Live Life in Style Learns: CAMERAS Part II - Types

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SONY NEX-5N a Micro Four Thirds System Camera

Now that you are as knowledgeable (knowledgeable meaning constantly having to reference my notes to remember what each terms correlates to for a quality image) as me in photography jargon, let's move on to part II: Types of Cameras.  I touched on this topic briefly in Part I when I stated that I wanted to upgrade from my point and shoot to a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera, but now it's time to really understand what these puppies do!

Point and Shoot (aka Compact Camera) - is probably the most popular style of camera.  It's a film or digital camera in which the focus and exposure is entirely automatic. You aim and press the button; the camera does the rest. Point-and-shoot cameras can range from cheap throw-aways to pocket-sized digitals. Even high-end cameras have a point-and-shoot option, in which the camera makes all settings automatically. Although there may be settings for different lighting conditions such as bright sun vs. dusk, point-and-shoot cameras have no options to manually set the aperture, shutter speed and focus. 
Single Lens Reflex Camera (SLR) - cameras that use the reflection from moving mirrors to capture the image.  It uses the same lens for viewing and shooting. A mirror reflects the image from the lens to the viewfinder. When the shutter button is pressed, the mirror flips out of the way and the shutter opens to expose the film. This allows the scene you see through the viewfinder to be the same as what is captured on the film or digital imaging system.

DSLR - Nikon D5100

  • DSLR - SLR cameras, or Single-Lens Reflex cameras, are the big, chunky cameras with large lenses on the front; the "D" simply means it's a digital SLR. Usually, you hold an SLR with two hands, with your second hand being used to control the zoom and focus of the lens. In essence, a DSLR is basically a point-and-shoot camera with a big lens stuck on the front — and because the lens is big, more light (and higher-quality light) can enter the camera. As a result, the quality of even the cheapest of DSLRs far outstrips even the most advanced point-and-shoot camera  

Micro Four Thirds Camera (aka Advanced Compact Camera and aka Bridge Camera) - pack the advantages of DSLRs in much smaller bodies. Basically, Micro Four Thirds cameras are a little bit bigger (both heavier and fatter) than their point and shoot cousins, but you also get the benefit of interchangeable, higher-quality lenses.  Price-wise, they're about the same as DSLRs, but the image quality can be considerably better than point-and-shoot cameras. Currently only Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, & Nikon are the 4 brands that are producing these cameras at the moment.

Nikon 1 J1

Olympus PEN E-PL3

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

When to use a DSLR over a point and shoot?
  • Family photos -  In most cases, a cheap DSLR is your best bet for family photos. Houses are generally quite dark, and using a DSLR instead of a point-and-shoot means you can avoid using a flash.
  • School plays or any kind of low-light indoors event, a DSLR is your only choice. Bear in mind that you will need a zoom lens if you are standing at the back of the room, though!
  • Social events and parties -  Point-and-shoot all the way! A big DSLR will usually cause people to cower behind the nearest human shield.
  • Travel photos -  If you want to take photos of beautiful landscapes or romantically lit restaurants, an expensive DSLR camera such as the Canon 5D is the only real choice. Big DSLRs can get quite heavy if you have to carry them around everywhere, though!
  • Travel snaps - On the other hand, if you just want to take photos of your hotel room, swimming pool, and one or two sunsets, a new point-and-shoot camera will do the trick.
After reading tons of tons of information (trust me, I summarized to key points for your viewing pleasure, but I was reading novellas!) I think I've decided to obtain a Micro Four Thirds (MFT) Camera for the following reasons:
  1. These cameras are "slightly" cheaper than a DSLR
  2. Flexibility of changing lenses and with some adding on an external flash
  3. Ability to carry an MFT around to take blog photos on the go versus a bulkier DSLR
  4. No plans to become a professional photographer and can't see myself spending $1000+ on the best of the best DSLR body and lenses.
  5. MFTs come with one standard lense, while DSLR come as the body at a $$$ and then you pay more for lenses, unless you get a bundle package
  6. I want a camera that's as close to a point and shoot as possible, but takes better quality photos
  7. They just look darn cool!
Reference Links:

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  1. I am lucky enough to have a half-professional Photographer with me all the time, and I love him---my husband:D

  2. Nice! What type of camera does he use?

  3. DSLRs are super nice! Just too bulky for me to take around with me everyday, otherwise I'd get one! :-)

  4. Super tricky! I feel like I'm back in school learning about them!


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