So we are very nearly in to December now and a lot of you may be thinking of buying a loved one a camera as a present for Christmas. The market is huge for cameras and I find it difficult to decide which cameras are best, so gawd knows what it must be like for those with limited knowledge of the industry. In this series of articles I will give you my advice on camera choice based on research and personal experience.
First of all, you need to decide what your budget is. In this article I’ll talk about ideas for cameras that are around the £200 mark and lower.
The first thing you might want to ask yourself at this price point, is a smartphone a better buy? We all know that so many people now use their phones to take photographs, so is a ‘proper’ camera going to be much better quality!? The answer is that a compact camera at this price point will be considerably better quality. But, I do think that the smartphone is definitely an option when thinking about cameras at this price, because most amateur snappers will be happy with the quality of a modern smartphone and have the added benefits of being able to use fun apps to achieve different image results.
If the person you are buying for uses a mobile phone quite a lot, then to take out a contract on a phone for 24 months will work out relatively cheap. In fact a lot of the great Android smart phones can be purchased for free when taken on 24 month contract. Some people look at Android as a cheap (read: not as good) alternative to an iPhone. I don’t think that is really the case anymore, with the likes of Samsung creating some fantastic phones. The latest Samsung Galaxy S II is a really great phone with an excellent 8 megapixel camera. It’s quite a large phone, but has a really nice large screen. I use the Samasung Google phone, the Nexus S – it’s a really great phone with a 5 megapixel camera and I love it. The new version of this phone has just been released, the Galaxy Nexus, this will come with the brand new Android operating system curiously named ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’! If I were looking at getting a new smartphone I would definitely take a good look at this phone.
Of course there is the Apple route, both the iPhone 4 and the new iPhone 4s have really good cameras and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the results. In my opinion you do lose some of the things you get with Android but I’m sure you gain them in other areas, but it is likely to cost you more.
As for Apps
For Android I really love Vingette – which enables you to customise your camera settings with different effects and film types. It’s the best I have found so far, but do invest in the paid version at just £2.49 you won’t be sorry. The paid version allows you to shoot at the highest resolution and if you care at all about your photos, you’ll pay for it and benefit for beautiful high res photos.
But assuming that a smartphone is not the best option for you, maybe because you do want a better quality photo or for whatever reason. Then let’s look at a few options…
This camera can be picked up for just under £200 and looks pretty good. It doesn’t have an option to shoot in Raw mode, if you’re asking yourself ‘what is Raw?’ then this probably doesn’t matter too much to you. I think as a starting point to getting in to photography or as a family camera for holidays and birthday parties then this is a pretty good option for you.
There are quite a few options at this price point and I will recommend some by manufacturers I have used cameras by. The likes of Nikon, Fuji, Panasonic Lumix, Canon & Ricoh. Also, take a look at this excellent review from Tech Radar of sub £200 cameras.
Fujifilm Finepix Z900 EXR
Tech Radar raves about this camera and having used Fuji compacts in the past I would think that this has to be a good option. RRP is £199, but I see Tesco Direct currently have it for £149.99 and you can earn clubcard points, noice!
Canon IXUS 230 HS
This looks like a fantastic little camera, but just a touch over the £200 mark, but because it looks so good I’m going to include it for these recommendations. You can pick it up for John Lewis for £229.99. A lot of people are giving this camera 5 star reviews.
Canon PowerShot A3300 IS
This does look a really good budget option, you can pick this one up for around £100! For the camera you get, it’s very good value for money. Currently at Argos for £99.99 plus delivery.
I will also be looking at high end compact cameras next. These cameras will start at around the £300 mark and go up to about £800. Of course you can buy an entry-level DSLR for around £400, so why spend this much on a compact? Convenience is the simple answer. If you want a high quality camera in a small package, you have to pay for it.
I’ll also be looking at entry-level DSLRs and the newer format mirror-less interchangeable lens cameras.
This morning I ran a little 2 hour photowalk for my Crowborough Creative Focus members. We currently have a photo theme of ‘Autumn Light & Colour’ running and the idea was to get out and take some photos and for me to help with any camera, technical or creative issues.
Given that the weather has been pretty awful of late it was a pleasant surprise to have a reasonably nice morning. A little misty and some drizzle at times, but that worked nicely for all those woodland colours.
The above are some of the photographs I took.
More more information about Crowborough Creative Focus or my photography tuition please visit these pages…