What Are the Different Types of Cameras?



Aug 3, 2020
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What Are the Different Types of Cameras?

This is actually a very good question and it's one that I have rarely thought of. I mean, I know I've owned a few of the various types of cameras, but I don't think I've given much thought or consideration to the functions or best uses of each. Well, that all ends today because what I'd like to do right now is explore the four most common types of cameras we see on the market today. Granted, this all may change in a few years due to the rapid nature of technological advancement, but for now, this is what we've got. The four types of cameras we'll explore in this section are cameraphones, compact cameras, prosumer/bridge cameras, and system cameras. And under the system camera heading, we'll look at both DSLR and mirrorless. This ought to keep us busy for at least a few minutes.

Cameraphone: We all know what this is. Smart phones have offered rather impressive cameras for years now and the internet is chock full of photos that have been taken by these things. And surprisingly enough, many photos taken by this type of camera are rather awesome. I actually just printed out a high resolution 8"x11" photo captured by an iPhone 11. The image file was around 6MB and the print came out very sharp. Just realize that whatever I write today may not be accurate in a year or two. The camera features contained in smart phones are getting better by the day. I recently ordered an inexpensive entry level smart phone for $59.99 which includes a 13MP camera. That's insane.

Let's take a look at the most glaring pros and cons of cameraphones.

Pros: First and foremost, the ease of which we carry these phones around is beyond compare. That's part of the reason we all love these things so much. That and the fact that the phone itself is multi-functional. But really, since you have the phone on you practically at all times anyway, it's exceptionally easy to take photos of pretty much anything and everything. So that's first. Accessibility. Second has to do with what you can do with the photos once you capture them. All of the various available apps allow you to send the photos and share them almost immediately. And today, there are many newer apps that are coming on the market that allow for editing and printing, right from the phone. Again, that's incredible.

Cons: One of the greatest cons of the cameraphone is that it's got a fixed focal length. You can zoom in, but only digitally. Not optically. If you've ever owned a camera that offered digital zoom, you understand the limitations. Also, with some of the lesser quality phone, the cameras are horrible. If you want a good camera that takes stellar photos, you'll certainly need to pay for it.

Compact Camera: If you're into photography at all and if you're over the age of 30, you've most likely owned your share of compact cameras. I can remember my first of this type of camera. I was a kid and it used film. I hated paying for both the film and the processing, so I was happy for the onset of the digital era. No complaints here. Although these cameras have grown up a lot in recent years, they are still rather limited. You wouldn't want to go on a safari with a compact. But for birthday parties in the backyard, anything more might be overkill.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the compact camera.

Pros: One of the best features of compact cameras is that they're...yes...compact. This makes them almost as easy to carry around as a smart phone. Also, many of these types of cameras won't set you back very much financially. Of course, if you want to buy yourself the top of the line compact, you'll need to spend much more, but in general, this type of camera is quite affordable. And finally, believe it or not, this type of camera offers some decent optical zoom. My most recent of this type gave me both optical and digital zoom, so as you can imagine, it was quite versatile.

Cons: Unfortunately, there are more cons than pros when it comes to this style of camera. The first is, for the amount of money you sometimes have to pay for one, they're severely lacking in controls. You'd almost want to upgrade to a DSLR or mirrorless. Second, many compact cameras don't offer the entire breadth of shooting modes that DSLRs do. Third, because of their fixed lenses and small maximum aperture sizes, shooting in low light can end up very challenging and finally, most compact cameras don't offer RAW file format. If you're into serious photography and photo printing, this is a problem.

Prosumer/Bridge Camera: This type of camera offers a happy medium between the compact and the DSLR/mirrorless. It's got some decent control, yet doesn't offer nearly the options that the more expensive versions do. This is perfect for those who don't want to spend the big bucks but who want to alter and customize their exposure settings.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the prosumer/bridge style of camera.

Pros: As stated above, this type of camera won't set you back nearly as much as a full-fledged DSLR would. This is great for those who might just be starting out as budding photographers. If someone isn't sure about their interest or intentions as they pertain to picture taking, it's best to ease them into the hobby or profession with a beginner style camera. This is where this type shines. These guys offer many exposure settings to allow the owner to learn and enjoy and when compared to the prices you'll find for the more expensive big brothers, you'll come to love them.

Cons: That said, prosumer cameras don't offer the exceptional quality that DLSRs can offer. Yes, they can take great shots, but when it comes to high end shooting, you'll need to upgrade. Also, a huge pitfall with bridge cameras is that their lenses are fixed to the cameras, so you'll be severely limited when it comes time to zoom in or upgrade lenses for creative reasons.

System Camera: Did you know that DSLR and mirrorless cameras are called system cameras? I didn't. Live and learn. The system camera is the big boy of the bunch. It's the camera that the pros use. They can range from inexpensive to more than you or I can afford. This is good and bad because while we can get in there and learn all there is to learn about wonderful picture taking, we'll likely never get the chance to use those incredibly awesome cameras. I guess that's not too bad. We should be thankful for what there is.

Let's take a look at a sampling of the pros and cons of the system camera.

Pros: Hands down, you won't find better potential quality images coming from any other type of camera than the DSLR or the mirrorless. These are the ones we all strive to own if we're serious about photography. As far as customizing the camera's display and functionality goes, these cameras are spot on as well. While there may be limited customization opportunity with the less expensive styles of camera, this type of thing is much more available here. And on top of that, we can add pretty much any size data card to hold our photos. The greatest and most valuable feature of these camera is though the fact that we can do so much with them. We can change lenses, add equipment, get creative with how we attach things to the camera and so on. The options are nearly limitless and so is the market for them. All types of gear and equipment for this style of camera is available everywhere. Saying this style of camera is versatile is an understatement.

Cons: While I do love my DSLR camera, I will say three negative things about it. First, it can be tough to learn how to use. There are a lot of options available, and all of them can be overwhelming. Especially for the beginner. Next, the more features and gear your camera can accommodate, the larger and heavier it becomes. This might not seem like a big deal until you carry yours around all day. Finally, the cost of some of these camera can be prohibitive for some. Yes, they can get pricey.

In this thread, I'll be focusing primarily on two types of camera and leaning heavily on one. The two types are both system cameras. They're DSLR and mirrorless. If you've been scouring Amazon or other camera sellers for your next camera, I'm sure you've bumped into both of these. And I'm sure you've also come across some wild debate regarding which is better in the photography forums. If you haven't yet, you likely will. While I'm not here to argue which type of camera is better, I am here to discuss just a few pros and cons of each. But first, let's talk about what the primary difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera is.

Simply put, a DSLR camera contains an internal mirror and a mirrorless camera doesn't. When it comes to DSLR cameras, the internal mirror takes the scene that's showing through the lens and bounces that scene up to the viewfinder so the photographer can see what's going on. With mirrorless cameras, there is no mirror. The scene is viewed digitally and that image, what the sensor sees, is projected to the viewfinder. Many photographers have tended to stick with the optical version in their DSLR, but as technology progresses, the electronic version is catching up in quality and features. As a matter of fact, the technology has gotten so good, some very famous photographers have shelved their DSLR for its mirrorless counterpart.

DSLR Camera

Let's talk about some of the pros and cons of the DSLR camera.

Pros: First off, if you're a decades long photographer and if you've got tons of gear from your film camera days, you'll love DSLR shooting. There's a good chance many of your lenses will fit your new digital camera. On top of that, you'll experience faster focusing than with a mirrorless camera and a longer battery life to boot. Because the scene through the viewfinder is optically produced, there's no need for an additional draw on the battery.

Cons: You'll pay a price for these things though and that price will come in the form of a larger, heavier camera. Both the bodies and lenses of DSLR cameras tend to be larger and heavier than the mirrorless versions. Also, if you'd like to see what the camera's sensor sees (exposure, aperture, etc...), you'll need to switch over to live view mode to view the scene on the back of your camera.

Mirrorless Camera

Now, let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of mirrorless cameras.

Pros: Mirrorless cameras have committed themselves entirely to digital photography. Because of this, the lenses you'll find available have been engineered and optimized specifically for digital cameras. There's no optical anywhere in the picture. No pun intended. On top of that, you'll find that the equipment you'll use is much more compact and lightweight. That, coupled with a faster frame rate (the number of pictures you can potentially take per second), you might just want to do your research on the latest in availability of mirrorless cameras. People are talking about these things.

Cons: As of right now, there are only two primary drawbacks of mirrorless cameras and they're likely to disappear soon. The first is that batteries for these types of cameras don't last very long. I'm sure that'll change with technology though. The second is that not nearly as many lenses are available for mirrorless cameras than are available for DSLRs. We need to take the secondary market into account here as well. Again, with time and popularity, this will change as well, so take these cons with a grain of salt.

Okay, well, that's about it for this post. I hope I covered many of the differences, pros, and cons of a few different types of cameras for you. If you've got any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Thanks!
What Are the Different Types of Cameras? was posted on 01-02-2021 by WendyMay in the Photography Forum forum.

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