Best Cameras 2013
Choosing the right digital camera is tricky. There are all kinds to choose from, and if you pick the wrong one it could turn you off photography altogether.
We’ve picked the best from each type for your buying pleasure.
Let’s start at the beginning, though. What kinds of digital camera are there, you ask…
The most convenient of digital cameras are compact snappers. These are generally geared towards casual use, for people who don’t want to have to think too much about the settings of their camera before they hit the shutter button.
There’s no shame in buying one of these cameras – it’s much worse to buy a DSLR if you end up never using it because of the inconvenience factor.
There are higher-end, more expensive small cameras that are designed for enthusiasts too, though. We call them advanced compacts, and they tend to be a bit chunkier, offer better image quality and give you easier access to manual settings over things like ISO, aperture and so on.
Compact System Cameras
Bridging the gap between compact cameras and DSLRs, compact system cameras use mid-sized sensors to offer low-light performance and image quality often comparable with lower-end DSLRs.
These cameras aren’t generally much cheaper that an entry-level SLR, but they are a good deal smaller. They offer an excellent balance of convenience and image quality – hence why they’re the choice of so many enthusiasts these days.
What you need to be careful of is the sensor size the camera uses. There are large disparities between manufacturers.
Nikon uses fairly small sensors in its compact system cameras, resulting in so-so low light performance. Sony uses the largest sensors, with the APS-C type seen in full-size SLRs. Sitting in the middle are the Micro Four Thirds sensors used by Panasonic (which made the first CSC camera) and Olympus.
Compact system cameras use interchangeable lenses, so offer much more scope for future expansion.
The big daddies of the camera world, any serious amateur photographer will have an SLR in their line-up. DSLRs are the largest and most capable of the cameras here, offering the greatest detail, the least noise and the fastest focusing.
They’re evidence that size does matter sometimes. Larger sensors and larger, higher-quality lens glass is what the DSLR equation is all about. There are just a few smaller cameras that can offer true DSLR quality in a small body, such as the FujiFilm X100S.
Before compact system cameras arrived a few years ago, the alternative to an SLR was a bridge camera. These are fixed lens cameras that are equipped with long zoom lenses and are larger than most compacts. They also tend to have larger sensors than most compacts.
Considered the jack of all trades, master of none by some purists, they’re a good solution for holiday makers and those who care a lot about versatility.
Rather watch a video instead? Watch our video round-up of the best digital cameras.