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¿How to choose the right camera? - Part 2

In the last blog How to choose the right camera? - Part 1, I made an analysis of the different types of cameras available on the market with a small summary of the main characteristics of compact cameras.

Now it's the turn of large or interchangeable lens cameras. In this category there are several classes and terms are used that may seem intimidating, but I want to share them with you so that you know what they are about, the important thing is the difference between them:

- DSLR, "Digital Single Lens Reflex". This refers to the mechanism they use to transfer the image from the lens to the viewfinder. Inside the camera, just in front of the sensor is a mirror that reflects the image to the viewfinder, hence the term "Reflex". When you press the button to take the photo, the mirror moves so that the light (the image) can reach the sensor so that it can fix it and record it in memory.

- SLR, "Single Lens Reflex", refers to the same mechanism as DSLRs but with analog cameras, which use film.

- SLT, "Single-Lens Translucent". In SONY cameras the mirror does not move, but becomes translucent and thus allows light to pass through to the sensor, which is why these cameras are called SLT. The advantage of this system is that it reduces the vibration produced by the movement of the mirror.

- Mirrorless, These, as their name indicates, do not have a mirror. The image seen in the viewfinder and on the screen is a digital representation of what the sensor is "seeing." By not having the mirror, these cameras can be smaller and less heavy, and they also avoid the slight vibration that occurs when the mirror on DSLRs is raised.

All of these cameras have more or less the same functions and produce more or less the same image quality. Between DSLR/SLT and mirrorless ones, the difference lies in the size of the camera and that the viewfinder is optical in the former and electronic in the mirrorless ones.

En este diagrama se muestra la diferencia entre una cámara DSLR y una Mirrorless
En este diagrama se muestra la diferencia entre una cámara DSLR y una Mirrorless

Now let's look at the general characteristics that apply to all types of cameras that I mentioned at the beginning:

- Size. They are big, heavy and in the way. In addition, they “need” countless accessories, lenses, filters, lights, tripods, cables, remote control… so when you least think about it, it is no longer a pocket in your wallet but the entire travel suitcase for the camera and its accessories. It must be taken into account that each brand has its line of accessories and that they are normally specific to that brand. There are some "generic" brands that make lenses and accessories for all cameras. You have to be very careful when purchasing so that they are compatible with the brand and type of camera.

- Sensor size: Among these cameras there are several categories depending on the size of the sensor. The larger the sensor, the higher the resolution and image quality, but also the larger and heavier the camera.

Those with the largest sensor are called "Full Frame" which is equivalent to the same size of a 35mm negative. The measurements of this sensor are 36 mm x 24 mm. These cameras are the largest and most expensive.

The rest are called "Crop Sensor" or cut sensor. These sensors are smaller and each company uses a different brand and size, but more or less similar.

In the image you can see the difference between the different types of sensors. The sensor is what captures the light and converts it into a digital file. So the larger the area, the more information it will be able to capture and hence the image resolution and file size.

El rectángulo negro muestra un sensor full frame, el rojo el sensor normalmente usado en las cámaras Sony, Nikon y Pentax, y el verde un sensor de cámara compacta
El rectángulo negro muestra un sensor full frame, el rojo el sensor normalmente usado en las cámaras Sony, Nikon y Pentax, y el verde un sensor de cámara compacta

- Image format: These cameras have the option to choose to have the image recorded in JPG, RAW format or both. JPG, is the format that we all know, it is the one that is normally used to share in an email or upload to a blog or website. RAW, is like the negatives before, it is the “raw” information as captured by the sensor, without any type of compression or editing. These images are much heavier than JPGs because they have much more information, giving greater manipulation capacity with post-processing programs such as Lightroom, Photoshop, iPhoto.

- Automatic mode, scenes and modes: Normally these are the same ones that compact cameras have and are used in the same way. It is important to clarify that when using these functions the images will be recorded in JPG format only.

- Zoom: These cameras do not have the lens included in the camera. The lenses are sold separately and there are many types. Each brand has its lenses and not all of them work on all cameras.

The main types of lenses are: Fixed, zoom, telephoto, macro, fisheye, wide angle and tilt/shift. Cameras are normally sold as a kit with a zoom lens in the range between 18 and 50 mm. In a future blog I will explain what each of these lenses is used for.

- Focus: These cameras have the option to focus manually or use autofocus depending on each particular situation, but this function is handled by the lens being used.

- Connectivity, GPS, Video: New cameras generally have these functions, but some brands and models may not have them.

- Screen and viewfinder: Interchangeable lens cameras have, in addition to a screen with various positions and movements, a viewfinder or "viewfinder", a peephole that shows the image that will reach the sensor. Unlike compact cameras that only have the screen.

Having clear the characteristics and main differences between the types of cameras, the following must be analyzed:

- What am I going to take photos of?

- Why am I going to take those photos?

- Am I going to print them?

- How and in what size am I going to print them?

- Or do I only need them for a blog or social networks?

- How much time and patience do I have to learn how to use the camera?

- What is my budget?

- How much weight and volume do I have available in my bag to carry a camera?

The combination of these answers is the key to choosing the right camera and is very personal. Why am I going to buy a heavy and bulky camera if I'm going to be too lazy to take it on a walk or trip? Why buy a very expensive camera with many functions if I don't have the patience or time to study the manual and be able to use all its functions? If I want to print my photos in large format and hang them on the wall of my house or sell them as art, the better resolution the camera has, the better print quality I will have.

So my conclusion is that all cameras are good and the best of all is the one you have at the right time and the one you know and can handle. Of course, the more sophisticated and larger the sensor, the better resolutions will be, and the better ability to take photos in difficult conditions such as low light or movement, but if you do not know how to use all these buttons and functions, the simple camera is better, which It doesn't weigh, it doesn't get in the way and you always carry it in your purse and don't miss the right moment.

In the end it is the photographer who takes the photo, not the camera!

Share your opinions and suggestions for possible topics you would like me to cover on my blog. You can also contact me by email or follow me on social networks.

Thank you and see you next time.

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