How to buy a camera in a flash

If you're looking to start developing your photography skills, it's important to have the right equipment.

While a good photographer can take an amazing image on any camera, finding the camera that best suits you is key to capturing better images and enjoying the process. Here’s a quick look at the kinds of cameras out there to help you discover which is the right option for you.

Camera phone

The first camera most people start with, the built-in digital camera in a cell phone doesn’t give you the highest quality photos, but it is highly user-friendly. It’s also usually conveniently with you when the opportunity to capture cool photos arises. There are plenty of phones on the market that boast cameras with high resolution, image stabilizers and other features to boost your photos, as well as apps to help you adjust settings. However, because the lens has such a short focal length, you won’t be able to get the depth or perfect focus that gives your photos a more professional look.

Point and shoot camera

Perfect for users who want a compact camera to take quality images without too much technological learning curve, the point and shoot usually comes with simple pre-set options. A simple menu or setting knob allows you to quickly switch to basic settings so can you take better photos in a range of conditions without having to study the finer points of photography. The longer lens also gives you greater depth in your photos. However, because you cannot switch lenses to customize the camera’s capabilities, it’s best for the casual photographer.

Hybrid mirrorless camera

These cameras have no mirror inside like their cousin the DSLR, meaning you won’t be able to see directly through the lens. However they do have larger sensors and can be used with interchangeable lenses to give you more control over your shots and higher quality. They are much lighter and more compact than a DSLR, making them ideal for traveling or taking along with you for day-to-day photography. The lens selection is not as wide or high-quality as lenses available for DSLRs, and the sensors are smaller as well, making them less capable of shooting in low light or capturing the full depth of field. They are a good option for photography amateurs or even the business owner who wants their everyday photos to stand out.

DSLR camera

A DSLR, or digital SLR, camera gives you the greatest jump in quality and versatility. The go-to tool of professionals, as well as the ideal learning tool for beginners who are serious about mastering photography, they feature the widest range of lens options, the largest sensors and highest specifications. Major brands include Nikon and Canon, who offer models to suit a wide range of budgets. Of course, these more sensitive tools tend to cost much more than amateur cameras, and require you to invest in lenses to realize their full potential. The good news is that these lenses are compatible with other camera bodies of the same brand, so you can easily transition to higher quality DSLRs later. These cameras tend to be much heavier and larger. You may also find they have far more of a learning curve before you feel entirely comfortable shooting with them.

Waterproof camera

For the adventurer who likes to take on the extremes, a waterproof camera, such as a GoPro, may be the best option. These rugged tools let you capture moments underwater and are an ideal purchase if you’re heading on a tropical vacation or are an avid snorkeler or swimmer. They also are perfect for skiers and snowboarders who want to capture their downhill moves without worrying about snow in their equipment.

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