The art of vlogging has become a widespread phenomenon. The most common domain for vloggers is YouTube, where you get paid by the views. But what if you’re new and want to give your audience quality content? The only way to achieve this is to go out and buy a camera designed for vloggers. In this guide, we will compare five different products to give you the best vlogging camera under $200.
Before going into greater detail about which cameras will provide you with an affordable vlogging camera, you need to consider the features, benefits, and significance of having one dedicated to this activity.
Many choose to vlog with their smartphone. Sure, there are plenty of tricks to create a better end product, but we believe that using a camera will give you and your audience the best experience.
What experienced vloggers will do is incorporate short clips from their smartphones into the final video. But rarely do you see them use it for the whole content for a number of reasons. These can be found below.
Sifting through different cameras can be overwhelming, especially when they all claim to have some spiffy, revolutionary features. Before looking at our chosen candidates, you should be familiar with what to consider in terms of added gadgets and gizmos.
Vlogger Pro is a site dedicated to those who wish to become better vloggers. They’ve listed some tips for what is essential in a camera of this caliber. To learn from these, check out the bullet points listed below.
With a device as intricate as a camera, it is important to know which features are crucial and what ones should be left out. You don’t want to be conned into buying a spiffy new vlog camera with aspects that you don’t even truly need. Mashable has highlighted a few features that your vlogging camera can do without.
Picking up the camera for the first time is a daunting experience. In fact, many vloggers found on YouTube, started out awkward and progressed into a seasoned professional with dedicated followers. Jeven Dovey, an outdoorsy vlogger, has a thorough manual on how to vlog for beginners. One of his key topics was the importance of choosing a camera for your vlogs (
For those wanting a camera that will provide your vlog with good quality content, then it is best to search for a camera with image stabilization, Wi-Fi and with a wide angle lens. One camera that meets these prerequisites (BUT much more expensive) is the Canon S120 which known for being a good point and shoot vlog camera.
As a beginner, you must decide what your personal style is. Do you want to vlog while sitting down at a certain set, or would you rather take your viewers out and about? Clever Leverage blog reveals that the Canon 80D (again, much much more expensive) is best for stationary vlogs compared to the more mobile Canon M50.
For those wanting to vlog with a budget, it might be best to use camcorders and compact cameras. These are generally much cheaper while retaining a majority of the essentials features that a vlogger would want. They also can be considered among the best vlogging camera under 200.
Now that you have more insights as to what goes on behind and in the camera, you can review our top list of vlogging cameras, with beginners and budget in mind.
This camcorder is easy to use for anyone just starting to vlog their own content. One feature that we liked was how lightweight it is. This means that you can easily take it with you for whenever content finds you. The SD cards are quick to remove for stress-free sharing. SD cards that are removable are also easy to switch out whenever your card becomes too full. The touch panel also makes for a convenient user interface.
As for some of the more technical advantages of using this camera, it does have optical image stabilization and a mode labeled as Highlight Priority. This, paired with backlight correction, allows you to capture moments without loving detail in areas that are too bright. Another useful feature is the slow and fast motion recording options for different and creative content. The battery pack is rechargeable and lasts longer than most cameras.
This Panasonic product is ideal for anyone who doesn’t want a bulky vlogging camera. It has a compact design that is lightweight for you to be able to carry it with ease. The 5-axis image stabilizer will ease any bumps that you experience while filming. This product also has a touch screen for easier maneuvering and operability. It allows you to add filters and compose any images.
The Panasonic Camcorder films with hyper definition 1080p recording, which most vloggers choose to use. Another useful feature is the wide angle lens that measures 28 millimeters across. This is critical for capturing large events such as weddings, birthday parties or holidays. Also included is the two-channel zoom microphone which allows you to have clear audio even when zooming.
One of the more notable features included in this camera is Wi-Fi technology. With this added bonus, you are able to share your videos and sink up to any other devices such as your phone. You can even control your camera with a connection app. With this camera, you can capture 720p high-definition video that is crisp and vivid. For those just learning how to vlog with a camera, the Canon PowerShot has a help button to receive instructions along the way.
The scene modes installed into this camera provide you with fun content that is a joy to edit. These effects include portrait, low light, fisheye effect, monochrome, and movie. There is an ECO mode designed specifically to limit and reduce the power consumed by the camera. This then increases the life of your battery pack.
The YI Action Camera is preferred for a variety of features. Included with this product are a rechargeable battery, USB cable, the manual, and the camera itself. The video that you can capture with this camera is at about 30 frames per second with a 4K definition. There are 9 shooting modes present such as time lapse, timer, slow motion, loop, and burst video. Each can be used for an interesting piece of footage in your vlog. The design itself is made in order to be convenient for the user. This is great for beginners as the touch screen and quick start feature make it easier to operate.
The battery life lasts for approximately two hours and can be taken at around 40 meters under the water before getting damaged. This allows you to explore nautical footage. With the added feature of Wi-Fi, this product makes editing your videos fast. There are two built-in microphones in order to capture your voice against any background noise.
This camera is advertised as a preferred purchase for those hoping to dabble in YouTube video content involving vlogs. The design is compact and easy to carry around. It also comes with a separate battery charger for those moments when you quickly need a device with plenty of juice. As with the other products, it also has a touch screen that can be flipped with a 270 degree rotation. This gives you the option of seeing yourself while vlogging.
The image sensor and 1080p high-definition allow for crisp and high-quality content. There is also a wide angle lens that can widen your field of view of up to 118 degrees. The night vision feature is also a great addition for the ability to record in the later hours of the day. This camera is built with an external stereo microphone, making for clear audio. Having an external microphone as opposed to one that is built-in improves the quality of the audio recordings.
When it comes down to it, there must only be one winner. For the best beginner vlogging camera, we chose the Canon Camera PowerShot ELPH 190. This is because of all the features included for an affordable price. It is easy to use with long lasting battery life, image stabilization, and plenty of different effects to choose from. Every camera you consider for vlogging needs to meet the minimal criteria that we mentioned earlier on. This includes image stabilization, Wi-Fi and external microphones. Also, be sure to remember that certain features such as flash do not matter as much and should not add unnecessary costs. Vlogging is an extraordinary outlet for those looking to be personal and creative. To provide high-quality content for your audience, you will need a trusty camera such as the Canon PowerShot, for a cheap vlogging camera can still be worth the investment.
It’s easy to say that the best camera for YouTube or the best video camera for YouTube depends on your reasons for wanting to create and post videos. It’s true, but . . . . At the same time, anyone who wants to post videos on YouTube will share a common desire for sharp, clear, well-lighted videos with clear sound or audio. So, whether you‘re posting family videos to share with distant relatives, sharing your knowledge through how-to videos, supporting a cause, reviewing products or services, starting or promoting a business, or recording life as it happens, quirks and all; you’ll want certain basic features, but you will need other, more advanced features to create a professional aura that enhances confidence in the information you present if you’re starting a vlogging business.
YouTube videos and vlogs cover every topic that can legally be posted online.
These videos might be shared on YouTube, but they are probably more commonly shared on Facebook or by email. They might be made at a scheduled family event, such as a birthday party or a reunion, but they also might be made on the spur of the moment when a child or pet does something that simply has to be shared. Whether it’s a scheduled event or spur-of-the-moment happening, these videos are usually shot on the move as the person taking the video follows the action. They might be captured under any kind of lighting, from incandescent or fluorescent indoor lighting, to a mix of indoor lighting types combined with sunlight from a window, to bright sun, or to scenes where bright sunlight is compounded as it reflects off of snow or water.
You will definitely want optical image stabilization, and possibly digital image stabilization as well.
If the event is a scheduled one, you’ll have a better idea of what the lighting will be, so you might want some access to the camera’s settings so that you can choose the settings that best match the lighting. If you really don’t want to learn that much about the camera settings, you can choose a scene mode that matches the lighting that you expect.
If you shoot a lot of impromptu videos, you might not have time to change the camera settings. In that case, you can use the camera’s auto-focus mode and let it choose the settings from its light meter readings.
For capturing spur-of-the-moment videos, you’ll want a small, lightweight camera that you can easily carry with you wherever you go.
An attached or fixed zoom lens will serve you better than removable, interchangeable lenses.
If you plan to share these videos by email, you’ll want small size files, so a resolution of 720p is sufficient. HD video at 1080p has become the standard, though, and you will want at least this resolution if you want to show your videos on an HD TV.
That’s Life and travel vlogs record life, or a vacation, as it happens.
For this type of vlog, you might wear an action type camera like the ones used by action vloggers who capture videos of themselves as they surf, snowboard, ski, parachute, or participate in some other activity. These cameras operate hands-free and use the camera’s autofocus system to adjust the settings.
You also might carry a small, lightweight camera to selectively record the things and events that you encounter. Don’t necessarily dismiss anything because it’s commonplace.
Photographer Peter Funch went to the same location in Grand Central Station every morning between 8:30 to 9:30 from 2007 to 2016 and shot the scene from exactly the same location. Eventually, he realized that he was repeatedly capturing the same people walking alone or in the same group and creating a record of their morning routine.
Another photographer stepped outside the door of either his house or his studio at the same time every morning to photograph the street over a period of years. When he reviewed his images, he realized that he had captured the subtle changes in the street, the houses, and the people that had occurred day-to-day over time.
For this type of vlog, if you’re not using an action cam and you’re shooting impromptu scenes, you’ll want the same features that someone would want for capturing impromptu family videos – optical image stabilization, small size, and a fixed zoom lens.
If you are planning a study like the ones described above and you want professional, artistic quality, you’ll want manual access to all of the camera’s settings. You will know when and what you are going to shoot and the general type of lighting you will have, so you’ll be able to adjust the settings in advance for the highest quality images.
For a travel vlog, you will most likely need a camera with an optical zoom lens that ranges from 24mm or 28mm for landscapes and architecture to 200mm to 400mm or higher for focusing on distant subjects such as wild animals or a castle on a mountaintop. A fixed zoom lens saves you from having to pack and tote multiple interchangeable lenses with you wherever you go. Because you will be carrying your camera with you, you’ll want a small, lightweight one. Depending on the type of vacation you prefer, having scene settings for shooting in museums or through glass might be important. On the other hand, if you engage in active sports, you might want a waterproof camera, a camera with a waterproof case, or even a hands-free action camera with settings for taking photographs underwater.
If you are vlogging video of yourself in action, you’ll want an action cam that you can strap to yourself or attach to a helmet or some of your equipment. Some of these either are waterproof or have waterproof containers available so that you can use them in, on, and around water.
If you are shooting others as they participate in a sporting event, you’ll want a zoom lens with an optical zoom that ranges from wide angle shots of 24mm or 28mm for capturing the entire scene to narrowly focused shots of 200mm or even 400mm or higher for close ups of individuals. Long range zoom shots magnify camera shake, so you will need optical image stabilization, even if you are watching from your seat and not following the action on foot. You can use the camera’s action or sports scene setting, but to ensure the highest quality images, you’ll want to be able to adjust the camera’s white balance, aperture, and ISO or film sensitivity settings yourself.
While these blogs have very different topics, most of the time, they are shot indoors and consist of the vlogger talking into the camera or, possibly, interviewing a guest. For professional lighting and sound, look for a camera with jacks or hot-shoe attachments for connecting external lighting and an external microphone to the camera. Set the camera on a tripod, and look for a camera that allows you to control the camera’s functions remotely from an app on your cell phone or tablet. For the best quality video, you will want to be able to create a custom white balance setting and select the camera’s ISO setting.
If you are shooting your video on location, such as for a review of a store or a restaurant or a how-to sports, gardening, or repair video, it’s best if you have manual access to the camera’s settings so that you can adjust them, especially for low, indoor lighting, but you may have to rely on choosing one of the camera’s scene options or using autofocus.
The main difference between the best camera for YouTube and the best video camera for YouTube is that DSLR cameras can take still photos as well as videos while most video cameras still shoot only videos. However, some manufacturers do have video cameras that can take still images. For that reason, both can be discussed together.
Both DSLR cameras and video cameras use either CCD or CMOS image sensors to capture video. Both of these image sensors use photoreceptors to capture the image, and each photoreceptor equals one pixel.
The main difference between these two sensors, as far as capturing video is concerned, is that CCD image sensors are wired so that the photoreceptors are connected to the camera’s image processing software as a group. So all of the information from that group, which might even include all of the photoreceptors on the image sensor, is processed at the same time.
CMOS image sensors are wired so that each photoreceptor is surrounded by its own network of image processing software. This individual processing creates an effect called shutter roll in video captured by video cameras. It’s similar to what you see when the picture on your television rolls when you are trying to receive an over-the-air signal that’s not quite tuned in clearly. It’s more pronounced in some cameras than others. Most video editing software has a built-in correction for the effect however, just as there’s a correction for red eye.
Another point to keep in mind is that image sensors come in several sizes, and, in order to make DSLR cameras smaller and easier to carry with you everyday, manufacturer’s tend to use smaller image sensors. Video cameras, however, may have larger image sensors, which means that the image sensors can have larger photoreceptors than the smaller photoreceptors on the image sensors in DSLR cameras. Larger image sensors may, then, have fewer photoreceptors than smaller image sensors and fewer megapixels per inch. If all you see is the smaller number of megapixels per inch, you could think that video cameras have much lower resolutions than DSLR cameras, and that is misleading. The larger size of the photoreceptors on the larger image sensor means that video cameras can produce video at resolutions of 1080p, 1080i, or 4k with fewer megapixels per inch.
The best autofocus system will use a combination of phase detection and contrast detection. Phase detection tracks your subject’s movements and uses the subject’s current direction and speed to predict where the subject is most likely to move next. Contrast detection compares the information from adjacent photoreceptors to reduce the overlap in the image falling on each photoreceptor until each photoreceptor has a distinct part of the image to record, thus sharpening the image. Your camera also uses contrast detection to recognize human and pet faces.
Some DSLR cameras record video in very short segments while other DSLRs and some video cameras record in 10-minute segments because that is the limit YouTube sets on uploaded videos. However, to be certain that you have captured the best images or content for your vlog, you might want to record longer segments and edit them down to 10 minutes. So, when you’re buying a camera for vlogging, see if the camera limits the length of segments.
The built-in microphones will pick up extraneous noise that you won’t notice. Built-in microphones also can pick up the sound of the zoom lens as it operates. So, for the best sound quality, you should use an external microphone. If you purchase one that attaches to the camera’s hot-shoe, you can treat the microphone and camera as if you’re carrying one piece of equipment, not two.
While most cameras record monaural sound, some record stereo.
If your camera has a built-in Wi-Fi connection or is compatible with Eye-Fi storage cards, you will be able to upload your videos to social media sites like YouTube anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. If your camera has built-in Wi-Fi and an app that allows you to control at least some of your camera’s functions remotely from your smart phone or tablet, you can set your camera on a tripod and include yourself in your video. With NFC or Near Field Communication, you can share videos between phones or tablets by simply tapping them together. Bluetooth allows you to connect accessories to your camera wirelessly.
If you are recording while holding your camera above your head, to the side, or down low, a flip-out LCD screen will let you see what you are recording. Some act as touch screens so that you can use them to control your camera as you shoot.
It can be difficult to use LCD screens in bright sunlight, but many manufacturers are eliminating them to produce slimmer, lighter weight cameras.
You’ll find two kinds of viewfinders, optical and digital.
Optical viewfinders use mirrors to transfer the image as seen through the lens of the camera to the viewfinder. This is the type of viewfinder used in film cameras when the image captured by the camera was the image seen through the lens.
Digital viewfinders, however, display the image as it is captured by the image sensor, just as the LCD display does. In digital cameras, it’s the image from the image sensor that is actually recorded.
It’s your preference as to whether you would rather see the image from the lens or the one from the image sensor.
You’ll want to shoot the highest quality video possible, which means HD or full HD at 1080p or 4k video. Shooting high quality video means large files, though. So, you will want to buy the storage cards with the largest capacity that your camera will accept.
Shooting video can drain batteries quickly, especially if you are starting and stopping, turning the camera on and off, using the zoom lens, or using an external microphone or light source that uses your camera’s battery as a power source. You don’t want to drain a battery in the middle of shooting, so have extra batteries on hand.
This camcorder is easy to use for anyone just starting to vlog their own content. One feature that we liked was how lightweight it is. This means that you can easily take it with you for whenever content finds you. The SD cards are quick to remove for stress-free sharing. SD cards that are removable are also easy to switch out whenever your card becomes too full. The touch panel also makes for a convenient user interface.
As for some of the more technical advantages of using this camera, it does have optical image stabilization and a mode labeled as Highlight Priority. This, paired with backlight correction, allows you to capture moments without loving detail in areas that are too bright. Another useful feature is the slow and fast motion recording options for different and creative content. The battery pack is rechargeable and lasts longer than most cameras.
GoPro’s Hero6 includes a 12 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor and GoPro’s advanced digital image stabilization.
As with the Hero 2018, the Hero6 has an LCD touch screen that you can use to control the camera or to playback your videos.
Like other GoPro cameras, the Hero6 also responds to voice commands.
It is waterproof to a depth of 33 feet (10 meters).
Unlike the other cameras on this list, the Hero6 shoots video in full HD 4k as well as 2.7k and 1080p with stereo sound.
As with the Hero 2018, you can set the Hero 6 for narrow, standard, and wide angles. The Hero6 also captures time lapse images, but it shoots burst mode at 30fps.
The Hero6 has three microphones, and the external microphone is designed to reduce wind noise.
The Hero6 captures both still photos and video, and it uses both JPEG and RAW file formats. This gives you the choice of capturing and preserving all of the details in your images, resulting in larger files taking up storage space, or allowing the camera to compress the image, sacrificing details but saving storage space. The JPEG format is designed to compress files each time you save them, so before editing them on your computer, you should save your still photos as PNG or TIFF files.
Like the Hero 2018 and other GoPros, the Hero6 comes with a frame, flat and curved adhesive mounts, and a mounting buckle. With the GoPro app, you can control your Hero6 from your iOS or Android phone or tablet. When the Hero6 connects to the GoPro app and the Quik app, it can automatically edit your videos and add special effects and music to transform them into QuikStories.
Like the Hero 2018, the Hero6 has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth which allows you to upload your videos to the internet, share videos with other devices, and connect other devices to your Hero6.
One pro photographer reports attaching the Hero6 to the hot-shoe of a still camera and setting it to narrow focus and 1080p at 30fps to capture video and still photographs at the same time.
As of this writing, April 12, 2018, the GoPro Hero 2018, released earlier in 2018, is so new that it does not yet even have a user’s manual, and its specs are hard to impossible to find.
It appears to have a 10 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor, and it uses GoPro’s image stabilization system.
The Hero shoots still photos as well as videos in full HD at a resolution of either 1440p or 1080p, and it has three microphones. It captures stereo sound, and the external microphone is designed to reduce wind noise. While the Hero 2018 uses auto focus, you can choose from wide angle for landscapes and selfies, standard for mid-range shots and portraits, and narrow to focus more tightly on your subject. The Hero 2018 also takes time lapse photographs and shoots in burst mode at 10fps.
Unlike most GoPros, the Hero 2018 has an LCD screen that serves as a touch screen to control the camera, but the it also responds to voice commands for hands-free operation.
The GoPro Hero is waterproof to a depth of 33 feet (10 meters).
It has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth which allows you to upload your videos and photos to the internet wherever you have a Wi-Fi connection, share your images with other devices, and connect other devices to your Hero 2018. You can use the GoPro app to control the GoPro Hero 2018 from your iOS or Android phone or tablet. When the GoPro 2018 is connected to the GoPro and Quik apps, it automatically transfers its videos to the apps, which automatically transforms them into QuikStories that are edited with special effects and music.
It comes with a frame, curved and flat adhesive mounts, and a mounting buckle.
The Canon PowerShot SX620 comes with a 20.2 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor and a zoom lens that ranges from 25mm to 625mm.
It does not have a viewfinder but instead uses the fixed LCD screen for composing your videos.
It offers scene modes and Smart Auto mode in which the camera chooses the settings, but switch to P or program mode when you want to take manual control of the settings. Use Tracking Auto Focus to lock onto moving subjects.
Intelligent Image Stabilization, Canon’s optical image stabilization system, uses different stabilization settings when you are recording video in a wide angle shot, a long-distance zoom shot, in macro mode, or when you are using a tripod. The standard advice is to turn image stabilization off when you are using a tripod because the movements of the stabilizing elements in the lens could introduce camera shake, but Canon’s tripod stabilization is designed to correct for movement created by wind.
The SX620 shoots video in full HD mode at a resolution of 1080p. You can connect it to your HDTV using an HDMI cable. With the built-in Wi-Fi, you can upload your video directly to the internet. The Canon Camera Connect app lets you control the camera from Android and iOS devices. You also can share video instantly with NFC compatible devices.
The camera shoots video in 30 minute segments, and the battery will last from approximately 65 minutes to 105 minutes depending on whether you are shooting steadily or whether you are stopping and starting, using the zoom lens, and turning the camera on and off.
The Sony DSCHX80 pairs an 18.1 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens that zooms from a wide angle 24mm to a long distance range of 720mm.
It comes with both a flip up digital viewfinder and a 180° flip up LCD screen.
Manual mode allows you to take full control of all of the camera’s settings, but you also can choose a scene mode yourself or set the camera to Intelligent Auto and let it choose. Set the camera to Lock-On Auto Focus and it tracks your subject for you.
The Sony DSCHX80 combines Sony’s Optical SteadyShot 5-axis image stabilization system with Intelligent Active Mode’s advanced frame analysis technology so that you can move wherever the action takes you. The camera even senses when you are moving and automatically chooses the correct type of compensation.
It shoots video in full HD at a resolution of 1080p or 1080i, which allows you to burn your videos on Blu-ray disk. Use the HDMI connection to play your videos on your HD TV.
With the built-in Wi-Fi, you can upload videos directly to the internet, and with the PlayMemories Mobile app, you can control this camera from your Android or iPhone or your iPad when you are shooting still images, but it’s not clear that you can use the app for shooting video.
You can share your movies instantly with NFC devices.
You can connect the camera to other micro-USB devices through the micro-USB port.
The Sony DSCHX80 shoots in 29 minute segments, and batteries last from 70 minutes to 115 minutes depending upon whether or not you are shooting constantly, whether you are using the viewfinder or the LCD screen, and other factors that drain more or less power.
In the best video camera category, the title goes to the Canon Vixia HF R80. The range of its zoom lens far surpasses the other cameras on this list. With its selection of scene modes and with Superior mode, beginning vloggers can learn to use it to create high quality videos quickly. However, with P mode, it’s a camera that beginning vloggers can grow with as they become more experienced. Experienced vloggers can take advantage of the manual controls immediately, and any vlogger at any level can have fun with the stickers, the animated stickers, and the ability to draw and write on the video while filming. In addition, the Vixia HF R80, unlike any of the other cameras listed, allows vloggers to film in both slow and fast motion. This capability could have serious applications, but it also can be used to have some fun as well.
In the best camera category, we were torn between the GoPro Hero 2018 and the Hero6. The Hero 2018 has a lower price that would appeal to beginning and family vloggers, but in the end we awarded the title to the Hero6 for its advanced image stabilization and its ability to shoot in 4k as well as 2.7k and 1080p. Producing the highest quality videos possible is important, so we felt the added sharpness and clarity of the images created by the Hero6 better serve most vloggers.
With your cell phone camera, you can easily capture a quick selfie or snapshot to share on the internet. You can even make small prints from cell phone photos, but your cell phone camera may not provide enough resolution for poster size images. Fortunately, small, portable digital cameras offer poster quality images at budget-mindful prices. The five listed below are among the best:
When you are taking a photo, the image on your digital display or digital image finder comes from the image sensor. Unlike film in a film camera, the image sensor receives an image constantly. Pressing the shutter simply tells your camera or phone to store the image in memory. So, cell phones and digital cameras take photos in the same way.
The type, size, and “wiring” of the image sensor determines how many actual pixels per inch an image has. That means that the image sensor is a more important indicator of image quality than the effective number of pixels per inch that is sometimes listed.
There are two types of image sensors – CCD sensors and CMOS sensors. Both types use photoreceptors to capture images, and each photoreceptor equals one pixel. The size of the image sensor is one factor in determining how many photoreceptors can be placed on a sensor.
With all of the circuitry and microchips that support all of the functions that a cell phone performs crowded together in compact case, most cell phones use a smaller image sensor measuring 1/2.3 inches on the diagonal. Compact mirrorless cameras also use smaller image sensors. Larger cameras have room for image sensors ranging from 1/2.3 to 1/1.7 inches on the diagonal. At the top of an extremely technical article on image sensor formats, Wikipedia provides a link to a chart where you can find information about the size of the image sensors in various cameras and mobile devices.
To use an old school term, wiring is another factor that determines how many photoreceptors can be placed on an image sensor.
On CCD sensors, the photoreceptors are wired together in a series, and the circuitry that processes the part of the image received by each photoreceptor might be at the end of each row or even at one corner of the image sensor. This means that the pixels that make up the image are processed in batches. With the processing circuitry out of the way, CCD sensors have room for more photoreceptors, and every part of the image is captured by a photoreceptor. However, processing all of the information received by each photoreceptor as part of a batch slows the speed at which CCD sensors operate.
On a CMOS image processor, each photoreceptor is surrounded by circuitry that processes the photo information received by that photoreceptor individually. CMOS sensors operate more quickly than CCD sensors, but the processing circuitry takes up space that would be used for more photoreceptors on a CCD sensor. In addition, on a CMOS sensor, parts of the image fall on the space occupied by the circuitry instead of on a photoreceptor. So, the actual information about that part of the image is lost. The camera's image processing circuitry and software compensate by using the captured information from adjacent photoreceptors to fill in the gaps between them.
One other factor that contributes to image quality is related to how many photoreceptors the image sensor contains. On sensors with larger numbers of photoreceptors, individual photoreceptors receive a smaller portion of the overall image and can capture more of the details, textures, and gradations of color in that portion of the image. On sensors with fewer photoreceptors, individual photoreceptors must capture a larger portion of the image. Consequently, fine details are lost.
There is one exception that gives an advantage to smaller image sensors, and that is zoom photography. Smaller image sensors sacrifice foreground and background detail that extends much in front of or behind the camera’s focal point which gives them a narrow depth of field. This narrow field depth improves the focus on the subject when you are using zoom photography.
SLR cameras use a mirror that reflects the image from the camera's lens to an optical viewfinder. This arrangement enables you to see the image directly through the camera's lens. However, both digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras take the photo from the image captured by the image sensor. So, mirrorless cameras dispense with the added weight and bulk of the mirror arrangement to provide a lighter weight, slimmer, easily transportable camera that can fit in a pocket, a purse, a backpack, or your luggage. Some mirrorless cameras also dispense with a digital viewfinder, using the LCD screen for composing the picture. There is no difference in how the image is captured. The only difference is in how you view the image when composing your shot.
Optical zoom is a measure of how physically close a lens can zoom in on a subject. When a subject is beyond the physical range of the camera's lens, digital zoom takes over and crops the image from the image sensor to enlarge the area that contains the subject just as you might use software to crop a photo to eliminate distracting foreground and background detail to center attention on your subject. How closely digital zoom can focus without distorting the image depends, in part, on the resolution of the camera, but it does have limits.
Lens magnification only tells you how much larger the subject looks when you view it through the camera as compared to when you look at it with your eyes. The focal length tells you the width of the view taken in by the lens compared to lenses for film cameras. The lower the number, the wider the view, but the higher the number, the more distant the subject the camera can focus on for zoom photography.
General purpose zoom lenses have a range from 35mm to 100mm or 150mm. Those lenses can handle portraits, photos of small groups, and mid-range telephoto shots, but they can leave people out of group selfies. For that reason, cameras now come with wider angle lenses. In fact, 28mm lenses do better at capturing family portraits and other group shots while either 28mm or 24mm can capture panoramic shots and photos of skyscrapers, sequoias, castles, villas, plazas, and landmarks like Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower when you're traveling. So, wide angle lenses are versatile in their own right. However, to zoom in on distant wildlife subjects or athletes on the court or field, ArsTechnica.com recommends zoom lenses with a range of at least 200mm, or even super zoom lenses with a range of 40mm or more.
The best autofocus systems are hybrids that combine a tracking system and a system that recognizes contrasts between pixels.
The tracking system, called phase detection, quickly determines the distance to the subject, detects changes in the distance that indicate motion, and then uses general details like size, shape, and color to keep the focus on the subject. Some tracking systems can even track multiple moving targets.
The contrast detection system fine tunes the focus of the tracking system by recognizing contrasts between adjacent pixels that indicate the difference between a more lighted area and a more shaded one, the difference between the color of clothing and skin tones, the difference between lip or lipstick color and teeth, and so on. This system then brings those contrasting areas into more distinct focus. The contrast detection system provides face and smile recognition, among other camera features.
An autofocus assist lamp aids focusing at night and in low light conditions. Red light autofocus assist lamps are the least noticeable to live subjects. Strobe autofocus assist lamps can startle subjects, sending wildlife running, putting subjects of a candid shot on alert, and annoying some people.
Focusing is enhanced by image stabilization. Optical stabilization occurs in the lens as tiny gyroscopes sense changes in the position of the camera and move the pieces inside the lens to compensate. Digital stabilization is performed electronically by the camera's image processing circuitry and software after the image is captured. Because optical stabilization occurs before the image is captured, it does a better job of preventing blurred still photos and jittery movies.
If your camera offers both RAW and jpeg, take your pictures in RAW when you can. RAW takes more storage space in memory, but that's because it preserves all the detail in the photograph. It can take longer for a camera to process RAW images, though, so you may need to switch to jpeg for burst mode or action shots. You may also need to use jpeg for shooting in low light conditions.
The one important thing you should know about jpeg is that it was created to save memory storage space. It does that by condensing the image file, and it will condense the file again each time you open it for editing and then save it. That means that each time you open and then save the image, you lose more and more details. To prevent this, when you upload your images to your computer, use your image editing software to save your files in either png or tiff format. These file formats will preserve the details in your images, and many sites allow you upload png files just as you do jpg files.
When shooting HD movies, a resolution of 1080p is best for playback on large screen TVs, but 720p is fine for the internet.
Other Features that will add to your enjoyment of your camera include:
HD movie mode with sound
Ability to use the zoom lens while filming
Microphone jack to eliminate the operating noise of the zoom lens for better movie sound quality
Image stabilization to eliminate blurred still photos and jittery movie shots
Timer delay settings so everyone can get into the picture and for time lapse photography
A tripod socket for time delay settings, time lapse photography, and movies
Autofocus settings to use while you and your family learn photography
Manual controls that enable you to take more control over your photography as you learn
Face and smile recognition software, multiple focus points, and multiple tracking focus
Lighting jack to connect external flashes
ISO settings from at least 100 to 1000 which compare to standard film speeds
Burst mode to rapidly shoot a series of still images for photographing kids and pets
PictBridge printer compatibility
The Kodak Pixpro FZ4 is a mirrorless camera that comes with a 16 MP 1/2.3" CCD image sensor, a lens that zooms from 28mm to 140mm, an autofocus assist lamp, a tripod socket, and digital image stabilization. The lens provides 5X magnification with an additional 8X magnification from the digital zoom. The self timer can be set for delays of two seconds and 10 seconds or tied to smile detection. In continuous shooting mode, the PixPro will capture images for as long as the shutter is depressed, or you can set the camera to time lapse mode to capture images for 30 seconds, one minute, five minutes, or ten minutes. The Pixpro FZ4 captures jpeg stills and HD movies with sound in MOV (motion jpeg) at a resolution of 720p. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds ranging from 80 to 1600. It offers macro mode, panorama mode, landscape and night landscape mode, and portrait mode, backlit portrait mode, and night portrait mode among a selection of 21 pre-set scene modes. The camera can be set for up to nine focus points, and using continuous autofocus turns on tracking. The FZ4 includes face recognition, blink recognition, and smile recognition. As you learn, the camera's manual mode let's you take control of the settings. The settings for the built-in flash include a fill flash and red eye reduction. The camera comes in red or black. It is compatible with PictBridge wireless printers and uses Eye-Fi for Wi-Fi connection to upload photos to your computer. It has 8 MB of internal storage and accepts SD cards up to 32 GB but does not support MMC cards. It uses a rechargeable li-ion battery and has a battery life of approximately two hours or 200 pictures, so carrying an extra battery or two is probably a good idea.
The Nikon Coolpix L32 is a mirrorless camera. It uses a 20.1 MP 1/2.3 CCD image sensor. The Nikkor lens zooms from 26mm to 130mm with an optical magnification of 5X and an additional 4X of digital zoom. The L32 shoots still photos in jpeg and HD movies with sound in MOV (motion jpeg) with a resolution of 720p. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds ranging from 80 to 1600. The Coolpix offers digital image stabilization, tracking of a single subject with the use of full time focus, face detection, smile detection, and pet detection. The self timer can be set for smile detection or to delay the shutter for 10 seconds. Even when the timer is not set, the camera fires automatically when it detects a smile on someone's face. When it detects a pet's face, it automatically shoots a series of three pictures in a row. The Smart Portrait system includes a skin softening mode. Other options include macro mode and pre-set scene settings such as night modes for landscape and portrait mode, and backlit mode. When you hold the shutter down, the camera shoots continuously. The camera does not provide an option for choosing photo settings manually, but settings for the built-in flash include fill and red eye reduction. The Coolpix L32 does have a tripod socket and an autofocus assist lamp, but it does not have a microphone or lighting jack or Wi-Fi capabilities. The Coolpix uses either two AA alkaline batteries that have an average life of 320 photos, two AA size FR6/L91 lithium batteries with an average life of 950 photos, or rechargeable EN-MH1 Ni-MH batteries with an average life of 570 photos.
The Canon PowerShot SX600 HS Digital Camera uses a 1/2.3" CMOS image sensor with an effective resolution of 16.1 MP. With a zoom range from 25mm to 450mm for a magnification of 18X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X, this mirrorless Canon PowerShot can handle a wide range of subjects. The Canon SX600 offers optical image stabilization, nine focus points in face recognition mode, smile recognition, red eye reduction, an autofocus assist lamp, the HS system for enhanced low light performance, and continuous tracking. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds from 100 to 3200. The self timer can be set to a custom setting, tied to smile recognition, or set to two seconds or 10 seconds. The PowerShot SX600 captures photos in jpeg and full HD movies in stereo sound with resolutions of 1080p, 720p, and 480p in MP4 format. In addition to macro and portrait mode, the SX600 includes a setting that compensates for camera movement if you take a photo at night while holding the camera, and long shutter mode lets you blur moving objects for capturing city street scenes at night. The built-in Wi-Fi allows you to upload still shots and videos to storage or social media sites or send photos to your computer or your iOS or Android phone or tablet. You can also control all of the camera's features from your phone or tablet. The camera is compatible with Canon SELPHY and inkjet printers and all PictBridge printers. It uses rechargeable NB-6LH Li-ion batteries with an average battery life of 290 shots in normal mode or 430 shots in power conserving Eco mode. The camera comes in red, black, or silver.
The Nikon Coolpix L320 comes uses a 16.1 MP 1/2.3" CCD image sensor. The lens zooms from 4mm to 104mm for an optical magnification of 26X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X. The camera provides both optical and digital image stabilization. It captures still images in jpeg and HD movies with sound in MOV (motion jpeg) at a resolution of 720p. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds from 80 to 1600. The Coolpix L320 offers pet detection, face detection, smile detection, skin softening, panorama mode, landscape and night landscape mode, portrait and night portrait mode, and macro mode. In portrait mode, the camera can recognize three faces and adjust the settings to produce the best skin tones. The self timer can be set to 10 seconds or tied to smile detection. The camera shoots automatically when it detects a smile. In pet portrait mode, the camera can automatically recognize one or more pet faces and shoot three pictures in a row. The L320 has an autofocus assist lamp and tripod socket but does not have a lighting or microphone jack. It also does not appear to have tracking. It can use Eye-Fi to wirelessly upload photos to your computer. It uses four AA alkaline batteries with an average life of 310 shots, four AA lithium batteries with an average life of 810 shots, or four EN-MH2 Ni-MH rechargeable batteries with an average life of 450 shots.
The Sony DSCW800/B is a mirrorless camera that comes with a 20.1 MP 1/2.3” CCD image sensor. The Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens zooms from 26mm to 130mm for an optical magnification of 5X with an additional digital zoom of 10X. The Sony DSCW800/B uses optical image stabilization and features face detection, smile detection, and tracking of a single subject. The built-in flash has a fill mode, but red eye reduction is controlled by the camera's automatic settings. This Sony camera captures still images in jpeg and HD movies with sound in AVI MPEG4 at 720p. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds from 100 to 3200. The self timer can be set to two seconds or 10 seconds, but the smile detection shutter is a separate mode not connected to the self timer. When smile detection mode is set, the camera automatically shoots a burst of up to six pictures. Portrait mode applies a softer focus not only to soften skin for portraits but also to any other subjects you choose such as nostalgic shots or flowers. In panorama mode, instead of taking a number of separate pictures, hold the shutter button down and sweep the camera across the scene up to a full 360°. The camera shoots continuously as you sweep and then stitches the pictures together into one image. The camera also includes macro mode, pet mode, backlit mode, landscape mode, night scene mode, and settings for portraits, backlit portraits, and night portraits. While the Sony DSCW800/B has an autofocus assist lamp and tripod socket, it does not have a microphone or lighting jack. All of the settings appear to be automatic with no option for manual control. This camera comes in back or silver and uses a rechargeable NP-BN lithium ion battery pack.
For those who want an easy to use camera that takes care of all of the settings, we recommend either the Nikon Coolpix L32 or the Nikon Coolpix L320. These two cameras not only take care of all the settings, but they also shoot automatically when they detect a smiling face in portrait mode or a pet face in pet mode. Both cameras take multiple shots in pet mode while the Coolpix L320 also takes multiple shots in portrait mode.
For everyone else, we recommend the versatile Canon PowerShot SX600 HS. It does use a CMOS image sensor instead of the CCD sensor, but the PowerShot offers continuous tracking of up to nine focus points, optical image stabilization, and an optical zoom range that extends from 25mm to 450mm. You can use it to capture everything from large group selfies to architecture or panoramic landscapes to sporting events, performers on a stage, or distant wildlife.
With the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, you can capture full HD movies with stereo sound at a resolution of 1080p that will look good when you play them back on a big screen TV, or you can capture still photos and vlog posts at 720p and use the built-in Wi-Fi to upload them to the internet from anywhere you have a connection. The built-in Wi-Fi also allows you to transfer your images and movies wirelessly to your computer or to your iOS or Android phone or tablet. You can even control all of the camera's functions remotely from your iOS or Android phone or tablet.
If you have been studying the settings on your smart phone or point-and-shoot camera to learn how to improve the pictures you’ve been taking, you might have begun thinking about how you could fine tune the settings to improve your photos even more. Automatic settings are helpful for taking a quick shot on the go, at times when you might miss the picture if you took time to adjust the settings, but they are limiting when you are ready to begin experimenting on your own. There are several things to consider when purchasing a more advanced camera.
The number of pixels per inch is one indication of image quality, but it is the type and size of image sensor that determines how many pixels per inch your camera has.
There are two types of image sensors – CCD and CMOS, and they can range in size from 1/2.3 inches to 1/1.7 inches, measured on the diagonal. Cell phone cameras and compact mirrorless cameras use smaller image sensors, while larger digital cameras have room for larger image sensors. At the beginning of a detailed, technical article on image sensor formats, Wikipedia includes a link to a chart showing the sizes of the image sensors used in various devices.
Both types of image sensors use photoreceptors to constantly record the image from the camera's lens, and each photoreceptor equals one pixel.
The more photoreceptors the image sensor contains, the more pixels per inch the images contain and the more details each photoreceptor records. The fewer photoreceptors there are, the larger the portion of the image that each photoreceptor receives and the less detail it contains. The difference between the two types of image sensors lies in the way the photoreceptors are placed on the image sensor and in the way the image is processed.
On CCD image sensors, the photoreceptors are connected to the image processing software in batches. The connection may be at the end of each row or at one corner of the sensor. This allows more photoreceptors to be placed on CCD image sensors, but the batch processing of the image slows the operation of the sensors.
On CMOS image sensors, each photoreceptor is surrounded by image processing circuitry, and the part of the image received by each photoreceptor is processed independently. That speeds up the operation of the sensors, but the circuitry takes up space that would be used for more photoreceptors on a CCD sensor. Further, part of the image falls on spaces occupied by circuitry rather than on a photoreceptor. To compensate, the image processing software must use the parts of the image provided by adjacent photoreceptors to fill in what is missing. However, miniaturizing circuitry and more advanced image processing software both continue to improve CMOS image sensors, making these more affordable, mass-produced sensors more common.
The magnification factor only reveals how much larger the subject appears when you look at it through the lens as compared to how large it looks when you look at it with your eyes. Focal length, on the other hand, tells you how wide of an angle the lens will capture in a picture. So focal length provides you with an idea of how much will be included in the image.
Lenses with smaller focal lengths capture wider angles and are the best choice for group portraits and selfies, panoramas, and photographs of skyscrapers and other tall or expansive buildings. Although it used to be common for digital cameras to come with general purpose lenses with focal length ranges of from 35mm to 100mm or 150mm, that has changed with the popularity of selfies. Cameras now are more likely to come with a zoom lens with a wider angle that can capture selfies of large groups and even crowds. Arstechnica.com and PC Magazine's online edition, PCMag.com, both recommend zoom lenses with a wide angle range of at least 28mm for group portraits of family and friends. ArsTechnica.com suggests lenses of 24mm for landscapes, panoramas, and photographs of architecture.
Lenses with longer focal lengths have smaller angles that allow them to zoom in tightly on distant subjects. These lenses are best for capturing candid shots, wildlife, or athletes or performers in action. To capture these images, ArsTechnica.com suggests zoom lenses with a range of at least 200mm or even super-zoom lenses with a range of 400mm or more.
Image stabilization systems compensate for camera movement while you are taking a picture or filming a movie. These systems even can allow you to walk while shooting so that you can keep up with active subjects.
Optical image stabilization occurs in the camera lens as tiny gyroscopes sense movement and adjust the elements within the lens to compensate. Because the corrections occur before the picture is ever taken, optical image stabilization is less likely to introduce noise or distortions into the image.
Digital image stabilization consists of corrections applied to the image by the camera's image processing software after the photo is taken. Some image editing software has adjustments for movement that allow you to make corrections similar to those applied by the camera.
If you have attempted to make corrections for movement yourself, you may have discovered how easy it is to introduce noise or distortion into the image. For that reason, optical image stabilization is a better solution for eliminating camera movement, although some cameras offer both.
Optical zoom simply refers to the physical range of the angles that the zoom lens can photograph. Digital cameras then add digital zoom to help focus on subjects that are so far distant that they are beyond the physical range of the lens.
Digital zoom uses the same process as image editing software uses when you crop a picture to better focus on the intended subject and eliminate distractions in the background or to either side. Consequently, just as there is a point when you cannot crop in on your intended subject any more tightly because the image loses focus and becomes blurred and indistinct, there is also a point when the image will become blurred and indistinct when using digital zoom.
It's better to choose a camera or lens with a longer optical zoom range than to rely too much on digital zoom if you want to practice wildlife photography or capture your kids in action performing on stage or in the middle of a competition.
Even if you are ready to take more control of your camera's settings, a camera with a continuous or tracking autofocus, makes it easier to capture images of moving targets. Wikipedia provides a thorough if sometimes technical article outlining how various autofocus systems work, how they evolved, and how they compare with each other.
The best autofocus system is a hybrid that combines a tracking, or phase recognition system, with a contrast recognition system.
Phase recognition or tracking systems let you set one or more focus points, which the camera then identifies by features such as comparative size, shape, and color. The camera uses predictive software to track the speed and direction of the subject or subjects to keep them in focus in general.
To bring the subject or subjects into the sharpest focus, the camera uses contrast detection. The contrast detection system measures how blurred the image is by determining the amount of distinct contrast between adjacent photoreceptors on the image sensor. It continues to improve the focus until it achieves a clear distinction between each pixel received by the photoreceptors. This is also the system that cameras use for features such as face detection, pet detection, smile detection, and blink detection.
Cameras that use optical focus systems, such as phase and contrast recognition systems, rely on an autofocus assist lamp to operate in low light.
The best type of lamp uses red light, which is the least likely to be noticed by your subjects. It won't startle wildlife subjects and frighten them away, and it won't awaken a sleeping pet, child, friend, partner, or spouse if you happen to capture one of these subjects in a cute, goofy, odd, or otherwise priceless pose.
Some cameras use a quick strobe-like flash of white light. This will definitely startle wildlife, and it is likely to startle people as well. These types of assist lamps can ruin photo opportunities, especially if you are trying to capture a candid shot.
With the continuing popularity of sharing photos on social media, some cameras come with the ability to connect to the internet on their own. As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can upload your photos as soon as you take them. Some cameras also allow you to use the Wi-Fi connection to control some or all of your camera’s functions remotely from your smart phone or tablet. This capability makes it easy to include yourself in a group shot, make sure that every person in a large group is in included, or film yourself giving a demonstration or engaging in some other activity for a vlog post. A Wi-Fi ready camera also may allow you to transfer pictures directly to wireless printers.
NFC capabilities allow you to share photos from your camera with friends and family members who have phones, tablets, or cameras that also have NFC capabilities. Simply touch the devices together.
At one time, cameras offered the choice of taking photos in RAW or JPEG. The RAW, TIFF, and PNG formats preserve all of the details in your photographs, but that means they also require more storage space on your camera, computer, tablet, or phone. JPEG, on the other hand, conserves space by condensing the image as it saves it. However, each time you open a JPEG image to edit it and then resave it, it is condensed yet again. So, each time you resave an image in JPEG, you are losing more and more of the image. For that reason, before editing your images, you should use your photo editing software to save them as either TIFF or PNG files. The PNG format has become one that is commonly used, and images in that format can be uploaded to most sites.
MP4 is a popular format for movies, and HD movies with resolutions of 720p are fine for sharing on the internet. If you want to show your movies to family or friends on a widescreen TV, though, they will look better in full HD with a resolution of 1080p.
The Canon PowerShot SX-620 comes with a 1/2.3 inch 20.2 MP CMOS image sensor, optical image stabilization, an LCD viewfinder, a tripod socket, an autofocus assist lamp, and a zoom lens with a range of focal lengths from 25mm to 620mm for an optical zoom magnification of 25X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X. With macro mode, you can come as close as 1 cm to your subject. You can fine tune the image stabilization by choosing settings for shooting stills, for shooting stills as you pan the camera, for shooting movies as you walk, or for shooting movies or stills while using a tripod.
The SX-620 can track up to nine subjects, and the camera can be set to automatically take the picture when someone smiles, signals the camera with a wink, or when an additional face, the photographer’s face, enters a group shot. It captures still images in JPEG and movies in full HD in MP4 format with monaural sound at a resolution of 1080p.
In addition to burst mode, the SX-620 offers a combination of video and still photography, hybrid auto mode, that shoots up to four seconds of video before capturing the still shot. At the end of the day, the camera then edits these hybrid auto mode shots into a highlight reel in HD format with a resolution of 720p, which would be a perfect way to commemorate holidays and family gatherings, vacations, birthdays and anniversaries, and weddings, graduations, and other special occasions.
You can use the automatic settings or take increasing control of the settings yourself through “P” or program mode.
The Wi-Fi connection lets you upload photos to social media sites, store them for sharing later, wirelessly transfer images to your computer or wireless printer, or control all of your camera’s functions from your iOS or Android smart phone or tablet. The NFC connection allows sharing between NFC devices.
The SX-620 uses rechargeable lithium ion NB-13L batteries with an approximate battery life of 295 shots in standard mode or 405 in Eco (economy) mode. An external, high-powered flash is available as an optional accessory.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 includes a 20.0 MP 1/2.3 inch CCD image sensor, an autofocus assist lamp, an LCD viewfinder, a tripod socket, and a zoom lens with a focus length ranging from 24mm to 240mm for an optical magnification of 10X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X. The ELPH 190 provides optical image stabilization that can be fine-tuned for specific shooting situations, such as shooting or filming while walking, shooting while panning the camera, or filming while using a tripod.
The ELPH 190 captures still images in JPEG format and shoots HD movies with sound in MP4 format at a resolution of 720p. It can track up to three subjects and recognize up to nine faces, and you can tie face detection to the self-timer to delay the shutter until the face of the designated photographer enters the shot. In macro mode, you can capture your subject from as close as 1 cm.
When you’re ready to start experimenting with the camera settings on your own, simply switch to “P” mode.
With the ELPH 190, you can connect to the internet to store images, upload them to social media, or send them to a wireless printer. You can also control the camera from your iOS or Android smart phone or tablet. The camera’s NFC capabilities allow you to send photos to other NFC devices with just a touch.
The ELPH 190 uses rechargeable Canon NB-11L lithium ion batteries with a battery life of approximately 190 photos in regular mode or 245 in Eco mode. An external high-powered flash is available as an accessory.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 comes equipped with a 20.2 MP 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor, an LCD viewfinder, an autofocus assist lamp, and a lens with a focal length that ranges from 25mm to 300mm for an optical magnification of 12X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X. As with the SX-620 and the ELPH 190, the optical image stabilization system can be set to compensate for a variety specific of shooting situations.
The ELPH 360 can track up to nine subjects and the self-timer can be tied to smile detection, wink detection, and to the recognition of a new face entering the shot, like the photographer’s face. The camera captures still photos in JPEG and movies in full HD with sound in MP4 format with a resolution of 1080p. Macro mode allows you to shoot small subjects at a distance as close as 1 cm.
Like the SX-620, the ELPH 360 comes with hybrid auto mode. You can set the camera to shoot up to four seconds of video before it captures the still image. At the end of the day, the camera compiles all of the files together into an HD highlight movie at a resolution of 720p.
As with the SX-620 and the ELPH 190, switching to "P” mode allows you to experiment with the camera settings and change them to suit your preferences.
The ELPH 360’s NFC connection allows you to share photos and movies with other NFC devices just by touching them together. The Wi-Fi connection allows you control your camera remotely from your iOS or Android phone or tablet, upload images and movies to share on social media sites, store them for editing or sharing later, or send them to wireless printers.
Like the ELPH 190, the ELPH 360 uses rechargeable Canon NB-11L lithium ion batteries with a battery life of approximately 180 photos in regular mode or 265 in Eco mode. An external high-powered flash is available as an accessory.
The Sony DSCWX220 offers an 18.2 MP 1/2 .3 inch CMOS image sensor, an autofocus assist lamp, an LCD viewfinder, a tripod socket, and a zoom lens with a focal length range of 25mm to 250mm for an optical zoom magnification of 10X with an additional 4X of digital zoom. It includes optical image stabilization that supports sweep panorama shots of up to 360° in panorama mode.
The camera captures still images in JPEG and movies in full HD with sound in MP4 at a resolution of 1080p. When you are shooting a movie, you can use a control on the camera to reduce the wind noise picked up by the microphone.
Motion shot video captures the subject in motion in a series of superimposed images displayed in isolation against a single background. Imagine your child leaping with the basketball to make a basket; passing a football; making a goal or a touchdown; leaping a track hurdle; completing a triple axle; or racing across a finish line.
Face recognition can be tied to the self-timer to delay shooting until everyone is in the picture. The DSCWX220 also uses face recognition when shooting in sweep panorama mode to reduce distortions when stitching the individual images together, even if the owners of the faces happen to be moving as the sweep panorama shot is being taken.
The DSCWX220 allows you to choose some camera settings, such as selecting the white balance setting to compensate for shade, fluorescent or incandescent lighting, or other lighting conditions. You can also choose among ISO settings from 100 to 3200. This camera doesn’t allow photographers full manual access to the settings, however.
You can create Blu-Ray discs with the DSCWX220, and the Wi-Fi connection allows you to control the camera’s shutter remotely from your Android phone or tablet. You can also use either the Wi-Fi or NFC connection to share photos with Android devices.
The DSCWX220 uses rechargeable NP-BN lithium ion batteries with a battery life of approximately 210 photos.
The Nikon CoolPix B500 comes with a 16.0 MP 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor; optical image stabilization; a tripod socket; a flexible, pop-up LCD viewfinder; an autofocus assist lamp; and a Nikkor lens with a focal length range from 22.5mm to 900mm for an optical magnification of 40X with an additional digital zoom of 4X. With macro mode, you can shoot from as close as 1 cm away from small subjects.
The automatic focus uses face recognition to give priority to the faces it detects. If it detects more than one face, it gives priority to the closest face. If it does not detect any faces, it divides the frame into nine focal points and gives priority to those with objects that are closest to the camera. If your true subject is not one of the objects closest to the camera, move one of the focal points to your subject to select it, push the shutter halfway down to lock the focus settings, compose your shot, and press the shutter all the way down to take the picture.
The CoolPix B500 captures still photos in JPEG and movies in full HD with stereo sound in MP4 with a resolution of 1080p. Nikon’s Snapbridge app connects the camera to your iOS or Android smart phone or tablet, allowing you to take remote control of the camera, transfer pictures to your devices, or upload your images to the storage space Nikon provides to Nikon camera purchasers. In addition to Wi-Fi and NFC connections, the Coolpix B500 also connects to Bluetooth devices.
Like the Sony DSCWX220, the CoolPix B500 does not provide photographers with many options for taking manual control of the camera’s settings.
The camera uses four AA batteries which can be LR6/L40 alkaline batteries, FR6/L91 lithium batteries, or rechargeable EN/MH2 batteries. The alkaline batteries have an approximate battery life of 600 photos, the lithium batteries have an approximate battery life of 1240 photos, and the EN/MH2 batteries have an approximate battery life of 750 photos.
While each of these cameras have unique and interesting features, we award the title of best camera under 300 to, drum roll please, the Canon PowerShot SX-620. The SX-620 offers automatic controls to those just starting to learn about photography, while giving developing photographers the most access to the camera settings, which allows them to experiment and continue to learn. The range of focal lengths provided by the zoom lens comes close to ArsTechnica.com’s recommendation of 24mm for landscapes and architecture and exceeds their recommendations for wildlife, sports, and other types of long distance or telephoto photography. Being able to fine tune the image stabilization for different situations is a definite plus. The ability to tie the self timer to face recognition, smile recognition, or wink recognition is another plus. We like the idea of the video highlight reel for commemorating special occasions. The ability to control the camera remotely is a great asset to those who include themselves in the action. The ability to connect directly to social media sites to upload videos and photos provides freshness, immediacy, and a you-are-there feel, not only for those sharing memorable events with distant friends and family members but also for vloggers and citizen journalists. The features of this camera benefit a wide range of users, and that is why we recommend it.
Whether you are shooting still photos or movies, the Nikon Coolpix L840 is designed to be easy enough for almost anyone to use.
To shoot a movie, just press the record button on the back of the camera to start. Press the button again if you want to pause your recording or stop your recording. If you want to start recording after pausing or stopping, just press the record button again.
If you are taking photos, choose “scene auto selector” from the “shooting mode” menu, and the camera will analyze the image and automatically select its most appropriate scene mode. You can also choose the scene mode for yourself.
The available scene modes, some of which are listed under “other scenes” under the scene auto selector menu, include:
You can get a description of each scene mode by selecting a scene mode and then moving the zoom lens control from “W” for wide angle or portrait shots to “T’ for telephoto or action photography.
Each scene mode also provides you with several options to help you take the best possible picture. The options are:
Low light scenes that require slower shutter speeds for longer exposures will ask if you are holding the camera by hand or using a tripod.
When set to auto select mode, the camera will automatically choose the flash mode that best fits the scene mode it has chosen. If you select a scene mode, the camera also will automatically select the flash mode that best suits your chosen scene mode. You can choose the flash mode yourself, however, if you prefer.
While you should open the flash whenever you are shooting in low light situations, the scene modes allows you to choose from among four flash modes:
Whether you are shooting in auto scene mode or in one of the scene modes, the camera will automatically select the flash mode based on the reading it receives from its light meter, but if the camera’s meter is tricked by the lighting in some way and reads it incorrectly, adjusting the flash mode is one way to improve the picture.
The camera will automatically select a white balance setting based on its light meter reading, but you can change it to make the lighting appear warmer, with more orange and red tones, or cooler with more blue tones, or to correct for images that are very dark or that have a lot of blacks and grays or dark colors or to correct for images that are very bright or that have a lot of white or light colors.
The camera uses the white balance setting to determine what portions of the image should appear white and then bases how dark or light or warm or cool the other portions of the image should be based on the white balance setting. A sunset image, for example, can be filled with yellows, oranges, and reds with no white areas. The camera may then select a very pale yellow area as an area that should be white. That would cause the camera to lighten the other colors in the sunset and wash out the entire image, resulting in a photograph that is much less vibrant and dramatic than the image you saw with your eyes and attempted to capture. Using the sunset scene mode corrects this by automatically shifting the white balance setting so that the camera recognizes pale yellow as pale yellow and does not use it as a substitute for white.
The white balance settings on the camera allow you to compensate for certain lighting situations yourself, or to use the settings to cause the camera to shift the white balance to create a lighting effect. The available white balance settings are:
The preset white balance setting for the Coolpix L840 is simple to use:
The camera retains the preset white balance reading until you take another reading. This is the most accurate way to set the white balance for any shooting situation, and it is also the one way of getting an accurate white balance setting when you have multiple light source, such as indoor incandescent lights with sunlight from a window.
As you may have noticed, the Nikon Coolpix L840 relies on readings from its light meter to determine several camera settings. The camera will automatically select the meter setting based on the scene mode that either you or the camera select.
The available metering settings are:
The metering setting determines what portions of the image the camera uses for its light meter readings and how much importance it gives the readings from those areas.
For wide angle shots of landscapes, for example, you want everything in the background in the image, and you probably want most or all of the foreground. The camera will automatically set the zoom lens to focus to infinity. When the camera is set to infinity, it will select matrix metering, which takes light meter readings from multiple points within the image. Each point is contained within one section of a grid or matrix that evenly divides the image into portions. If you are choosing the settings for the camera, these are the settings that you should use as well.
When you are shooting a portrait or a subject in the mid-ground, such as a still life, you want the focus and the best lighting to be on your subject. You don’t want the background to distract. In some cases, though, some part of the background or foreground may add context or meaning to the image. In other cases, the background or foreground may be meaningless as well as cluttered or distracting, and you might even want both to be blurred.
You can control how much or how little of the foreground and background are in focus and how much are blurred through the depth of field you choose. Depth of field refers to the amount of the foreground and background that is included in sharp focus with your main subject. You control it by choosing how tightly to zoom in on your subject. The more tightly you zoom in, the narrower the depth of field.
In this situation, the camera will select center-weighted metering. The camera will take light meter readings from the center of your image, where it expects your main subject to be, as well as the foreground and background, but it will give priority to the readings from the center of the image when choosing the lighting settings for the image.
If you have composed your image so that your main subject is off center, you can use the arrows on the camera’s multi-selector button to move the focus area shown on the monitor to the area of your image where you want the focus to be, or you can use focus lock to lock the camera’s focus on your off-center subject. Either method will tell the camera to weight its light meter readings for the section of your image where your subject actually is located.
To use focus lock, turn your camera so that your subject is in the center of the frame and press the shutter button half way down. The camera will focus on your subject and lock the focus. Continue to hold the shutter button half way down as you turn back and recompose your shot as you want it to be, with the off-center subject, and then press the shutter down completely to capture your image.
If you are selecting the metering settings for a portrait, still life, or similar subject, you should select center-weighted metering.
However, when you zoom in on a distant subject, the settings that the camera automatically selects could leave parts of your image slightly blurred if you crop the image to focus in more tightly on your subject. This could be due to the very narrow depth of field used in telephoto photography.
When you are shooting a subject from a great distance or when you are shooting sports or action photography, you want the light meter readings to be taken from the subject because the lighting of the background and foreground may be very different from the lighting that is directly on your subject. You also don’t want the background and foreground to distract from or minimize your subject. So, you want to focus as tightly as possible on your subject to eliminate the distraction of the background and foreground as well as eliminating their influence on the lighting of your subject. This creates a very narrow depth of field. You need to make certain that your subject fits completely into that depth of field range.
More access to manual control of the camera would allow you to better fine tune the adjustments, but with the Coolpix L840, you can try zooming in less tightly on the subject or using center-weighted metering rather than spot metering.
The Nikon Coolpix L840 includes many features that help produce clear, sharp images in most situations. These include a 1/2.3 16 MP CMOS image sensor, a dual phase detection and contrast detection autofocus system, and Nikon’s Vibration Reduction system. It does, however, only shoot still photos in the JPEG file format. RAW format captures and retains all of the details of your images. Each time you edit and resave a JPEG file, it will condense the image and lose more detail. To counter this, save your photos in PNG or TIFF format before editing them.
The image sensor receives the image through the light detected by the photoreceptors it contains. The Nikon Coolpix L840 comes with a 1/2.3 16 MP CMOS image sensor. Of the two types of image sensors, CCD and CMOS, CCD image sensors can contain more photoreceptors than a CMOS image sensor of the same size because of differences in the way the two are “wired.” However, again because of the difference in the wiring, CMOS image sensors operate more quickly than CCD image sensors.
Improvements in the speed and capabilities of image processing software mean, however, that these differences between CCD and CMOS image sensors become less and less discernible. You may find either type of image sensor in cameras at many different price levels. With images that measure 4608 x 3456 MP, the 16 MP CMOS image sensor found in the Nikon Coolpix L840 produces high resolution photos that you should be able to enlarge to almost any size without graininess or blurring in most cases.
Another important factor in producing sharp image is the focusing system. The L840 uses a dual system that employs both phase detection, or tracking, and contrast detection.
Phase detection systems split the image as your optometrist would during an eye exam and then they compare the two images to determine how far apart they are from right to left and front to back. They also determine whether they are coming closer together or separating. When focusing on a stationary subject, the camera brings the two images together to obtain a focused image. In tracking mode, the camera’s software uses the information regarding the distance from the camera and the distance between the two images and the speed and direction of the changes in distance to track the subject as it brings the two images into focus.
In a dual focus system, the contrast detection system takes over from the phase detection system to bring the image into sharper focus. Contrast detection systems compare the information from adjacent pixels in the image and sharpen the image by sharpening the contrast between each one so that the portion of each image contained within that pixel is distinct and is not overlapping or being influenced by the portion of the image contained within another pixel.
Contrast detection systems, however, do have problems focusing in situations where contrast is difficult to detect. These situations include settings with low light; compositions that place a light subject in front of a light colored background or a dark subject in front of a dark colored background; subjects that have little differentiation in colors, such as you might find when taking architectural photos of buildings with white walls; or subjects with a repeated design or element, such as a series of identical windows in the wall of a building or repetitive pattern in a mosaic or frieze. A manual setting that would allow you to take full control of the camera’s settings would let you adjust the aperture or shutter opening, the shutter speed, and the ISO sensitivity to achieve a sharp focus.
The Coolpix L840 does allow you to adjust the ISO sensitivity, which is the camera’s sensitivity to the light received through the image sensor. The ISO numbers correspond to film speeds with 100 and lower representing slower speed films for use in lowlight situations and 800 and higher representing high speed films for use in brightly lit settings or for capturing stop motion, high speed action, and sports shots. In low light settings, the Nikon Coolpix L840 can choose a shutter speed that is too slow, allowing for blurring due to either camera or shutter movement. Any time the camera is likely to use a slow shutter speed, you should use a tripod to eliminate the chance of camera movement. You can also cause the camera to give priority to the ISO sensitivity over the slow shutter speed by using the ISO menu to select “fixed range auto” and setting the ISO range to 125-800. This may add some noise to the image, but that can be corrected with photo editing software.
The EV or exposure value setting also gives you some control over the aperture setting and shutter speed. Most photos range from very dark, shadowy areas to very bright. Cameras choose a midpoint between these two extremes as the exposure value. When the scene consists of many very light, brightly lit areas – such as a snow scene or an architectural scene containing white walls – cameras can choose a midpoint that is too bright leaving areas that should be white looking gray. When the scene consists of many very dark, shadowy areas – such as nighttime or forested scenes -- areas that should be dark will be too light and bright.
To correct this with the Coolpix L840, when the scene is brightly lit or contains many areas of bright, you can increase the EV setting up to two steps above the camera’s automatic setting by 1/3 of a step each time. When the scene is heavily shaded or when it contains many dark colors, you can decrease the setting down two steps below the camera’s automatic setting by 1/3 of a step each time.
The range of the zoom lens, from 22.5mm to 855mm, surpasses the recommendations of both PCMag.com and Arstechnica.com. Both Arstechnica.com and PCMag.com recommend a zoom lens with a wide angle range of at least 28mm for group portraits. For panoramas, landscapes, and shots of architecture, Arstechnica.com recommends an even wider 24mm range, but the Nikon Coolpix L840 surpasses that with its 22.5mm wide angle range.
For telephoto images of wildlife, performances, sporting events, and action images, Arstechnica.com recommends 200 mm zoom lenses or even 400mm superzoom lenses, but the Coolpix L840 far surpasses that with its 855mm zoom range. In addition, the Coolpix L840 adds an additional 76X digital Dynamic Fine Zoom and macro mode with a range of 1 cm.
Near or far, you should be able to capture any image.
If you want to capture movies, you can capture them in full HD with stereo sound for showing on your widescreen TV or in smaller file sizes for sharing by email or on the internet.
You can send your movies or photos to your Android phone or tablet for sharing on the internet either by WiFi or NFC.
You can easily take portraits and movies of friends, family, and pets or record still images and videos of interesting things you encounter during the day. So, whether you use social media, a blog, or a vlog, this camera lets you share everything and anything you want to share.
These two are very similar cameras. Both have CMOS image sensors, but the Canon PowerShot SX-620 has a larger image sensor at 20.2MP versus a 16 MP image sensor for the Nikon Coolpix L840. On the other hand, the Canon PowerShot has a smaller optical zoom range than the Nikon Coolpix – 25mm to 620mm as compared to 22.5mm to 855mm. Both have the same macro zoom range of 1 cm.
Both have single subject tracking, but while the PowerShot can keep up to nine faces in focus, the Coolpix only focuses on two faces. Both have face and smile detection, and the self timer on both camera’s can be tied to face and smile detection. The Canon PowerShot also detects winks, and wink detection also can be tied to the self timer to trigger the camera shutter.
Both capture full HD videos at a resolution of 1080p, but the Canon PowerShot only records monaural sound while the Nikon Coolpix records sound in stereo. However, the PowerShot offers a hybrid mode that captures up to four seconds of video along with each still shot. The Canon then stitches the hybrid images into an HD highlight reel at a resolution of 720p that you can share.
Between these two cameras, the Canon PowerShot has the more sophisticated optical image stabilization system. The PowerShot senses when you are panning to take a panorama shot and allows motion in the direction of your pan while correcting for other motion. When you are shooting a movie while holding the camera, it compensates for camera shake that is created if you walk to follow the action. If you zoom in for a telephoto shot of a distant subject, such as a hot air balloon or a flying bird of prey while capturing a movie, it compensates for the magnified reaction to camera movement that occurs in long range zoom shots.
While both offer WiFi and NFC connections, the Canon PowerShot can upload photos and videos directly to social media sites. The PowerShot also connects to both iOS and Android devices, and an app is available that allows you to take full control of the PowerShot from your phone or tablet. By comparison, the Nikon Coolpix is compatible with Android devices only, and you can control only the shutter from your phone or tablet. Further, before you can share your videos and photos n the internet, you must upload them to your Android device.
The biggest difference between the two, though, is that the Canon PowerShot offers P mode, which allows you access to full manual control of the camera.
So, the Nikon Coolpix L840 is a versatile camera with a lot to offer, especially if you want a camera that reliably takes really good pictures without requiring you to learn how to use a lot of features and controls that can be confusing and frustrating. On the other hand, if you think you or someone else who will be using the camera might want to learn more about photography and eventually take more control of the camera settings, then the Canon PowerShot is a camera that allows you and your family to grow as photographers.
The CMOS image sensor on the Sony DSCWX220/B comes in in between the Nikon Coolpix and the Canon PowerShot with 18.2 MP. It has a smaller optical zoom range than either of the other two cameras at 25mm to 250mm. Like the Nikon Coolpix and the Canon PowerShot, the Sony DSCWX220/B captures movies in full HD with a resolution of 1080p, but like the PowerShot, the Sony DSCWX22/B offers monaural sound only. However, the Sony has a control setting to reduce wind noise as you record movies.
While the optical stabilization system in the Sony DSCWX220/B isn’t quite as sophisticated as that of the Canon PowerShot, it does recognize sweep panorama shots of up to 360° and stabilize those.
The Sony DSCWX220/B takes face recognition one step beyond either the Nikon Coolpix or the Canon PowerShot, though. Like the other two, face recognition can be tied to the delay timer so that the camera waits for a few seconds after recognizing a new face entering the scene so that the photographer has a chance to get into the picture, but it also uses face recognition to prevent distorted images in panoramic images, even if people are moving as you sweep the camera to create the shot. Face recognition depends on whether or not the people in the image are directly facing the camera lens for all of these cameras, though.
Like the Nikon Coolpix, the Sony DSCWX220/B relies mostly on its automatic settings and does not allow photographers to take full manual control of the camera. Also like the Nikon Coolpix, the Sony DSCWX220/B is compatible only with Android devices. You can share your images and movies with these devices or control the camera’s shutter through either a WiFi or NFC connection.
One thing you can do with the Sony DSCWX220/B that you can’t do with the other two cameras is make BluRay discs of your images and movies directly from the camera.
The Sony DSCWX220/B, like the Nikon Coolpix, is for those who want a camera that captures images and movies without requiring them to master complicated controls and settings.
The Nikon CoolPix B500 is Nikon’s updated version of the Coolpix L840. The range of the zoom lens has been extended from 22.5mm to 900mm. The Coolpix B500 is compatible with both Android and iOS devices and connects through BlueTooth as well as WiFi and NFC. You can upload your photos and movies to your Android and iOS devices and use them to control your camera’s shutter. Like the Coolpix L840, the Coolpix B500 is for those who want a camera that takes high quality pictures without requiring them to master complex controls and settings. The Coolpix L840 is such a good camera, though, that Nikon didn’t change a lot.