What camera you buy really depends on two things: firstly what you intend to use it for, and secondly your level of photography skills. You don’t want a massive and complicated Digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera if you’re just taking pictures of your friends on a night out but then again if you’re wanting to really put your skills to good use on Safari in Africa for example, you’re going to want a camera that can do the job and has all the right settings, not just a little point and shoot compact. So like I said, it’s really a matter of how and why you intend to use the camera.
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert at all, but since I am a bit of a photography nut, with an ever growing collection of cameras, both digital and film, I’ll do my best to explain the differences between certain types of cameras, and give you a few of my favourites.
Digital Pros + Cons
I’m a huge fan of the digital revolution and I honestly think that digital cameras are fantastic, especially for travellers. They’re quick and easy to use, with their automatic and more often than not ‘best shot’ settings that mean you only have to point and shoot. But the best thing about digital? You get instantaneous gratification – you take a picture, and poof, there it is, right in your camera for you to see in all its glory and share with your friends back home on facebook or via email.
However, there are some downsides to digital. Unless you have a computer to hand there’s not a lot you can do with the photo once you’ve taken it. I often find when I go away that I take hundreds and hundreds of photographs, upload them to my computer, maybe put them on facebook and then never look at them again, because there are just so many that the thought of adjusting and retouching them all is rather daunting. We’re so used to just snapping away, that we don’t really consider what we’re actually taking a picture of.
Film Pros + Cons
Now I absolutely love film cameras…to me there is something much more ‘real’ about loading a roll of film into a camera, shooting 24-36 frames and then getting it developed (or developing it yourself in a darkroom if you’re able to do so). There’s nothing like that rush of getting your photos back from the printers and actually holding them in your hand, leafing through them as the memories of your trip come flooding back.
The downside to film is that it can be quite expensive – you’ve got to pay for the film and then for the developing. Prices will vary in different places, and for different types of film, and getting a photograph printed up big is going to cost you even more. And there’s always the chance of something going wrong; you didnt load the film correctly, or it got corrupted somehow; the light was wrong so you’ve over or under exposed your picture…the list is endless. But if you do get that perfect shot, and it comes out beautifully, there’s no feeling like it.
For the following camera types, I’ll be talking about them in the context of digital, as that’s what most people have these days. But if you have any questions about film cameras, but drop me a message and I’ll do my best to answer your qweries.
These little beauties are the perfect travelling or day-to-day companion. Small and light, they fit right into your pocket, ready and waiting for you to snap away at a moment’s notice. You can set them on automatic for ease of use, or play around with the various settings to get some interesting results. Obviously different cameras have good points and bad points, and everyone has their own favourite, but if you go for a well-known brand, like Olympus, Sony, or Casio for example (there’s a reason they’re so popular), with around 10 megapixels and a good optical zoom (digital zoom is fine, but when you go too close, that’s when you get that horrible grainy, pixellated look), you’ll get a camera that will last you a while and give you some great photographs.
I currently use a Casio Exilim EX-Z100, and for me it ticks all the right boxes.
Single Len Reflex cameras are for those who have a bit more knowledge about cameras and photography and want to step it up a notch from the standard compact. They allow more manual photography and therefore more control over how your photograph ends up. There are of course, numerous different models and styles, some with more megapixels, or more settings, some have HD video recording, while other focus solely on still image photography. And there’s always different lenses to get too – wide angles lenses, zoom lenses, macro lenses…the list is endless! Again, it really depends on personal preference and how much you’re willing to spend as to which camera you get.
At the moment I’m using a Canon 350D (or Rebel XTi as it’s called in the States), but I’m hoping to upgrade to a 550D for when I go travelling so I can shoot HD video while I’m away. They’re fantastic cameras and are exceptionally easy to use, while giving lots of manual and automatic options too.
There are various other camera types that have been created to unleash your creativity and get you snapping more and thinking less. In this instance I of course mean the cameras and photography style created by none other than the people at Lomography, who focus on colours and fun, and throw the rules out the window. Well, that being said they do have their own set of ‘rules’:
- Take your camera everywhere you go
- Use it any time – day and night
- Lomography is not an interference in your life, but part of it
- Try the shot from the hip
- Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as close as possible
- Don’t think (William Firebrace)
- Be fast
- You don’t have to know beforehand what you captured on film
- Afterwards either
- Don’t worry about any rules
From their collection I have the Fisheye and ActionSampler cameras, both of which I enjoy immensely, and have had some great results with.
So, if you’re like me, and want to document everything all the time, to capture certain memories for ever, then start trying out those cameras now, find your favourite, learn what you like and get some great pictures. But most of all, just have fun.
*Disclaimer: I was not paid to endorse any of the above products.
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