We have many types of cameras in the market place with varied features and uses. Usually, every new model comes with improvements in image quality, performance, and speed. Some of them are for daily photography. But, we also have certain types of cameras for particular purposes. In this article, I’ll give you a brief overview of each type of digital camera.
As a beginner, it’s arduous to tell which types of digital cameras are flawless. For instance, I started photography with compact cameras when I was in junior school. Currently, I handle nothing less than a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera. So, before wasting time, let’s dive in.
Choosing the right camera type that will transform your photography into a pro-level is not an easy task. You’ll have to explore the difference between a compact camera, a mirrorless camera, and a DSLR camera. Moreover, you need a practical example of how each affects creative control, portability, and image quality.
However, cameras are costly making it hard to taste each camera type. But, don’t fret because this article walks you through the fundamentals of each camera type.
Understanding camera types
Here, you’ll learn what differentiates each camera type. In general, three main differences distinguish camera types. They are:
- Viewfinder mechanism
- Fixed versus interchangeable lenses
- Camera image sensor
Technically, the viewfinder type and sensor size will determine the size and weight of your camera. Here, compact cameras will exhibit small size followed by Mirrorless camera and then DSLR camera the largest.
Additionally, compact and Mirrorless cameras viewfinder mechanisms are distinct from the DSLR. In the DSLR camera, the light you see through the viewfinder is the same as the one in the camera’s sensor. Pressing the shutter button of your DSLR camera makes the mirror flips up. Here, it conveys backlight channeled to your eyes back to the camera sensor.
Presently, compact and Mirrorless cameras use an electronic viewfinder (EVF). EVF gives accurate estimates, unlike in the early day’s version of an optical viewfinder.
Fixed versus interchangeable lenses
Usually, the two camera types, a Mirrorless and DSLR camera, allow you to change out lenses. However, that is not possible if you have a compact camera.
Can a single lens enable you to capture all types of scenes? It’s challenging to achieve that.
In the field, you need a special-purpose lens to achieve your objectives. For example:
- Wide lens. Using a lower f/stops to activate shallower depth of field and delivers excellent low light performance. Here, you’ll be able to achieve a smooth autofocus background and isolate your subject in portraits.
- Macro lenses, Ultra-wide lenses, fisheye lenses, and telephoto lenses enable you to achieve more creative options. For example, ultra-wide-angle lenses minimize distortion when taking architectural photographs.
- Image quality. You will achieve better image quality when you use the camera lens made for that particular work.
Disadvantages of changing camera lenses
- It minimizes the portability of your camera. You’ll have to carry more than one lens to achieve different styles.
- Disrupt shooting rhythm. You’ll have to change your lenses every time you change scenes.
- Reduce camera image quality. You might invite dust into your camera as you change the lens.
Usually, Mirrorless and DSLR cameras have larger camera sensors. As a result, they deliver higher pixels and resolution as oppose to compact cameras.
Effects of camera sensor size
- Larger sensors are expensive and require expensive lenses.
- Heavier cameras such as DSLR feature more weight because their lens needs to capture more light.
- Depth of field. Typically, a camera with a larger sensor produces a shallower depth of field. For example, a compact camera lens at f/4.0 will not get you a blurring background. But, a DSLR or Mirrorless camera lens at f/4.0 will get you a smooth, blurred background in portraits.
- Typically, a camera such as a DSLR or Mirrorless comes with large pixels due to larger sensors. Here, they gather light in more areas making them sensitive to even small amounts of light. As a result, they produce images with less noise, even if you have higher ISO settings.
- Dynamic range. A Mirrorless or a DSLR camera will capture for you a more excellent range of light to dark without compromising pixels. In other words, they help in minimizing blown highlights and preserve subject details.
What type of camera is your choice?
Point and shoot or compact cameras
Also known as compact cameras and is one of the most common types of digital cameras around. Generally, they are good at producing good images straight off. Besides, new models come with better features and functionality.
Beginner photographers love them because they have auto settings features. Usually, compact cameras are easy to use because of automation features. Here, you don’t have to use manual control when taking shots. For instance, the camera delivers auto settings for aperture, shutter, and ISO. Additionally, they have a built-in zoom lens and flash unit.
Modern compact cameras come with more features. Here, you will see them with various camera modes, image stabilization, and face recognition. Also, some of them have advance hybrid viewfinder such as Fujifilm X100V. Additionally, point and shoot cameras are exceptional if you are a You-Tuber. Some new models record 4K videos up to 30 frames per second.
Advantages of compact cameras
Price. Generally, DSLR cameras have larger sensors compared to compact cameras. In that case, compact cameras prices are more affordable. They also don’t need expensive interchangeable lenses since they have inbuilt lenses.
Lightweight. Point and shoot cameras are the perfect gear for travel. Here, they fit in your pocket very well and also doesn’t take much space.
Preprogrammed modes. Here, you only pick your shooting modes and take your shorts.
Inbuilt lens. You don’t need to bother carrying extra interchangeable lenses and flash.
Live view- rear LCD. Live view rear LCD gives you the exact picture of what your output will be. Besides, it provides you with accurate autofocus. It helps you see what is happening at the image sensor. Additionally, it displays a histogram that shows the number of tones.
Disadvantages of compact cameras
Low-resolution cameras. Low-end compact cameras have small size image sensors compared to DSLR cameras. Here, you don’t have a lot of pixels to play around. In most cases, they are suitable for sports and wildlife photography. Also, they perform well in wedding, street, and travel photography.
Less zoom power. Generally, compact cameras come with built-in lenses. Besides, they are not powerful enough to bring far end subjects close. Instead, you can sacrifice for high-end compact cameras such as Coolpix p950. Coolpix p850 has an 83x ultra-power optical zoom lens. It helps you in bringing the further subject closer.
Fewer controls. Compared to DSLR, compact cameras come with auto setting features in mind. DSLR, instead, relies more on manual mode. Here, you need to know how to set aperture priorities, shutter speed, and ISO.
Examples of compact cameras
A DSLR camera is one of the best types of digital cameras. In summary, it makes use of two elements, optics and the mechanism of SLR cameras.
So, what is DSLR?
It stands for a digital single-lens reflex camera.
In summary, digital shows that the camera input and output is fixed and comes from a digital sensor. Single-lens means that the DSLR camera is using the selfsame lens in execution. Compared to the rangefinder, Single-lens will give you an option to view from the lens.
We have the reflex also. Here, it uses a mirror that reflects light up. It allows you to see in the viewfinder. A reflex in DSLR cameras allows a photographer to see the same image as in the sensor. Generally, a reflex mirror bounces back the light from the lens. It happens through a unique lens known as the pentaprism lens.
Why is DSLR better
DSLR camera comes with an excellent package for professional photographers. Generally, it offers quality shots that cannot be rival by other types of cameras. Besides, they allow you to enjoy an interchangeable lens.
We all know, taking killer shots with a DSLR camera is not a walk in the park. Here, you are not going to hit the shutter button, and boom delivers excellent pictures. First, you have to learn and understand a wide range of prerequisites. Then, Use your skills to fine-tune manual controls. In the end, you will direct the camera to deliver the output you want.
Some of the outstanding features of DSLR include:
Usually, grasping the concept of a DSLR focusing system is the surest way of getting crisp images. In most cases, DSLR camera owners have high-end or entry-level interchangeable lens. Here, you’ll find a collection of autofocus sensors that ensures your subject focuses in the end.
DSLR delivers good images when focusing on fast-moving objects, for instance, sports. They use phase-detection or contrast-detection type of autofocus. In most cases, phase detection works very well in all focusing scenarios. Besides, the method also gets a new result for continuous autofocus.
Viewfinder for previewing images
DSLR comes with an optical viewfinder. Here, it shows you the exact copy of what your camera will deliver. Additionally, DSLR performs well in a low lit environment. It is easier to shoot with it since it will get you a preview on the screen even in a low lit environment.
When you take shots with shaky hands, the outcome becomes blurry images. Now, DSLR comes with an IS system to improve on the output. The sensor measures your DSLR camera movements. Next, it shifts part of your camera lens or image sensor away from the direction of shake.
Generally, we have two types of image stabilization. They include lens-based and in-camera. Moreover, the lens-based image stabilization incorporates a floating lens element. Here, it uses an electronic system to control and swap opposite to any shake. Likewise, for in-camera image stabilization, the image sensor is physically swapped.
As a rule, it’s advisable to cut the image stabilization when working on a tripod. For instance, it will create a feedback loop because it detects its vibration. That is why you’ll see a camera moving around even if the rest of your DSLR camera is still. As a result, you’ll end up with blurry images since it has introduced motion objects. The camera systems will detect any shots you take after that as a moving subject.
DSLR are professional types of digital cameras because they can take high-quality pictures. Moreover, they have a large sensor size, which allows it to yield quality images. In most cases, photographers use full-frame sensor DSLR cameras since they have a more extensive dynamic range. Additionally, they perform better in low light and high ISO performance.
Generally, most types of digital cameras with a larger sensor will cover a large surface area. Usually, large sensor harvests more photons. As a result, it will also need a good image processor to conduct such an operation. Most DSLR cameras, especially full frames, will help you achieve quality images. In most cases, DSLR cameras use either APS-C or full-frame sensor
They have capabilities in:
- Connects well when dealing between resolution and noise control
- It gives you a more comprehensive dynamic range. As a result, it captures images with more details.
- Flexibility in the depth of field
A DSLR camera has the potential to fire shots at breakneck shutter speed. Also, it can capture burst images without compromising quality. Additionally, they also have an edge when it comes to battery life. You can take shots continuously without having a live view on an EVF or LCD screen.
Usually, DSLR cameras can shoot without making use of live view on an LCD screen or EVF. In effect, an LCD screen and electronic viewfinder (EVF) consumes a lot of power. By the way, that’s why you find cameras such as Nikon D850 delivering 1550 shots per charge.
Accessories and lenses
A DSLR camera allows you to have a pool of lenses at your disposal. Thus, you will enjoy a better selection of various accessories—for example, speed-lights and flash-lights.
Advantages of a DSLR camera types
- Camera autofocus is faster
- There’s minimal delay in shutter lag and starting the exposure
- Support RAW file format
- Can take more prolonged exposure usually more than 15-30 seconds
- Operates complete manual exposure control
- You can manually twist the lens through manual zoom control
- ISO speed range is great
Mirrorless are types of digital cameras that don’t incorporate the use of a mirror. Unlike the DSLR, Mirrorless cameras feature a single, removable lens. Besides, they also use a digital display system instead of an optical viewfinder.
Generally, a DSLR camera uses a reflex technique or a mirror in nature. As a result, this mirror bounces back images to the optical viewfinder. But, a Mirrorless camera doesn’t need a mirror to bounce back images. Here, the imaging sensor is ‘exposed’ to light through-out. In the end, it gives you a digital preview of the image on either an EVF or on the rear LCD screen.
Essential features with Mirrorless cameras
Quality Video recording
Nowadays, photographers are more interested in a camera that delivers video capabilities. Usually, Mirrorless provides good video because of its on-chip focus sensors. Again, they can shoot at higher frame rates and also offer better 4k videos.
In-body image stabilization
The number one culprit for blurry images is when you shoot your subject with shaky hands. Besides, when taking shots in low light environment, you’ll need to lower shutter speed. It will help you to compensate for the lack of light because lower shutter speed allows more light. Lastly, when more light hits the sensor, your image will get enough exposure. But, things might work out the opposite, and your image might end up blurry. The main reason is that the shutter speed is too low, and a little shake destabilizes everything.
Mirrorless cameras use an in-body image stabilization system to compensate for shaky hands. In most cases, photographers use a tripod. Similarly, in-body image stabilization shifts the sensor body to compensate for movement. For instance, the sensor will change on the vertical, horizontal, pitch, yaw, and roll. Thus, the name five axes built-in image stabilization
Mirrorless camera is exceptional when it comes to fast shutter speed. Here, you can capture a burst of images at a glance. Generally, Mirrorless cameras don’t incorporate the use of a mirror. In this case, it gives it the power to take shots after shots. As a result, the electronic shutter will read more light for long.
The viewfinder is one way in which you can feel and get a more reliable connection with your subject. Usually, it helps photographers to cut distractions. It also helps them achieve the most concentration in the act. Moreover, an Electronic viewfinder will help you get a clear view in bright sunlight.
The DSLR camera usually flips mirror noise, which is a result of the mechanical shutter. But, Mirrorless is getting the crown when it comes to silent photography. In this case, it uses an electronic shutter system, which helps it achieve quiet operation.
Other types of digital cameras
- Bridge cameras
- Smartphone cameras
- Instant cameras
- Digital cine/documentaries cameras
Choosing among camera types can be a daunting task if you have fewer budgets. For example, you can achieve the same features of a DSLR if you opt to go for high-end compact cameras. But, that is only possible if you are willing to dig deep into your pocket.
Its potential gauges the best camera types in terms of flexibility, image quality, portability, and simplicity. Your choice is affected by the environment in which you are going to take shots.
Moreover, going for a compact camera means you want a smaller, lighter, and less expensive camera. Additionally, a Mirrorless camera will give you the size of a compact camera and high image quality. Lastly, a DSLR camera will enable you to shoot specific applications at higher image quality.