Camera types explained

Learn more about the different types of cameras available and find the one that best suits your requirements

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Everyday cameras

Easy to use cameras that are small enough to fit in your pocket

If you just want to capture great pictures without having to worry about lots of features, these are the cameras for you. Point-and-shoot simplicity is the hallmark of all these models, which offer impressive features at a budget-friendly price point. Whether you're a first-time user or simply looking for something to take with you everywhere, look no further.

What to look out for in an everyday camera...

  1. Look for the special features a model might offer, such as image stabilisation, magic filters or portrait-improving technology.

  2. Zoom lens ranges are more modest at this price, but you'll still be able to shoot a good variety of images.

  3. Many models will be available in a range of funky colours. If you don't fancy traditional black or silver, how about blue or pink?

Active cameras

Built for an active lifestyle, these cameras are capable of withstanding the toughest of outdoor conditions

Designed to withstand water, low temperatures, sand and being dropped, they're the perfect go-anywhere cameras. The rugged construction doesn't mean a compromise in picture quality; they're packed with the latest features for great pictures as well.

What to look out for in an active camera...

  1. Extra locks on the card door/ battery compartment will prevent it from accidentally popping open and ruining your camera.

  2. GPS functions enable you to pinpoint your position and can be used to put together a map of your trip when you get home.

  3. Not all active cameras are the same - check how far underwater they go or the height they can be dropped from before you choose.

Advanced cameras

Highly specified pocketable models for the discerning user

Sporting features such as CMOS sensors, Optical Image Stabilisation and GPS, these cameras are bursting at the seams with premium technology, able to deliver high-quality images and video whatever the picture-taking situation. They're the ideal choice for those looking to take a step up from a basic compact or users wanting to take their photography more seriously.

What to look out for in an advanced camera...

  1. As well as being great for still images, you'll be able to shoot high-quality video, too. Look for full HD (1080p) and stereo sound.

  2. Expect a wide zoom range that will suit everything from landscapes to distant details. Bigger is generally better.

  3. Advanced cameras often have CMOS sensors which are great at capturing detail and consume less power than CCD sensors.

Superzoom cameras

These well-equipped compacts will get you up close and personal

Designed to give you increased zoom power, superzoom compacts are perfect for situations where you might not be able to be close to your planned subject. The premium lenses and image stabilisation on these powerful compacts ensure you get top quality, blur-free images every time you press the shutter.

What to look out for in an advanced camera...

  1. These cameras are often slightly bigger than basic compacts, but there's no compromise on style or quality.

  2. Superzooms have powerful lenses with long zoom reach at one end and wideangle, landscape-friendly views at the other.

  3. Image stabilisation technology will help keep your images sharp, even when you're zoomed right into a subject.

Bridge cameras

The ideal choice for those after a versatile camera that's easy to use

As their name suggests, this category of cameras 'bridges' the gap between compacts and digital SLRs. In use, they're similar to point-and-shoot compacts, but they have broad specifications that allow users to get more creative with their picture-taking. Great for those photographers who want to take their skills to the next level.

What to look out for in a bridge camera...

  1. Many bridge cameras have a 'hotshoe'. This allows you to use an optional flashgun that's more powerful and gives better shots in low light.

  2. Bridge cameras have viewfinders as well as LCD screens, so you can choose the way you compose your pictures and video.

  3. Check what batteries are used. Some models use convenient AA cells, whereas others have longer-lasting rechargeable batteries.

  4. Bridge camera lenses pack plenty of power. The greater the range, the more picture-taking versatility you have.

Compact System cameras

Small but packed with technology and creative features, CSCs are perfect to improve your pictures

Designed to be smaller and easier to use than a DSLR but offer the same creative possibilities and image qualities, the key benefit of choosing a CSC are the interchangeable lenses. Pick a short pancake lens for portraits or a telephoto zoom for wildlife - and with a wide range of accessories available for each system, there's nothing to stop your creativity.

What to look out for in a CSC camera...

  1. CSCs boast large sensors the same size as those found in DSLRs for high image quality in all situations, especially low light.

  2. All systems have a range of lens types available and some sell adapters for DSLR lenses. Check to see what's available.

  3. Continuous Live View allows you to preview the effect of changing settings and lenses on screen. Ideal for experimenting.

Digital SLR cameras

If you're thinking of taking photography more seriously, a DSLR may be the camera for your

Digital SLRs (standing for Single Lens Reflex) represent the top level of stills camera available and are packed with the most advanced photographic technology that money can buy. Many different manufacturers make DSLRs; all have years of experience in creating cameras that are easy to use while also producing professional-quality images.

What to look out for in a DSLR camera...

  1. The key feature of a digital SLR is the interchangeable lens, which can be swapped for a different lens that better suits your situation or picture-taking style.

  2. Large LCD screens allow you to preview your images before capture. Some even flip out from the camera for easier shooting.

  3. Get creative and experiment with exposure settings to increase your understanding of photography and shoot images like a pro.

Camcorders

Turn your life into a blockbuster with a dedicated camcorder to capture moving images

Ideal for documenting those important events in your life, a camcorder will help you relive precious moments time and time again. With a huge range of models to choose from there's a camcorder for almost every need and budget. Most of them offer the best of both worlds - there are even waterproof models available for underwater movie-making.

What to look out for in a camcorder...

  1. Many camcorders include still image capability which is great for impulse shots when you haven't got your camera with you.

  2. Check the zoom type. Optical zoom moves you closer; digital zoom digitally magnifies your image and intelligent zoom maintains quality.

  3. Check how a camcorder stores movies. Some will record straight to a built-in hard drive, whereas others use memory cards.