2014 Digital cameras from point-and-shoot to pro
Even with the technological advances in mobile phone cameras, there’s a reason why the pro’s still use a dedicated camera. A lot of that is to do with the sensor and it usually follows that a big sensor = better photos and with that, a big camera to house it.
A big sensor can absorb more light which makes it possible to take sharper photos with better colour in low light conditions such as bars, shows or outside in the evening. You also tend to get less digital “noise” (random speckles) and, with the right settings, a big sensor also makes possible a large aperture, which gives you that delicious, professional-looking blurry background. In short, the single most important statistic about a camera is not the number of megapixels (which actually means very little to picture quality), it’s sensor size.
Of course, the ideal would be a small camera with a big sensor – the best of both worlds. Traditionally companies would offer the usual big sensor in a big camera with an equally large price tag.
A few years back a new format for mirrorless cameras called Micro Four Thirds was introduced. These cameras can be smaller than SLRs, because they don’t contain the usual system of mirrors and prisms to bring the light from the lens to your eye. Instead, the viewfinder has a little screen. These days, most cameras fall into one of three categories shown above: pocket size, consumer SLR, and professional SLR. Here’s a look at what Sony’s been doing.
The Sony Cyber-shot WX300 has a 18.2-megapixel resolution that contributes to its ability to capture sharp images. With this ultra-compact (3.9×2.3×1.1-inches) digital camera, you will get excellent quality images for printing or for sharing online with friends and family.
It also features a 20X optical zoom and a 40X digital zoom that will bring your subjects closer. It can shoot HD videos and still shots at the same time, so if you are filming something and you want to capture a still shot in the middle of the action, you can. The camera has a built-in audio recording microphone on the top, and it is equipped with a wind noise reduction feature.
This camera comes with a few options for viewing your videos. You can upload them on your compatible wireless device or computer, and you can also view them on a television screen by connecting the camera to an HDTV using a USB cable. With the built-in Wi-Fi, it is easy to share your photos.
To use it you will need a smartphone or tablet that is compatible with Android or iOS operating systems and you’ll have to install an application on your device. You can create imaginative shots with this camera’s picture effects and filters. Monochrome, watercolour and toy camera are just a few of the artistic controls you will get. It even comes with beauty effects for editing skin tones and facial lines. This small camera includes an impressive 360-degree panorama mode.
Though it’s aimed at beginner photographers, the Sony A5000 offers a number of advanced features giving photographers room to grow with the camera. The A5000 sits at the entry-level end of Sony’s compact system camera line-up which offers interchangeable lenses whilst more or less maintaining point-and-shoot dimensions.
Featuring an APS-C format, 20.3 megapixel sensor along with the latest Bionz X processing engine and built in Wi-Fi. This camera uses the E mount, as opposed to the A mount found on Sony DSLRs. The A5000 measures 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.9 inches and is very minimalist, save for a few keys or dials. The kit comes with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 Power Zoom with built-in optical image stabilisation. This is an excellent move for those of leaving the land of compacts for an interchangeable lens camera.
Moving up the chain whilst remaining pocket-sized, Sony’s RX-100 II might not be the cheapest pocket camera out there but it is packing a sensor nearly quadruple the size of most other similarly-sized snappers.
The RX100 II is also equipped with many other things that you’d expect to find on a full-sized camera such as a hot shoe on top (an attachment for accessories), a screen that tilts up or down, an incredibly fast f/1.8 lens (meaning great low-light photos and the ability to blur the background), wireless sharing to your phone, a control ring around the lens, a programmable Function button, manual controls over everything, 10-frames-per-second burst mode, Sweep Panorama (just swing the camera around you and it builds a 360-degree panorama automatically) and top-notch build quality.
Sony’s RX10 offers a superzoom with an 8.3x, constant-aperture zoom. It’s f/2.8 the whole zooming way, 24 to 200 mm. (You can control the zooming either with a ring or with a lever).
Sony calls the RX10 a premium superzoom; you get the same 1-inch sensor size as the RX100, and it will shoot 10 frames a second. It has a weather-resistant magnesium alloy body, so you can shoot in the rain. It is equipped with an aperture ring around the lens and a tilting screen around the back. It also has superb video skills with full manual and auto modes, microphone and headphone jacks, three control rings, a flash that pops up high enough to clear the lens completely. Even a built-in neutral-density filter — a useful feature when you want to cut down the amount of light, especially useful when you’re shooting video and you want that blurry-background look. All of that in one digital camera.
We’ve already established that the bigger a sensor is, the more expensive it is to make, and the bigger the camera has to be. That’s why the pros pay so much for their cameras. The Sony A7 is different. It is the world’s smallest, lightest interchangeable-lens full-frame camera, and the first one that you can shove into a coat pocket. Despite its large image sensor, the aluminium bodied Sony A7 is still quite small and slender, measuring just over 4.5cms in depth, 9.5cms in height and 12.7cms in width. It’s priced very competitively and produces images that are every bit the equal of pro-level full-frame DSLRs. The addition of Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity brings the A7 and A7R cameras right up to date and it’s great to be able to quickly ping across a shot to your smartphone for instant uploading to a social networking site.
If you were looking for a DSLR that will enable you to shoot quality movie footage then you should check out the A99. When it comes to movie capture it’s Sony’s single lens translucent (SLT) technology that makes for exceptional video capture. There’s a silent control wheel to the front of the camera for live adjustment during recording, while the full-frame sensor is spot on for blurred-background effects and creating those pro-looking 1080p shots. All this can be witnessed in real time on the rear LCD screen without any cost to autofocus ability which, because of the SLT design, is just as fast as when using the camera through its electronic viewfinder – and that’s also possible when capturing video.
The artistic photos above and more spectacular results using a range of Sony digital cameras can be found in the Sony community pages.