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Compare digital cameras

We’ll walk you through the steps to choose the best digital camera for you.

Quick facts about digital cameras

  • There are several types of cameras ranging from basic point-and-shoot models to high-end DSLRs
  • Prices range depending on the type of camera, brand and features available.

Types of cameras

If you’re looking for a digital camera, you have several styles to choose from. Each type of camera is suited to different activities.

Check out descriptions, pros and cons of some of the most common camera styles below:

TypeProsCons
Smartphones
  • Convenience
  • Camera quality is improving every year
  • Instant photo-sharing
  • Poor image quality compared to digital cameras
  • No optical zoom
  • Limited creative control over images
Compact or point-and-shoot
  • Small and ultra-portable
  • Affordable
  • Virtually silent
  • Easy to use with minimal set-up
  • Image quality can’t compete with larger cameras
  • Limited flexibility in terms of zoom, cropping and manual controls
  • Typically slow to focus
  • Most do not have an optical viewfinder
Superzoom, megazoom or ultra zoom
  • Relatively small
  • Easy to use with minimal set-up
  • Optical zoom offers more versatility
  • Cost can approach many low-end DSLRs
  • Image quality does not match those of higher-end cameras
  • Can be noisy
Mirrorless
  • Smaller and lighter than a DSLR
  • High image quality
  • Interchangeable lenses allow for more flexibility
  • Fast shutter speeds
  • Virtually silent
  • Most include built-in image stabilisation or optical stabilisation
  • Slower autofocus than DSLRs
  • An electronic viewfinder can be hard to view in low light and some models do not include a viewfinder at all
  • Shorter battery life than DSLRs
  • Fewer choices in lenses than DSLRs
DSLR
  • Professional image quality
  • Interchangeable lenses allow for more flexibility
  • Fully manual control options
  • Fast autofocus
  • An optical viewfinder shows you exactly what the camera will capture
  • Long battery life
  • Larger, heavier and less portable than other types of cameras
  • Expensive, especially if you plan to purchase additional lenses
  • Require some knowledge of photography to get the best results
  • Can be noisy
Action cameras
  • Portable
  • Durable
  • Designed for adventures and extreme conditions
  • Limited photo quality
  • Not usually designed for still images

For more information about each type, click on the names below:

How to compare digital cameras

One of the first things you should consider is the size and weight of any potential camera. While a DSLR might help you capture amazing photos, if it’s too big to carry around with you regularly you’ll miss photo opportunities. Next, consider what you need in terms of the following essential features:

Speed

Generally, budget cameras are slower performing. The number of photos a camera can take in one second is referred to as frames per second or FPS. The higher the FPS, the quicker the camera can take photos. If you regularly shoot action shots, sporting events or wildlife, look for a camera with a high FPS rating. However, some faster-performing cameras sacrifice resolution for speed.

Manual controls

Most compact cameras offer fully automated settings including shutter speed, aperture and ISO. While this makes a camera extremely easy to use, you have limited options to control your images. More advanced cameras offer a fully manual mode that lets you take the exact photo you want. While using manual mode requires practice, it’s worth the effort if you want full control.

Lenses

With an interchangeable lens camera, you can tailor your camera to meet your needs. High-end compact cameras can have quality lenses, but they don’t allow you to swap lenses. With a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you can buy as many lenses as you want in a wide variety of styles. Keep in mind, lenses can be costly and not all lenses are compatible with all cameras.

Resolution

Camera resolution is measured in megapixels (MP). Cameras with higher megapixel counts allow you to make larger and clearer prints. If you do not plan on printing large images, there is no need to buy a camera with the highest number of megapixels possible.

Zoom

A digital zoom works the way your camera phone does, by essentially cropping and blowing up a photo, which reduces the image quality. Optical zoom uses a moving lens to help get a closer and clearer image. If it’s within your budget, look for a camera that offers optical zoom.

ISO

ISO is a camera setting that allows you to brighten or darken an image. A low ISO is around 100 and high ISOs can go up to 6,400 or more. Higher ISOs will make photos taken in low-light look brighter. However, the higher the ISO, the more noise or grain an image will have. Cameras with larger sensors allow you to take images with a much higher ISO before image quality is affected.

RAW vs JPEG

Most cameras turn your images into JPEG files. Higher-end cameras allow you to shoot in either JPEG or RAW. RAW images are much larger files that capture the entire detail of a photograph. They give you more flexibility and control when editing photos, but take up around four times or more space than a JPEG.

Autofocus

Pretty much every digital camera comes with autofocus. DSLRs generally have the fastest autofocus, followed by mirrorless cameras. Try out the autofocus on your camera before you buy it. If you end up with a camera that can’t keep up with the photos you want to take, you’ll miss out on a lot of good shots.

Stabilisation

Electronic image stabilization (EIS) reduces blur in images but often reduces image quality while doing so. Sensor-shift stabilization or in-body image stabilization (IBIS) is typically more effective than EIS. Optical image stabilization (OIS) is very effective, but typically only found in high-end lenses.

Additional features to look for

Viewfinder

An optical viewfinder on a DSLR uses a mirror to let you look directly through the lens and see exactly what your camera is going to capture. An electronic viewfinder (EVF) gives you a digital preview of your shot with your current camera settings. EVFs are easy to use, but can be difficult to see in certain lighting conditions and are not as accurate as optical viewfinders.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi capability allows you to upload and share photos to your phone, tablet or computer without connecting any wires. Some brands have their own apps that you can download to your phone to sync photos automatically and even control the camera using your phone or tablet. If you want to be able to quickly share your photos straight to social media, look for a camera with built-in Wi-Fi.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

As with many Bluetooth speakers, NFC allows two devices to connect simply by being within a few centimetres of each other. If you have an NFC compatible camera, you will be able to transfer images to a smart device by placing the camera next to it. NFC can help you share photos almost instantly and can be helpful if you’re travelling and don’t have access to Wi-Fi.

Touchscreens

Not every camera comes with a touchscreen. If you want to be able to swipe through photos and navigate menus as you would on your smartphone, look for a model with a touchscreen.

GPS

GPS allows you to geotag your photos to keep track of where each one was taken. Some cameras have GPS built in and many offer options for add-on GPS unity. Either way, running GPS on your camera will drain the battery more quickly so turn it off when you’re not using it.

Durability and waterproofing

Weatherproof and water-resistant cameras are typically sealed to keep out light rain and splashes whereas waterproof cameras are designed to be submerged underwater.

Where to buy cameras online

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