need help picking the right camera? [Virginian - Pilot]
(Virginian - Pilot Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By Tricia Romano | MCT
Buying a camera was once a much simpler task. You could choose a 35mm film camera or a Polaroid - everything else was left to the pros. Today the choices seem endless.
The good news is that now there's a digital camera for just about every need at every price point. We picked one from each major category and looked at the most popular and best reviewed at an affordable price.
entry-level party cam
Nikon Coolpix S3300 ($99.95)
If you're looking to get a camera to take around with you to every party and club, the Nikon Coolpix is perfect. Available in a rainbow of bright hues (metallic pink, purple, black, red or silver), this camera is fit for a fashionable 20-something who wants to use a real camera (not just a cell phone) to take snaps for Facebook. In addition to photos, Nikon Coolpix also shoots HD video in 720p (not bad) and takes 16-megapixel pics (great for enlarging).
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 ($249)
Although you could spend a lot less on a point-and-shoot camera, in this scenario, you really get what you pay for: a Leica lens on one of the most solidly designed bodies available on the market. Year after year, photography mags and blogs hail the Lumix point- and-shoots as the best in their category. The DMC-ZS20's main selling points (besides that Leica lens) are its 14.1-megapixel resolution, powerful zoom lens (20x) and LCD touch screen. This camera isn't ideal for low-light shooting situations, but it will do more than what your iPhone camera can. The DMC-ZS20 has the ability to be manually programmed just like a professional camera and also has a multitude of preprogrammed "Scene Modes" like sunset, portrait and night scenery.
micro four thirds/mirrorless cam
Olympus E-PM1 ($399)
Relatively new to the photography world is the Micro Four Thirds camera. Developed jointly by Panasonic and Olympus, this camera gives you the ability to swap lenses like a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera but comes in a far more compact size. This is made possible by the mirrorless sensor. The downside is that, like most digital cameras, the E-PM1 doesn't take full-frame pictures. And sadly, they are not as "fast" when shooting night or action scenes and tend to get grainier images at a higher ISO like 1600. But if you want more control than a regular point-and-shoot, Micro Four Thirds might be the future. The E-PM1 has 12 megapixels, comes with a clip-on flash, can record video in 1080p and ships with a 14-42mm lens.
semi-pro and professional dslr cam
Canon EOS Rebel T3i ($649.99)
When this camera was first released in 2003, it helped alter the landscape of digital photography. It brought digital SLR technology to the masses while making it affordable. Casual users found out what pro photographers have long known: The faster, bulkier lenses and the many manual settings on the camera allow for greater control of images. You can snap more shots at a faster pace, you can control how much of the background is in focus, you can shift the lighting temperature to make it warm or cold, and if you know what you're doing, you can create cool light patterns using slow shutter speeds. Suddenly, photography got a lot more fun. With 18 megapixels and the ability to shoot video, the f/3.5 lens is great for action and will produce nearly pro-quality images.
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