The camera is no longer an object that is only used during a holiday. The choice is large and knows no bounds in terms of variety. Digital cameras are more the norm today. Nevertheless, the analogue camera with film offers an alternative. Which model it finally becomes depends on its field of application.
Thanks to our big camera test 2021 you can be sure to find the right camera for your needs. Especially for the creative and fun-loving among us, the camera offers a change from other art forms. It brings joy into the lives of children as well as senior citizens. The list of advantages and disadvantages makes it easier for you to decide on a suitable camera model.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The Best Camera: Our Choices
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for cameras
- 5 Decision: What types of cameras are there and which one is right for me?
- 6 Guide: Frequently asked questions about the camera answered in detail
- 6.1 Who is a camera for?
- 6.2 What is a digital camera and how does it work?
- 6.3 What types of digital cameras are there?
- 6.4 Which cameras are suitable for beginners?
- 6.5 Which cameras are particularly ergonomic?
- 6.6 How much does a camera cost?
- 6.7 What alternatives are there to digital cameras?
- 6.8 How do I set up a camera correctly?
- 6.9 What accessories do I need for my camera?
- 6.10 Which cameras have a long battery life?
- 6.11 How do I clean the lens of my camera?
- 6.12 How do I dispose of my camera properly?
- In principle, you distinguish between analogue and digital cameras. A digital camera stores its image material on a digital medium, whereas an analogue camera uses film. These two types of cameras can be further subdivided into subgroups.
- The sensor size and the quality of the lens are the two most important factors and will later determine the quality of your images. Larger sensors capture more light and affect the depth of field of your image.
- The ergonomics of your camera are more important than you probably think. A camera that is haptically comfortable for you and your hands will ensure that you enjoy taking pictures. It's best to try out your camera before you buy it to see if it feels good in your hand.
The Best Camera: Our Choices
Buying and evaluation criteria for cameras
In this section, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare the range of cameras and make a decision in the next step.
You can use these criteria to compare cameras with each other:
In the following sections, we will go into more detail on the individual criteria.
Image quality is determined by three factors: the image sensor, the optical system and the software that processes the photo within the camera.
Objectively, the imaging performance can be measured by its ability to reproduce fine details. The measured value is given in line pairs / image height and measured in ISO 12233. Good models set this automatically between 100 and 400. In addition, with better cameras the ISO value can be preset. This function is especially practical for night shots and dark pictures.
Subjectively, you can judge the quality of the picture by colour fastness, impression of sharpness, etc. A camera should be able to reproduce colours as well as possible. A camera should display colours as realistically and neutrally as possible.
The three factors of picture quality are different for each manufacturer. You can find the right combination of the three by trying out the camera before you buy it. Digital cameras adapt flexibly to different lighting conditions. In contrast, the light sensitivity of analogue cameras is determined by the film inserted.
Lens speed (f-stops)
The selected aperture of your camera influences the creative aspect of your picture and the amount of incident light. The aperture is similar to a spiral shutter that exposes the lens optics when you shoot. You can see the creative influence in the depth of field. This makes your photos look more vivid - more realistic.
The apertures of most cameras are technically limited and should therefore be chosen carefully. It is an important lens property. The smaller the value (f/ 2.8 or less) the higher the light intensity. Consequently, a larger amount of light falls on the image sensor and you can shoot with shorter exposure times. It should not be forgotten that the luminous intensity generally decreases with increasing focal length.
Normally, a camera has an automatic aperture control to ensure that an image is exposed in the best possible way.
The image sensor is the heart of the camera. It captures the image by storing individual picture elements called pixels. Your choice of sensor depends on how much quality you want later and how much creative freedom you want to have.
If you are someone who often travels or goes hiking in the mountains, compact cameras with a relatively small sensor are your friend.
Aspects that speak for a larger image sensor would be: Firstly, more light falls into the area due to the available size. This difference is especially noticeable in low light, as larger sensors produce significantly less image noise. Secondly, a certain size is needed at the latest when playing between sharpness and blur.
In principle, the price class of the cameras depends on the size of the sensors.
The weight of your camera should not be ignored when deciding what to buy. A single-lens reflex camera, for example, quickly weighs several kilograms, including equipment and lenses. To make life easier, you can invest in a carrying strap and a photo/camera backpack.
If it is important to you to carry little extra ballast, a compact camera would be a suitable solution for you. They fit in most trouser or jacket pockets. In addition, the image sensor is larger than that of a smartphone.
If you want to expand your photographic possibilities, a bridge camera is the middle solution in terms of weight. As the name suggests, a bridge camera is a transition between a compact and an SLR camera.
The zoom is indispensable for many. A 3x zoom is considered the minimum. The size of the camera depends on the strength of the zoom. Furthermore, when using the highest level of the zoom, distortion is to be expected and the light intensity decreases. However, a strong zoom can allow a great deal of photographic freedom.
In the case of fixed lenses, the focal length is converted to 35 mm. With interchangeable lenses, on the other hand, the real focal length is always given. With the help of the sensor size of the camera, this is converted to 35 mm equivalent.
If you mainly want to take indoor, landscape or architectural photos, a short focal length (wide angle < 28 mm) is interesting for you. This allows you to capture as much of the subject as possible in the picture. Models with a short initial focal length are usually more expensive, as the production of a wide-angle lens is associated with higher costs.
You need a long focal length (wide-angle > 200 mm) to get close to distant objects. This feature is especially useful for outdoor activities, wildlife photography, underwater and any situation where it is difficult to get close to your subject. With long focal lengths, the risk of camera shake increases and the light intensity decreases; an image stabiliser can help here.
Cameras in the lower price range and compact cameras usually have only a few zoom levels. In other words, the zooming is not stepless and is not continuous. Thus, when the zoom button is pressed, a predefined zoom is set. This often takes the fun out of choosing the right image section. Less technically advanced cameras have around four zoom levels, while advanced cameras often have around 30 or they are stepless. A mechanical, stepless focal length adjustment is the maximum.
Ergonomics / Haptics
The shape of your camera's body should be taken into account when making your purchase decision.
Even a technically very good camera can feel bad in the hand and make working with it visibly more difficult. For this reason, it is important to hold the camera in your hand for a longer period of time before buying it and to take some test pictures.
With smaller models, the accessibility and operability of the buttons is often a problem. In general, the larger and heavier the camera, the more important it is to have a distinctive handle and an ergonomic design.
In addition, many cameras can be equipped with a usually heavy telephoto lens. In this respect, not every grip is suitable for every hand. The motto here is to try it out.
Decision: What types of cameras are there and which one is right for me?
When buying a camera, there are two types of cameras you can choose between:
|Digital camera||in-camera image processing, subsequent editing and control possible, storage on memory card||infrared photography only possible with a few models|
|Analogue camera||shallow depth of field for portraits, no deterioration in quality with longer shutter speeds, the negative lasts a very long time||no image processing possible, relatively elaborate laboratory techniques, light-sensitive film material|
In the following two sections you can learn more about the two types of products.
Guide: Frequently asked questions about the camera answered in detail
Who is a camera for?
The question should not be for whom, but which
camera is suitable for you.
Seniors, adults, teenagers and children can all pursue their passion for photography. There is a suitable camera for every age group and every need. For children, there are special camera types and templates so that a camera can be made. Cameras suitable for senior citizens allow easy use thanks to easy-to-grip controls.
What is a digital camera and how does it work?
The functions can be grouped according to their chronological order:
- Before exposure: First, the camera displays a preview of the image, either on the monitor or in the viewfinder. Furthermore, the autofocus focuses on the object / subject. The exposure control and metering set the exposure. In addition, you or the camera's automatic system decides on the flash control.
- During exposure: Light passes through the lenses of the lens onto the image sensor. Thanks to the exposure, a photo is created. This means that during the exposure time, light falls on the sensor through the aperture and is amplified depending on the ISO sensitivity (light sensitivity).
- After the exposure: After that, raw data from the image sensor are available. Either you now get a RAW file, which needs further processing time and software, or your camera is equipped with internal image processing. In this case you will receive a JPG file. White balance and image optimisation take place in the camera. Depending on your camera model, you can perform additional functions in this step, such as further image enhancement.
What types of digital cameras are there?
A distinction should be made between:
- Smartphone camera
- Compact camera
- Bridge camera
- Single-lens reflex camera (DSLR)
- Mirrorless system camera (DSLM)
Nowadays, almost every smartphone has a camera with impressive quality built in. These are in no way inferior to many compact cameras. Some smartphones even have 2 built-in cameras. Smartphone cameras are small, light, compact and you will usually have them with you.
A compact camera, as the name suggests, is quite small and has the advantage that it fits in any trouser or jacket pocket. Compared to the smartphone camera, the compact camera has a larger image sensor.
The bridge camera is a middle solution between a compact and an SLR camera. Larger than a compact camera, it offers more focal length and does not allow you to change lenses. It tries to combine the advantages of both camera models.
The SLR camera has long been considered the pioneer in digital photography. Here, it is possible to change lenses. It also has a flash shoe for external flash units. In this model, the light is directed through a folding mirror onto the image sensor. Characteristically, it is heavier, larger and more expensive than the other camera types. Nevertheless, it offers the greatest photographic scope.
The mirrorless system camera (DLSM) is similar to the SLR camera. However, it has neither a mirror nor an optical viewfinder. This makes it lighter and more compact than its competitor. Most system cameras have an electronic viewfinder, which consumes more battery power. Operation and image quality are minimally inferior to that of an SLR camera.
Which cameras are suitable for beginners?
- Buy cheaper first, buy a better product later.
- Go for the more expensive products right away to avoid a second purchase.
However, the cameras of the major manufacturers are also very good in the low-cost segment. Therefore, as a beginner, it is advisable to go for a cheaper product. You will only notice a difference to the higher-priced cameras when you have been deeply involved in photography for a while. Who knows, maybe you will be happy with your entry-level model forever.
Alternatively, you can either buy an old camera model or a used camera as your first purchase. This has the advantage that the previous models are much cheaper. The quality is not worse because of this.
Which cameras are particularly ergonomic?
When buying a camera, make sure it fits comfortably in your hands. You should feel comfortable with it. Good operation, which means that you can comfortably reach all buttons and knobs, is essential. This guarantees smooth photography.
Especially with more expensive products, such as a reflex camera, you will appreciate the material of the robust magnesium housing. It will probably feel better to you than a plastic housing.
How much does a camera cost?
Compact cameras start at around 100 euros. The most popular manufacturers include Sony, Nikon and Canon. Before buying, it is advisable to find out whether the camera has good customer reviews. These often allow conclusions to be drawn about the price-performance ratio.
|Digital camera||100 to over 7,000 euros|
|Analogue camera||50 to 500 euros|
Starting prices for entry-level SLR cameras start at 350 euros and are higher than for other camera types. Professional models are available from around 1,500 euros. You can buy a lens from 150 euros and an SD card from 10 euros. Well-known suppliers are Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax. With this camera model, it's better to trust brand-name products.
Analogue cameras are available for around 50 euros. Even brand-name products from well-known manufacturers can be bought cheaply. Analogue cameras are produced in small numbers and you can find most models on the second-hand market.
What alternatives are there to digital cameras?
The analogue camera can be divided into groups according to the size or the film used. The quality of the image depends on the size of the film format. The larger the film format, the more difficult it is to handle such camera systems.
Now to the types of analogue camera:
- 35 mm camera: This type is the classic par excellence and an all-rounder of analogue photography. Named after the width of the film, it is mainly used in street photography.
- Medium format camera: You use this type of camera if you want more detail in large prints. It also has a light well that allows you to look at a ground glass screen from above.
- Large format camera: So far, they are considered a tool for professional photography. They are ideal for architectural and interior shots as well as "tabletop shots".
- Polaroid camera / instant camera: With this camera you take instant pictures. You press the shutter button and pull out an exposed piece of paper. Then you wait a few minutes, remove the protective paper and enjoy your instant picture.
How do I set up a camera correctly?
Explained in brief:
- If the situation allows, shoot in RAW format. This gives you more possibilities for post-processing. Then you don't have to worry about the optimal camera settings, such as white balance or colour space, while you are shooting.
- Especially if you are a beginner, do not use the manual or automatic modes. It is more advisable to shoot in aperture priority mode first.
- Use the automatic autofocus mode.
- If you want a shallow depth of field, open the aperture more.
- If you are shooting without a tripod, it is advisable to use a fast shutter speed.
- A low ISO value ensures that there is no image noise.
But here too, "practice makes perfect". These tips are especially useful for the early days as a photographer. With time, you will find the right settings for you. Because don't forget, it's fun to play around with your own camera.
What accessories do I need for my camera?
It is advisable to buy the system flashes from the respective camera manufacturers. The mode of operation between camera and flash is worked out specifically by each manufacturer. Third-party flashes work, but are not as successful in the result.
A good lens is crucial for maximum image quality. Therefore, it is better to invest in a high-quality lens first than in a new camera body. The better the resolution of a camera, the sooner you will notice the weaknesses of your lens.
A comfortable camera strap is also handy. If the strap that comes with your camera doesn't meet your needs, you should get a new one. An adjustable strap that you can change with one hand is more comfortable.
The bag is an important camera accessory in which you can carry all your equipment. Some backpacks have padded compartments so that delicate accessories can be carried safely. Shoulder bags are useful if you don't carry much and want quick access to your gear. For a large amount of equipment, a suitcase is appropriate when travelling.
Which cameras have a long battery life?
Consequently, the differences between camera types are considerable. Conventional batteries are not recommended, as they are usually discharged after a few hours. If you use your digital camera more often, rechargeable batteries are the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution.
Basically, it is impossible to say which cameras have a long battery life. This is because digital cameras consume a lot of energy due to their technical performance.
How do I clean the lens of my camera?
Brushes also clean dust that is static on the lens. They also clean the transition edges from the glass to the lens housing. Avoid getting grease on your brush, which will transfer it to the lens later.
|Dry cleaning||microfibre cloths, brush, cleaning pen|
|Wet cleaning||wet wipes, liquid cleaner with dry cloth|
For wet cleaning, you use either wet wipes or a dry cloth in combination with a liquid cleaner. You can spray the liquid cleaner on a cotton swab to clean the edges and viewfinder more thoroughly.
The cleaning pen has a cleaning tip that is powdered with carbon. This removes fingerprints from the lens. The cleaning pen should only be used if the lens is otherwise clean except for a fingerprint or water stain.
How do I dispose of my camera properly?
Many manufacturers and retailers take back their old products. The disposal is done in recycling plants. When the individual raw materials are separated and sorted, they are then used as secondary raw materials for the production of new cameras.
You can also offer your used camera for sale or for free on various platforms such as Ebay. There are enough collectors or hobbyists who are happy with older specimens.
Image source: Ferli/ 123rf.com