch LCD. All these features and more make out of it one of the professional point and shoot camera.

Canon PowerShot A2300 Digital Camera

The point and shoot cameras reviews are recommending Canon PowerShot A2300 for the compact design and the top picture possibilities. The key behind its great photo quality is the 16 MP image sensor which is supported by a DIGIC 4 image processor. Another helpful feature is the dedicated movie button which doesn`t let you waste any time when preparing to capture a video. The recordings have maximum resolution of 720p. Another stand out feature is its 2.7 LCD display.

Best Point and Shoot Camera under 300-Buyer’s Guide

top ten point and shoot camera under 300There are millions of professional photographers that want to take stunning photos whenever they go out for a trip with friends or family members. To this end, it’s important to be in possession of a professional point and shoot camera, designed to deliver a significant assistance during any photo activity. With a reliable camera, you will be able to improve any memory, shared with friends at a given moment, in a special location. How to find the best point and shoot camera? Well, this is an important question that needs to receive a swift and professional answer.

The segment of digital cameras is wide, offering many models. Are you ready to take brilliant photos no matter of your location?  If you are then this detailed guide is exactly what you need to consult. All you need to do is press the shutter button and the camera precisely and automatically adjusts the shutter aperture, speed, focus and light sensitivity.

What does that mean? Well, you will enjoy crystal clear pictures with the optimal color. Easy to use and handle, point and shoot cameras can occupy with ease your pocket. Furthermore this type of cameras is far less expensive than DSLR cameras, making them a great option for people always on the move.

Well, let’s take a shoot on it. Now there are cameras from 20 to 32 megapixels, designed to deliver high definition clarity during every picture taken. Another important thing about point and shoot cameras is sensor size.

The sensors located on point and shoot cameras are usually smaller then on DSLR cameras but they can make color gradations precise. With high quality photo performance, high quality point and shoot cameras will help you transform memories into live moments of joy. You can find a camera with 20x lens that can bring the subject closer but in high definition.

Photographic enthusiasm will be present in your everyday artistic desire, especially after you’ve found a professional point and shoot camera. Still, there are some cameras that come with large image sensor located somewhere in 1/1.7” range, created to enhance the photographic power.

point and shoot cameraBefore you start looking for a camera with large sensors, it’s best to know that they come can’t deliver a long zoom. On the bright side, point and shoot cameras with large sensors perform ideal in low light conditions which may come in handy when you are out on vacations with friends and family members. Another important aspect that you need to consider is the lens focal length not just the zoom factor.

There are some cameras suited to tight spaces, where devices of 24 to 120 mm. It’s very important to have in your pocket a high quality compact point and shoot camera, with the right MP, lens focal and LCD display panel. Taking into account the data present in this buying guide, you will be able to identify the right point and shoot camera!

What is Point and Shoot Camera ?

What is point and shoot camera? A point and shoot camera is a small camera that is meant for simply capturing images on the spot. Once you turn on your point and shoot camera, you can instantly turn it on in just one to two seconds, and it will play everything. It is so wonderful to buy this if you are constantly looking for ways to take photos without having to worry about aperture and moving the lens around.

See How the Camera’s Features Are

The best thing to base your consideration on is none other than the features offered by the camera you will want to buy. It is its capability that we need after all. Without sufficient features, you won’t be able to catch the best moments and result with the best outcomes. Check out how much megapixel is offered, how strong the optical zoom is, and other things you will need from camera.

Learn Whom the Camera is best for

If you ask whom the camera would be best for, you need to take a look at its specifications carefully. As long as you understand the features as well as how they would function for you, it must be one of the best ones for you. Expensive cameras don’t always mean for photographer. Even people who simply like taking photos can use them as long as they understand the function.

Consider What You Need the Camera For

Did you know? When you are going to choose camera, you need to know what you need the camera for. If you are photographer for example, you will need the camera that offers the highest pixel of CMOS Sensor possible. Sometimes, you will even need camera with more advanced features. What’s important is to buy the camera you will need the most. Don’t waste money to buy the useless one!

There you go. We have reached the end of this article. What do you think about those 10 cameras? We do say that they are the best point and shoot camera under $300 dollars for the year 2017 and 2018 because they are worthy to be called so. Mostly, they have high pixel from the sensor. Often, they work together with DIGIC Image Processor in order to create HS SYSTEM.

All are meant to produce clear and vivid images to us. As for their look, they are practically compact since they are digital camera. Some might even look slimmer, thus becoming more lightweight and is easy to bring along everywhere.

I hope you liked out list of Best Point and Shoot Camera under 300 and able to make your decision which one is best for you. Happy clicking.

Digital SLRs Under $500

1. Nikon D3400 ($497 with 18-55mm lens)

Megapixels: 24.2
Sensor size: 366 sq. mm
Weight: 13.9 oz.
What we like: The whole package in this price range.
What we don’t: Improvements over the D3300 were minimal.
Lenses: 10 Great Nikon DX Lenses

Nikon D3400 DSLR camera

In 2017, the D3400 is Nikon’s flagship entry-level DSLR and a great value at under $500 with a kit lens. With this camera you get impressive image and video quality for the price including a 24.2-megapixel APS-C image sensor, Full HD 1080p video at a variety of speeds, and the ease of use that has helped make Nikon so popular. All in all, the D3400 is a no-brainer for those looking for an inexpensive DSLR that still gets the job done.

One consideration for buyers is that the D3400 is very similar to the older and slightly cheaper D3300 below. The most notable improvement on the newer model is Nikon’s SnapBridge technology for transferring images and videos via Bluetooth, and the D3400 also got a boost in battery life. With a $50 increase in cost over the D3300, you can’t go wrong with either model but we appreciate the connectivity options and extended battery life of the D3400.
See the Nikon D3400

 

2. Nikon D3300 ($447 with 18-55mm kit lens)

Nikon D3300 DSLR camera

Megapixels: 24.2
Sensor size: 357 sq. mm
Weight: 15.1 oz.
What we like: Better flash than the D3400 above.
What we don’t: Wireless requires adding a separate adapter.

It was a very close call between the D3300 and the D3400 above for the top spot on this list. First and foremost, these cameras are identical in terms of image and video quality and the $50 difference in price comes down to a handful of features. The D3300 lacks Bluetooth Connectivity (you can add a WU-1a wireless adapter for about $30 more) and has inferior battery life. The upside is that the flash is considerably better on the D3300, a nice advantage for those who frequently shoot indoors and in low light.

Moving on from nitpicking about features, the D3300 has everything most beginning DSLR users need: good optical quality, a user-friendly interface, and an improved kit lens that is sharper and lighter than past models. At this price, the D3300 offers better resolution than the sub-$500 Canon DSLRs below and will outperform just about any point-and-shoot.
See the Nikon D3300

 

3. Canon Rebel SL1 ($499 with 18-55mm lens)

Canon Rebel SL1 DSLR camera

Megapixels: 18
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 14.4 oz.
What we like: Small form factor.
What we don’t: We still prefer the D3400 above for a DSLR at this price point.

The Canon SL1 is the lightest DSLR in Canon’s lineup, and we were big fans when it was released a few years ago. Now it feels primed for an update, with an 18-megapixel image sensor (6.2 megapixels less than the Nikon D3400 and D3300) and relatively simple autofocus system that has been surpassed by newer Canon models like the T6i. The SL1 still is a solid entry-level camera, but we prefer the higher resolutions of the cameras above.

In 2017, the most direct competitor to the Rebel SL1 is the Rebel T6. Compared to the T6, the SL1 offers touchscreen functionality, faster shooting, and better low light performance. But the tipping point for us is the kit lens: we like the 18-55mm STM offered with the SL1 over the 18-55mm IS II offered with the T6. You can save $50 with the latter, but for our money we prefer the SL1.
See the Canon Rebel SL1

 

4. Canon Rebel T6 ($449 with 18-55mm lens)

Canon Rebel T6 DSLR camera

Megapixels: 18
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 17.1 oz.
What we like: A nice option for still photographers.
What we don’t: Fewer megapixels than the Nikon D3400 and D3300.

Canon’s popular Rebel series is a favorite among photographers and videographers on a budget. Unfortunately, with $500 you can’t quite crack the higher-end “i” models: the Canon Rebel T6i is $749 with a kit lens and the T5i is $649. The Rebel T6 (no “i”) is a trimmed-down version with fewer megapixels, a simpler autofocus, and a fixed LCD that doesn’t tilt. But at only $449 with an 18-55mm lens, the T6 gets you a current digital SLR from one of the best in the business.

What do you sacrifice by going with the T6? For those who plan on shooting mostly still photography, not as much as you might think. Many of the features on the pricier T6i and T5i such as the tilting LCD and STM lenses are designed with video in mind, and therefore aren’t much of a loss for those capturing stills. But we don’t like the drop in megapixels down to 18, which we think makes the Nikon D3300 above a more attractive option at the $450 price point.
See the Canon Rebel T6

 

5. Canon Rebel T5 ($389 with 18-55mm lens)

Canon Rebel T5 camera

Megapixels: 18
Sensor size: 332 sq. mm
Weight: 15.3 oz.
What we like: One of Canon’s cheapest DSLRs at less than $400.
What we don’t: Video quality could be better.

It’s pretty rare that you’ll find an interchangeable-lens camera for under $400, especially from a brand like Canon. The Rebel T5 isn’t loaded with features by any means—it’s at the bottom end of Canon’s Rebel DSLR lineup—but we love the bargain basement price. At around $400 with a kit lens, it’s the cheapest DSLR on this list.

Why is the Rebel T5 so inexpensive? First, the rear LCD screen doesn’t have touch functionality nor does it tilt or swivel. Second, the T5 has a slow burst rate at only 3 frames per second. Finally, the autofocus is fairly basic with only 1 cross-type focus point. But we love the price, which is comparable to some point-and-shoots that don’t offer nearly the same image quality. If you’re comparing the T5 to the newer T6 above, the latter adds Wi-Fi and NFC along with a higher resolution LCD screen.
See the Canon Rebel T5

 

Mirrorless Cameras Under $500

1. Olympus OM-D E-M10 ($499 with 14-42mm lens)

Olympus OM-D E-M10 mirrorless camera

Megapixels: 16.1
Sensor size: 225 sq. mm
Weight: 13.8 oz.
What we like: Great image quality for the price.
What we don’t: Camera is small in the hand and can be tough to grip.

Olympus makes some of the top mirrorless cameras on the market (they are part of the Micro Four Thirds family), but most are closer to $1,000. Even this camera, the OM-D E-M10, had been around $700 for much of last year before going on sale. At its current price we absolutely love the OM-D E-M10: it’s small and light for travel yet offers the same image sensor as the much pricier Olympus E-M5 Mark II. New to the camera is 5-axis image stabilization and improved electronic viewfinder, among other features. All in all, you get a whole lot of camera here for $430, although we do expect the price to go back up. Until then, OM-D E-M10 is the top mirrorless camera under $500 and will run circles around the Olympus PEN E-PL7 below.
See the Olympus OM-D E-M10

 

2. Sony Alpha a5000 ($448 with 16-50mm lens)

Sony Alpha a5000 camera

Megapixels: 20.1
Sensor size: 357 sq. mm
Weight: 9.5 oz.
What we like: APS-C image sensor.
What we don’t: No electronic viewfinder.

The Alpha a5000 is Sony’s leading entry-level mirrorless camera and currently available for under $450 with a kit lens. Most importantly, the Sony a5000 has a large APS-C image sensor and 20.1 megapixels of resolution, but it does forego the bells and whistles of higher-end models like the pricier Sony a6000. Perhaps its biggest shortcoming is the lack of an electronic viewfinder (you’ll have to use the LCD screen around back to line up your shots). But this issue aside, the a5000 is a solid value for those who want quality photos at a reasonable price.
See the Sony Alpha a5000

3. Nikon 1 J5 ($497 with 10-30mm lens)

Nikon 1 J5 camera

Megapixels: 20.8
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 9.4 oz.
What we like: Super fast shooting speed and improved ergonomics.
What we don’t: Smaller image sensor than other mirrorless cameras.

Nikon has not been aggressive with the sheer number of its mirrorless offerings, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the 1 J5. This compact camera lags behind in the size of its image sensor but makes up for it in features and functionality. With the 1 J5 you get extremely fast shooting at up to 20 frames per second, 20.8 megapixels of resolution, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, and better ergonomics than past versions with an improved grip. In addition, the 1 J5 does not have an optical low pass filter like many of Nikon’s latest DSLRs, which results in better sharpness. If you can overlook the small image sensor (we should note that although it is smaller than the other mirrorless models on this list, it’s the same size as Sony’s popular RX100 series) the Nikon 1 J5 is a fun and very fast camera.
See the Nikon 1 J5

 

Point-and-Shoot Cameras Under $500

1. Sony DSC-RX100 ($448)

Sony DSC-RX100

Megapixels: 20.2
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 8.5 oz.
What we like: Still one of the top point-and-shoots on the market.
What we don’t: No electronic viewfinder.

Sony has released three versions of the RX100, all of which are terrific cameras that many enthusiasts and professionals use when they can’t carry larger set-ups. The new RX100 IV is selling for a whopping $948, but the original RX100 is less than $500 and can go head-to-head with any camera on this list. For the price you get a large sensor that produces high-quality 20.1-megapixel images, a fast Carl Zeiss lens, manual settings, and RAW capability, all packaged in a lightweight and durable body. The newest version has an electronic viewfinder and 4K video—the original X100 does not—but it’s a great camera nevertheless.
See the Sony RX100

2. Canon PowerShot G9 X ($429)

Canon PowerShot G9 X camera

Megapixels: 20.2
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Weight: 7.4 oz.
What we like: Longer zoom range than the Sony RX100.
What we don’t: Smaller 1″ sensor.

Canon expanded its high-end point-and-shoot lineup at the end of 2015 with the release of G9 X and G5 X to compliment the existing G7 X. The G9 X is the simplest of the bunch in terms of features without an optical viewfinder or ultra-high resolution articulating LCD screen. You also get fewer manual controls on the camera itself. However, the G9 X boasts the same large 1” CMOS sensor as the other two models, has even more zoom at 28-300mm, and is extremely light at only 7.4 ounces. If you’re choosing between this camera and the Sony RX100 above, we prefer the larger sensor but the extended zoom range of the G9 X is valuable for uses like travel photography. The built-in Wi-Fi is a nice touch as well.
See the Canon PowerShot G9 X

 

3. Canon PowerShot SX720 HS ($329)

Canon PowerShot SX720 HS camera

Megapixels: 20.3
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Weight: 9.5 oz.
What we like: A well-rounded camera for under $300.
What we don’t: Image sensor is smaller than advanced point-and-shoots.

If you’re willing to move down to a smaller sensor, the Canon SX720 HS is a popular superzoom and a great travel camera on a budget. Most impressive is its 24-960mm of reach, which far exceeds any of the more expensive point-and-shoots above. You also get Full 1080p HD video capability and built-in Wi-Fi, among other features. In most conditions, the SX720 HS can produce quality images and you’ll barely notice it’s in your pocket. However, for people who plan on making large prints, the resolution can be limiting and you may want to consider a point-and-shoot with a larger sensor or an interchangeable-lens camera.
See the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS

 

4. Olympus TG-4 Tough ($379)

Olympus TG-4 tough camera

Megapixels: 16
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Weight: 8.7 oz.
What we like: Waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof.
What we don’t: Small image sensor.

Generally, we hesitate to recommend “tough” cameras. The bottom line is that a big chunk of the money goes to the waterproof housing and you end up with a small image sensor and meager components on the inside. Having said that, certain outdoor activities like surfing, rafting, skiing, and even a beach vacation can wreak havoc on your electronics. If you want a dedicated camera on hand but don’t want to think or worry about it, the Olympus TG-4 is the top rugged point-and-shoot on the market in 2017.

Why do we prefer the Olympus TG-4 over other waterproof models from brands like Nikon and Fujifilm? In addition to being waterproof, dustproof, and freezeproof, the TG-4 has a very respectable maximum aperture of f/2 for low light and underwater photos. We also like the 25-100mm zoom range, which goes wider than most other comparable cameras at 28mm. It’s true that $380 is a lot to spend for a camera with a small sensor and without big zoom, but for those who expect serious exposure to the elements, the Olympus TG-4 offers the highest levels of protection.
See the Olympis TG-4 Tough

 

5. Canon PowerShot SX530 HS ($279)

Canon PowerShot SX530 HS camera

Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Megapixels: 16
Weight: 15.6 oz.
What we like: Big-time zoom.
What we don’t: DSLR-like size yet with small image sensor.

If you’re looking for huge zoom at a low price point, check out the Canon SX530 HS. For less than $300 you get a massive 24-1200mm of reach along with image stabilization and Canon’s signature easy-to-use functionality. All in all, it’s a beast of a superzoom for travel photography and everyday use.

Why isn’t the SX530 HS higher on our list? Unlike the compact SX720 HS above, this camera is extremely bulky and feels much more like a DSLR than a point-and-shoot (it weighs a hefty 15.6 ounces). In addition, the SX530 HS has less resolution than the SX720 HS in terms of megapixels (16 vs. 20.3) and an inferior LCD screen. But you do get more zoom range, which is why many people choose a camera of this type in the first place.
See the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS

 

Camera Comparison Table

CameraPriceTypeMPSensorBurstWeight
Nikon D3400$497DSLR24.2366 sq. mm5 fps13.9 oz.
Nikon D3300$447DSLR24.2357 sq. mm5 fps15.1 oz.
Canon Rebel SL1$499DSLR18332 sq. mm4 fps14.4 oz.
Canon Rebel T6$449DSLR18332 sq. mm3 fps17.1 oz.
Canon Rebel T5$389DSLR18332 sq. mm3 fps15.3 oz.
Olympus OM-D E-M10$399Mirrorless16.1225 sq. mm8 fps13.8 oz.
Sony Alpha a5000$428Mirrorless20.1357 sq. mm3.5 fps9.5 oz.
Nikon 1 J5$499Mirrorless20.8116 sq. mm20 fps9.4 oz.
Sony DSC-RX100$448Compact20.2116 sq. mm10 fps8.5 oz.
Canon PowerShot G9 X$429Compact20.2116 sq. mm6 fps7.4 oz.
Canon PowerShot SX720 HS$329Compact20.328 sq. mm8 fps9.5 oz.
Olympus TG-4 Tough$379Compact1628 sq. mm5 fps8.7 oz.
Canon Power SX530 HS$279Compact1628 sq. mm10 fps15.6 oz.

Deciding on a Camera Type in the Sub-$500 Price Range

The good news for consumers is that you have all three choices when shopping for a camera in the sub-$500 price range:
Digital SLRs
Digital SLRs are the classic camera used by professional photographers and enthusiasts, although mirrorless cameras below are making inroads. Even in the sub-$500 price range, you can get an entry-level DSLR from Nikon or Canon including an 18-55mm kit lens. Prosumer and full-frame DSLRs are well out of reach from a cost perspective, but entry-level DSLRs are excellent for budding photographers.

Nikon D3300 sunset photo

Nikon D3300 and 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 | Randell Belk

Mirrorless Cameras
This relatively new breed of camera was built entirely for digital and boasts DSLR-like image sensors in a more compact form. You also get interchangeable lenses, offering greater flexibility than a point-and-shoot that comes with an attached lens. The sacrifices of mirrorless cameras are that the lens choices are still catching up to DSLRs, the experience feels more digital including the prevalence of electronic viewfinders, and the cost can supersede a comparable DSLR.
Point-and-Shoots
Point-and-shoots generally are cheaper than the cameras above—they come with an attached zoom lens and a range of features from 1080p video to Wi-Fi. They also have the smallest image sensors, which is why many professional photographers opt for a digital SLR or mirrorless camera. Despite the inferior image quality, you can get a ton of features for under $500 in a very easy-to-use package. Your DSLR or mirrorless camera choice will be relatively basic in terms of functionality, but not so with a point-and-shoot.

Features

Video
Video has become a highly sought-after feature, even at the entry level. All of the cameras on this list shoot Full HD 1080p, and unfortunately none shoot 4K (you’ll have to spend around $1,000 or more for that). Shooting speeds vary depending on the camera model, and quality generally correlates with price. All things considered, most cameras under $500 will shoot decent video but not nearly as good as an enthusiast or full-frame camera. The Canon Rebel series in particular is known for video, but only the T5 made this list (the T6i and T5i are better options for videographers but they are more expensive).
Burst rate
Those who shoot action scenes will want a high burst rate, which is the amount of times per second that the camera will fire. Entry-level DSLRs tend to have the slowest burst rates (in the range of 3 to 5 frames per second), while point-and-shoots and mirrorless cameras can be many times better, depending on the model. The Nikon 1 J5 is the fastest camera on this list at 20 frames per second, while the Sony RX100 is very respectable for a point-and-shoot at 10 frames per second.
Rear LCD
As the price of a camera rises, the rear LCD screen tends to get more advanced. Depending on the model, you may find a tilting or swiveling LCD and even touchscreen functionality. And the higher the resolution on the screen, the easier it will be to read and navigate. This is an area where manufactures tend to trim features to save money, but our top picks like the Olympus OM-D E-M10 and Nikon D3400 both have good, bright LCDs for the price. Point-and-shoots tend to have the smallest LCDs with the least amount of functionality, with the exceptions being at the high end of the spectrum.
Viewfinder
For advanced photographers, the viewfinder is central to lining up a shot and making sure focus is correct. Many entry-level cameras, however, lack a viewfinder and these actions must be done via the rear LCD. We tend to appreciate this technology and it makes creating serious photos easier and more accurate. All of the digital SLRs on this list have optical viewfinders, and the Olympus OM-D E-M10 has an electronic viewfinder. Those who value the composition aspect of photography should take this feature into account.

Sensor Size and Megapixels

You’ll notice that we’ve included both sensor size and megapixel count in the specs for each camera as well as on our handy comparison table. Sensor size—the surface area used to collect light and other information for your digital photographs—is the more underrated of two. Megapixels, the amount of tiny dots on the sensor (mega=millions), get much more marketing attention but actually have less impact on image quality.

Sony RX100 flowers

Sony RX100 | Tom Hart

We recommend taking both specs into consideration when making a camera buying decision. It’s a tough call—you can get an entry-level DSLR with a large APS-C image sensor for the same price as an enthusiast point-and-shoot with a much smaller sensor, but the experience varies significantly. The DSLR will produce superior images, particularly if you plan to enlarge or print them, but the point-and-shoot will be packed with features, lighter, and more fun to use. We place a higher priority on sensor size over megapixels, but your intended use for the camera should dictate the final decision.

Our Recommendations

With a $500 budget, we prefer either an entry-level DSLR like the Nikon D3400 or a high-end point-and-shoot like the Sony RX100.  The D3400 is a terrific DSLR for getting started and there are a number of Nikon DX-format lenses that can be added later at reasonable prices. Just a few years ago the RX100 was the top compact camera on the market and Sony has continued to churn out new versions (they currently on the RX100 IV, which costs a whopping $949). The biggest omission on the RX100 is the lack of an electronic viewfinder, but with an extra large sensor for a point-and-shoot and a superb lens, this camera is winner and a great value.

Mirrorless feels like the mostly iffy category here—the kit lenses are comparatively weaker than their Nikon or Canon counterparts and the prime and zoom options are more scattered. The Sony a5000 is a great little camera but the 16-50mm kit lens leaves something to be desired and there just aren’t many cheap Sony E-mount lens options. Samsung and Nikon offer even fewer lens choices. We still love mirrorless in general, but the field is markedly better in the $500 to $1,000 price range and up.

Accounting for the Cost of Lenses

When choosing from the top two categories above (DSLR or mirrorless), the camera often includes a kit lens that will be serviceable but not a stand out. The 18-55mm kit lenses from both Nikon and Canon are great for getting out of the door and shooting around town, but as your photography skills expand, you may want to add another prime or zoom lens or two (a good landscape or portrait lens, for example). This will send the total cost of your kit above $500 and counting, but if you are expanding your lens collection, that’s usually a good sign.

The Best Guide to Buying a New Camera:

This is an absolutely epic guide. If you’re brand new to cameras and photography, we recommend reading it start to finish, for the ultimate learning experience.

But if you’re just interested in a certain topic, feel free to make use of the magical Table O’ Contents below. Simply clicky click where you want to jump!



1. Determine what you need

A mistake I see some digital camera buyers making is that they get sucked into buying cameras that are beyond what they really need. Some questions to ask yourself before you go shopping:

  • What do you need the camera for?
  • What type of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)
  • What conditions will you be largely photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
  • Will you largely stay in auto mode or do you want to learn the art of photography?
  • What experience level do you have with cameras?
  • What type of features are you looking for? (long zoom, image stabilization, large LCD display etc)
  • How important is size and portability to you?
  • What is your budget?

Ask yourself these questions before you go to buy a camera and you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision when you see what’s on offer. You’ll probably find the sales person asks you this question anyway – so to have thought about it before hand will help them help you get the right digital camera.

2. Megapixels are NOT everything

One of the features that you’ll see used to sell digital cameras is how many megapixels a digital camera has.

When I first got into digital photography, a few years back, the megapixel rating of cameras was actually quite important as most cameras were at the lower end of today’s modern day range and even a 1 megapixel increase was significant.

These days, with most new cameras coming out with at least 5 megapixels, it isn’t so crucial. In fact at the upper end of the range it can actually be a disadvantage to have images that are so large that they take up enormous amounts of space on memory cards and computers.

One of the main questions to ask when it comes to megapixels is ‘Will you be printing shots’? If so – how large will you be going with them? If you’re only printing images at a normal size then anything over 4 or so megapixels will be fine. If you’re going to start blowing your images up you might want to pay the extra money for something at the upper end of what’s on offer today.

3. Keep in mind the ‘extras’

Keep in mind as you look at cameras that the price quoted may not be the final outlay that you need to make as there are a variety of other extras that you might want (or need) to fork out for including:

  • Camera Case
  • Memory Cards
  • Spare Batteries/Recharger
  • Lenses (if you are getting a DSLR)
  • Filters (and other lens attachments)
  • Tripods/Monopods
  • External Flashes
  • Reflectors

Some retailers will bundle such extras with cameras or will at least give a discount when buying more than one item at once. Keep in mind though that what they offer in bundles might not meet you needs. For example it’s common to get a 16 or 32 megabyte memory card with cameras – however these days you’ll probably want something at least of 500 megabytes (if not a gigabyte or two).

4. Do you already own any potentially compatible gear?

Talking of extra gear – one way to save yourself some cash is if you have accessories from previous digital cameras that are compatible with your new one.

For example memory cards, batteries, lenses (remember that many film camera lenses are actually compatible with digital SLRs from the same manufacturers), flashes, filters etc.

5. DSLR or Point and Shoot?

Dslr-Point-And-ShootWhile digital SLRs are getting more affordable they are not for everyone. Keep in mind that they are usually bigger, heavier, harder to keep clean (if you’re changing lenses) and can be more complicated to operate than point and shoot. Of course there are some upsides also.

If you’re trying to make a decision between a point and shoot and DSLR you might want to read my previous posts titled Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera? and it’s companion piece How to Choose a DSLR.

6. Optical Zooms are King

Not all ‘zooms’ are created equal.

When you’re looking at different models of digital cameras you’ll often hear their zooms talked about in two ways. Firstly there’s the ‘optical zoom’ and then there’s the ‘digital zoom’.

I would highly recommend that you only take into consideration the ‘optical zoom’ when making a decision about which camera to buy. Digital zooms simply enlarge the pixels in your shot which does make your subject look bigger, but it also makes it look more pixelated and your picture ‘noisier’ (like when you go up close to your TV).

If you’re looking for a zoom lens make sure it’s an optical zoom (most modern cameras have them of at least 3x in length – ie they’ll make your subject three times as big – with an increasing array of ‘super zooms’ coming onto the market at up to 12x Optical Zoom).

7. Read reviews

Before buying a digital camera take the time to do a little research. Don’t JUST rely upon the advice of the helpful sales person (who may or may not know anything about cameras and who may or may not have sales incentives for the camera they are recommending).

Read some reviews in digital camera magazines or online to help you narrow down the field. There are some great websites around that give expert and user reviews on virtually every camera on the market – use this wonderful and free resource.

A little self promotion here – one such site is my Digital Photography Blog which is a site that collates the reviews of many sites from around the web. To use it best enter the camera’s model name that you’re looking for a review on in the search feature in the top right side bar. It’ll give you a link to a central page that has information on the camera as well as links to any reviews published online on that camera from around the web.

8. Hands On Experience

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a handful of cameras head into your local digital camera shop and ask to see and play with them. There’s nothing like having the camera in your hands to work out whether it suits your needs.

When I shop for a camera I generally use the web to find reviews, then I head into a street in my city with 4 camera shops side by side and I go from shop to shop asking for recommendations and seeing the cameras live in the flash. In doing this I generally find the same camera or two are recommended in most shops and I get to see them demonstrated by different people (this gives a more well rounded demo). I also get to play with it and get a feel for which one I could see myself using

Types Of Cameras:

There are a ton of different types of cameras, from little point-and-shoots to big fancy DSLRs. Let’s take a look at the different types, and what makes them each unique!

DSLRs

When you think of a big, fancy, expensive camera, you’re probably picturing a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera. These cameras are made up of two main parts—the body and the lens. The lenses can be taken off and changed (aka interchangeable). But you’ll need both parts – the body and the lens – in order to take a photo. DSLRs feature a mirror that allows you to actually look through the lens as you compose your image. This gives you the most accurate idea of what your final image will look like when you take the photo.

 

Now when you press the shutter, the camera records the scene as a digital image on a sensor. In DSLRs, these sensors are quite large (typically the size of 35mm film, or a bit smaller). The benefit of the large sensor is that it provides better low light noise performance and better background blur (bokeh).

But when it comes to image quality, a big part of the story is the lens (aka. the glass). See, the lens is what collects the light from your scene. The better the quality of the lens, the better the quality of the final image created.

And here’s the great news: With DSLRs, there are so many kinds of high quality lenses out there that you have plenty of options when it comes to getting variety and getting creative with your photography. We’ll talk more about lenses later on in this guide!

If you’re interested in pursuing photography as a serious hobby or professionally then a DSLR is what you’re looking for.

DSLR

 

Mirrorless (& Micro Four Thirds)

In recent years, mirrorless cameras have become increasingly popular.They have a lot of the same features as a DSLR but in a smaller body, without the mirror.

(A subset of the mirrorless category are Micro Four Thirds cameras, a title that refers to the size of sensor.)

Like DSLRs, mirrorless cameras also come with interchangeable lenses. In general, the quality and selection of lenses for mirrorless bodies aren’t on par with DSLRs, but they’ve definitely been improving. And there are now mirrorless cameras that boast a full frame size, the same size as the ones found in professional-level DSLRs, making this genre of cameras even more appealing.

All that being said, most mirrorless cameras do have some downsides relative to DSLRs. Although there are now a few models out there with full frame sensors, most mirrorless bodies have sensors that are smaller than those in DSLRs, meaning that they won’t be as good at registering depth of field or at shooting in low light conditions.

But mirrorless cameras do have their advantages. Most notably, they’re generally much, much smaller and lighter than DSLRs.

This format of camera is great for everyone from the casual hobbyist to the advanced amateur.

Mirrorless

 

Compact Point-and-Shoots

Point-and-shoots are the smallest cameras dedicated primarily to photography (camera phones are typically smaller).

The big advantage of the point-and-shoot is its size. Because they’re so small and easy to carry around, you may be more likely to take more photos than you otherwise would if you had to carry a bigger mirrorless or DSLR camera around.

These cameras have permanently attached lenses (i.e. not interchangeable) that generally cover a wide zoom range. The lens retracts back into the camera in order to keep it nice and small.

But point-and-shoots have their downsides too.

Typically, they have the smallest sensors, meaning your image quality won’t be nearly as good as it would be with a higher-level camera. Things have definitely improved in recent years though, so it’s not that hard to find a point-and-shoot that produces good quality images.

Further, some models lack manual controls for key settings (like shutter speed, aperture and ISO). Autofocus speeds will most likely be slower and the lag time between when you press the shutter and when the camera takes the photo will be longer.

So why buy a point-and-shoot camera? Like we said, they’re so much easier to tote around than larger cameras, meaning you may be more likely to use your camera.

And then there’s that matter of price. Point-and-shoot cameras are typically much less expensive than the higher-level options.

If you’re not looking for a lot of creative control or fancy extras, a point-and-shoot may be the right place to start. If you’re looking to get serious about photography though, expect to grow out of a point-and-shoot pretty quickly.

Point-and-shoot

 

Camera Phones

Camera phones are the most widely used cameras today.

The pros are impressive: a camera that you can carry in your pocket, giving you incredible convenience to shoot anytime, anywhere, with minimal effort. Many photographers are showing great proficiency with the camera phone, taking photos more regularly and getting in more practice, honing their skills. Some even say their camera phone let them fall in love with photography again. Not something to sneeze at!

Then comes sharing. The camera phone pretty much made photo sharing a *thing*. Now it’s easier than ever to take a shot, and then (almost instantly) get it in front of thousands of eyes with phone apps like Instagram.

But too often the cons of the camera phone are overlooked.

For one, the image quality is still behind every other type of camera. The point-and-shoot is starting to be challenged, as camera phones are coming out with bigger and better sensors every year, but mirrorless cameras and DSLRs are still far ahead in terms of image quality. They have bigger sensors, better lenses, better autofocus, more control, better response times…

But the biggest drawback of all is that a camera phone has a fixed lens. You can’t zoom without reducing image quality, so you’re left with only one focal length option. You could see this as a creative challenge. But it is, indeed, a limitation as well.

If you want to take photography seriously, you need more than a camera phone. It’s a great way to keep a visual diary, to practice your skills, and grab a snap here and there. But you just can’t beat the creative control that comes with a bigger camera.

Camera-phone

 

Action Cams

Action cams are small, mountable cameras geared towards sports and adventure photography, and for photographers looking to use the mountable function to bring a unique perspective to their shots. GoPro and Sony make the most popular action cams on the market. But Yi 4K is a Chinese action cam brand that offers excellent quality for nearly half the price!

Action cams are primarily used to capture video, but they also let you create image stills and time lapses.

Though action cams have come a long way since they were first introduced, we don’t think they’re really a substitute for a proper camera. The camera settings are pretty limited, and your ability to adjust those few settings is fairly restrictive as well. Unless you’re looking specifically to get to create action cam-style shots and videos, think of these cameras as fun extras rather than your primary piece of shooting gear.

Action-cam

 

 

 

 

 

Essential Features:

Cameras have a ton of different features—some that are essential, and some that sound super cool but that you never end up using. Here is a peek at the features that really matter in a camera.

Manual Mode

manual

Manual mode allows you to take full creative control over the exposure of an image.

See, in automatic mode, the camera selects aperture, shutter speed and ISO for you. In manual mode, you select those three things yourself, giving you so much more control over how the image turns out.

Now, automatic and semi-automatic (Av & Tv or S) modes can be useful, especially when you’re just starting out. But the sooner you learn how to use manual mode, the sooner you’ll learn how to create images that look the way you want them to.

Check to see if the camera you’re interested in has manual mode (usually labeled “M”). Most DSLRs and Micro Four Thirds cameras have manual mode, while fewer point-and-shoots do. If you find a point-and-shoot with manual mode, give it a try and make sure that it’s actually easy to use. Because of the smaller size of their controls, it can be tricky to change the controls on a point-and-shoot quickly, making their manual mode pretty impractical to use.

ISO

ISO

ISO controls how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. By increasing the sensor sensitivity you’re able to shoot in darker conditions without a flash. Look for cameras that offer ISO 1600 or higher. Some cameras can shoot as high as ISO 25,000 – 102,000!

ISO-Lightroom-v3

Now, we should mention that there’s a real trade-off to using a high ISO setting. Higher ISOs usually mean more noise (coloured speckles) and grainier images.

Luckily cameras are getting better and better at noise performance, meaning you typically can get useable images even at higher ISOs. Take a look online to see if you can find some sample images taken at different ISOs by the camera you’re considering. If the images are grainy even at low ISOs, like ISO 400, and you intend to use your camera even when it’s not sunny and bright, you may want to consider a different model.

Megapixels

Pixels

Megapixels (MP) are a measure of the resolution of a camera. Think of it like this: The greater the number of megapixels, the larger the high quality, sharp print you can make.

Now, it’s important to point out that you probably don’t need a camera that has a huge number of megapixels. For typical 4×6 inch and 5×7 inch prints you only need 4MP to get good results! And a 8MP camera will easily make 8×10 inch prints. With 20MP you will be able to create super high quality 12×18 inch prints.

You can also create large prints and still get good results, even when you don’t have a zillion megapixels, simply by reducing the print resolution. We’ve made great 40×60 inch canvas prints using a 12MP camera! Larger prints often require greater viewing distances in order to take in the whole image, so you can get away with lower print resolutions (especially if printing on a coarse medium like canvas).

Long story short, megapixels are just one part of the story of what makes a great camera, so don’t get totally distracted by them! Consider what sort of resolution you need (if you’re making huge canvases on a regular basis, you’ll want more than if you intend to print mainly 4x6s) and go from there.

 

Ergonomics 

ergonomics

A big thing to consider when purchasing a camera is how it feels in your hands. You’ll be holding your camera a lot, so get a good feel for it before you decide to buy!

Here are a few things to consider, ergonomically speaking.

SIZE

Are you able to easily reach all the buttons? Does the camera feel comfortable in your hands? How does it feel when the camera is close up to your face? (Hint: To figure this stuff out, go to the store and actually hold the camera you’re considering!)

WEIGHT

Generally speaking, cameras in similar classes will weigh similar amounts. If you’re just starting out with photography consider getting a camera that you can take with you everywhere. You’re more likely to carry around a smaller, lighter camera than a full size bulkier camera. It might mean a trade off in image quality, but at least you’ll be taking shots. If your camera is so heavy that you’re inclined to leave it at home, you’re not going to get anywhere with your photography very fast.

DURABILITY

Some cameras are more rugged than others, featuring sturdy magnesium alloy internal frames and weather sealing. These may or may not be features necessary to you, depending on what crazy things you’re planning to photograph!

MENU SYSTEM

Make sure that the menu system is straight forward and easy to use. Every camera is different, but you should be able to figure out how to navigate the menu system without consulting the manual. A camera’s menu should not be so complicated that it prevents you from using the camera!

Raw

Some cameras have the capability to save images in either the raw or JPEG format. Others will be limited to the JPEG format only.

 

The difference between the two is that the raw format records all the information captured by the sensor and allows you the most flexibility when it comes to post processing (especially when correcting mistakes!). Comparatively, the JPEG form discards data when it compresses the image into a smaller file.

Almost all DSLRs, Micro Four Thirds, and mirrorless cameras can shoot in the raw format (as well as in JPEG format). Very few compact point-and-shoot cameras, or camera phones, have the option to shoot in raw and are instead simply limited to the JPEG format.

If you’re serious about photography you’ll definitely want raw capability.

10reasonsraw

 

Autofocus

Autofocus

Proper focus is a huge part of great photography, because it draws the viewer’s eye through your image to the precise spot where you want them to look. Missing the focus is an easy way to ruin a great shot!

When you check out a potential camera, you need to seriously consider the quality of the autofocus system. Here’s what you should do:

Turn the camera on, and look through the viewfinder or the LCD screen. Press the shutter release halfway down to activate the autofocus system, and focus on something in the frame.

Now consider: Does the camera focus quickly? Does it focus accurately? Try focusing on something close to you, then something far away, and then close again. If the camera is slow to focus as you change what you’re looking at, or has difficulty focusing on the right thing, then you may want to look for another camera.

When you see something worth capturing, you need to be able to focus quickly and accurately. If your camera can’t keep up, you’re going to keep missing your shots and getting frustrated with photography.

More Important Features

Most cameras have some other nifty, though less essential, features. These can be really fun to experiment with and can make the camera more enjoyable to use, but they probably won’t be what makes or breaks your purchasing decision.

The best way to find out which features a camera has is to look it up! Here are a few of the features that are common right now:

PANO MODE

Pano

This feature allows you to take multiple images of a scene and have the camera automatically stitch them together, into a ‘panoramic’ shot. This feature is more common in point-and-shoot and some mirrorless cameras, and less common in DSLRs.

IMAGE STABILIZATION

Stabilization

This feature reduces vibration and shakiness when shooting, which in turn reduces blurriness in low light conditions. Sometimes the camera body or lens itself will contain the stabilization mechanism, which is known as optical image stabilization. This is of a higher quality than digital image stabilization, which is software in the camera that does that work.

VIDEO RECORDING

Video

Almost all types of cameras now feature video recording. The standard for HD (High Definition) is 1080p, which a lot of point-and-shoots (and even phones) are capable of recording, along with DSLR, Micro Four Thirds and mirrorless cameras. More advanced cameras will also offer manual control of exposure and better video quality (with greater ability to blur backgrounds). Some cameras now offer 4K, which is four times the resolution of 1080p!

FRAMES PER SECOND

FPS

This is how many photos the camera can take per second. A higher frames per second (fps) capability is useful if you’re shooting sports or other fast action scenes.

AUTOMATIC SENSOR CLEANING

 

Icon-cleaning

Many cameras have a feature that shakes dust off the camera’s sensor using ultrasonic vibrations. This is beneficial feature, though you should note that it doesn’t always work perfectly in removing sensor dust.

Liquid Crystal Display

LCD

A liquid crystal display (LCD) is a type of screen common in cameras. But not all LCDs are created equal! Higher resolution screens will display your images better than lower resolution screens. Some screens will also be brighter than others, and/or offer better contrast. You can usually get a sense of what counts as good screen quality just by taking a look at a few different camera screens.

Some camera makers are now offering articulating screens (also known as flip screens), that allow you to adjust the physical position of the display along one or two axes. The idea here is to use the screen as a viewfinder, allowing you to see what you’re shooting in situations where you wouldn’t be able to look through a physical viewfinder. Pretty handy!

VIEWFINDER

Viewfinder

The viewfinder is what you look at when you compose your image.

With DSLRs, the viewfinder lets you look right through the lens, thanks to the handy mirror.

Mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras may have an LCD screen on the back of the camera, in place of viewfinder. Some may also have an electronic viewfinder.

An electronic viewfinder displays an electronic image of the scene as it will appear in your photo, given your current camera settings. The advantage of the electronic viewfinder over an LCD display – which will also show you how the image looks given your current settings – is that it’s much easier to use in bright conditions.

Make sure to think carefully about what kind of viewfinder you want (as always, head to a store and give a few cameras a try).

WI-FI & NEAR-FIELD CONNECTIVITY

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Some cameras are now able to connect to the internet wirelessly, making it a breeze to upload your photos to your computer or to social sharing sites straight from your camera. With some cameras, you’re even able to download apps that link your phone up to your camera, letting you do things like set a timer, press the shutter, or see what your camera sees, all from your phone.

Near-field communication is another wireless option available with some newer camera models. Near-field communication allows you to wirelessly transfer images from your camera to a wireless device (like a phone or tablet) simply by touching the devices together. If you’re planning to do a lot of sharing from your wireless devices, near-field might be something worth looking into when you choose a camera.

Global Positioning System

GPS

Some cameras include a global positioning system (GPS), which keeps track of where your images were captured (aka geotagging). This can be a handy feature when you’re travelling (especially if you’re unlikely to remember where each shot was taken), or when you’re location scouting and find an area you want to return to.

Remember, a lot of these additional features become “selling points” when the salesperson is discussing cameras with you. They sound fancy, and can be a lot of fun, but make sure to consider them in conjunction with all the essentials we talked about previously. It’s the basic stuff that really matters.

Buying With Feature Brand

The brand of your camera doesn’t have much to do with the quality of images you create. That’s all about you as a photographer! But brands get a lot of attention in the photography world, so let’s talk about them.

Brands

Canon and Nikon

The two major manufacturers of DSLRs are Canon and Nikon.

Canon holds the largest market share around 44% (2010) with Nikon following with 30%. Both make cameras along the entire spectrum, from point-and-shoots to high end DSLRs. By choosing a Canon or Nikon camera you’ll find the widest selection of compatible lenses and accessories (both brand name and 3rd party).

Canon and Nikon both build solid cameras that function well, and each have their own pros and cons. It’s generally agreed upon that Nikons have better build quality and focusing, while Canon has a better selection of lenses. They each seem to render colour differently as well.

Your best bet in choosing will probably come in trying out each brand, and seeing which ones feels better to you. Don’t get peer-pressured!

Other Brands

Sony is most aggressively pursuing the mirrorless market, and are fashioning themselves as a serious competitor to the Canon/Nikon domination. The cameras they offer have some innovative features that seem ahead of where Canon and Nikon are, and at cheaper prices. They’ve also developed a pretty competitive line up of lenses.

Fuji is another brand offering excellent quality mirrorless cameras (our currently lineup of cameras and lenses are all Fuji!)

In terms of Micro Four Thirds Panasonic, Olympus are your only options.

Finally, when it comes to compact point-and-shoot cameras, it seems as though every manufacturer has their hand in that competitive market. If you are interested in a point-and-shoot then your best bet is to find a camera that you’ll take everywhere with you. Brand name shouldn’t play as big a role in your purchasing decision.

 

Lenses

Every camera needs a lens, whether it’s permanently attached or interchangeable. See, the lens contains pieces of glass that focus light onto your camera’s sensor. Without that light, you don’t have an image!

Not all lenses are created equal, and they’ll have a big effect on the look of your final images.

Lenses 101

To feel confident picking a lens for your camera you should first know a few basic things about lenses!

FOCAL LENGTH

focallength

The focal length (measured in mm) determines the angle of view that a lens will capture. A wide angle lens will capture a lot of the scene, and a telephoto lens will capture only a small portion. Wide angle lenses range from 15mm to 35mm. Normal lenses are around 50mm, and most closely resemble what your eye sees. Telephoto lenses range from 85mm to 200mm+.

APERTURE

aperture

The aperture is the hole inside the lens that opens and closes to control the amount of light entering the camera, and it is represented by f values (like f/2.8 or f/5.6). Lenses are described by their maximum aperture, which is the widest opening possible for that lens. So a lens might be a 50mm f/1.4, which means the focal length is 50mm, and the maximum aperture is f/1.4.

Now this might be a bit confusing: The larger (more open) the maximum aperture, the smaller the f value, and the more expensive the lens will be. This is because it has the ability to collect more light, allowing you to shoot in darker conditions, and it can also give you more background blur, which is awesome!

 

IMAGE STABILIZATION

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Image stabilization (IS) helps to minimize blurriness that can occur when your camera moves at the same time that you take a shot. This is handy when you’re shooting in low light conditions (where you typically use a slower shutter speed), or other situations where you’re using a slow shutter speed without a tripod and want to avoid blur. IS can also be helpful if the lens is particularly heavy and therefore more likely to move around as you shoot.

A lens with image stabilization (typically labelled as an ‘IS’ lens) will be substantially more expensive than an equivalent lens without IS, so it’s worth considering carefully whether you’re likely to benefit from IS.

ZOOM LENSES

zoom

A zoom lens covers a range of focal lengths (eg. 24mm – 70mm) and allows you to shift (zoom!) between any focal length in the range. Convenient! The downside to zooms is that they usually have smaller maximum apertures. Zooms with larger maximum apertures (like f/2.8) tend to be very expensive.

PRIME LENSES

prime

A prime lens has a single fixed focal length (eg. 50mm or 35mm). If you want to change perspective you have to move closer or further from your subject, or switch lenses. Prime lenses generally have larger maximum apertures, giving you better background blur, better performance in low light, and usually better image quality!

 

Kit Lenses

Most DSLR, Micro Four Thirds, and mirrorless cameras have the option to purchase the camera body with what is known as a “kit lens”.

A kit lens will typically be a cheaper, mid-range zoom lens (the most common range being 18-55mm). When you’re just starting out with your DSLR, a kit lens should serve you well. But as you progress with your photography, you’ll probably want to experiment with different lenses, like lenses that blur out the background more, allow you to get closer to your subject, or help you to zoom in on objects that are farther away.

The quality of the glass in kit lenses is also generally lower than lenses that don’t come with a DSLR, so you’ll find that kit lenses don’t always render colours well, and don’t produce the sharpest images. Basically you can expect to upgrade from a kit lens pretty quickly!

Beginner Lenses

Our recommendation is always to start off with an affordable prime lens.

As we talked about before, a prime lens is a lens with a single, fixed focal length (which means you can’t zoom in and out). This forces you to physically move around in order to compose your images, which gets you more involved in the process of taking a photo.

With prime lenses, compared to zoom lenses (kit lenses included), you typically get better image quality and more ability to blur out backgrounds.

Lenses-illustration

In short, with prime lenses, you’ll create higher quality photos and spend more time thinking and learning about the process of creating images than with zooms. Win-win!

Great prime lenses to start out with include the 50mm f/1.8 lens and the 28mm f/2.8. These lenses run in the $100-200 range and both Canon and Nikon offer affordable versions.

Advanced Lenses

Eventually, you may find you want to upgrade your introductory lenses for higher quality models.

See, like we said earlier, the quality of the lens will have a large impact on the quality of your photos. With pricier lenses, you’ll be getting faster apertures (for better low light performance and more background blur), higher build quality (with the possibility of weather sealing), and better glass that produces better color and sharpness. For zooms, you may also get image stabilization.

Knowing when to shell out the big bucks (and sometimes we’re talking big, big bucks) for these lenses isn’t easy, and it has a lot to do with how important those improvements are to you, your images, and your business.

Above all, remember that a better lens won’t automatically take better photos. It can help you create better image quality, but ultimately you’re the one calling the shots!

 

Specialty Lenses

Beyond the range of lenses designed for regular use, there’s a whole world of specialty lenses out there, meant to produce particular effects or to be used in more niche sorts of situations. We generally consider these lenses to be extras, but depending on what kind of photography you’re into they may be your kind of essentials!

Macro

Macro-100

Macro lenses are designed to allow you to get extremely close to your subject, letting the subject occupy much more of the frame than they would with a normal lens. Macro lenses are commonly used in advertising and food photography, as well as in nature photography, where the photographer needs to get closer to the subject to show details. Macro lenses are made for a range of camera types, including DLSRs, mirrorless systems, and even point-and-shoots and camera phones.

Tilt Shift

Tiltshift100

Tilt shift lenses allow you to control the plane of focus in your image by bending the angle of the lens relative to the sensor (fancy!). They’re typically produced to work with 35mm DSLR cameras, as well as medium format cameras.

Tilt shift is commonly used in food and architectural photography, where it’s important to control the plane of focus or the appearance of converging lines, and is becoming more popular as an artistic tool in portrait photography.

Tilt shift lenses aren’t cheap, and it takes a lot of practice to learn how to use them well, so we recommend renting (or borrowing) a lens before you buy, to make sure it’s going to be worth the investment.

You can learn more about tilt shift photography in our two-part series from the blog:

Tiltshift1

Tiltshift2

Fisheye

Fisheye100

Fisheye lenses are ultra wide angle lenses that create dramatic distortion, producing images that look almost semi-circular in their perspective. Though you’ll see them used in a variety of contexts, the photographers who get the most use out of them tend to focus on landscape and extreme sport photography/videography. Fisheye lenses are made for a range of camera types, including DLSRs, mirrorless systems, and even point-and-shoots and camera phones.

Super Telephoto

Supertelephoto100

Super telephoto lenses are lenses whose focal length extends beyond 300mm. These lenses effectively let you get close to things that are very far away, without physically moving yourself. Super telephoto lenses are very, very expensive. Unless you’re a serious wildlife or sports photographer, chances are you won’t ever need one of these – but you’ll probably want one. 😉

Pinhole

Pinhole100

Pinhole lenses let you mimic the aesthetic of classic pinhole cameras (think grainy, sort of mysterious) using your interchangeable lens camera. Inexpensive pinhole lenses exist for a range of cameras, but a quick web search will show you that it’s pretty easy to create your own pinhole lens!

Lensbaby

Lensbaby100

Lensbaby is a lens manufacturer that creates inexpensive special effects lenses for a wide range of cameras (DSLRs, mirrorless, camera phones, etc.). These lenses can be used to create effects similar to fisheye, wide aperture and tilt shift lenses. The resulting image quality generally won’t match what you’ll get with the more expensive specialty lenses, but they can be a fun way to experiment with different effects without shelling out a lot of money.

 

Accessories-title

Necessary Accessories

Contrary to what the salesperson might say, you don’t actually need a lot of accessories for your camera! Don’t get pressured into buying lots of gizmos you don’t want. Shop around, and start by getting only what you absolutely need. You can always get more toys as you shoot more!

Here are the essentials that you’ll need to keep your camera going.

MEMORY CARDS

You’ll need a memory card in order to record images taken with your camera. Try to stick to a major brand name (like SanDisk or Lexar). In our own experience, brand name cards are more reliable and less prone to errors. They cost more, but we think they’re worth it!

Cards are generally classed into different categories, depending on how fast they’re able to read and write data. The ‘Extreme’ (formerly ‘Ultra’) class of card, made by Sandisk, has always suited our purposes well (portraits, weddings, travel).

Note that there are also different types of cards out there (SDHC, SDXC, CF, etc.). Make sure to check which kind of card your camera needs before you buy anything.

Regarding capacity, if you’re shooting raw, or taking a ton of photos each time you head out to shoot, you’ll need more memory space than if you’re shooting JPEG or shooting quite casually.

Cards

Largememorycard

SPARE BATTERIES

It sucks when your camera battery dies right when you are about to take an epic shot. Don’t let it happen to you! Make sure to keep a fully-charged spare battery on you anytime you’re shooting.

Now, most cameras take special batteries that can’t be tracked down in grocery stores. But here’s the good news: Generic camera batteries can often be purchased online for a quarter the price of original batteries. They may not last as long, but sometimes the cost savings still make them a worthwhile purchase.

Finally, just a heads up that not all cameras come with wall chargers. Without a wall charger, you’re going to have to plug your entire camera in (typically to a computer) anytime you want to charge the battery – not very convenient. Having a wall charger will allow you to keep using your camera (with a fresh battery) while the exhausted battery charges up. Wall chargers generally run about the same price as batteries.

Battery

CAMERA BAG

If you’re going to be using your camera away from home frequently, you’ll need to get a camera bag – both to keep the camera safe and to make it easier for you to carry. Look for a bag that’s small enough (and stylish enough!) that you’ll be happy to take it with you everywhere.

Before you buy a bag, check out the review site CamBags.com to see what other photographers think of the model you’re considering. Pay attention to their comments about ease of use – can you quickly and easily get the camera out of the bag when you need to take a photo? Are the different compartments easy to access, and are they large enough to store your accessories (spare lenses, spare batteries, spare memory cards)? If you’re planning to do a lot of outdoor photography, find out how the bag holds up in the rain and how well it cushions your gear.

Another option instead of a dedicated camera bag is an insert. An insert is a protective case that you can slip into an existing backpack or bag, and can be a great option. We’ve often used these when travelling.

Long story short, finding the perfect camera bag for your needs is a challenge, so take your time looking around!

Bag

MEMORY CARD READER

Most cameras include a USB cable that you can use to connect your camera to your computer in order to upload your photos. We’ve found these to a bit clunky to use, so we now use a memory card reader.

Check your computer and your monitor to see if they have a built-in memory card reader. If you’re looking to buy a card reader, a basic model should cost you only $15-$25.

memorycardreadertips

Card-reader

 

Cleaning Accessories 

Keeping your camera clean is important! You don’t want to spend hours editing out dust spots in all your awesome photos, after all. Happily, you need only a few tools to keep things spiffy.

LENS PEN

A lens pen allows you to clean smudges and dust off your lens. This is a must-have! We keep a few extras in our camera bags at all times.

MICROFIBER CLOTH

You’ll want a microfiber cloth for cleaning everything from lenses, LCDs, camera bodies. Easy, cheap, and versatile.

ROCKET BLOWER

A rocket blower is great for gently removing  dust from lenses and sensors.

SCREEN PROTECTOR

The simple, clear adhesive screen protectors that you stick right onto the LCD can be fantastic little accessories. We didn’t use them when we were first starting out, and we have the scratched up screens to show for it!

Cleaning-accessories

 

Optional Accessories 

These accessories can certainly be useful, but don’t feel like you have to purchase them in order to get by!

TRIPOD

Many new photographers think a tripod is a necessity (we did when we were just starting out!), and spend a considerable chunk of money on one. Then that fancy stand just sits in the closet collecting dust! Unless you’re planning on doing a lot of landscape or long-exposure photography, you don’t need an expensive tripod.

If you want to try out landscape or long-exposure photography, pick up a cheap tripod and see if you use it enough to make the more expensive model worth the investment.

Another option is a GorillaPod. It’s far more portable than a standard tripod, meaning you’re more likely to take it with you and actually use it!

gorillapod

BATTERY GRIP

battery grip lets you power your camera from multiple batteries, seriously extending the time you can shoot before changing the battery. It also changes the shape of your camera body, making it more comfortable to shoot with the camera in the vertical position.

But battery grips tend to be expensive, and make your camera heavier and bulkier. We’d recommend trying out your camera without a battery grip first to see if you think you really need one. From there, see if you can borrow one from a friend before you finally decide to buy.

When we were starting out, we purchased battery grips, gave them a try and then quickly returned them!

Battery-grip

FILTERS

Filters attach to the front of your lens, and serve a variety of purposes.

At the most basic level, filters protect your lens from scratches. But their real purpose is to improve the look of your images, primarily by influencing light. The most common type of filter is the UV/Haze filter, which acts to reduce the look of haze in your images, particularly when you’re shooting landscapes. Other common types of filters out there include neutral density, and polarizing filters.

The downsides to filters is this: When they’re cheaply made, filters can actually reduce the quality of your photos. Not good! If you’re going to spend the money, make sure you buy a high quality filter that won’t adversely impact the look of your shots.

When we were starting out, we didn’t bother with filters. Now that we’re using more expensive lenses, we do use filters, particularly to reduce the chance of scratches.

Filters

EXTERNAL FLASH

Photography is all about light, so you might feel like it’s important to have an external flash. But whether or not you need a flash is really going to come down to where you are shooting.

Available light is everywhere, from the sun to indoor lighting, and it can produce incredible results. In fact, learning to use available light is one of the first skills a new photographer should develop, long before you start thinking about a flash!

If you’re frequently shooting in very dark situations (like wedding receptions) then an external flash will be useful. But you don’t always need the most expensive model. It’s more important to learn about light, and how to control it, than to get a super fancy flash.

Flash

Flash

REMOTES

Remote controls can allow you to trigger the shutter wirelessly. This can come in handy for self-portraits, for photo booths, or if you’re creating stop motion sequences. They can be lots of fun, but they’re generally not a necessity, especially given that most cameras have a built-in self-timer.

You may want to check to see if your camera model allows the use of a smartphone app as a remote, which can be a cheaper and more convenient option.

Remote-v2

 

HARD DRIVES

If you’re planning to shoot in raw or take a lot of video, chances are your digital storage needs will quickly expand beyond what your computer can provide. If that’s the case, you’ll need to invest in an external hard drive or two.

External hard drives are also a must if you want to reduce the risk of losing your images in the event of computer hard drive failure or anything else that can wipe your computer out, like theft or disaster.

Portable external hard drives are a very handy type of hard drive. They’re smaller, making them easy to travel with, and a great option for offsite backup.

Hard-drive

 

 

 

Best Software For Camera

As you get more serious about photography, chances are you’ll want to start editing your images. Editing allows you to do things like adjust exposure, contrast, colour and much, much more. This can be used for dramatic creative effect, or it can let you create natural-looking adjustments that subtly enhance the look and feel of your shot.

Most cameras will come with some form of free editing software, but it’s likely to be much less powerful, and much less intuitive to use, than the paid options out there. If you want to upgrade from the basics, here are some of the pieces of photography software you may want to consider.
Lightroom

 

Lightroom100

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (commonly known simply as Lightroom) is a image editing and management program.

Lightroom allows you to make a wide range of adjustments to your raw or JPEG images in a non-destructive fashion (meaning that the editing changes you make won’t overwrite the data in your original image – you’ll always be able to go back to the original).

With Lightroom, it’s easy to make adjustments to individual images, or to apply adjustments or presets to scores of photos at a time. Unlike Photoshop (more on that in a minute), Lightroom does not allow you to work in layers, or to do advanced retouching.

Another key feature of Lightroom is its management capabilities, which allow you to access your entire library and organize your images using things like keywords and star ratings.

Lightroom also allows you to print or upload your images to social sharing sites directly from the program.

You can download a free, 30-day trial of Lightroom from Adobe here.

 

Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop (commonly known just as Photoshop) is a pixel-based image editor. (Pixels are the tiny dots that make up a photo.)

Photoshop allows you to make basic edits to an image, but its real strength is as a tool for powerful retouching (removing distractions, smoothing skin, whitening teeth), compositing, and creative editing.

Be warned: Photoshop is not an image management tool. Unlike with Lightroom, you cannot view your library or organize your images in Photoshop (though there are other programs, like Adobe Bridge, that can help you sort and organize your images before you bring them into Lightroom). Photoshop also lacks the printing and sharing functions in Lightroom.

All that being said, Photoshop is a must if you need to do advanced retouching or editing. Lightroom takes home the prize for ease of use and versatility, but it comes nowhere close to Photoshop when it comes to retouching, compositing and other dramatic photo manipulation!

You can download a free, 30-day trial of Photoshop from Adobe here.

Lightroomvphotoshop

 

Photoshop Elements

Elements100

For photographers who don’t need all of the horsepower that Photoshop offers, Adobe offers a consumer/hobbyist level version of the program, called Photoshop Elements. Photoshop Elements offers a good number of the essential editing and retouching features a hobbyist would need, at a much lower cost than Photoshop. Photoshop Elements also includes basic organizing and sharing functions.

New photographers may want to consider picking up Lightroom and Photoshop Elements, and deciding whether to upgrade Photoshop Elements to Photoshop from there.

Anyone looking for powerful, advanced retouching may need the full version of Photoshop. It’s worth comparing the specs of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements to decide which will best fit your needs.

You can download a free, 30-day trial of Elements from Adobe here.

 

Apple Photos

iPhoto100

A basic all-in-one editing, organizing and sharing program meant for hobbyists. Apple has been adding more features, but honestly my recommendation is to stay away from Apple products when it comes to photos. They already discontinued two previous photo editing apps (Aperture and iPhoto). Despite the convenience, there doesn’t seem to be a strong commitment on Apple’s part to long term development.

Using Apple Photos is an okay place to start, but I would recommend switching to Lightroom as soon as possible (for better features, and long term development).

Where To Buy Best Cameras:

Where-to-buy

ONLINE

Computer

The internet has opened up a huge market for photography enthusiasts worldwide!

The biggest name in online camera sales is B&H. This is where we purchase most of our equipment from. They stock the widest selection of camera gear and offer the best prices. They also have a physical store in New York – it’s a photographer’s wonderland!

Amazon is another option when you want wide selection and low prices, particularly if you’re in the United States. International customers may find less selection and higher prices.

Of course, the obvious downside of buying online is that you don’t get to see gear in person before you purchase it, so it’s best to make sure that any online shipper offers a fair return/exchange policy.

BOX STORES

Boxstore

In North America big box stores like Best Buy probably see the bulk of consumer camera sales.

Heading to a box store to learn about cameras can be a frustrating experience, as sales people may not have a lot of experience with photography, or may try to push products at you in order to get the commission. The selection may also be quite limited, especially when you’re looking for advanced lenses and camera bodies.

On the upside, box stores generally have lower prices than small, dedicated photography stores, and can have sweet sales too. Plus, the return policies are often quite favourable to the customer. If you know what you want and the box store has it in stock, it may be the best place to make the purchase.

SPECIALTY CAMERA SHOPS

Speciality

Almost every city has a specialty camera shop. These shops cater to advanced hobbyist and professional photographers. Here you’ll find higher end cameras and a greater selection of lenses than box stores. You’ll also find a wider variety of higher quality accessories.

Our experience with speciality camera stores is that the prices are a little more variable (sometimes as low as online, sometimes not) and the service can be mixed.

But if you have an awesome speciality camera shop in your city, definitely consider supporting it. It can be worth paying a premium on your gear when it gets you access to knowledgeable staff and gives you ability to check out expensive gear in person.

BUYING USED

Used

You can save yourself some serious coin by buying used gear. Check out B&H, KEH, and eBay, or your local classifieds (like eBay Classifieds, Craigslist, Kijiji or the good old newspaper). With B&H, KEH and eBay, you can usually be sure of the seller’s reputation and the quality of the gear. When you’re buying from classifieds, make sure you get the opportunity to examine and test the gear before you agree to purchase anything.

RENTING

Calendar

If you’re considering purchasing a new camera or lens, you may want to rent it first to make sure it’s worth the investment. You can often rent from a local camera shop. There are also online rental options, like LensRentals US, and Borrow Lenses.

 

Warranties & Returns

Guarantee

Most cameras come with a warranty (usually 1 year). This is generally long enough to catch any serious problems with the equipment. Make sure to find out exactly what kind of warranty your gear comes with and what it covers – check the manual, read the fine print, or ask a salesperson.

EXTENDED WARRANTIES

Most stores will also offer the opportunity to purchase an extended warranty. It’s up to you whether you think it’s worth the price. Consider how careful you are with your gear, and whether you’ve needed warranties in the past. Also consider the replacement cost of the item – an extended warranty will make more sense for a pricey piece of gear you’re hoping to hold onto forever compared to an inexpensive item you’re likely to want to upgrade in a couple years.

If you’re considering a warranty, see if you have the option to purchase the extended warranty at any time within the first year. If your camera breaks within the first year and is covered by the warranty then you might want to consider getting the extended warranty in case it breaks again after the 1-year warranty expires.

If you’re purchasing the camera with a credit card, check to see if your credit card company offers any sort of automatic warranty extension. Some credit card companies will match the original warranty.

RETURNS

It’s a good idea to find out what a store’s return policy is before you purchase, in case you’re not satisfied with the camera. If a store doesn’t offer refunds, think carefully before making any big-ticket purchases from them, even if they offer slightly lower prices than other places. We’re always happy to pay a bit extra if it means we have the option to send something back.

AMAZON and B&H REVIEWS

Another good place to check is the customer reviews on Amazon and B&H. Hearing the real life experiences others have had with the camera you’re interested in can definitely help you make an informed decision.

DxO Mark

DxO Mark has an exhaustive list of technical reviews of camera sensors and lenses.

Price

Cameras can range dramatically in price, and you can find something for any budget. Here are some general price ranges you can expect:

Compact point-and-shoot: $90 – $900

Micro Four Thirds and Mirrorless: $350 – $2,300

DSLR: $400 – $7,000

Something to keep in mind with DSLRs is that the largest investment is generally with the lenses. As you grow as a photographer you’ll find yourself spending far more on glass than on the body, so be sure to factor that into your budget if you get a DSLR.

When trying to decide how much you should spend on something, you’ll need to take your unique situation into account. How much can you comfortably afford? Is this gear absolutely essential, or is it just “nice to have”? How much extra money will this piece of gear help you make, if any? Are there other things you should spend the money on first?

Someone else making the same purchase has a different set of answers, so never just follow another photographer’s buying decisions. Even if they swear it’s the best purchase they ever made in their whole entire life.

Gear can be a very, very expensive habit. If you carefully consider the cost and benefits for you, you’ll make good decisions.

 Final Thought:

Our Recommendations

With a $500 budget, we prefer either an entry-level DSLR like the Nikon D3400 or a high-end point-and-shoot like the Sony RX100.  The D3400 is a terrific DSLR for getting started and there are a number of Nikon DX-format lenses that can be added later at reasonable prices. Just a few years ago the RX100 was the top compact camera on the market and Sony has continued to churn out new versions (they currently on the RX100 IV, which costs a whopping $949). The biggest omission on the RX100 is the lack of an electronic viewfinder, but with an extra large sensor for a point-and-shoot and a superb lens, this camera is winner and a great value.

Mirrorless feels like the mostly iffy category here—the kit lenses are comparatively weaker than their Nikon or Canon counterparts and the prime and zoom options are more scattered. The Sony a5000 is a great little camera but the 16-50mm kit lens leaves something to be desired and there just aren’t many cheap Sony E-mount lens options. Samsung and Nikon offer even fewer lens choices. We still love mirrorless in general, but the field is markedly better in the $500 to $1,000 price range and up.

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