digital camera buying guide | camera history

Canon, Nikon, and Pentax offer entry-level SLRs with traditional optical viewfinders. Sony has continued to support the A-mount SLR system, which dates back to Minolta autofocus SLRs, but has moved to using electronic viewfinders in its Alpha SLT series. The fixed-mirror design and EVF allow the video focus system to use the same sensor as the focus for stills, which delivers autofocus on the same level as with mirrorless cameras when recording moving pictures.
Advances mean that image quality greatly favors digital cameras which now have over 14 stops of dynamic-range and reach stellar ISO sensitivities as high as 204,800. With resolutions reaching 36 MP too, they can capture a tremendous amount of details.
Some DSLRs feature sensors that are equal in size to 35mm film. These full frame cameras are generally more expensive than their APS-C counterparts. If you see yourself moving up to a full frame in the future, be careful in buying lenses. Some are designed to be used with APS-C sensors. Canon refers to its APS-C lens line as EF-S, while lenses that cover full frame are EF. Nikon takes a similar approach, calling APS-C lenses DX and full frame lenses FX. Sony adds a DT designation to its APS-C-only lenses, and Pentax designates its APS-C lenses as DA.
Action cams are designed and marketed as cameras that can be strapped to your chest when you go skydiving, taken underwater, or suction-cupped to the front of your surfboard. But that’s not all they’re good for. Action cameras are small in size but pack a huge punch when it comes to features, video quality, and durability. If you are the type of vlogger who wants to take video of yourself swimming in a waterfall—and then talk about it on your vlog afterward—an action cam may be perfect for you.
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Canon’s EOS 5D series of cameras has a rich heritage – the original EOS 5D bought full-frame photography to the masses, the Mark II unleashed Full HD video capture for the first time on a DSLR, and while the Mark III became a firm favourite amongst photographers. The EOS 5D Mark IV pretty much tweaks and improves on everything before it, with a new 30.4MP sensor and advanced 61-point AF system. A brilliant DSLR that was until recently our top pick, but the arrival of the D850 means it slips a place down to number two.
By definition, a DSLR features an optical viewfinder that shows you the exact image the camera’s lens is capturing—but not all of these viewfinders are created equal. A mirror directs light from the lens to the viewfinder, which is one of two types. The first, the pentamirror, is generally found on entry-level cameras. This type of viewfinder uses three mirrors to redirect the image to your eye, flipping it so that it appears correct, as opposed to the upside down and backwards image that the lens is actually capturing.
Am looking for guidance on 300-400$ camcorders from Sony, JVC and Panasonic. I am unable to find bitrates for the 3 I have in mind. Sony HDR PJ440, Panasonic HC W570K and JVC GZ-R10. It’s mostly for shooting kids, family moments etc. I like the toughness of the new JVC but can’t see if it as other (core camera) features that set it apart from it’s peers. The previous JVC models didn’t compare well with the Sony’s and Panasonics; the new JVC R10 seems quite advanced from previous JVC’s so if anyone has feedback about the latest from Sony, Canon, JVC and Panasonic; would highly appreciate your feedback.
Replaced by the D3400 last year, the D3300 and D3400 share a very similar set of features (and design for that matter). The biggest difference between the two though is the D3300’s lack of connectivity – if you want to transfer your images to your smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to invest in Nikon’s cheap plug-in Wi-Fi adapter that plugs into one of the ports on the D3300. With stocks running down as the D3400 takes hold, the D3300 is becoming less easy to come by, but if you do track one down at a good price, then you’ll get yourself a great beginner DSLR. 
Not surprisingly, I find bridge models to be just about perfect for globetrotters. They pack a wide zoom range, so you don’t have to fumble with lens changes. And if you opt for a premium 1-inch model you can shoot in varying types of light. But you may want a different kind of camera to take with you on your journeys.
Many digital cameras have preset modes for different applications. Within the constraints of correct exposure various parameters can be changed, including exposure, aperture, focusing, light metering, white balance, and equivalent sensitivity. For example, a portrait might use a wider aperture to render the background out of focus, and would seek out and focus on a human face rather than other image content.
Of course, where smartphone cameras really score is in the “smartphone” department: they’re computers, in essence, that are pop-in-the-pocket portable and always online. So not only are you more likely to capture chance photos (because you’re always carrying a camera), but you can instantly upload your snaps to the aptly-named Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. And that’s the real reason why smartphone cameras have surpassed old-school digitals: photography itself has changed from the digital-equivalent of the 19th-century Daguerreotype (itself a throwback to the portrait paintings of old) to something more off-the-cuff, immediate, and, of course, social. For the purposes of Facebook or Twitter, often viewed on small-screen mobile devices, you don’t need more than a couple of megapixels, at most. (Prove it yourself by downloading a hi-res image from Instagram or Flickr, and you’ll find it’s seldom more than a couple of hundred kilobytes in size and 1000 megapixels or less in each dimension, making less than one megapixel in total.) Even on better photo-sharing websites like Instagram and Flickr, most people will never be browsing your photos in multi-megapixel dimensions: they simply wouldn’t fit on the screen. So even if your smartphone doesn’t have masses of megapixels, it doesn’t really matter: most people flicking through your photos on their smartphones won’t notice—or care. Social media means never having to say you’re sorry you forgot your DSLR and only had your iPhone!
Personal photography allows people to capture and construct personal and group memory, maintain social relationships as well as expressing their identity.[28] The hundreds of millions[29] of camera phones sold every year provide the same opportunities, yet these functions are altered and allow for a different user experience. As mobile phones are constantly carried, camera phones allow for capturing moments at any time. Mobile communication also allows for immediate transmission of content (for example via Multimedia Messaging Services), which cannot be reversed or regulated. Brooke Knight observes that “the carrying of an external, non-integrated camera (like a DSLR) always changes the role of the wearer at an event, from participant to photographer”.[30] The cameraphone user, on the other hand, can remain a participant in whatever moment they photograph. Photos taken on a cameraphone serve to prove the physical presence of the photographer. The immediacy of sharing and the liveness that comes with it allows the photographs shared through cameraphones to emphasize their indexing of the photographer.
Now it’s absolutely the case that photos taken with a top-notch Canon or Nikon DSLR will beat, hands down, snapshots from even the best smartphones—but that’s often because it’s not a like-for-like comparison. Often, we’re comparing good amateur photos taken with smartphones to brilliant professional photos taken with DSLRs. How much of what we’re seeing is the camera… and how much the eye of the photographer? Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two things
The $600 Panasonic HC-V770K is the best video camera for those who want a bit more than what their smartphone or even DSLR has to offer. Also referred to as a camcorder, this video camera was proved best after 30 hours of research and testing, which included interviewing experts and shooting hours of video in a huge range of conditions. The HC-V770K captures video that has more detail, better color, and better sound than the footage from all the cameras we tested (or any camera up to twice its price). In our tests, it produced the sharpest footage in bright light, plus it had the best stabilization and the least noise in low light. It also features the best touchscreen controls of the bunch and, with a long 20x optical zoom, you can capture the action from across a huge space—try to do that with a smartphone.
Sony introduced the XDCAM tapeless video format in 2003, introducing the Professional Disc (PFD). Panasonic followed in 2004 with its P2 solid state memory cards as a recording medium for DVCPRO-HD video. In 2006 Panasonic and Sony introduced AVCHD as an inexpensive, tapeless, high-definition video format. AVCHD camcorders are produced by Sony, Panasonic, Canon, JVC and Hitachi.
A bridge camera is one that fills the gap between a basic point-and-shoot device and a single-lens reflex camera. It bridges the gap, thus the name. And given its modest price point and high quality, there’s no better choice in this category than the Canon PowerShot SX420. Maybe I’m biased because I use this camera all the time, but it also means I’ve done extensive research. Considering the SX420 is small enough to fit in any backpack or briefcase, its 42x optical-zoom capability is pretty amazing. Paired with a 20-megapixel sensor, this camera captures images that can be printed or posted online in large format or that can be cropped and enlarged with minimal loss of clarity. Also, it’s Wi-Fi- and NFC-enabled (that basically means Bluetooth-enabled, FYI), so uploading or sharing images and videos is super simple.
Mirrorless system cameras are very similar to DSLR cameras in that they use interchangeable lenses, have large sensors, and allow the photographer to use the camera in full manual, automatic, or semi-automatic modes. The main difference is the size. Mirrorless cameras are closer to the size of compact point-and-shoot cameras because they do not have the optical viewfinder that DSLRs have. Optical viewfinders use a system of mirrors that accurately show the scene about to be photographed. Mirrorless cameras forgo those for electronic viewfinders or LCD screens, which preview the scene about to be photographed. This makes them quieter, smaller, and lighter, which is ideal for more serious photographers who value discretion and portability, from wedding and theater photographers to travel photographers. Learn More About Mirrorless Cameras.
I went through three Panasonics (the one mentioned above) and all of them had terrible white balance issues. Anything white was blown out and could not be viewed. Also, for some reason the version of AVCHD that the camera recorded would not export audio and video in sync after I put the video through Final Cut Pro X or Premier.
Photo: Digital cameras are much more convenient than film cameras. You can instantly see how the picture will look from the LCD screen on the back. If your picture doesn’t turn out okay, you can simply delete it and try again. You can’t do that with a film camera. Digital cameras mean photographers can be more creative and experimental.
Common values for field of view crop in DSLRs using active pixel sensors include 1.3x for some Canon (APS-H) sensors, 1.5x for Sony APS-C sensors used by Nikon, Pentax and Konica Minolta and for Fujifilm sensors, 1.6 (APS-C) for most Canon sensors, ~1.7x for Sigma’s Foveon sensors and 2x for Kodak and Panasonic 4/3-inch sensors currently used by Olympus and Panasonic. Crop factors for non-SLR consumer compact and bridge cameras are larger, frequently 4x or more.
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There is a way to turn photos from an ordinary film camera into digital photos—by scanning them. A scanner is a piece of computer equipment that looks like a small photocopier but works like a digital camera. When you put your photos in a scanner, a light scans across them, turning them into strings of pixels and thus into digital images you can see on your computer.
Endless possibilities. If you know you are the type of person who really gets into your hobbies, you may as well start with a camera that will let you do everything. A good entry-level DSLR will give you the ability to shoot in manual mode, provide decent low-light performance, and have an endless array of lenses to choose from. And the good news is that the DSLRs that are designed for newbies offer a lot of automatic and semi-automatic modes that make shooting a breeze.
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 42.2MP | Lens: Sony E mount | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen type: 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen, 1440,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
Meets are always indoor, with artificial light (90% of the time in gyms), videos are short, from 10-15 seconds for vault, to 90 seconds (floor). Target is in movement, but not crazy fast. Sound is important but since they don’t sing while performing is not crucial (maybe some occasional groaning). Budget… if under $500 better, but if another $100 will make a difference will make the effort.
Camcorders are often classified by their storage device; VHS, VHS-C, Betamax, Video8 are examples of late 20th century videotape-based camcorders which record video in analog form. Digital video camcorder formats include Digital8, MiniDV, DVD, hard disk drive, direct to disk recording and solid-state, semiconductor flash memory. While all these formats record video in digital form, Digital8, MiniDV, DVD and hard-disk drives[9] have no longer been manufactured in consumer camcorders since 2006.
Our final camera is a ‘bridge’ camera, a type of camera that we don’t normally like very much because the ultra-zoom design forces the makers to use titchy 1/2.3-inch sensors the same size as those in point-and-shoot cameras. You get the look and feel of a DSLR, but you certainly don’t get the image quality. But the Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 (known as the FZ2500 in the US) is different. It sacrifices a huge zoom range in favour of a much larger 1.0-inch sensor – a compromise most serious photographers will applaud. While the zoom tops out at 480mm equivalent, which is relatively short for a bridge camera, that’s still plenty for all but the most extreme everyday use. We’d certainly sacrifice a little for of zoom range for better and faster optics. We love the FZ2000 because it delivers both image quality and zoom range, while also offering full manual and semi-manual controls, the ability to shoot raw files and 4K video.
The first commercial camera phone complete with infrastructure was the J-SH04, made by Sharp Corporation; it had an integrated CCD sensor, with the Sha-Mail (Picture-Mail in Japanese) infrastructure developed in collaboration with Kahn’s LightSurf venture, and marketed from 2001 by J-Phone in Japan today owned by Softbank. The first commercial deployment in North America of camera phones was in 2004. The Sprint wireless carriers deployed over one million camera phone manufactured by Sanyo and launched by the PictureMail infrastructure (Sha-Mail in English) developed and managed by LightSurf.
2) This depends a bit on what your personal setup is. MP4 files tend to have a larger file size, but are usually much easier to edit/upload/share. AVCHD might be better quality, and should have smaller files, but will be much harder to edit or adjust.
Hello. I just recently purchased the Canon HF R600 and I was shocked at the poor quality of the HD, especially in low light. I speak from great experience – I had a Canon Vixia HF M40 previously and the video quality of the M40 was absolutely incredible! The color saturation, detail and low light recording were all amazing with that camcorder. I need to replace the R600 with something better and if you think the R600 was a close runner up to the Panasonic, then I think I will avoid that camcorder as well. I’m considering spending the $172 fixing the M40 at the Canon service repair facility. What’s your opinion about fixing the M40?
If you’ve ever wanted to record a music recital or a play, a DSLR will leave you hanging, because it won’t be able to record the whole thing. Many cameras can only shoot clips of 10 or 20 minutes, occasionally getting up to 30, after which the image sensor has to cool down. Video cameras can shoot for as long as there is space on the memory card. On a camera like the Canon HF500, that means between two and half hours (at highest quality) and over 12 hours at lowest quality on a 32GB memory card.
Daguerreotype cameras formed images on silvered copper plates. The earliest daguerreotype cameras required several minutes to half an hour to expose images on the plates. By 1840, exposure times were reduced to just a few seconds owing to improvements in the chemical preparation and development processes, and to advances in lens design.[37] American daguerreotypists introduced manufactured plates in mass production, and plate sizes became internationally standardized: whole plate (6.5 x 8.5 inches), three-quarter plate (5.5 x 7 1/8 inches), half plate (4.5 x 5.5 inches), quarter plate (3.25 x 4.25 inches), sixth plate (2.75 x 3.25 inches), and ninth plate (2 x 2.5 inches).[38] Plates were often cut to fit cases and jewelry with circular and oval shapes. Larger plates were produced, with sizes such as 9 x 13 inches (“double-whole” plate), or 13.5 x 16.5 inches (Southworth & Hawes’ plate).[39]
The forerunner to the photographic camera was the camera obscura. Camera obscura (Latin for “dark room”) is the natural phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen (or for instance a wall) is projected through a small hole in that screen and forms an inverted image (left to right and upside down) on a surface opposite to the opening. The oldest known record of this principle is a description by Han Chinese philosopher Mozi (ca. 470 to ca. 391 BC). Mozi correctly asserted the camera obscura image is inverted because light travels inside the camera straight lines from its source.
Had the 750 and returned it for the 770. Same issue with sound. My Canon G40 is fantastic with sound, internal and external mic’s. However I feel the 770 has a better control set, stabilization, exposure and crisper 1080p.
In between entry-level and full-frame DSLR are a whole range of models aimed at different users, different levels of experience and different budgets. Here’s our pick of the standout DSLR cameras you can buy right now:
For example, f/8 at 8 ms (1/125 of a second) and f/5.6 at 4 ms (1/250 of a second) yield the same amount of light. The chosen combination affects the final result. The aperture and focal length of the lens determine the depth of field, which refers to the range of distances from the lens that will be in focus. A longer lens or a wider aperture will result in “shallow” depth of field (i.e., only a small plane of the image will be in sharp focus). This is often useful for isolating subjects from backgrounds as in individual portraits or macro photography.
What’s bothering me a lot is that my iPhone 6 seems to record at 1080p, and these movies play fine on my Popcorn Hour C200. Seems a shame to have a brand new camera, and then have it record at a lower setting (720p) than a phone to make things work… Or am I comparing apples to oranges? Is the 720p quality of this camera comparable to 1080p of the iPhone 6. I really hope you can ease my mind here.
Do you have any thoughts on the $100-$150 Chinese knock-offs? They even come with an external mic that some reviews say is surprisingly good. I would like to film more than a week, but I don’t know yet if this is something I will keep doing or if I will discover it’s too much hassle, so I don’t want to spend too much on a camera, but my phone is just an LG Stylo 2 ($240 new), so I don’t think the video or sound quality will be good enough from that.
Type: Bridge camera | Sensor: 1.0-inch type CMOS | Resolution: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-480mm, f/2.8-4.5 | Screen type: 3-inch vari-angle screen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/expert
Camcorders are designed to give you everything you need to take amazing videos. This makes them lightweight, extremely portable, and perfect for people who want to focus strictly on videography and not photography.
This isn’t something we directly looked at, so I can’t speak to with full certainty. I believe that you can monitor the output over HDMI while recording to SD card, but it won’t be a clean video feed out, it’ll probably show a duplicate of what’s on the touch screen of the Panasonic.
All three of the contenders are small, compact, comfortable for a long day’s recording, and easy to carry. The days of heavyweight camcorders that are awkward to handle are long gone: today’s models weigh less than a pound and will fit into a large pocket or bag. The physically identical predecessor to Panasonic HC-V770K is the largest we tested—but that’s still not what you’d call huge. At 2.6 by 2.9 by 5.5 inches (about the size of a flashlight) and 13.8 ounces with our battery and SD card, it’ll fit into your coat without any struggling.
1) Opt.Zoom 20x. This is optical zoom, where the others are digital zooms. They “increase” the zoom by essentially blowing up the the image, so it looks bigger. It leads to a dramatic drop in video quality, so keep it on optical (Opt.) mode.
There are also a number of add-on camera modules for smartphones called lens-style cameras (lens camera). They contain all components of a digital camera in a module, but lack a viewfinder, display and most of the controls. Instead they can be mounted to a smartphone and use its display and controls. Lens-style cameras include: