Choosing The Right Camera For You (Part 1) - Nikon D3100, Sony NEX C3

7/23/2012 11:30:42 AM

Follow this simple flow diagram to discover the perfect camera for you, your shooting style and your budget.

Choosing your camera can be a very difficult process, whether it is your first step into photography, replacing an old camera or stepping up to one with more functionality. There are countless different factors to consider and a huge variation in the type and style of cameras that are currently available. Manufacturers are constantly adding new features, and with technology moving at such a fast rate, purchasing a camera to suit all of your photographic needs and more is very important.

With this in mind, we have developed a simple diagram that should be able to guide you through the very basic questions you’ll be asking when purchasing a camera. Follow the questions and answers across the page to find out which type of camera suits you best, along with a few handy buying tips.

If your ideal camera is a DSLR

Advanced digital cameras with interchangeable lenses

Description: Nikon D3100 - $650/14.2MP

Nikon D3100 - $650/14.2MP

The Nikon D3100 is a starter-level DSLR. It has a Guide mode that will show you how to take control for each shot. There is also a 14.2-megapixel sensor, a large high-resolution LCD screen and full 1080p HD video.

The top three features to look out for in a DSLR camera

  1. High megapixels: with large-enough sensors to handle them, more megapixels can be a good feature to have.
  2. High-res screen: high-resolution LCD screens are a common feature, and are ideal for reviewing your shots.
  3. Live view: it’s helpful to have a DSLR with Live View for composing from difficult angles.

‘Interchangeable lenses allow DSLRs to be versatile and ideal for any situation.’

DSLRs, or Digital Single-Lens Reflex Cameras, are very popular with both beginners and professionals. Coupling full manual controls with a selection of automatic modes, they are great for capturing any subject.

The larger sensors found within DSLRs give superior quality in most situations, such as shooting in low light and when recording HD video.

DSLR cameras are bulkier than other cameras, but with good ergonomics that make them easy to use, especially with lenses and accessories.

Interchangeable lenses allow DSLRs to be very versatile, ideal for any situation, and different accessories allow DSLR users to shoot anything and anywhere.

Although DSLR cameras are relatively expensive, they often come with advanced technology that isn’t found in other cameras, and can usually pave the way for features that will soon be found in more beginner-friendly cameras.


Advanced manual and automatic modes allow for great shots

Image quality is great, with good optics and a superior sensor

Lots of accessories are available for DSLRs to improve your shots


The manual controls can sometime prove difficult to use

DSLR cameras are expensive compared to other camera types

Extra lenses and additional accessories are needed

If your ideal camera is a compact system camera

Advanced functionality and interchangeable lenses in a compact package

Description: Sony NEX C3 - $600/16MP

Sony NEX C3 - $600/16MP

The C3 is the smallest in the Sony NEX range, offering DSLR-quality images with a 16.2 megapixel APS-C sized sensor, along with HD-video recording and a selection of built-in creative photo effects.

The top three features to look out for in compact system camera

  1. Manual control: most CSCs come with full manual control, allowing you to take charge of how your shots look.
  2. Constant live view: see the real-time changes to your image as you tweak the settings on your camera.
  3. Extra accessories: check out the accessories that are available for each CSC model to improve your shots.

Compact system cameras (CSCs) are a relatively new development, with most manufacturers now offering something in the CSC range.

The most notable feature of CSCs is that they are designed to act like DSLRs with each lens being removable, and a range of different lenses can be mounted on the front. This is beneficial for getting the best image quality at different focal lengths, as well as helping to keep the size of the entire camera to a minimum.

CSCs attempt to take the best parts of all different types of camera and offer a complete package for both beginner and advanced photographers. They have most automatic features available as well as having full manual control and a host of new technology included in the compact design. This makes CSCs great for the beginner looking for better image quality, as well as advanced users looking for a more portable camera model.


CSC cameras are small, making them great for shooters on the go

The advanced features allow for excellent images in any situation

CSCs have lots of automatic features, perfect for the beginner


CSCs can be expensive then compared to other cameras

These small cameras can be tricky to handle with large lenses

As a relatively new concept, there are limited CSC accessories

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