Rainbow Bee Eater

Does it really matter what digital camera you use? Will a particular camera improve your photography?

Photography is mainly all about technique and knowing the principles of photography, we do have many articles on the site to help you improve your techniques. Is a Canon camera better than a Nikon camera?

To some extent the camera does not matter, it is more that some of the features of the camera do matter, let me give a few examples.

  1. The point and shoot cameras have very small sensors and consequently they have smaller pixels. The smaller the pixels the less sensitive they are to light thus cameras with larger pixels are better in low light situations. Some of the latest Digital SLR cameras can even shoot by moonlight, I love shooting in low light so I could never use a such a small sensor camera, but if you do not need the low light capability a point and shoot camera may be for you.
  2. Also the smaller the pixels the more the camera is susceptible to the effects of diffraction. As you stop down the aperture on a lens, any light passing through the lens will diffract, reducing the sharpness as the depth of field is increased. The reason for this is that the edges of the diaphragm blades disperse the light passing through the lens. At larger aperture settings, this diffracted light is only a small percentage of the total amount of light hitting the digital sensor, as the aperture is stopped down the amount of diffracted light becomes a larger percentage of the total amount of light being recorded. The diffraction effect is to reduce the sharpness of the image at smaller apertures.
  3. Small sensor cameras in general will give a much larger depth of field, larger sensor cameras such as full frame 35mm cameras and medium format cameras however, will allow a much narrower depth of field and thus allow for very fine selective focus to isolate your subject.
  4. Some cameras have faster and better focussing systems and this can be a very important consideration if you wish to capture fast moving subjects, such as animals or birds.
  5. If you need large high quality prints, 16 x 20 inches or greater, then a larger sensor camera will be required such as medium format, full frame 35mm or APS-C sized sensors. Point and shoot type cameras will not generally be suitable for larger prints.
  6. When choosing the camera you plan to use, do not forget the lens, as it forms an integral part of your system. Do you need to use interchangeable lenses to give additional flexibility. Lenses with a low aperture capability will allow you to use selective focus techniques, to enable you to control the depth of field more effectively. Some camera manufacturers have a much greater range of lenses than others, so take this consideration into account in choosing your camera system.
  7. Do you need a zoom lens to give additional focal length flexibility or do you need prime fixed focal length lenses with larger apertures to give better low light flexibility.
  8. Also when choosing a camera system pay close attention to the range of accessories available, as  accessories such as electronic flash speedlights, remote control systems and GPS accessories.

In looking at all the above points you can see that I place a lot of emphasis on the complete camera system and you need to consider the full range of photographic activities you wish to pursue with your photographic interests.

See our camera review sections for detailed reviews of the various cameras we recommend.