Camera Buyer's Guide


Camera Buyer's Guide


Lesson Info

Camera Types

Major features, what I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna go through a list of all the important features that you're supposed to know. Now, I'm looking through my PDF that I have here and so. If you want this you can review this, and this is the type of guide that you can go to the camera store with. And to be honest with you, the folks behind the counter will probably love that you've already done this research because they have to spend a lot of time educating a customer who comes in, doesn't know anything, and they have to explain things, and sometimes it's kinda hard to do that on the sales floor sometimes. Or if you're scrolling through online, like what does this feature do? This is your guide to all of those features in there. And so let's get started. First up, there are a lot of different types of cameras out there. So I wanna talk a little bit about what these are and what they're best for and what to look for. We could break cameras down into many different categories. We have mob...

ile devices, tablets, computers, phones that all have cameras on them. Next up, we have point and shoots, and these are cameras with lenses that you can't take on and off in any way. Then we have cameras with interchangeable lenses, and this is where we kinda start to get serious and into the good stuff, if you don't mind me saying so. Now some of these do not have viewfinders and I find that very, very limiting. If a camera doesn't have a viewfinder, that is a big strike against that camera. So be very careful of those. And then we get into the DSLRs and mirrorless, the interchangeable lens cameras that do have viewfinders. And this is what most of the people who are enthusiasts and hobbyists and professionals in photography, they're using. Now this class is gonna deal only with cameras with interchangeable lenses. And so we're not gonna go into the point and shoots. That's a whole other class. They change over much, much more quickly. A lot of the features and what we talk about does apply to them. But I'm not gonna go into the recommendations on the point and shoots. I'm gonna stick to cameras that have interchangeable lenses, that either don't have a viewfinder or do have a viewfinder. And just in case you're wondering, yes I do know there's a thing called medium format, and large format, and film cameras, and there's a variety of other things out there. They're very esoteric, sometimes they're extremely expensive. I'm trying to stick in the mainstream of where most photographers are looking for cameras as we go through the features and the recommendations throughout the rest of this class. Now the big battle that has been brewing lately in photography is DSLR versus mirrorless. These are two different camera types and traditionally DSLR has been the standard. It's been the standard pretty much since about 1950. Nikon introduced the original F-mount, and that was one of the first SLRs out there, first really popular ones. And that's been the main course of what photographers have chosen over the last 60 to 70 years. But now with digital, it's changed things. And now there's this new mirrorless category that had a number of notable weaknesses when it first got started, oh probably about eight years ago at this point. But they've been getting better and better very quickly and there are more mirrorless cameras on the market now, than there are DSLRs. So let's talk about how each of these work. First up is the DSLR, stands for digital single lens reflex, which means we have a single lens that we can change in and out, lot of high quality in there. These lenses will have an aperture in them, which is a way of controlling the amount of light getting into the sensor. As light comes in, it gets to the reflex portion, there is a mirror. Anytime you have a device that has a mirror in it, it's considered a reflex device in many cases. It bounces light up to the focusing screen, where it projects a small image and you can see that image through the prism system in the top of the camera. And so when you look through the camera, you see through a prism system, on to a focusing screen, through the mirror, through the lens, and it actually looks very, very clear and sharp. It's a very easy and comfortable viewing cause you're using the power of your own eyes. Now when it's time to take a photo, well we need to get that mirror up and out of the way, so that light can get back to the image sensor at the back end of the camera. Before it gets back there, it needs to get past the shutter unit. So this is another way of controlling the light coming into our camera. And so like a door that opens and closes, we have two shutter curtains here. The first one is gonna slide open, exposing our sensor to light. This is our exposure time. And then the second one will come in and close and it does so in this manner so that each pixel is exposed for exactly the same amount of time. The mirror then returns so that you can see what's going on in the viewfinder. And this has been a very good system because we get to see exactly what the lens sees. We get to see the angle of view. We get to see the effects of the filters. We get to see if we left the lens cap on. It's a very intuitive, easy way of working with a camera. But now that digital came along, there was some new options in how we could work with the camera. So what's happened is that the SLR went through a bit of a transformation in order to get to the mirrorless. And so this is your SLR and what the manufacturer said is you know, do we really need a mirror in this camera? What if we got rid of the mirror, cause that mirror takes up a lot of space, there's a lot of movement, there's vibration, there's a lot of negative things that happen because we have a mirror in the camera. Now what they've done is that there is a distance between the lens mount and the image sensor, and they says well if we took the mirror out of here, we could reduce this distance and make for smaller size cameras. So they got rid of the prism system, the entire viewing system of the SLR, reduced that size, and they were able to reduce the entire size of the camera, and create what we commonly call now is a mirrorless camera. And so it doesn't use a traditional viewfinder. It uses either the LCD on the back of the camera, so in this case, light will come through the lens, we have an aperture in the lens, just like we do in the SLRs, light will go into the sensor and that is transmitted electronically to the LCD on the back of the camera. And in most cases, it'll also be transferred to the electronic viewfinder. So when you look through a mirrorless camera, you're looking at a small monitor. You're looking at a little TV screen, that shows you what the camera's pointed at. Now in the early days of mirrorless, the EVF were not very high resolution, and it was kind of challenging to look through. Anyone who remembers looking through the video cameras, when they first got small, they had these electronic viewfinders that had very low resolution. In fact, there were only black and white. They couldn't even do color at the very beginning. And recently, last four or five years, the quality has gotten quite good. And it's very, very good at this point. It's not the same sharpness as an SLR, but it's pretty close, and it offers many other advantages that I'm gonna talk more about as we go through this class. And so, this is a very viable alternative to the SLR, that I think is gonna work very well for many, many different types of people out there. And the idea on the mirrorless camera is that we don't have a mirror in here, which reduces vibration, and size, and enables us to make much smaller cameras. So let me just pull off a couple of cameras for you. And let's choose, here's a nice, small mirrorless camera. And here's one from Sony. So you can see with the mirrorless camera, we can get to some very small size cameras. Let me see if I can find the smallest SLR out here, that's probably one of the Rebels here, and you can see that the SLR is just bigger in size, especially if we go profile here. Do like this, you can see that the camera is quite a bit thinner here than it is with the SLR. Now, in this particular case, Sony has put on a very, very small lens to make this package very small. And the lens is gonna be a big difference between the package. And mirrorless cameras are smaller than SLRs. That is a fact. But lenses for mirrorless cameras are not necessarily smaller than lenses for SLRs. Let me show you another example here, let me get these back roughly in the right spot. So I wanna show you two lenses. These are kinda big lenses. These are lenses you would take to Africa on safari. I'm gonna take the lens hood off so that we get a good representation of what we're looking at here. So on your left is a Canon 100 to 400 lens and on your right is a Sony 100-400 lens for a mirrorless camera. Now it really doesn't matter whether your camera has a half-inch less depth to it. By the time you get this entire package with a camera body on it, it's not gonna make much difference. And so a mirrorless camera, in the big scope of things, if you're gonna have a number of lenses, makes very little difference in the size of bag you're gonna get, and how much weight you're gonna take. It will be a little bit less, and there ways to get very small with some of the mirrorless cameras if you choose very small lenses. But there are no ways of getting around the fact, when you need to project light at a high-quality level, into the lens, it doesn't really change the lens size. And so this is mostly of note, I would say to the Sony full-frame people, who are thinking about Sony full frame. It's a mirrorless camera, I'm gonna save a lot of weight and size. You're gonna save a little bit, but when you get to the 100 to 400, technically, it's a little bit bigger. And so it's not saving you any size. The camera body, a little bit smaller. And in that case, we'd be looking at uh, it's gonna get a little cluttered up here, folks. These two cameras right here are both full-frame cameras. And there is no doubt, the Sony is smaller and lighter, but it's not a huge difference by the time you get a bunch of equipment into a camera bag. And so, I like mirrorless, I love mirrorless for reasons that we're gonna be talking about. There's technical advantages to using mirrorless in some situations. I do love SLRs too. I told you it was gonna be really hard to figure out what I love most in this class. You are not gonna figure it out. The problem is I like cameras, and I like options, and I like versatility, and that's why I have so many cameras. Okay, back to the cameras. So let's look at the major kind of give and takes of an SLR versus a mirrorless camera. So the DSLR is gonna have a large, sharp viewfinder. If you had to be viewing through your camera for a long period of time, like a football game and you're gonna be shooting for two hours, I would prefer to be looking through a DSLR in that case, just very easy on the eyes. It's great for fast action, that's because SLRs have a highly-developed autofocus system because they've been doing this sort of thing for about 30 years with autofocusing. It's a highly-mature product. We have tons of lenses. When we talk about DSLRs, I'll be honest, we're talking about Canon and we're talking about Nikon, and they've had the same lens mount and the same autofocus system going for about 30 years, and so you've got 30 years of lenses that you can access and use on most all of the cameras. So many accessories, the same thing with accessories, as far as flash, remote control units, all those sorts of things. This is why most of the top sports professionals, news-gathering professionals are all using DSLRs. It's just a well-proven system out there. There is tons of repair shops. There's people who sell accessories. They can get overnight repairs shipped to them very, very easily. And so it's just a well established, safe system to go with. The mirrorless cameras, they are gonna be smaller, at least the camera size will be smaller. They have a digital smart viewfinder, and this is one of my favorite things about mirrorless cameras. I'm now over the age of 30, somewhere, somehow, and my eyes are starting to lose their minimum focusing distance. And when I'm out shooting in the field, I have a hard time looking on the back of my camera, like is that sharp? But with a mirrorless camera, it's got a digital viewfinder with a magnifier right here. I can hold it up to my eye, and I can see if it's sharp or not in bright sunlight. And I cant' do that with an SLR. Granted with an SLR, I can bring out a special loop that costs $100 and look at it on the back of the camera. But I find that digital smart viewfinder, and I'm gonna show you some tricks that it can do, that are amazing, that can really help out getting the sharpest possible photos. And I'm loving this and this is one of the best reasons for getting a mirrorless camera in my mind. They are starting to incorporate silent electronic shutters. And if you are in any sort of environment, whether it's a theater, or a courtroom, wildlife situation, where you want silence, absolute quiet, then you have these silent electronic shutters. And Sony just introduced the A-9, which is the first camera that has what they call an anti-distortion shutter, where you can shoot electronic shutter that has no distortion to it, so imagine being at a golf match, where they say complete silence. You are not allowed to fire pictures with a normal camera, you could take pictures absolutely silently, as they go through their golf swing. And you would get photos that nobody else would because you could adhere to that perfect silence request. It is actually more accurate. And there is a difference between speed of focus and accuracy of focusing. Some of the SLRs are very fast, but sometimes they can miss the mark by a little bit. In this case, they're using a different type of focusing system that is extraordinarily accurate in its achievement. It's a simpler design, they can make the cameras a little bit smaller, there's less moving part. They're probably gonna be able to make these a little bit more weather resistant, and they're gonna probably last longer, especially when they're able to incorporate an electronic shutter to really completely remove the moveable parts. One of the ways that cameras are rated in their durability is how many shutter firings will the camera last. Back in the days of film, it was around 50 thousand. For a lot of the current cameras, it's around 100 thousand. For the top-of-the-line Nikon and Canon cameras that are around $6000, they have a estimated lifespan of around 400 thousand shutter firings. But on newer cameras, and there's nothing out there right now that has gone to a full electronic shutter, but in the future, with no moving parts, that's gonna expand the lifespan of our cameras even more. And so mirrorless is the route to the future. This is the way things are going to be. I don't know how many years, but in a certain number of years, almost all the cameras on the market will be mirrorless. There are relatively fewer and fewer SLRs and it's getting regulated to smaller and smaller niche markets, as the mirrorless technology advances, and keeps overcoming all the obstacles and problems that it's had in this challenge. Which one do I like more? It depends on what I'm doing. I took two major trips this last year. On one of them, I only took DSLRs. And it's cause I was shooting a lot of fast action. On another trip, I took mirrorless and I used that most of the time. Depends a little bit on what you're doing. You can do a variety of things with both, but they have little different aspects. I think another good analogy here is, DSLR is a little like the internal combustion engine on cars. And mirrorless are the new electric cars that are coming around. They haven't fully taken over everything. There are still reasons why each one may be better in a particular category.

Class Description

Buyer's guide will be your guide to figuring out the best digital camera for your needs.

Gear expert John Greengo dives into the major brands and lenses that are currently on the market.

John breaks down some of the more confusing aspects of mirrorless and DSLR's from focusing systems to sensor size; you'll get a better understanding of what the gear does so you can make an informed decision.

At the end of the class, John gives his recommendations for different types of photographers from the aspiring student to the filmmaker and everyone in between.