Cameras are incredible things (even if we do take them for granted these days). They are magical little boxes that capture moments in our lives, preserving the way we look, the emotions on our faces, the places we go and the people we’re with. With billions of photographs being taken every day, it’s impossible to imagine a world without cameras.
For some people, the camera on their smartphone is all they need. However, real photography lovers know better. They can tell the massive difference between a high-quality image from a really good camera and a blurry, low resolution phone picture, and it drives them mad to see bad images being tolerated.
If that sounds like you, this buyer’s guide will explain how to buy your next camera. Top of the line cameras aren’t cheap, so it’s crucial to find one that meets your needs, and at HotUKDeals, you will always find bargain offers to make your camera purchase as affordable as possible.
Saving Memories: The Camera
You might say that the very first cameras were the walls of caves, where the shadows cast by humans through the flicker of fires created animal shapes and images of their own bodies. But the first camera devices appeared during the Renaissance, when painters started using pin-hole cameras to help them create photo-realistic portraits.
However, humanity had to wait until the early 19th century before the first permanent photographic images could be captured. Starting in the 1820s, pioneers like Louis-Jacqus Mande Daguerre discovered ways to preserve images cast onto chemically treated paper. These innovations were closely followed by the development of negatives, allowing unlimited reproductions to be made of a single image, then celluloid film in the 1880s.
By the dawn of the 20th century, it had become commonplace to have your photograph taken. Kodak box cameras and then polaroid made photography ever more accessible for ordinary people, instead of the preserve of scientists and professionals. Finally, in the 1970s, digital photography arrived, instantly storing photos onto disk drives and cassettes.
Nowadays, the age of film has almost ended, and digital photography reigns supreme. But that doesn’t mean the choices for consumers have diminished. Far from it. There’s a massive range of different camera types available to choose from, with options for casual and serious photographers alike.
What Can I Do with My Camera?
Modern cameras have a huge range of features and capabilities. Aside from the actual capture of single images, they often double as camcorders, they interact with digital devices like laptops, iPads and smartphones, they feature automatic stabilisers to make images as crisp as possible, and allow users to manage their images and create folders for different occasions. Most also have theme settings which automatically choose settings like aperture size, flash and exposure, taking a lot of the manual expertise out of the equation. Some are adapted for extreme situations like underwater photography, while others are set up to interact with multiple digital devices and still others feature thousands of settings that only hardcore photographers will need or understand.
Sorting Out the Different Types of Cameras
All of these features and the technical nature of the vocabulary used to describe cameras makes it useful to explain a few of the different kinds of camera you’ll encounter when you look online. Here are some of the most common forms:
DSLR/SLR Cameras: DSLR stands for “Digital Single Lens Reflex” and they tend to be the most versatile type of digital camera on the market. Their lenses can be mixed and matched depending on your shooting situation, they feature high resolution sensors, process images in JPEG format (which is handy for editing), have viewfinders to frame your shot before pressing the button and cater for plenty of different filters as well. With a wide variety of features, DSLR cameras are usually seen as a good entry-level option for people who are graduating to sophisticated cameras, but they can achieve professional level shots as well.
Bridge cameras: Bridge cameras are often thought of as an in-between option, between DSLR and point and shoot cameras. Typically, they will come with an extremely powerful zoom (making them ideal for tourists who need to capture distant safari animals or artistic features on cathedral walls). The scale of their zoom means that bridge cameras tend to be larger than other compact models, but that’s the inevitable price you pay for being able to capture high-resolution images from hundreds of metres away. They also usually feature advanced stabilisers to control the zoom, sophisticated viewfinders, and sensors with the ability to pick up distant people or objects.
Point and shoot or compact cameras: Compacts are, as the name suggests, compact. With their diminutive size, these efficient little devices fit into travel and hand bags with ease and are designed for ‘point and shoot’ photography, as and when you need them. The highest-end compact cameras have advanced zooms that approach the levels of DSLR and bridge cameras (though rarely better them). The best models also have a wide range of sharing features, allowing the user to send their photos to friends via their touchpad instantly. You can also find specialist compacts for water-based activities and shockproof models intended for extreme situations, a great option if you love hiking, climbing or mountain biking.
System cameras: Slightly smaller than most DSLR models, compact system cameras stand in between compacts and DSLR cameras in terms of functionality. They generally have better sensors than compacts, producing higher-quality images, feature more customisable options like aperture size and exposure rate and with their larger size, they are better than compacts for use with tripods as well. If you aren’t sure whether you are all about mobility or quality, they should be a good compromise camera.
Camera Specifications to Look for When Making a Camera Purchase
Sometimes, shopping for cameras can feel like you are being deluged by technical details, and there’s no doubt that cameras are highly complex pieces of equipment. Some specifications are more important than others, though, and could make a big difference to your purchasing decision. Here are some key things to look for:
Resolution: The number of pixels your digital camera uses to create its images. The higher the resolution, the more precise and crisp your photos will be. Generally speaking, cameras with larger sensors will be able to capture more detailed images than smaller sensors. However, beware of buying cameras with high resolutions and medium or small sensor sizes. With so many pixels jammed into a small space, each pixel receives less light, often leading to indistinct images. Just go for something with 8MP or more and you should be fine. Chasing vast resolutions is something for the experts to worry about.
Aperture size: The aperture is the part of the camera that allows light onto the sensor. When you read ads for cameras, the number you’ll most likely see refers to the maximum aperture size (and you can close it to anything less than that manually). Something in the region of f/2.8 is a big enough aperture to suit most peoples’ needs, and should make the camera perfectly serviceable in dark conditions.
Lens quality: The lens is the most important part of any camera, focusing beams of light onto the sensor and zooming in on distant objects. Some of the numbers to check regarding lenses include the aperture closure rate (expressed in “stop numbers”, the lower the better) and the focal length. Anything over 50mm is classed as a telephoto lens, and makes distant objects seem larger than they appear to our eyes. Most zoom lenses have a range of focal lengths, and are the option to go for if you just want to do some general photography. Fixed focal length lenses are another option, and tend to result in higher quality images, but without the adaptability, so it’ a bit of a trade-off (though you can always invest in multiple lenses for larger cameras if you need to).
Stabilisation variety: Stabilisation is the process cameras use to compensate for the vibrations that come with almost all shooting environments. They can either be optical stabilisers, which involve physical components stabilising your shots, or digital stabilisers, which use software after the event to remedy the effects of instability. Optical systems are high-quality, but more expensive, and for most day to day photography, good digital stabilisation is more than adequate.
Shutter speed: If you intend to capture moving objects in crystal clarity, shutter speed is the most important metric. Cameras with higher shutter speeds are much better at handling moving objects, including sports players and wild animals. Look for shutter speeds of 1/500 of a second or faster (but anything more than that is often pointless for everyday camera users.
Sensor size and ISO ratings: The sensor in your camera is what receives the light from the lens and turns it into digital information, so it's pretty important. Sensors also vary wildly in terms of size and power. If you intend to work in darker situations, it’s important to go for a larger sensor with a high “ISO rating”. An ISO rating of 6,400 or more is usually used as a yardstick for cameras that can handle low light well. Even if you aren’t likely to need low-light capabilities, larger sensor sizes are preferable, resulting in better shots, but they come with a higher price tag.
What to Think About Before Buying Your Camera
Now that we’ve talked a little about the types of camera on the market and their typical specs, it’s worth thinking about how to pick one that meets your needs.
If you are just buying a camera to use every now and then at parties or on holiday, a point and shoot compact or bridge camera will have all the features you need. Compacts are probably the better option, as they are cheaper and often come with the kind of social sharing options that everyday users require.
DSLR cameras are more appropriate for serious photographers who prize image quality and intend to shoot in challenging conditions. If you will be shooting in dark environments, far away from your target, or on the move, DSLR cameras with advanced stabilisers are the way to go.
If you fall between these two groups of camera buyers (and most people tend to), other factors come into play. DSLR cameras come with a heftier price tag than compacts and bridges, which can sway some buyers, and they are also more complicated to use. If all you want is a camera you can ‘point and shoot’, there’s no reason to spend more on an overly complex piece of equipment. You probably won’t use all of the features in any case.
One compromise could be mirrorless system cameras. They are usually cheaper than standard DSLR cameras (if a little bit slower to autofocus) and offer high-quality images, less weight and simpler interfaces.
Another option is to go for a bridge camera, which makes perfect sense if you intend to shoot from long distances. With their superzooms, they are particularly handy for tourists, making excellent travel cameras.
Professional Tips: How to Shoot a Timelapse with Your Camera
Video Footage: Should I Go for a Camcorder or a Camera?
In the past, it was common for people to own high-end cameras and a separate camcorder, but these days the differences aren’t as clear cut. You will often come across cameras that can capture HD video footage at resolutions of 1080p and above, more than adequate for most peoples’ holiday films.
However, at the moment, 4K Ultra HD is confined to specialist video cameras, so if you are serious about shooting the best possible footage, go for a dedicated camcorder. For most people, this will be a completely unnecessary luxury, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to settle for less than 4K performance from your DSLR camera. Many smartphones record in 4K now, while most digital cameras do not, so they may be a better photography option if video is more important to you than pure images.
Camcorders remain the tool of choice for professional videographers though. For one thing, they are specifically designed to capture crisp video on the move. Cameras might be OK for short snippets of basic footage, but camcorders are much better for filming outdoor. Action cams are a specific version of camcorders that are used to film racy sports like skiing. That’s mainly due to their in-built features like video stabilisers and large video sensors, as well as shock and water-proofing.
If you are more interested in video than images, steer clear of DSLR, compacts or bridge camera. Have a look at GoPros and other camcorders instead.
The type of camera you go for will be conditioned by your photographic skills and ambition, how you will be using your camera and your budget. Don’t be tempted to buy over-complex devices that are intended for the pros. Be honest about your needs and aptitude, and opt for the most sensible option.
What Kinds of Accessories Should I Buy with My Camera?
Cameras aren’t usually used on their own. To get the most out of any camera, a range of accessories are normally required, and you can often save money by purchasing them in bundles when you make your camera purchase. Some popular accessories worth thinking about include:
Filters: Lens filters are attached over the top of lenses and can be a powerful way to customise your shots. Examples include filters that can remove the effects of UV light, limiting glare and filters with a polarising effect, accentuating the richness of blue skies and bodies of water and generally beefing up the contrast levels your camera can achieve.
Camera bags: Cameras are fragile pieces of equipment and it can also be hard to keep all your accessories in one accessible location. If you really want to keep your camera in good working order and get the most from it, a good camera bag is essential. You can choose from special DSLR and compact backpacks, as well as over the shoulder bags and smaller cases. Larger bags might even feature laptop compartments; ideal for journalists and other serious photographers.
Tripods: Image stabilisers can help to remove the noise caused by vibrations, but to achieve really stable footage, a tripod will be indispensable. When you use tripods to take nature photography, you’ll see why. The amount of blurring in hand-taken shots might not seem great at first, but it shows up clearly when contrasted with shots taken with a tripod.
Remotes: Taking photos of yourself and others is much easier when you have a remote handy, and most major camera makers also supply specialist remote controls for their devices.
Cleaning products: Lenses and filters need to be kept clean and free of grit and dust, which can easily lead to permanent scratches if you leave it to accumulate. A good lens cleaner is something that all photographers should have in their bag.
Memory cards: Digital cameras can store large amounts of images, but it’s also handy to have a set of memory cards to hand if you want to transfer images to computers or back them up in case your camera is damaged. They are also vital for storing video footage, which can clutter your camera’s own storage space.
Batteries and power supplies: Cameras use plenty of power, just like any other portable devices, and this can be a real problem if you are shooting in remote locations. It’s always advisable to have a stock of fully charged batteries ready to keep your camera shooting when its juice runs dry.
How to Make Your Cheap Camera Purchase
Now you’ve decided to go for an advanced DSLR camera, and you’ve picked exactly the right model from a well-known brand like Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Sigma or Olympus. What is the best way to go about actually making a purchase?
The first place to head could be major high street retailers that stock the model you are interested in. Check out retailers like Currys, Boots, Argos or Jessops, where staff should be able to answer your questions about different specifications and accessories. But don’t finalise the purchase just yet.
Instead, make a note of the product price and check the HotUKDeals camera listings. You’ll find a huge list of offers from high street retailers along with online sellers like Amazon, eBay and Very, and there’s an excellent chance that your preferred camera model is currently being discounted. Even if it isn’t, it may be worth delaying for a couple of weeks to see if any offers become available.
Timing your camera purchase could also be conditioned by events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November/at the beginning of December, which always sees major camera manufacturers running deals on their products. The January Sales are also a good time to check the HotUKDeals listings, while the run-up to the summer holiday season may also see plenty of deals on smaller, travel-friendly digital cameras.
Save Money on all Types of Camera at HotUKDeals
Digital cameras are an essential part of life for millions of people these days, but high-end models can be very expensive. However, that doesn’t mean you need to miss out. You´ll find hundreds of deals on all kinds of cameras, from the most basic to the most complex, at the HotUKDeals camera listings.
09/10/2022Expires on 09/10/2022Posted 1st OctPosted 1st Oct