Going from an intermediate to a more advanced camera can be a tough decision. One question you might ask yourself is, “what can I do with my current camera, and what would I like to do?” Or to put it another way, does my current camera give me the options and flexibility to take the type of pictures I would like to take? Or is it time to move on to something a little more upscale?
Higher-End Point and Shoot Cameras
You might have purchased a higher-end point and shoot camera and might now be ready to start exploring more of the features available to you. With a high-end point and shoot such as the Canon PowerShot SX350, or a Nikon CoolPix B600, you get a lot of features and get great zoom capabilities. When used in the auto mode, Focus, F-Stop and ISO settings are accomplished through software, and you have control of the amount of zoom to use. On the other hand, you can go into a manual mode and adjust the settings as you wish.
I mentioned that the point and shoot cameras have a zoom feature. Typically on the point and shoot cameras, this zoom can be optical or it can be digital, or a combination of both. So whats the difference?
Optical verses Digital Zoom
Simply put, optical zoom is accomplished through the camera lenses to magnify a far off object. On the other hand, digital zoom uses software to enlarge what the cameras’ sensor is seeing. Your particular camera might have optical and digital zoom. Optical zoom is typically 50x and digital zoom is typically 4x. As you use the optical zoom, objects get closer looking while your field of view is slightly decreased. Using the digital zoom on top of the optical will appear to bring the object in closer, but the trade off with digital zoom is you lose some of your quality.
A macro lens allows you to focus on a subject that is 12” or less
away from the camera. You might want the ability to focus down on say
an insect, or a small flower (or a part of that flower), or even a
very close look at ring.
You can find a macro lens with different focal ranges from 45mm to
upwards of 200mm depending on the type of shooting you will be doing.
Just remember this, a true macro lens has magnification of 1:1. There
are zoom macros with a ratio of 1:1 upwards of 1:3 ratios, but these
are not a true macro lens. When deciding which macro you want to use,
keep in mind the distance you will be shooting from, for example 12”
or less. Keep in mind there are 2 other things of relevance. One is a
flat-field lens, meaning your shot will have a flat appearance.
Another type of macro is curved-field lens which would produce a
slightly out of focus appearance around the edges of your subject.
Standard Prime Lens
A prime lens has a fixed focal length, and there is no zoom with this
type of lens. There are various types of prime lens such as 35mm,
50mm, 85mm and upwards of 200mm. But for my money, and the prime
lens I use as my general purpose shots is a 50mm lens. The 50mm is a
perfect choice for me. It delivers sharp images, I can use it in most
all lighting conditions and its light weight. The only downside for
me is no zoom, and for that I use a zoom lens.
When I’m not using my 50mm lens, I’m shooting with a 70-200mm zoom lens. A
zoom gives you amazing versatility. I can zoom out to 70mm, almost as
good as my 50mm lens, or I can zoom in to 200mm, or any where in
between. The picture quality is good, the ability to use this lens in
conjunction with the auto focus feature means that shooting is easy
and fast. About the only down side is that the lens is a little on
the heavy side, but that really isn’t issue for me.
I’ve touched on a the differences between optical and digital zoom. I gave
a brief discussion on the more common types of lenses you can use in
your photography journey. So, how to choose the camera that is right
for you. It depends on many things. Budget is a concern, it was for
me. But also, one needs to think of the type of photography he/she is
likely to be interested in. Is this going to be a novelty, quick
pictures to place in an album, or share with family and friends. Or
is it going to be a hobby, one will can enrich your life and bring
you pleasure as you refine your skills. Perhaps you have dreams of
becoming a professional photographer. The choices are your to make.