When seeking to purchase a new camera, it can quite frankly be an overwhelming experience. Before browsing the vast number of products available on the market, a decision needs to be made regarding which type of device suits the needs of a user best.
This short two-part guide explores the difference between compact, bridge and DSLR cameras, before looking at the pros and cons of each one. The aim is to help photographers decide what it is they are looking for in a camera, ultimately assisting with the decision of what equipment to purchase.
Compact devices are perfect for anyone looking for a product that is relatively hardwearing and easy to use. Most of these cameras produce a better quality image than the lenses that are integrated into most mobile phones. They are usually also small and lightweight, making them easy to carry around and take on trips.
Compact cameras vary in the features they include, so therefore also in price. The compact devices on the market for less than £100 are typically very standard models that take decent enough pictures, but without many added extras. These budget cameras usually work using AA batteries and have fairly similar features to one another. They usually offer users a 3x optical zoom, which can normally stretch between 35-105mm. This range is plenty capable of capturing group shots, landscapes and far away details.
Standard compact cameras are frequently found in the price range of £100-£250. Most of them work using rechargeable lithium batteries and have a wider range of features than the budget models. These may include longer zoom lenses, touchscreen functionality and some form of auto-intelligence system. The latter technology is another reason why a compact camera is ideal for someone less confident with the idea of manual settings.
Image quality in compact cameras is determined by two factors: lens brightness and sensor size. Most of the devices are built with either a CCD or CMOS sensor, the latter usually producing higher quality images due to superb light capturing properties. CCD sensors can be found in most basic compact cameras, where as higher capability cameras often have the CMOS sensors built into them.
A downside to choosing a compact camera is the restriction on how much control a user has over the functionality of the device. Anyone looking to really add their own touch of creativity to the images they shoot may be better off looking towards the bridge system and DSLR camera end of the market, which we will cover in the next article.