There are four common camera styles and sizes to consider for better photography: smartphones, pocket camera, bridge camera, and DSLR. Each of these cameras have benefits and drawbacks. Some photographers would carry 3 different cameras or possibly 4.
Some people consider that smartphones offer some of the best photography available for the following reasons:
- A large touch display provides an easy interface to interact with the camera.
- Apps let you adjust aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and other settings including the ability to take high dynamic range photos (HDR).
- The processing power of the smartphone can be used to perform advanced photo features such as face recognition and filter effects.
- Photos are instantly available to share by social media.
- Attachable lenses make it possible to have a wide angle or telephoto option.
- An instant on experience and one hand quick use make it easy to capture just about any spontaneous photo.
- Smartphones are usually with us at all times so you’re less likely to miss a good photo.
- Smartphones can be personally ruggedized by getting whatever case best suits your needs. So, if dropped, they are unlikely to get damaged.
- Most high-end smartphones have waterproof and dust proof design.
- While most cameras are an additional purchase, a smartphone is a product that people already own. Perhaps a few hundred dollars more for some people would be needed to step up to a smartphone with a nicer internal camera.
Almost all models of smartphones take fairly good photos. Some of the top rated models include the Apple iPhone X, Google Pixel 2 XL, and Samsung Galaxy S9+. For a further analysis, read “Best Smartphone Cameras 2018” article from 16 May 2018 on the Tom’s Guide website.
Poket cameras are not much bigger than a smartphone and fit easily in a small bag or pants pocket or shirt pocket depending on the model. These are sometimes referred to as point-and-shoot cameras. The advantage of pocket cameras is that they usually come with a collapsable lens. When the camera is not in use, the lens goes inside the camera and is covered to keep it protected. When in use, the lens extends out. Some people consider that pocket cameras offer some of the best photography available for the following reasons:
- Very portable.
- Built-in lenses typically up to 30X optical zoom.
- Larger sensor size resulting in larger images for printing or viewing.
Among pocket cameras available, having one with superzoom is a big advantage. If you’re unable to get close to your subject, such as a bird on a high branch or ducks on a pond, the superzoom will let you fill the frame from a distance.
Here are some pocket camera models to consider:
- The Sony HX90V with 30X zoom lens is a good superzoom example. ($450)
- The Sony DSCWX220/B has 10X optical zoom. ($200)
- The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II has a 3X zoom lens. ($400)
- The Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 has a 3X zoom lens. ($110)
These cameras range in price from about $100 to $500. Typically a greater zoom capability increases the cost of the camera.
Bridge cameras are not much larger than pocket cameras — at least the body of the camera is not very big, However, because the lens typically isn’t retractible, the overall size of the camera is bigger and it won’t fit in a pants pocket and probably won’t fit in a belt clip case. Some people consider that bridge cameras offer some of the best photography available for the following reasons:
- Removable lenses offer a wider variety of high quality lenses.
- Larger sensor sizes (APS-C or full-frame) results in better quality images that are larger for printing or viewing.
- Because they are smaller compared to a DSLR camera, they are more portable.
- They have the intelligence and ease of use similar to point-and-shoot pocket cameras with the expandability and quality similar to a DSLR camera.
Here are some good choices of bridge cameras:
- Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless APS-C Digital Camera w/XF23mmF2 R WR Kit ($1,150)
- The 23mm lens sold separately would be $450 so it’s a good value in this bundle.
- Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless APS-C Digital Camera w/XF18-55mm f2.8-4 Lens ($1,300)
- The 18-55mm lens sold separately would be $700 so it’s a good value in this bundle.
- Fujifilm X-A5 Mirrorless APS-C Digital Camera w/XC15-45mmF3.5-5.6 OIS PZ Lens ($600)
- This camera lacks the electronic viewfinder of the X-E3 but includes a built-in flash unit that’s not present in the X-E3. Here’s a DP Review side-by-side feature comparison of the X-E3 and X-A5.
- Sony a7 III Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera Optical with 3-Inch LCD, Black (ILCE7M3/B) and Sony Full Frame 24-105mm f/4 Standard-Zoom Camera Lens ($3,297)
- Sony a7 III Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera Optical with 3-Inch LCD, Black (ILCE7M3/B) and FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM Lens ($4,200)
- Sony a7 III Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera with 28-70mm Lens Optical with 3-Inch LCD, Black ($2,200)
DSLR cameras come in a variety of sizes generally referred to as compact, mid-size, and large. A reason to purchase a larger DSLR camera would be to get a full-frame sensor and a wide variety of professional lenses. An APS-C sensor DSLR camera can provide a slightly smaller size and lower price, but in general will likely produce results similar to a bridge camera with the same sensor. With some bridge cameras offering full-frame sensors, removable lenses, and an overall smaller size and weight, there’s some question as to whether DSLR cameras will continue to be as desirable among ‘pro-sumer’ photographers.
To oversimplify the various DSLR options, one could consider the following cameras as options:
- Canon EOS 6D Mark II DSLR Camera with EF 24-105mm USM Lens ($2,500)
- Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens Kit ($4,000)
- Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera w/24-120mm f/4G ED VR Auto Focus-S NIKKOR Lens ($2,000)
- Nikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body w/AF-S NIKKOR 24-120MM F/4G ED VR Lens ($4,400)
For a slightly smaller DSLR camera and lower cost, consider these APS-C sensor cameras:
- Nikon D7200 24.2 MP with 18-55mm and 70-300mm lenses ($1,000)
- This is an older version of what is currently the D7500. See a DP Review side-by-side feature comparison for further details.
- Nikon D7500 20.9MP DSLR Camera with AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR Lens ($1,750 – $2,310)
- Note: This camera is on sale as of 28 May 2018 on Amazon for $1,750 down from $2,310 with the 16-80mm lens as indicated above.
It’s not uncommon to have many thousands of photos in a collection spanning decades. To quickly organize these, having geotag location information is essential. Of the above mentioned cameras, smartphones of course have GPS built-in. In the compact pocket camera category, the Sony HX90V has GPS built-in. Bridge cameras typically don’t have GPS built-in to save on space and battery life. Among DSLR cameras, the Canon cameras mentioned above have GPS. For those using cameras without GPS, a smartphone app can assist with tracking photo locations and then that data can be merged later with your photos on a computer. The Sony a7 III series may work with the Sony smartphone app to add photo location information in real-time, but further information is needed to know if this works well. If you want a full-frame camera with GPS that isn’t super expensive or very large, the Canon 6D Mark II is a good choice.
If you choose one of the Fuji bridge cameras listed above, here are some lenses to consider.
- Fujinon XF23mmF2 R WR ($450)
- Weather and dust resistant, capable of operating at temperatures as low as -10 Degree
- Advanced image quality – ten elements in six groups, including two aspherical elements for edge-to-edge sharpness
- Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR ($400)
- 88% 5-star reviews with 96% total 5-star and 4-star reviews
- Weather-resistant design with 8 sealing points for weather- and dust-resistance and operation as low as 14 Degree.
- 9 blade aperture creates smooth and circular bokeh
- Fujinon XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS ($600)
- 88% 4-star and 5-star reviews