Types of Cameras available in 2018:
There are quite a few different types of cameras on the market today. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you’re not familiar with them. We’ll walk through the different types of cameras and their common applications below.
Point and Shoot Camera
A point and shoot camera is your standard small compact digital camera that is generally small enough to fit in your pocket. Point and shoot cameras are still produced, and still have a lot of practical applications. They are a great option for a kid’s first camera, or for a backup camera for any one. At generally under $150, most point and shoot cameras are affordable and take good pictures for the price. Many also use standard AA batteries so are quite convenient for travel. Nikon, Sony, Canon and Kodak offer some of the most popular point and shoot models.
A bridge camera is essentially a “bridge” in technology and performance between a point and shoot camera and it’s generally more expensive DSLR or Mirrorless cousins. Since Panasonic created the first widely available bridge cameras in the early 2000’s (which we owned!), technology has come a long way. Now sporting massive optical zooms of up to 40-80X or higher, some bridge cameras can take quality pictures of the moon. Seriously-Check this link out. Most Bridge cameras can also sport excellent image stabilization to deal with the hyper-extended lens to ensure your pictures don’t turn out blurry. We recommend a tripod if you’re planning on getting a bridge camera. Bridge cameras generally start at around $99.99 and run up over $1,000. The sweet spot for performance and bang for your buck is in the $299-$499 range.
A DSLR Camera (Digital Single Lens Reflex) is the digital version of the standard SLR camera featuring a mirror inside the camera body that reflects the light coming through the lens and sends is through a prism/mirror, and then to the optical viewfinder. When the shutter button is pressed, the mirror inside the camera flips upward, and sends the light coming through the lens to the sensor instead of the viewfinder. That’s as techy as we’re going to get :). There are some advantages to this technology over point and shoots and mirrorless cameras. Because you are viewing through the optical viewfinder, you are looking at the photography subject in real time, not slightly delayed by electronics. That’s a big plus for certain situations.
DSLR camera pricing for the most popular consumer models ranges from $399-$999, but even more advanced models are available from $1000-$10,000. Another benefit to the DSLR camera is the wide variety of lenses that you can use on the DSLR camera body. Many older Nikon and Canon lenses are functional with new DSLR camera bodies either with or without adapters depending upon the model. And there are a bunch of new contemporary lenses that offer a variety of functional uses like: wide angle, telephoto, fisheye, and fixed lenses. A variety of other accessories are popular to be purchased with a DSLR camera like a tripod, external flash, microphone, and more.
Check out our best of 2018 DLSR camera list here.
The mirrorless camera is the newest type of camera on this list, not being widely available until around 2009. The key advantage from the beginning with this camera design is that it’s lack of a mirror enabled manufacturers to create substantially smaller camera bodies than what DSLR cameras sport. The technology in the last 9 years has improved to a point where mirrorless camera picture quality is quite similar to DSLR camera picture quality. This is mainly because the sensor quality and size has increased in mirrorless cameras over the years. Like a DSLR camera, a mirrorless camera features removable lenses. Many camera kits will include a standard lens which is often an all around lens like a 16-50mm lens or an 18-55mm lens. Current popular types of cameras within mirrorless are Sony’s A6300 and A6500. Other great options include Panasonic’s DMC-GH4 and DMC-GH5 cameras. Additional lenses are optional just like the DSLR category.
Waterproof cameras are generally point and shoot cameras (Nikon’s AW1 being a notable exception). Although actual feature sets will vary by brand, most waterproof cameras are rugged and built for freshwater and saltwater exposure, as well as the ability to handle some sort of accidental drop. Many waterproof cameras are waterproof to depths of 20-30 feet or more. Due to the wateproof necessity, nearly all have zooms that are quite low because they are built into the waterproof housing of the camera. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use.
Many waterproof cameras have lockable battery and jack doors, so prior to use, make sure they are in the locked position so as not to expose them to water. Although external waterproof housings are available for many cameras and indeed camera phones, we generally recommend purchasing stand alone waterproof camera models as they are built for it out of the box. They are great options for travelers, kids, explorers, and … clumsy people (we’re looking at you dad!). Waterproof cameras are generally available anywhere from $49 on up to $500.
Check out our 2018 Best Waterproof Camera picks
High Performance Compact Camera
Ranging in size from pocket sized to around the size of a mirrorless camera, high performance compact cameras are fixed lens models that offer phenomenal picture quality, compact forms, super zoom capability, and a price to match, starting at around $149, and going close to $2,000. This is a popular camera type for experienced photographers who have a DSLR camera already and are looking for something a little more portable that still offers great picture quality, and less hassle in not manually switching out lenses. Or for those looking for a primary camera to offer stellar performance in a small size. Most current manufacturer’s make high performance models. We like Sony’s DSC-RX line including the DSC-RX100 and DSC-RX10. Canon also has some excellent choices in the Powershot G7X and G9X.
This is the category that GoPro essentially built and transformed into a giant. GoPro and YouTube’s popularity grew hand in hand from their infancy. The reason was simple. A tiny waterproof camcorder that you could affix to helmets, surfboards, bikes and more, and quickly and easily upload online? Who wouldn’t want that? Generally barebones, and only incorporating a few buttons, Action cameras are a great option, and video quality can be excellent. Some models are now offering 4k video quality, which will knock or socks off on a 4k HD TV. GoPro still has enormous market share in the category, but there are other good alternatives like Yi and DBPower which are more economical options.
While not a traditional handheld camera, surveillance cameras share quit a bit in common optically with regular cameras and video cameras. Once relegated to businesses, banks, and casinos, surveillance cameras are increasingly popular among homeowners who want to make sure their property is safe and secure. Add friendly mobile cell phone and tablet interfaces, and it’s a winning combination to make sure that you are well informed about whatever you have them pointed at.
With the recent rise of “porch pirates” stealing packages left at your front door, having a surveillance camera could be a good detterent in the first place, but if you do record theft, then the footage could be shared with authorities. There are a few options, some setups are individual cameras, and some are surveillance packages include multiple cameras and a DVR for recording. Popular brands within the surveillance category are Zmodo, Nest, Ring, Netgear, and Swann, Prices range from $69 and up.
Camcorder (Video Camera)
Yes. It’s true! Camcorders are still popular. I know it may be suprising in a world of video that you can take anywhere on your cell phone or GoPro. However- today’s camcorders offer specialized capability that can produce some spectacular results. Just like cameras are built first and foremost to produce excellent still images, camcorders are manufactured to take great video. Still image quality is generally good, but not excellent.
Current generation premium camcorders offer superior lens and zoom capability specifically geared to video. They make sure that when zooming in and out as you often do when filming video, the camcorder’s magnification is smooth, and almost movie like. Ergonomically, it’s also easier to film with the standard camcorder handstrap, which most DSLR cameras or point and shoot cameras don’t provide. Audio quality out of the box is also better on camcorders, and there are a variety of aftermarket microphones you can add for even better sound performance.