Many people ask me what kind of camera they should buy. Buying a camera is a lot like buying a guitar, many times you get what you pay for. Everyone thinks megapixels is the most important factor. Nowadays this is true. The quality of the glass, the size of the sensor, and the size of the aperture, all play an important factor on the quality of the image.
The glass on most lenses are going to be decent quality. The main thing to watch out for, is that you’re not buying a plastic lens. In my opinion, Nikon has the best quality lens. I’m not saying you should purchase a Nikon just based on the lens. Olympus is known for being durable in wet situations. Canon seems to run fast processors and the menus are easier (I still argue that Nikon has the most intuitive menus). Anyways, my point is that you should just double check the lens is a nice quality and not cheap looking.
The size of the sensor, is pretty common sense. The larger the sensor is, the higher the quality image recorded. Don’t confuse sensor size with megapixel amount. Most of the time, the size of the sensor is listed with the technical specifications. You might find this on the back of the box, or you may have to ask someone to look at the tech specs inside the manual.
Aperture on the camera, is much like the iris of the human eye. If it’s really bright outside, the iris is very small. On the other hand, if it’s very dark, maybe inside a room, the iris needs to be really large. The size of the aperture is measured in f-stops. The smaller the f-stop is, the larger the aperture. So, when looking for a camera, it’s important to look for one with a lens that has a large aperture, or a small number.
So at this point, most people just want me to tell them what kind of camera they should buy. It’s hard for me to answer that. I would narrow the field down to two or three cameras, then look at the ones you’re interested in, and that are in your price range. Then, I would look at the three factors listed above: lens, sensor size, and aperture. Then, I would see which is the best of those three and make your decision. After that, it’s all about composition and lighting (we’ll save those for the next post). 🙂