Compact cameras or point and shoot cameras:

If we think about a ‘normal’ digital camera it is a compact camera. The ‘compact’ name refer to the camera size.

compact travel zoom digital camera

compact travel zoom camera

Introduction – digital camera:

This cameras has several sub categories such as bridge digital cameras, superzoom digital cameras, travel zoom digital cameras, waterproof digital cameras, super compact cameras, etc. This cameras meant to be using as it is their name suggests: point on a subject and shoot, the camera does everything itself, does metering, choose aperture, and shutter speed, and takes the picture. The cameras built together with their lenses this way the lenses cannot be changed, but sometimes can add filters, converters, etc.

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This cameras designed to be small this way have good portability. Because of this feature they usually have small lenses and small sensors. The sensor size is usually 1/2.3” or 1.1 cm, or smaller. The main manufacturers are Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Olympus, Pentax, Samsung, Casio, Kodak, Leica, etc. The main weekness (compare to the other types) of majority this cameras comes from the small sensor size.  This cameras usually works approprietly in good lighting conditions, using base ISO numbers (ISO 80-200,400). ISO in simple refers to camera ability to make sharp picture in darker situations, or using more shutter speed in the same lighting situations. For example a usual compact camera can make nice pictures until 200 ISO (ISO usually starts from 80 and goes until max 1600 in compact cameras.) DSRL and MILC cameras makes good quality photos of 1600 or more ISO. Doubling ISO doubling the shutter speed. This means a DSRL make sharp pictures in 200/1600=1/8th light as the compact camera in case the lenses has the same brightness. Or other way DSRL can have 8 times more shutter speed at same lighting that help to freeze action. Superzoom camera: The compact cameras that has a wide zoom range of 8-10x or bigger we call superzoom cameras, current recorder is the Canon SX50 is with his 50x zoom range. This digital cameras has very good value according to my opinion. They usually have decent lenses, only the tiny sensor makes their perfomance limited. The same setup in DSRL cameras usually cost a fortune. This cameras usually bulkier than the normal compact cameras because of their lenses. Travel zoom cameras meant to be help in this regards they designed to be possible place in the pocket, their lenses not comes out so much from the camera body as the lenses of the superzoom cameras. These digital cameras has very good portability and very good value as well.

MILC cameras:
digital camera


MILC means mirrorless interchangeable lens digital camera. This is a new category this digital cameras somehow similar that compact digital cameras but they have bigger sensors, this way better image quality. The sensor size here can micro 4/3(18*13.5mm with an imaging area of 17.3x13mm) sensor size or APS-C (22.5x15mm or similar). MILC cameras examples are Canon M, Nikon 1, Sony NEX series, Olympus PEN, Panasonic lumix G cameras, Fujifilm X-Pro, Samsung NX, etc. They can be same, or close as DSRL cameras in picture quality. The goal was designing this cameras to make a DSRL like, DSRL picture quality cameras in small compact sizes. This feature is very handy at hiking, at bicycle tours, or everyday use. In usage similar like the point and shoot cameras with more possible controls. The Sony Nex has the best sensor among them cause Sony makes sensors for Nikon DSRL cameras as well. Some MILC cameras has their electric or optical viewfinder, some not, some can be add as additional accessory. Basic usage as with the compact cameras we make pictures looking at the LCD monitor. They don’t have so many lenses and accessories as DSRL cameras, but there are some most of them in the Micro 4/3 system. There is a possibility to use other lenses with a converter, but we should pay for the converter separately, and lose autofocus function, automatic aperture. If we want to use for example a normal Canon EF, or EF-s lens without aperture ring, there is a possiblity to control aperture if we have a canon Dsrl. We set an aperture on a Canon DSRL, set the desired aperture and push the DOF check button. Hold the button and demount the lens. This way we can stop down the lens. We can mount the lens afterwards to the MILC camera. The problem with it, that the viewfinder going to be darker and harder to focus (we use manual focus). The wide lenses going to be 1.25 longer, long lenses also. 18-55 going to be 22.5-68.75, 50 going to be 62.5, 100 going to be 125, 200 going to be 250, 300 going to be 375, 400 – 500, and so on. The interested part is the longer lenses, the significant drawback is manual focusing, and fixed (or very complicately adjusted) aperture.

DSRL cameras:

The letters of Dsrl is an abbreviation of Digital single reflex lens cameras.What does it mean: We see in this cameras directly through the lens (don’t see into the sun !) through the viewfinder. We have a real picture we see what we take a picture of. The light enters the camera through the lens after the mirror and the upper pentaprism or pentamirror leads the light into our eyes through the viewfinder.

Reflex camera mount

Reflex camera mount

This digital cameras looks the most ‘serious’, widely used by photo reporters, wildlife photographers, wedding photographers, etc. These are system cameras, different lenses can be attached to the camera body. These cameras features the most accessories: tons of possible lenses, flash units, filters, tripods, monopods, etc. These cameras features the most controls, and are the best for professional usage. There are 3 categories: consumer, prosumer, and professional bodies. The professional bodies are big bulky, waterproof bodies with tons of features, with the very best picture quality, meant to be used by professionals, they have very high price, a battery grip, and usually don’t have in-built flash units. They ususally has one number in their names for example: Nikon D3, Canon 1 D X. Prosumer bodies meant to be for enthusiastic amateurs, and perhaps second body for professional. They usually have their built in flash units, and two digit numbers in the name as Canon 60D, Nikon D90. (Two digit not always followes as Nikon D300, Nikon D7000). They have more direct controls, better autofocus system, than consumer bodies. Consumer bodies are cheaper and made for grand public with not so much controls, simplified autofocus system but basically same image quality as the prosumer bodies. For example Nikon D3200, Canon 550d digital cameras. A serious DSRL digital camera system if we interested in wildlife photography cost a fortune. If want to make only landscapes, or portraits, we don’t need to spend so much money, perhaps one lens with a body and we have everything we needed. Pictures coming out of this cameras not always as simply good as from compact cameras. Compact cameras make lots of things automatically: sharpening, saturation, contrast, exposure, the DSRL camera does not this for us automatically, we should adjust the camera what we want to see. This needs some learning.

Market roundup 2014
Dslr cameras

Among the entry level Dsrl offerings I feel Nikon digital cameras has the best options. The Current 24Mpix Toshiba sensored digital cameras is excellent and probably the best digital cameras in the market.


Canon digital cameras is also a safe bet with it’s wide range of affordable lenses, but the current entry level offerings all based on the little dated Canon 550d’s sensor. Their newest cameras included improved “Dual-pixel video autofocusing” for Live-view mode. Traditional Dsrls currently not the best for video, especially autofocusing is not very much developed. This is where the new system is better. Otherwise Dsrl’s has excellent video quality.


Sony is makes sensors for Pentax as well, earlier for Nikon, but not so “photographic” like Canon or Nikon, there are not so many lenses like the two big suppliers. The Sony sensors are excellent.


Pentax is also a good old photographic company with their Dsrls equipped with Sony sensors. Pentax has a wide range of lenses, but not up to Canon and Nikon, including the small pancake design lenses, which are very small, compare to traditional lenses.


Samsung is perhaps the newest in camera business but a huge company, supply LCD’s for anyone, and also starts to catch up with their camera technology. Their current offerings built on connectivity, some of them has Android operating system.

Mirrorless cameras

There is a huge competition going on mirrorless market. Micro Four Thirds system uses 18x13mm sensors (Olympus, Panasonic) and the more and more lenses are available for the system. Other cameras uses traditional Aps-C sized sensors(22*15mm) for their mirrorless cameras. Sony, Fuji and Samsung uses Aps-C Sensors.
In Micro Four Thirds system currently the Olympus E-M5 the best camera(2014).
For video recording Panasonic cameras are very good, the Panasonic GH line offers premium quality, newest offerings boast 4k(3840*2160 pixel) video recording.
Sony mirrorless cameras earlier called Nex(Now Alpha) has very good value. Their big sensor makes excellent images, but the software is not yet up to Canon or Nikon software.
Fuji makes a very interesting X-trans sensor with excellent picture quality but currently this cameras a little overpriced.

Compact cameras

In compact cameras the best travel zoom cameras are Panasonic Tz(TZ40, TZ30) and Canon SX(SX280,SX270,SX260) series. This cameras has very good value as a do it everything can put in a pocket category. Despite the small size this cameras equipped with long lenses.
Superzoom cameras now boasting with 1200mm focal length has become more and more popular and common, but the usually tiny sensor limiting the performance considerably.

Which camera we need ?

According to me for the majority a compact travel zoom everything they need.  A canon Sx260. or Panasonic TZ30 camera does everything automatically, has a good focal range, makes nice photos. If we want better, more quality picture perhaps a MILC, a Consumer DSRL is a good choice, with a lens starts around 18mm or less.(canon 18-55, 15-85, Nikon 18-105,16-85).  For those seriously interested in photography a Prosumer or Professional Dsrl a good choice. If we wants to go into wildlife photography or shoot distant objects a Superzoom compact, a MILC with at least 300mm lens or a DSRL with a long lens a possibility.

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