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how to use the best camera

If you’re a budding amateur photographer or simply enjoy taking beautiful pictures for fun then this time of year is perfect for capturing some stunning images. However, when it comes to choosing a camera, which one is the best for the job? Chris Kerr gives us the lowdown.

It's always wise to do a bit of research before splashing out on a new gadget, but it's especially smart to do so if you're in the market for a camera. Why? First and foremost, because they're not cheap, so you don't want to wind up wasting money on the wrong piece of kit because you were a bit Google shy.

Beyond that, there are a huge array of devices on the market right now. From compact digital cameras to powerful DSLRs, there really is something for everyone. But that's precisely why it's crucial you understand exactly what it is you're after.

So, to help you figure out which camera is your match made in heaven, we're going to run through the pros and cons of some of the most popular types.

Standard Compact

If you're after a camera that's affordable and easy to use, a standard compact will probably fit the bill. These digital cameras generally retail for around £100 to £300, so they're not going to cost you an arm and a leg. And if you're not interested in becoming a master photographer, the point-and-shoot sensibilities of compacts will be music to your ears.

Most compacts feature auto-adjustment features that handle things like lighting and focus, meaning you can spend your time doing the good stuff: taking pictures. They're also designed to be slim and (would you believe it) compact, so you won't have to invest in a huge carry case to lug around bulky accessories like lenses and tripods.

They might be no-frills, but they're also no-hassle, and that's really the biggest selling point of the compact.

Bridge Camera

Bridge cameras are ideal if you're trying to find that friendly middle-ground between the compact and a DSLR. They're relatively affordable, serve up good-quality images, and pack a smorgasbord of manual controls that'll teach you how take pictures like a pro.

There are a few drawbacks to keep in mind, though. For example, unlike DSLRs, the lenses on bridge cameras can't be swapped out. What you see out of the box is what you get, so you won't have as much room to manoeuvre creatively as you would with a DSLR. Bridge cameras are also mirrorless, meaning they can't quite match DSLRs in terms of image quality. Although your snaps will still look great.

Still, if you're looking to test your mettle with a meatier device before dropping a bucketload of cash on a DSLR, a Bridge camera would serve as a nice stepping stone.

DSLR

Okay, it's time to bring out the big guns. DSLR cameras (that's digital single-lens reflex camera, in case you were wondering) are what most people think of when they hear the words 'professional photographer.' That's because, aside from being fairly pricey, they offer a huge array of customisation and control options that'd baffle anyone who doesn't know the tricks of the trade.

Realistically, that means you should probably hold back if you don't know the first thing about photography, or aren't willing to learn. That's not to say DSLR's don't have automatic shooting modes, but if you're going to spend a tonne of cash on a camera, you should probably be willing to learn how to use it.

If that's what you're after, then you'll be making the right choice. DSLR's are can be tailored to fit your exact needs, and can be combined with various lenses and accessories like flashguns and tripods to deliver top-quality, picture perfect results. Most even feature HD video recording options, so you can even dabble in moviemaking.

Practically speaking, they're decidedly bulkier than their compact counterparts, so you'll probably have to invest in a decent camera bag if you want to ferry everything around. Still, if you're looking to dive headfirst into the world of photography (and don't mind putting in some graft), this might just be the camera for you.

Instant Camera

DSLRs, bridge cameras, and compacts: they're all great at what they do, but they lack the vintage charm of older machines. So where do you turn if you want to revisit the golden era of photography and shake it like a polaroid picture? Well, you could grab a brand spanking new Instant camera.

These days it's all the rage to splash out on retro tech, so it's no surprise Instant cameras are back in fashion. Unlike their forebears, modern day Instants use an array of digital optimisation techniques to deliver detailed, vibrant images in a flash, and offer a unique way to capture memories on the go.

The obvious downside here is that most only come with one roll of instant film — which is usually enough for around 10 shots — and refills aren't cheap. It's also worth remembering that some of the entry-level models aren't SD Card compatible, meaning you won't have any digital backups of your lovely physical prints. Even so, there's something undeniably charming about Instant photography, especially if you're looking to escape the fuss of the digital age.