The camera in your Smartphone is a great tool for selfies, pet snapshots, and even the occasional landscape. But a Digital Camera can offer you much more.
If you’re looking to seriously improve your talent, then you will need access to more developed tools and higher resolutions – the kind that would just force you to delete your music if you stick to your smartphone.
Digital photography technology has improved so much over the last ten years. This has also improved budget cameras exponentially, which now include autofocus algorithms, light sensitivity, optical zoom, and image quality specs that used to be reserved for professional equipment.
These quality digital cameras offer you the opportunity to use a proper xenon flash that freezes the action even during rapid movement, as opposed to just adding a bit of extra light. The moving glass elements of an optical zoom will bring your eyes closer to the action, while the ability to adjust light sensitivity and sharpness will allow you to compose much better low-light images. These tools are all available for $300 or less and will go a long way when turning an amateur hobby into a real craft.
Panasonic is a well-established brand in the world of consumer electronics. Their portfolio is large enough that we don’t instantly associate them with one niche. Nevertheless, no matter if you just bought a music player, a security camera, or a digital camera, there is certain reliability that we all expect from Panasonic, and the Lumix ZS50 meets all of them head-on.
First, this camera’s screen resolution and sensitivity feel like they belong in a much more expensive product. The main screen offers 1040k dots and a near-instant response time, which means that navigating its menus is a breeze. In addition, the camera can connect to Wi-Fi and back up your pictures in a matter of seconds.
The Lumix ZS50 also has a Control Ring option that allows you to manually control the exposure, shutter speed, zoom, and light sensitivity with the same ease as with old school film cameras. If you are in the middle of an impromptu photo session or want to increase your dexterity, the Leica Control Ring will offer you an unmatched degree of command over the camera’s finer settings. Finally, this model also has a macro-shooting mode, an adjustable time-lapse mode, and the ability to record HD videos.
By quickly embracing digital technology, Canon has managed to succeed where Kodak didn’t. Nowadays, they have firmly established themselves as a constant fixture for novel professional photographers, and many photojournalists refuse to give up many of their upper-tier products.
The PowerShot SX720 HS is a solid starting camera for anyone who hopes to charge for their pictures in the near future. It is slim and easy to operate, and it offers just enough weight to stabilize your hands quickly without weighing your backpack down. It offers up to 40x of optical zoom, which makes it great if you want to capture nature details, moving animals, or even focused facial expressions from the other side of the street.
Canon has also included a well-developed version of its stabilization algorithms, which will produce crisp and clear images even when zooming at low lights. The lenses focus quickly and seamlessly, which is great if you are looking to take a professional headshot from a variety of angles.
Finally, replacing your smartphone camera with this dedicated gadget won’t force you to sacrifice ease of connectivity; with a 3-inch screen, a built-in NFC sensor and the possibility to connect to WiFi, you will be able to review and share your pics immediately after taking them, or back them up to your laptop instantly.
If you need to keep your costs below the $300 mark, it is relatively easy to find good specs, but specialized ones are still rare to find. The FinePix XP140 is a pleasant exception to this rule. Equipped with a soft, bright plastic case and a very distinct design, this camera is sturdy enough to resist an adventurous outdoor session.
There are several noteworthy aspects of this camera that are deserving of an adventurous photographer. The most important ones are waterproof and shockproof ratings. The FinePix can resist immersion up to a depth of 25 meters, and impact from falls of up to 1.8 meters. If high mountain expeditions and snowboarding are more your things, this camera can do a pretty job too: it will remain undamaged in temperatures as low as -10C (22 F).
As for visual specs, the camera’s capabilities may appear deceptively simple at first; it has a maximum resolution of 16.4 megapixels, which is not exactly exciting these days. However, once you take into account its 5x optical zoom, the ability to shoot UHD 4K videos, and its responsive shutter speed allow for crisp pics even when dealing with very rapid movement.
One of the most common reasons that drive us to integrate all our gadgets inside our smartphone is the simple comfort of saving space. If you are about to embark on a long road trip, or just need to endure a long night out with small pockets, the chances are that you are not super eager to drag around a large camera around. The Sony Cyber-shot WX350 offers an efficient compromise in this terrain; small and incredibly light, the camera still packs enough extra specs and optical muscle to make its weight worth it.
For starters, this camera has a 20x optical zoom that has been improved with automatic stabilization software. This allows the Cyber-Shot to adjust quickly and to snap quick pictures with almost no blurred edges, without having to wait forever for the autofocus to kick in. The exposure compensation is also remarkable for its price range, as is the battery life.
As for additional functions, this camera has a very intuitive Panorama mode that is sure to become a hit with travelers and hikers alike. It is also equipped with Wi-Fi and NFC3 connectivity, as well as the ability to record 4K videos. If the resulting videos (or the RAW images) are too heavy, its HDMI2 cable will allow you to transfer them easily.
Nowadays, it’s easy to feel like we often pay a premium for smaller, more minimalistic objects. However, sometimes technology and accuracy alike need to be backed by larger tools and heavier components – and in the world of photography, the difference can be evident at first glance. This is what happens with the Nikon CoolPix B500. The total weight of 1.19 pounds is more than justified after printing the results from this proficient snapper.
This camera is equipped with a 40x optical zoom lens and up to 80x digital magnification. The main screen is three inches wide and has a resolution of 921000 dots, as well as remarkably fast responsiveness to touch commands. The video recorder can hit resolution peaks of 30 frames per second, placing it well within Full HD territory. The settings menu offers you a max ISO of 6400 and an opening width of up to 22.5 millimeters. This then translates into a resolution of 16 megapixels; these are highly detailed images that will automatically adjust to light conditions and movement.
If you need to transfer them to your computer for further editing, you can do it using the included Micro-USB cable, Wi-Fi connectivity, or an NFC or Bluetooth connection.
Over the past 5 years, GoPro has firmly established itself as one of the top outdoor recording and filming manufacturers. Their video cameras are now featured across a variety of extreme sports and moving stunts, and have become synonymous with adventure and the outdoors.
It was only a matter of time for GoPro to experiment with the still-image market. The HERO5 is a well-earned attempt at offering powerful and bright shots, even during ultra-fast movement and dangerous conditions. Just like all GoPro Cameras, the HERO5 is supremely shock-resistant and fully waterproofed. It is also equipped with a solid rack that can be attached to a bike, snowboard, or helmet, so it can act as a battleground dashcam whenever needed.
In addition to 4K panoramic videos, the HERO5 can also take 4K stills and photographs easily. Its ability to handle low light conditions is a bit rudimentary for now. Instead, they have focused on ensuring you get the best shots without having to stop to click the shutter. In order to accomplish this, they have set an interval shutter than can be set to click on a range of half a second to every 60 seconds. Stabilization is quick, and operation can be started or paused using voice commands.
Sometimes, we don’t really need a camera to capture an award-winning image of a backflip. For most of us, the moments that we want to preserve are our cozy indoor gatherings, candle-lit dinners, and flashes of honest smiles adorning impromptu house parties. This is the kind of occasion that often cannot wait for a smartphone camera’s autofocus to kick in, and would most likely need to be hidden away behind filters and tints to look good.
Alternatively, you could just keep the Canon PowerShot ELPH in your pocket. This slim and small camera has a high-quality lens and a plethora of features that were designed to maximize its performance indoors, under poorly lit or half-lit conditions. In addition to a 12x optical zoom and a quick image stabilizer, this camera offers a quick processor and intuitive operation. It can be turned on and be ready for a pic in less than 10 seconds. It can also record video clips in HD and has a resolution on over 20 megapixels.
Lighter and smaller than its close cousin, the Sony Cyber-shot WX220 was originally meant to be a back-up camera for long-term budget travelers. After all, backpacking through Europe is usually a “once in a lifetime” trip, but it doesn’t always include reliable charging outlets.
That being said, the Sony Cyber-shot WX220 has managed to outdo its design and its target audience. This camera packs a lot of muscle in its 3 ounces. A total resolution of 18.2 Megapixels, a smart CMOS sensor, movement stabilization, and a very responsive light adjustment software keep everything running quickly but without wasting battery.
Also, this camera has two major advantages over other cameras in its price range. First, its 10x optical zoom is blended with a further 40x digital zoom capabilities, which act in sync in order to prevent any accidental blurriness. Finally, the focal length can be stretched out to 250 mm, which provides crisp close-ups and bright edges.
When you are first researching budget-friendly cameras, the chances are that you won’t expect to see budget versions of a well-known brand’s budget line. However, the digital photography world is a competitive one nowadays, which is why Canon felt to diversify its “point and shoot” segment.
The Canon PowerShot SX620 sits comfortably between the nearly-professional SX720 and the backpacker-priced 360. It offers brighter colors than the latter both inside and out, and it packs a couple of neat improvements when adjusting its 25x Optical Zoom. With a total resolution of 20.2 megapixels, you will get significantly crisper and more detailed pictures as well – even if you may need to format them into RAW format yourself.
If extensive photoshopping is not your goal, you will still find the camera’s Wi-Fi connectivity useful, as well as its pop-up flash window.
At the under-$300 price range, there are not many opportunities to find truly specialized cameras. This is the section of the online mall that’s mostly populated by “one size fits most” models. However, it is undeniable that Kodak has a vested interest in recovering its lost terrain. Their best bet, so far, has been the Kodak PIXPRO Astro Zoom. Perhaps the most affordable portrait shooter currently available, this is the kind of camera that any aspiring model will begin her career with.
This camera has an optical zoom of 65x, which is more than enough to capture the most nuanced expressions on a professional’s face. In addition, the Burst Shooting option will allow you to quickly snap 5 frames in less than a second, allowing you to experiment with rapidly moving angles. This model also has an autofocus mode, but it puts out the best results when manually operating its wide-angle lens. It also has Wi-Fi connectivity, and we hope to see NFC compatibility added to the next model.