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Compacts, DSLRs, Bridge and Film cameras

Before you can take photographs you need a camera, but what's out there?

| Digital Cameras
In photography you can go down the digital or film route. Film cameras, you've guessed it, work with film. A disadvantage of working with film is you can't preview the image you've taken so you could go out, use a roll of film and find you've taken a set of images that aren't that great.  It is also possible to exposure your film to light too soon which will destroy all the work you've done. However, a lot of schools are returning to film as some believe film to be the perfect tool for a beginner as they make you slow down and think about the images you're taking.

If you pick a digital camera you don't have to worry about film, you can preview your shots and most digital cameras will have a setting which allows you to basically point the camera at the scene you want to photograph and take the picture. You can work quicker with a digital camera but this could mean you constantly click the shutter button instead of taking your time and focusing on what you really want to capture.

Both film and digital cameras come in a variety of formats. Popular types are compact, bridge, and DSLR. Have a look at our updated buyers guide to digital cameras.

Compacts are basic cameras which allow the user to simply point at a subject and take a photograph. Compacts are generally designed to be easy to use, smaller and fairly inexpensive. They're great for the beginner who wants to learn how to frame, capture an image first before taking control of how the image is created. They're good for basic holiday or friends/family snaps and are a popular choice with teenagers who just want to be able to click a button and take a quick picture with very little fuss. If you're planning on using a compact camera in low light conditions, for fast moving events such as races or for other work that the 'happy snapper' wouldn't be taking, you may want to consider buying a camera that gives you more control.
Compacts, DSLRs, Bridge and Film cameras: Canon compact
 Canon IXUS 200 IS.

A bridge camera looks like a DSLR but has similarities to a compact. As compacts do, bridge cameras have a lens that can't be removed but they do give you more control over features than a compact camera does. Bridge cameras are good for people who want more control than a compact can give them but don't want a camera quite as complex as a DSLR.
Compacts, DSLRs, Bridge and Film cameras: Fuji S200
 Fujifilm S200 EXR.

DSLR ( Digital Single Lens Reflex)
If you're not looking to simply point & shoot and you want even more control than a bridge camera can give you then you need a DSLR.

DSLR lenses can be changed to help you take the best image possible. For example, if you're taking an image of a Lion but you don't want to disturb it or better yet, get close enough so you turn into its dinner, instead of using a standard lens you may want to opt for a long/telephoto one. This lens will make the Lion appear closer without you having to get so near to it.

A DSLR will also let you take complete control of your camera, changing the settings of the camera to help take that perfect picture. This could be taking control of the shutter speed to capture that fast moving car, changing the ISO to shoot at a rock concert or adjusting the exposure so your snow covered scene doesn't appear dull and grey.
Compacts, DSLRs, Bridge and Film cameras: Pentax K-X
 Pentax K-x.

As well as the above, there's also medium format, large format, pinhole and plate cameras which are considered more specialist and not in the realms of this beginners guide.

We hope you enjoyed and learned a few things with this article from the ePHOTOzine Academy Series. This is just one part of a 13 part series - to view others follow the links below:
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davidburleson Avatar
davidburleson 16 3.0k 3 United Kingdom
18 Nov 2009 2:27PM
Looking forward to the next addition to this series.
LensYews Avatar
LensYews 14 1.3k 1 United Kingdom
15 Sep 2010 2:08PM
Is there one page for the whole series for the EPZ photo academy that I can refer a beginner to? Looking through the articles I can't see which is the first article in the series and there doesn't appear to be much in the way of linking between articles.
Pete Avatar
Pete 22 18.8k 97 England
15 Sep 2010 5:48PM
Good point...I've added links at the bottom of each article

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