Buying your first camera is not easy. Should we choose an entry-level model from a major photography brand or rather a model from the brand that already supplies us with our microwave or our television? Should we opt for a reflex? A hybrid? And what budget to devote to it?What is the best camera for photography beginners?
Everyone is different, and the perfect camera for one may not be the same for the other. Lucky for you, in today’s devices there aren’t any that are actually “bad”. But some research beforehand will help you find the right one for you. A camera that will bring you long-term satisfaction, but also from the moment it is picked up.
So, how do you choose the right camera when you are starting out? First, there are three important points to consider in order for you to start selecting.
- How are you going to use it?
- What other options does the range offer, particularly in terms of lenses?
- A camera just for the photo? Or also for video?
Next, we will present our selection of the best cameras to start with, divided into four categories: DSLR,mirrorless, compacts and bridges. If you’ve already chosen the type of camera you’re interested in, click on the links below to access the corresponding categories.
Top 16 Best Cameras For Beginners – Comparison 2021
What you will learn
- The best DSLR cameras for beginners
- The best mirrorless cameras for beginners
- Best compact camera for beginners
- Best bridge cameras for beginners
- The type of camera: compact, bridge, hybrid or reflex
- The main criteria for choosing a camera
- How to choose the camera model?The step by step method for photography beginners
The best DSLR cameras for beginners
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D – Best DSLR Camera For Beginners
The best all-around digital SLR right now, with special attention to beginners but plenty of growing space
- Built-In Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth
- 3" 1.04m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
- 24.2MP APS-C CMOS Sensor DIGIC 7 Image Processor
- Up to 5 fps Continuous Shooting Feature Assistant; Microphone Input
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 Beginner DSLR Camera is an entry level DSLR camera (sold as the EOS 200D in Europe) is one of the best all-around beginner DSLRs you can buy, with a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f / 4-5.6 IS STM lens.
It has a variable-angle touchscreen on the back as a primary starting point. This allows you to frame Full HD images and videos from all kinds of awkward positions (and even take selfies without disturbing).
We also like that you can start from a simple guided user interface when you just cut your photographic teeth, and then switch to the standard setup when you feel more confident and want more options. Plus, Wi-Fi and NFC keep you connected to smart devices without cables.
You also get 5 frames per second burst shooting and the DIGIC 7 processing system, in addition to Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system, which enables autofocus while viewing. direct and smooth playback when recording videos.
Another advantage is that the Rebel SL2 / 200D accepts lenses that last over 30 years – and many manufacturers other than Canon. The company has devoted a lot of kindness to the body of the EOS 200D, making it one of the best cameras for beginners.back to menu ↑
Nikon D3500 -Best Beginner Camera with Auto Focus
A beginner’s digital SLR camera that shows you how to take pictures – it’s the best newbie camera on the market
- Nikon D3500 DSLR Camera Body (Import Model)- DX-format 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor , EXPEED 4 Image Processor , No Optical Low-Pass Filter , Native ISO 100-25600; 5 fps Shooting , 3.0" 921k-Dot LCD Monitor , Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps , Multi-CAM 1000 11-Point AF System , SnapBridge Bluetooth Connectivity , Guide Mode and Special Effects , Full HD 1920 x 1080p movie recording , Built-in pop-up flash , Active D-Lighting , In-Camera Image Editing , Built-in pop-up flash
If you’re worried about DSLRs being complicated, don’t be. Typical of the Nikon D3xxx series of cameras, the latest Nikon D3500 offers a brilliant Guide ’shooting mode.
This is a fully interactive photography tutorial delivered through the rear LCD screen. It explains how, when and why to use different camera settings to achieve the best possible effect simply and efficiently. The camera controls are just as simple and easy to learn.
But, compared to some competitive DSLRs, the Nikon D3500 is less able to grow with you as you learn new tips and techniques. For example, there is no Custom Settings menu to tailor the camera’s functions to your preferences, like all other Nikon series of digital SLR cameras, starting with the D5xxx camera.
Auto focus for live view and movie capture is also very slow. Overall, however, the image quality and performance are very good, and the 5fps burst rate is sporty for a basic DSLR.
If you like the way it looks, we recommend getting a Nikon AF-P DX 18-55mm f / 3.5-5.6G VR lens while you’re at it.back to menu ↑
Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D – Best Cheap Beginner Cameras
Good camera specs and features at a cheap price for a DSLR
- Canon EOS 2000D DSLR Camera - International Version - 24.1MP APS-C CMOS Sensor - DIGIC 4+ Image Processor - 3.0" 920k-Dot LCD Monitor - Full HD 1080/30p Video Recording - 9-Point AF with Center Cross-Type Point - ISO 100-6400, Up to 3 fps Shooting - Built-In Wi-Fi with NFC - Scene Intelligent Auto Mode - Creative Filters and Creative Auto Modes
- Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 DC III Zoom Lens - EF-S-Mount Lens/APS-C Format, 28.8-88mm (35mm Equivalent) ,Aperture Range: f/3.5 to f/38 ,One Aspherical Element ,Super Spectra Coating ,Micro Motor AF System , Rounded 6-Blade Diaphragm
Most Canon DSLRs are fairly beginner-friendly, but the new EOS Rebel T7 lens (known as the EOS 2000D outside of North America) and the Canon EF-S 18-55 lens mm f / 3.5-5.6 IS II are particularly easy to use.
The single-shot mode dial features fully automatic adjustment, “smart” real-time scene analysis and multiple scene modes.
A built-in feature guide helps you understand menu options, as well as an interactive “Creative Auto” mode that bridges the gap between basic and more advanced shooting modes, such as aperture / priority and fully manual modes.
With a respectable 24.2 mega-pixel, a high-resolution LCD screen and an adjustable diopter viewfinder, the Rebel T7 / 2000D offers a lot of sophistication without the cheaper 4000D and excellent value for money.
However, while the T7 kit lens gains in image stabilization, it is still relatively old, with a noisy autofocus motor.back to menu ↑
Canon EOS 4000D 18 Mpix + 18-55mm lens: An entry level to start
A good combination of ergonomics and sensitivity
- Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera(International Version)- 18.0MP APS-C CMOS Sensor,DIGIC 4+ Image Processor, 6.8 cm (2.7") TFT LCD, approx. 230 K dots, Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 29.97 fps ,9 Point Auto Focus,Dual,Up to 3 fps Shooting and ISO 12800, Scene Intelligent Auto, Instantly transfer photos and movies to your smart device, for easy sharing on social media or cloud backup, and shoot remotely with Wi-Fi and the Canon Connect app,1 Year Limited Seller Supplied Warranty
The Canon EOS 4000D is also a good choice when it comes to a beginner’s camera choice. Canon’s 2.7-inch (6.8 cm diagonal) display is enough to quickly preview photos. It is one of the best DSLR cameras for beginners because it is very affordable. It is equipped with wifi, which is very practical and unexpected normally at this price.
The 4000D weighs 436g which is average for SLR cameras. We would have liked a larger screen and in high resolution but for the price it is necessary to make concessions. Overall it is still a very good entry-level SLR camera.back to menu ↑
Pentax K-70 With 18-50mm Lens the best for beginner photographers
Rugged construction and technical specifications make the K-70 a great alternative to more traditional models
5 used from $539.99
- 24.24 effective megapixel, APS C AA filter less CMOS sensor with ISO from 100 204800
- Dustproof and weather resistant with In body “SR” shake reduction mechanism
- Vary angle LCD monitor with Night vision red light LCD display
- Built in Wi Fi for use with Image Sync app; SAFOX X 11 Point AF with 9 Cross Sensors
- Pixel Shift Resolution with Motion Correction AA Filter Simulator: Moré reduction using "SR" unit and Pixel Shift Resolution with Motion Correction
One of the best DSLR cameras for beginners. A sturdy SLR camera with good protections. Pentax is known to produce DSLR cameras with good value for money. and the Pentax K 70 is no exception.
The Pentax K 70 is resistant to all types of weather (rain, dust …), it is an appreciable and practical protection for those who wish to go out in all weathers. Remember in this case to choose the WR (weather resistant) lens which is a little more expensive than the basic lens but which goes with the naked camera.
The Pentax K70 is equipped with pixel shift resolution to reduce photographer shake and can even correct a slightly tilted photo.
The only reason the Pentax isn’t higher in the rankings is because it has to put more money on the end to have a weatherproof lens.back to menu ↑
The best Nikon D5600 + AF-P 18-55mm-A more advanced camera for beginners
Best more advanced beginner digital SLR camera for those with a slightly larger wallet
19 used from $449.95
- AF P DX 18 55mm f/3.5 5.6G VR Lens
- SnapBridge Bluetooth and Wi Fi with NFC
- ISO 100 25600 and 5 fps Shooting
- Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 60 fps
- 3.2 inches 1.037m Dot Vari Angle Touchscreen
The Nikon D5600 is a direct competitor to the Canon EOS 800D in the high-end DSLR for beginners. While the D3300 series devices are very affordable, the D5000 series is best if you want to be more creative. The D5600 has a larger screen (3.2 inches) but more importantly, the autofocus of 39 customizable areas is the best you can find among the DSLRs considered entry-level.
Not much to say about the D5600’s lens, which gives excellent results for photos. Easy to use, it’s Nikon.
The best mirrorless cameras for beginnersback to menu ↑
Panasonic Lumix GX85 + Lumix G VARIO 12-32mm
If size is the key, this tiny mirrorless camera with an equally compact kit lens is an ideal beginner camera.
7 used from $526.23
- Fine Detail Performance:16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor with no low pass filter resulting in a near 10 percent boost in fine detail resolving power over existing 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensors
- Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera Kit: With two super compact lenses 12 32mm F3.5 5.6 and 45 150mm F4.0 5.6, shoot lighter and faster with the modern hybrid photography performance of a mirrorless camera and nearly half the bulk of most DSLRs
Great for portability The small GX85 can be tailored to suit the needs of any user, from the beginner who just wants to rely on the Intelligent Auto option to leave it to the camera, to the photographer who wants complete control over all exposure settings . like shutter speed and aperture.
It’s also the only option in this pick that offers 4K video recording, unlike Full HD options found elsewhere (although you also get Full HD recording here, when you don’t need 4K).
The built-in electronic viewfinder makes it a great option for use in sunny or dark conditions, while the tilting screen makes it easy to shoot from the ground. With tiny Micro Four Third lenses from Panasonic.
This beginner’s mirrorless camera makes a great choice for travel or vacation.back to menu ↑
Sony A5100 with 16-50mm Lens
An older one maybe, but the A5100 is still a credible choice for today’s newbie
- Ultra-fast auto focus with 179 AF points and 6Fps
- Capture life in high resolution with 24MP APS-C sensor.Lens compatibility Sony E-mount lenses
- Instant sharing via smartphone with Wi-Fi and NFC1
- Record Full HD 1080/24/60P video3 up to 50MB/s. Compatible OS - Windows Vista SP2-6, Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Mac OS X (v10.7-v10.9)
- Contains- Rechargeable Battery (NP-FW50) AC Charger (AC-UB10) Lens cap Shoulder strap Micro USB cable. BIONZ X engine for superb detail and noise reduction
Best mirrorless camera for beginners with value for money. The A5100 is now over three years old, but the fact that it remains in Sony’s product line speaks volumes for its relevance.
It was so well specified at launch that it still offers great value for money now that its price has dropped, with its 24.3MP APS-C sensor, Full HD video option, and shooting mode. 6 fps burst view, flip-up touchscreen, and both.
Wi-Fi and NFC are everything we expected to find on more modern cameras.
However, its main card is its autofocus system, which merges 25 contrast detection points with 179 phase detection AF points, allowing fast focusing for still and continuous images when shooting. recording videos. This type of system is more powerful than those of similar budget cameras released today.
Overall it’s a good deal.back to menu ↑
Olympus E-M10 Mark III with 14-42mm EZ Lens Kit
High-tech performance in retro chic splendor
3 used from $538.00
- Built-in 5 axis image stabilization for sharper images
- 2.3 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.62X magnification
- Silent mode (disables all shutter sounds)
- 8.5 frames per second burst shooting
- Focusing points/Focusing points selection mode 81 area multiple AF (Contrast detection AF), 37 area multiple AF (Phase difference detection AF); All target, group target area (3x3 area), single target (Standard target size/small target size)
Best Retro Camera Available in black or silver, this mirrorless camera has a classic look of yesteryear, reminiscent of the Olympus OM film cameras that were launched with great poise in the 1970s.
The E-M10 III is the cheapest and most beginner-friendly model in the current OM-D lineup. Even so, he exhibits some fabulous features in his tiny and beautifully designed body.
Styling is pleasing to the eye, as is the high-resolution electronic viewfinder and high-resolution tilting touchscreen.
Built-in 5-axis image stabilization works with any lens, and the EZ 14-42mm zoom kit lens is a joy to use.
It’s a compact “pancake” shaped design and its motorized zoom system is ideal for capturing movies.
Speaking of which, the device can shoot 4k UHD movies and fast shots at a maximum frame rate of 8.6 fps. However, while the Micro Four Thirds format allows bodies and lenses to be exceptionally compact, the megapixel count is often less than generous. This camera’s 16.1MP image sensor is a prime example.
Best compact camera for beginnersback to menu ↑
Sony RX100 VII, the best compact expert
4 used from $978.00
- 20. 1MP 1. 0 Type stacked CMOS sensor, Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* 24 200 millimeter F2. 8 F4. 5 large aperture high magnification zoom lens
- 0. 02 sec. High AF speed, 357 point focal plane Phase detection AF and 425 point contrast detection AF
- Up to 20 fps blackout free shooting, using up to 60 times/sec. Af/AE calculations.Dioptre Adjustment:-4.0 to +3.0 m-1
- Ai based real time tracking for stills and movies, and touch tracking. Real time eye AF for human (stills and movies), and for animal (stills only)
With its RX100 VII, Sony is further refining its expert compact, which is gaining in reactivity this year thanks to its new sensor / processor pair made up of a “stacked” 20.1 Mpx Cmos Exmor RS using the technology of the very fast Alpha9 and d ‘a BionzX. This allows it to achieve a very high burst frame rate: 20 fps in electronic shutter, and even 90 fps in Single Burst Shooting mode. The RX100 VII also adopts animal eye detection for focus. The case, which is still not tropicalized, is equipped with a headphone jack and a microphone jack to improve audio in video capture. For the rest, the device uses the strengths of the previous model, including excellent image quality, a retractable Oled viewfinder or a powerful zoom. It also takes up the shortcomings, in particular an underused touch screen that can only be tilted vertically, or menus that are not very intuitive. However, the king of compacts retains his throne again this year, with Sony once again signing one of the most beautiful products on the market.back to menu ↑
Leica Q, the best compact expert for very big budgets
- 47.3 MP SENSOR - The Leica Q2 features a newly developed 47.3 megapixel full frame sensor that captures both richly-detailed still pictures and 4K video in brilliant quality at ISO sensitivities up to 50,000
- OLED VIEWFINDER - the newly developed, high-resolution OLED viewfinder has a resolution of 3.68 megapixels that provides an ideal view and live preview of your subject at all times, with improved image depth and higher contrast
The Leica Q is expensive, extremely expensive, but it is one of the few compact cameras to have a large full-frame sensor, with all the benefits, especially in terms of sensitivity, that this brings. We can hardly blame it for the lack of grip for the grip or the fact that its 35mm focal length is fixed. But let’s be clear, if you can digest its stratospheric price, you will find this Leica Q to be simply sublime, extremely efficient and robust.back to menu ↑
Sony ZV-1, the best compact expert for video
7 used from $688.16
- Fast Hybrid AF, Real Time Eye-AF3 and Real-time AF tracking
- Quickly switch between two modes of defocused background bokeh
- Product showcase setting transitions focus from face to object
- Face priority AE keeps faces bright in backlit or dim condition
- What's in the box: Rechargeable battery pack (NP-BX1), Micro USB cable, wind screen, wind screen adaptor, strap
With the ZV-1 Sony is paving the way for a new line of devices. Compact and easy to use, it is a box designed for video aficionados, with a 180 ° swivel touch screen and taking care of the sound recording by an imposing microphone and a removable windscreen. There is also a microphone jack, but no headphone port. Taking some of the characteristics of the latest RX100s, such as the 1-inch sensor from the RX100VII or the bright lens from the RX100VA, the ZV-1 turns out to be a powerful camera / camera with very good eye-detection autofocus, filming in 4K 25p at most. However, it lacks live streaming, as well as an electronic viewfinder or USB-C port. The ZV-1 is therefore not the perfect product. But it’s a great introduction to this new consumer video-oriented range, with high-level image quality. Arguably the best bet right now for novice videographers looking to move on to something more serious.back to menu ↑
Sony RX100, the expert compact with the best quality / price ratio
13 used from $350.00
- 209 MP 1"-type Exmor R CMOS sensor ; Optical zoom:2.9x (Optical Zoom during movie recording)
- Operating temperature:32-104°F / 0-40°C.24-70mm equivalent F/18-28 lens
- Continuous shooting up to 10 FPS
- Pop-up electronic OLED viewfinder with 1,440,000 dots
- ISO 160-12800, expandable ISO 100, 125, and 25,600
- 30 inch tiltable TFT LCD with 1,229,000 dots. The charging time is approximately 230 min
Three years after the launch of the first RX100, Sony is in its fifth generation of expert compacts with large sensors. Category of which the manufacturer can claim to be the inventor. In true precursor and avant-garde, the RX100 is a real success which is always on sale. While it may lack certain functions (optical viewfinder, swivel screen), its image quality is always excellent. Over time, its price keeps dropping … To the point of becoming the essential camera for small budgets.
Best bridge cameras for beginnersback to menu ↑
Nikon COOLPIX B500
10 used from $194.00
- 16 megapixel 1/2.3 inches BSI CMOS sensor
- Nikkor f/3.0 6.5 millimeter ED lens
- 22.5 900 millimeter (35 millimeter equivalent)
- 40x optical zoom lens, 80x dynamic zoom
- 3 inches 921k dot tilting LCD. Highest ISO sensitivity: 6400
- Full HD 1080p video recording at 30 fps
The Nikon COOLPIX B500 is a welcome entry-level bridge camera.
It certainly has a fairly small sensor and its focal length leaves something to be desired, however for its price, it remains a very good choice for an introduction to photography.
Admittedly, the zoom is not as big as that of some of its competitors, but the image resolution is very good, and for the price, it is still one of the best choices possible.
Its setup is extremely simplified, and all family members can use it easily without the need for extensive training as a photographer.
Its ergonomics are designed for the greatest number. This bridge camera is the ultimate family camera, one of the best on the market.
Panasonic Lumix FZ1000
- FREE Panasonic TRIPLE YOUR WARRANTY Bonus Offer, extends your 1 year warranty to 3 years -- This Ritz Camera KIT Includes 8 items -- All BRAND NEW Items with all Manufacturer-supplied Accessories + Full USA Warranties & Get Extended 3 Year Warranty when ordered by 3/31/16
- Large 1-inch 20.1MP MOS sensor for amazing defocus control
- Bright Leica DC Lens 25-400mm F2.8-4.0
- Integrated smartphone WiFi for remote imaging control -- Super-fast LUMIX DFD focusing technology
Panasonic is tackling the sector of high-end bridges with 1 “sensor and is putting the small dishes in the big ones to compete with both the Sony RX10 and the SLRs below $ 900. Versatile and perfectly stabilized zoom, formidable autofocus speed, 4K video … it’s a real Swiss army knife of photography whose few youthful flaws are not enough to deprive it of well-deserved five stars.back to menu ↑
Sony RX10 III
1 used from $949.99
- High zoom 24-600mm (25x) F2.4-4.0 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* lens, 20.1 MP 1" Exmor RS stacked back illuminated CMOS sensor w/ DRAM, 4K movie recording w/ direct pixel readout and no pixel binning
- Super slow-motion movie HFR (High frame rate) up to 960 fps (40x), Fast Intelligent AF achieves autofocus as quick as 0.09-sec., Fast response up to 14fps and 1/32000 sec. Anti-Distortion Shutter
- Enhanced operability w/ independent focus, zoom and aperture rings, Professional dust/moisture resistant magnesium-alloy body, Bright XGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder and Sharp 3" multi-angle LCD
If the price Sony asks for the RX10 III can make you wince (“after all it’s only a bridge”), it will quickly be forgotten in use. Because, precisely, the RX10 III is not just a bridge. It is an extremely powerful and versatile photographic and video tool that has everything to replace heavy professional equipment. Excellent in reportage, for wildlife photography, video, travel, its use is transcended by its new 25x zoom. A success.
The type of camera: compact, bridge, hybrid or reflex
First off, I’m willing to bet that you’ve done your own research before stumbling across this article, and you’ve heard of all 4 of these cameras before.
So what are the differences between these 4 major families, their advantages and their disadvantages?
An DSLR consists of two parts: the body first, what you hold in your hand, with the shutter button, the screen, and the adjustment buttons. It’s important in terms of ergonomics and tuning capabilities, but today most sensors are excellent.
The lens you mount on it will probably influence the final rendering of the image more!
Since these two parts of the device are independent, you can change your goal depending on the situation. Indeed, even without having knowledge of photography, you can imagine that it takes different lenses to photograph a tiny insect posed on a flower, a portrait or even a little timid birds that remain at a great distance.
Lenses can be quite expensive at times, but they’re a long-term investment and get the shots you want. But rest assured, to start the kit lens is more than enough, as long as it is of quality! If in the future you want to acquire another lens, I recommend that you turn to my guide to buying a lens instead.
Budget: from 400 $ to infinity
- Large sensor (from entry level):
- Possibility of making shallow depths of field (nice background blur)
- Better rendering in low light
- Good sensor dynamics (better management of contrasting situations)
- Interchangeable lens: Specialized lens for every occasion, which delivers the best possible rendering
- Better responsiveness to triggering and focusing than bridges and compacts
- Systematic optical viewfinder: you see what you are photographing directly, without any electronic intermediary (screen or electronic sight)
- Quite large footprint (depending on the range of the device and the lens chosen)
- Interchangeable lens: therefore more expensive and more bulky
- It is difficult to obtain good image quality and good rendering in low light with an 18-200mm or 18-300mm type zoom (which reproduces the zoom range of a bridge)
Entry-level compact cameras
I start here with the most entry-level devices: small compacts for the general public. There are not many left because they have largely been replaced by smartphones, and their target is very wide. These are generally not the models that you will go for when you want “better than your smartphone”.
Budget: from 70 to 200 $
- Small size (possibility to put it in the pocket)
- Affordable financially
- Small sensor (we’ll come back to that)
- So inability to achieve a shallow depth of field (background blur)
- Often rendered bad in low light (indoors for example)
- Rather weak dynamics (difficulty to obtain a good rendering in contrasting situations)
- Lack of responsiveness (both in terms of focus and trigger speed)
- Non-interchangeable lens
- Live view in most cases
Honestly, you’ll have pretty similar results with a smartphone, and I don’t think that’s that much of an option today.
In recent years, more expert compacts have appeared, in which it is not necessarily easy to navigate: some have small sensors, others already larger sensors (1 inch or even downright micro 4/3 or APS -C!), And more advanced functions, with varying prices.
Some high-end models with large enough sensors are quite credible devices (for example the Panasonic Lumix LX100 or Sony RX100 ranges), but if you are starting the photo, I always recommend an interchangeable lens camera at this price. , to have more possibilities in the future.
Budget: from 500 to 1000 $
- Small size (possibility to put it in the pocket)
- Very good quality / size ratio
- For those who have them, all the advantages of large sensors (shallow depth of field, good rendering in low light, good dynamics)
- Substantial budget for a compact
- Non-interchangeable lens and therefore more limited versatility
- Live view in most cases
Budget: from 200 to 750 $
- Zoom more important than on compacts
- Presence of a viewfinder in most cases
- All the disadvantages of compacts
- Larger footprint than compacts
Despite its “little reflex look”, the bridge is often closer to a compact: non-interchangeable lenses, etc.
Note that entry-level bridges are quite similar to entry-level compacts, but larger. In short, not very interesting.
In recent years, “expert bridges” have appeared, like expert compacts, which are relatively convincing. However, most keep a small sensor, which necessarily limits (we will talk about it again below).
Believed to be a compromise between compact and SLR, I feel that bridge is just a way to smoothly transition the user from compact to SLR, while leaving a few dollars in the process. At the price of entry-level SLRs and bridges, it seems to me that the bridge is an investment that will not last, and less interesting than a good compact in my opinion (which at least allows you to keep it everywhere).
The only really strong argument for bridge in my opinion is the ability to take a large zoom (which goes from a wide angle to a fairly long telephoto) in a reduced format.
We will finish with hybrids, because it is more complicated for you to decipher, especially since they have really been established for less time than the others. Basically the idea of the manufacturers was to combine the advantages of SLRs (large sensor, good image quality, interchangeable lenses) with those of compacts (small size, low weight). Hence the name “compacts with interchangeable lenses”.
You will also read “mirrorless” here and there, which means “mirrorless”. Indeed, we achieve this feat by getting rid of the mirror of SLR cameras.
It’s in theory, in practice it’s more complicated, so much so that it’s difficult for me to put pros / cons like for other families. Indeed, there are many different models, which are not equivalent at all:
Compacts with interchangeable lenses (COI) but with a small sensor, and therefore lose a good part of the advantages of SLRs (but gain in compactness). Fortunately they hardly exist any more today.
Cameras with a large sensor, but with a fixed lens (not interchangeable). They are classified more in the category of compact experts, but they are sometimes confused with hybrids, especially when manufacturers have designed them as “light” versions of their hybrid devices.
And finally devices with a relatively large sensor (micro 4/3, APS-C or Full Frame, we will come back to that), and interchangeable lenses. In short, the best of both worlds! Be careful though: hybrids with a Full Frame sensor often have very large lenses, and the total compactness is not much inferior to an DSLR.
However, here is what can be summarized as the advantages and disadvantages common to all hybrids or similar:
Compactness (does not fit in the pocket, but in a small bag)
Often but not always a large sensor, with the associated advantages (shallow depth of field, rendering in low light and contrasting situations)
Good reactivity (better than compacts and bridges, equivalent to SLRs)
Where applicable, interchangeable lenses with their advantages and disadvantages
Presence of an electronic viewfinder on some models
Budget: from 400 $ to infinity (or almost)
Well, as you can see, that makes us a nice leg, because half of the specs depend on the models. But that’s okay, that’s why the rest of the article is here!
The main criteria for choosing a camera
what are the essential criteria to look at when buying a camera, especially your first “serious” device.
Indeed, I imagine that if you are there, it is because you do not only take pictures with your friends in the evening and 3 pictures on vacation. In this case, frankly, use your smartphone, that will be enough! But if you are looking to take beautiful artistic photos, or even to professionalize yourself, choosing according to the criteria below is essential.
What is very important is that you can make precise adjustments to the technical characteristics of the camera such as the aperture of the diaphragm, the shutter speed, the ISO sensitivity, the white balance, etc … Without Go into details here, these settings are important for getting good shots and special effects that help express yourself while photographing.
THE most important criterion is therefore that your device allows you access to the Creative Modes, that is to say Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual modes. They are really very important for mastering your images. Most devices offer them, but you have to be careful with inexpensive compacts.
In addition, you will see that in use, it is much more comfortable to have a dedicated wheel that allows you to change modes easily, rather than going into the menus. As far as I am concerned, this is a purchasing criterion for a device: if the dial is not present, I do not buy.
Also note that at Fuji, for example, there is no mode dial, but the ergonomics are interesting. Fuji chose to do something that was done a lot of film time: the aperture is adjusted by a ring around the lens, and the speed and ISOs by knobs on the camera. .
We can see it clearly in this photo: ISO on the left of the viewfinder, speed on the right, and exposure compensation on the far right. The aperture is adjusted to the lens.
Personally, I find it more convenient if you work in manual mode, but it is slower to switch from A mode to S mode for example.
If you’ve read the blog correctly, you probably know the importance I place on using the RAW format. It is really very important for the final quality of your images to go through the post-processing phase, which is much more flexible with this format. Its presence is therefore for me an essential criterion if you buy a serious device.
If you turn to hybrids or SLRs, you’ll get RAW, but that won’t always be the case with bridges and compacts: make sure they offer it if you turn to these solutions.
The two previous criteria are essential and non-negotiable, especially since they are not complicated to meet, even for fairly tight budgets.
But there is one criterion that is really important for a lot of things:
- the quality of the images
- the versatility of the device
- your creative possibilities
If you read the first part correctly, you should guess it: this is the size of the sensor. Be careful, I am talking about the physical size of the sensor, not the number of megapixels (which is still sufficient today). If you want details on this, I refer you to my article on the subject, but to summarize, a large sensor will do several very nice things for you:
- Achieve shallow depths of field, that is, a pronounced and aesthetic background blur. You won’t have to have it on all your images, eh, it will just be possible. This is an effect sought after by many photographers, especially for portraiture, but which can be used creatively in all areas. Without a large sensor, don’t even think about it.
- It’s a shallow depth of field. Here at 42.5mm and f / 1.2 on a micro 4/3 sensor.
- Second cool kiss effect: better rendering in low light. A large sensor will generate less noise and better quality images when you run out of light (which is quite often actually).
- Exception though: if you compare a small sensor from today to a large sensor from 6 years ago, the newer one might be better. But for an equivalent generation, the large sensor beats the small one flatly!
- Likewise, a large sensor has greater dynamics than a small one. This is a criterion that we hardly ever talk to you about in the comparisons, but which is nevertheless very important: great dynamics will allow you to better manage very contrasted light situations, like a very bright sky in the middle of the afternoon. summer. Attention eh, no miracle either if you photograph with the sun in front! But you will see the difference between a compact and an SLR for example. For more details, also watch my video on sensor dynamics.
So my big buying advice is to go for a large sensor device if your budget allows. It’s always better, unless you really want to take it in your pocket (and again, there are smaller and smaller hybrids).
What is a large sensor?
So you’re going to say to me, “What exactly do you call a large sensor? “. That’s a very good question ! For me, a great sensor is, in descending order:
- a Full Frame
- an APS-C
- a 4/3 microphone
- Photo sensor size
Smaller than that, it is in my opinion too small to offer a real difference compared to bridges and compacts, which in the extreme majority of cases have really ridiculous sensors (except recent and overpriced models like the Sony RX1 for example).
For simplicity :
- All SLRs (even entry-level) have a large sensor. APS-C for the most part, Full Frame for the older ones.
- For hybrids, some have an APS-C sensor, which is the same size as most SLRs. This is the case with some Sony (with a 4-digit model name), Fujifilm X Pro and XT, and the Canon EOS M.
Disadvantage: for technical reasons, the lenses remain quite large, and therefore they are far from slipping into your pocket.
- The major manufacturers have now almost all launched their range of hybrids with full-frame sensors: these are the ranges of the Nikon Z, Canon EOS R, Sony A7, and Panasonic Lumix S. The quality is generally there. you, but for many these are boxes that aim for the high end, and the price goes with it, not to mention that the optics are most often very bulky, and therefore we lose a little the advantage of compactness.
- Other hybrids have a micro 4/3 sensor, a little smaller which still has excellent possibilities. We find the series of Panasonic G and Olympus PEN. They had a good idea: to get together around a table to agree on the same standard. Big advantage for you: Micro 4/3 lenses from both brands are compatible with micro 4/3 cameras from both brands, so you have access to many more different lenses.
- The advantage of this slightly smaller sensor is that the lenses are too, especially those called “pancakes”, and therefore that the whole is clearly more compact.
- Finally, there are other COIs which have sensors that are too small to be of real interest compared to compacts in my opinion (which will remain less bulky thanks to their retractable lens). This is for example the case of the Nikon 1 or the Pentax Q. These types of models tend to disappear today, given their lack of success and the rise of expert compacts.
So there you have it, you have understood the major essential criteria in choosing your camera. You will already be able to eliminate a lot of options, by doing some research online: it is very easy to type “[name of your camera] size of the sensor” in Google to find out what its size is.
How to choose the camera model?The step by step method for photography beginners
Now that you have understood the ins and outs, you’ll see that it’s going to be a lot easier here, and almost automatic. We will use an online comparison from now on, since we have our main criteria in mind. We recommend Digital, it works well
First of all, I want to draw your attention to a very important point: there is no need to worry too much. At the same range, 2 cameras from different brands are often just as good as each other, and will not make a fundamental difference in your photo practice. What I mean is that a $ 200 compact from either brand will often be roughly equivalent. Ditto if you hesitate between 2 entry-level DSLRs from Canon or Nikon. I will come back to this, but I think it is important to clarify this now.
Below $ 150-200: I suggest you use your smartphone while continuing to save for a future purchase. No need to take your head.
Around $ 300 : consider looking to the second-hand, or grab an expert compact if you really need compactness. You will find DSLRs (and even hybrids) that are 2-3 years old, which work very well and will be sufficient to start with. You will probably be much happier with it than a brand new bridge or compact. Don’t be fooled by things like wi-fi, GPS, and the like: it frankly isn’t essential.
Over $ 400-500: Choose an SLR or Hybrid. Even entry level, you will really enjoy yourself with it.
Hybrid or SLR?
This is THE question you ask yourself a lot today. Clearly, many hybrids have achieved a quality equivalent to SLRs. However, a small footprint is always a big advantage (size, weight, travel and travel, discretion, etc.). So in what situations should you still choose an SLR?
To be honest, in the previous version of this article, I still recommended the SLR for wildlife photography, sports and shows. But in 2021, that is no longer true: there are many options of very responsive hybrids, with fast autofocus, with excellent low-light capabilities, and a full optical range that meets all requirements. needs.
In short, today you won’t see a fundamental difference in the rendering between hybrid and SLR. Especially if the sensor size is the same.
So this is really a matter of personal preference: the real difference in use is mostly in the type of aim. I think some will never like electronic aiming, but personally I find the electronic viewfinder superior to the optical sight today.
How to choose between the 2 or 3 finalists?
Normally, at this stage, you will have 2 or 3 cameras that tempt you, without being able to choose: you have kept the cameras that correspond to the 3 main criteria mentioned above, you have filtered with your budget, you have chosen between hybrid and reflex. And you still have 2 hybrids or 3 SLRs at the same price, looking at the best rated cameras on comparison sites. And you don’t have the slightest idea of the differences between them, despite reading many reviews.
And good news: there are few! As I said above, at the same range, there are not many differences between competing devices. An Olympus PEN and a Panasonic GF of the same generation are quite close.
So there is no answer to “is the Nikon better than the Canon?”
My best advice here is to pick them up in store: watch which one you feel most comfortable with. Operate the device, see if you can easily find the settings, if the menus are intuitive to you, if it “fits you”. It’s a bit like looking for an apartment after all: you have it or not. It may seem trivial to you, but it is really very, very important to have an intuitive handling: it will make shooting easier for you, and the pleasure of photographing.
This grip will also allow you to notice small details that you may have skipped in the tests, but important to you:
the presence of a viewfinder
an adjustable screen
These criteria are really very personal, personally I do not find the adjustable screen important, but you have the right to take this into consideration
What goal to start?
Choosing a lens is a huge topic too!
So I’m going to focus on the goal to start with. If you’re on a budget, don’t bother: take the camera with the lens from the kit, because it’s almost free (the kit is barely more expensive than the camera alone). It’s limited but it’s not a disaster either, and lets you try your hand at lots of things.
If you ever have a little more budget, I advise you to take a lens of the same kind of focal length (12-50mm on micro 4/3, 17-50mm on APS-C), but with a large maximum aperture like f / 2.8. Consider looking at third-party brands like Tamron and Sigma, which have good alternatives at lower cost.
Choosing this type of lens will save you many of the pitfalls that 99% of newbies face: getting a nice blur of the background, and having sharp photos in low light.