We know that cameras can be confusing to buy; with all those technical terms and specifications it can be hard to tell what’s important. That’s why we took a little bit of time to elaborate on some things you might want to consider before making a purchase.
There are a few different methods of delivering 3D images. The one you’re probably familiar with is anaglyphic 3D – the red and cyan glasses kind. This is generally the cheapest to view, since you can find those glasses for a dollar or so, but provides a significantly less exciting experience compared to stereoscopic 3D.
Stereoscopic 3D is created by placing two lenses side by side, capturing two images and overlaying them to give a sense of depth – the same way your eyes work. This allows for a truer to life 3D image and as a result, offers higher quality than anaglyphic 3D. Stereoscopic images will often need a pair of 3D glasses to view properly unless you’re displaying them on a high-tech screen like the one on a Nintendo 3DS or high-end 3DTV.
What do you plan to use the camera for? The needs of a nature photographer will be vastly different from the needs of an extreme sports enthusiast, so it pays to take into account the places and situations you’ll be shooting in.
Firstly, is the battery life long enough? Can it be recharged whilst in use or will you have to buy additional batteries? There’s nothing worse than being out in the middle and nowhere and having your camera die, so think ahead. If you notice your battery is low, can you quickly upload your images to the cloud or social media, or will you have to wait until you get home and transfer them by USB?
Is the camera waterproof? This is an important consideration, and doubly so since these cameras tend to be pretty expensive – you don’t want to hop into a kayak just to find out that one drop of water will cost you hundreds of dollars in repairs. Plan ahead and you could save yourself not only money but heartache in the long run.
For a long time, people made their decisions based on the number of megapixels a camera had. Whilst more is a sign that the camera can offer higher image quality, it’s not a guarantee of it. The ability to tweak certain settings like aperture or ISO grant you the option to customize your shots to the shooting environment and gives the skilled photographer the chance to capture gorgeous images no matter the conditions.
If your camera has the option for manual focus, that’s a bonus too as some settings won’t come across as well as they could when left to the automatic focus. Generally, autofocus does a decent job, however, and these situations are the exception rather than the rule, so don’t worry too much if your camera doesn’t have the manual option.
Zoom is an important factor too: cameras will often give you two numbers, one for optical and one for digital zoom. Digital zoom simply enlarges the pixels of an image to give the impression of being closer. The larger you go, the more distorted the image gets, whereas optical zoom physically changes the focal distance of the lens and produces a far clearer image. For this reason, we’d recommend ignoring digital zoom entirely and relying on optical zoom (or just moving closer) as needed.
Photography is a very deep field, and explaining all of the different options available is sadly outside of the scope of this article, but if you’re interested, you can read the very useful article here.