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Choosing a camera for good snap shots and general creative work

Sony DSC-HX90V Canon PowerShot SX70 HS Nikon D3500 FujiFilmX-A2
COMPACT
- Light. not too heavy to hang around your neck or shoulder
- Flash is usually weak
- Non-removable lens with short zoom.
- May have manual capability but shortish range of apertures, and small sensor, gives less less control of Depth of Field
- Due to that small sensor, image quality usually not great above 400-800 ISO
BRIDGE SLR
- Not as bulky as SLR, better features than compact but will not fit in pocket
- Pop up flash is better, and may be able to take external flash
- Non-removable lens with very long zoom.
- Has manual capability but short range of apertures, and small sensor, gives less less control of Depth of Field
- Due to that small sensor, image quality usually not great above 400-800 ISO
SLR
- Wider range of features and accessories, more flexibility,
- Good built in (pop up) flash, with external flash option
- Interchangeable lenses
- Wider range of apertures, and larger sensor, for greater control of Depth of Field
- Due to that bigger sensor size, image quality usually very good up to 3200 ISO and acceptable at 6400 ISO and beyond

MIRRORLESS
- Wider range of features and accessories, more flexibility.
- Flash can be weak due to small size, but has external flash option
- Interchangeable lenses
- Wider range of apertures, and larger sensor, for greater control of Depth of Field
- Due to that bigger sensor size, image quality usually very good up to 3200 ISO and acceptable at 6400 ISO and beyond
Sony DSC-HX90V
Canon
PowerShot SX70 HS
Nikon D3500
FujiFilmX-A2

Most Digital Cameras are capable of taking reasonably good photographs. There are 4 distinct types, as described above, these are: Compact, Bridge SLR (non-removable lens), true SLR type with removable lens, and Mirrorless with removable lens. The further up the scale of these types of camera you go then the more options tend to available to you.

Whatever camera you have, or want to buy there are certain key options which help you keep the technical quality of your photographs as high as possible. We are assuming that the camera you have in mind has a built-in flash, a self-timer and a macro facility. On that basis our recommendation on key features of a digital camera are as follows:

Optical Zoom of 3x or above

This keeps the sharpness of the shot as high as possible. Most entry-level SLR and Mirrorless cameras come with a 3x kit lens.

Digital Zoom just enlarges a smaller part of the picture. You could end up with a 3 megapixel photo of a zoomed in image on a 12 megapixel camera. The quality of this enlargement would not be good. This is a major problem with phone photography (unless you purchase special lens adapters).

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12 megapixels or above

This resolution allows you to get a good quality 14x11in (25x20cm) print with room for a little bit of cropping. The vast majority of shots are printed to 6x4in (15x10cm) if printed at all!, so 12 megapixels is plenty for this.

Adjustable ISO up to 6400 or above

This allows you to take shots zoomed close or in lower light without flash or tripod, and get little or no camera shake (blur).

Anti-Shake/Image Stabilization/Vibration Reduction/Super Steady Shot

This is a fantastic new development which will allow you to take shots in quite dark situations or extremely zoomed in shots without getting camera shake (blur). It is certainly not able to correct all blur but when combined with higher ISO settings allows for great flexibility in low light or zoomed in shots without camera shake.

White Balance Settings

Photographs taken indoors without flash indoors have an orange color cast if taken under ordinary bulbs or they have a greenish tinge if taken under florescent lights. With White Balance you can tell the camera you are shooting in these lighting conditions and the color in your shots will look as natural as possible, particularly on skin. Other White Balance settings could be for cloudy days or candle lights. The more the merrier. This can a problem for phone photography, as you often need an image editor to fix color balance issues.

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Tripod mount

Some things you just do not check. Very slim cameras may not be fitted with a tripod bush mount. Hard to take night shots (or group shots with you in it) if this fitting is not on your camera. Phones are a good example of this, they need a special grip to be able to fit on a tripod.

Scene Modes/Scene Settings/SCN/Best Shot

These put the shutter speed, aperture, flash and ISO settings in the correct configuration for the shot in hand, without you having to worry about it. "Portrait Mode" deliberately chooses an aperture which helps to throw the background out of focus while "Sports Mode" sets the shutter speed as fast as possible to help freeze actions shots. Many of the newer cameras have multiple scene modes for a wide range of photographic settings putting the requirement for in-depth knowledge of camera techniques firmly in the background. For instance, some cameras have a "Candle Light" Scene Setting, this not only chooses a slow shutter speed and wide aperture (the light from candles is not very strong!) but it also adjusts the white balance to take out the overly orange color cast that candle flames give. It even warns you to use a tripod or steady surface to make sure the shot is not blurred because of the slow shutter speed.

Rechargeable Lithium Ion Batteries

Digital Cameras eat up batteries, particularly when the LCD screen is on all the time. Double AA (and certainly AAA) just do not have the power to last more than 30 to 50 shots, usually less if the flash is being used a lot. Besides re-chargeable batteries are much better for the environment.

CONCLUSION

While it may not be possible to get all these features in the camera you want, or can afford, you should try and tick as many of the boxes as possible.

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