When it comes to choosing your first camera, everyone has to start somewhere. Then once you’ve got to grips with the ins and outs of settings and lenses, and found your hobby has suddenly become your passion, you’ll likely be looking to step up to the kind of tech that represents your drive and rapidly advancing skills – enter the enthusiast camera.
These bigger, tech-savvy bodies incorporate everything from mirrorless to DSLR, and APS-C to entry-level full-frame. They come with bags of features, improved low-light handling and a wider range of advanced features. Just the ticket to help push your image quality up a notch.
If you’re heading beach-side this year, these great underwater tough-cams are well worth a look.
Packing 1/2.3in sensors, they offer you near-identical image quality to the compacts in the next list. However, unlike anything else in our test, these all-weather wonders are designed to withstand the worst. Whether it’s snorkelling in the ocean, or scaling the face of a mountain, you’ll find something here for you.
Of course, they do have downsides. The only camera which supports RAW shooting is the Olympus, with both the Panasonic and Fujifilm delivering JPEG files only. They also lack touchscreen functionality, a sacrifice which allows them to work below the briny depths. Although these features may be missed, this option is still a lot more practical than spending money on an underwater housing.
Smartphones have made such an impact, that fixed lens camera production has dwindled in the last decade. While this may sound like sad news that drives up the average price, for the consumer it means that companies are having to keep up with the latest tech. In short, these cameras may be compact, but they all come with bells and whistles that may surprise you.
Each one is a high achiever in its own right, with focal lengths landing in the hundreds, and nifty autofocus systems to guarantee sharp shots. They also manage to offer impressive image files, with many possessing the ability to shoot in RAW file formats, meaning you can capture more information in every shot.
As an unexpected bonus, the 180° tilting screens have given the humble compact a second life among vloggers and holiday makers. The ability to see yourself as you shoot has become a sought-after commodity, and in-built image stabilisation helps create smooth footage. Whether you’re a budding YouTuber, or just somebody looking to document their travels, this is the section for you.
One common term you’ll hear around photographers is ‘zoom with your feet’. It relates to using prime lenses, and having to effectively move yourself if you want to get closer to the object you’re shooting. However, in the case of bridge cameras – or as they’re sometimes known, superzooms – this is never an issue. With our longest focal length clocking in at a frankly obscene 35mm equivalent 2000mm, you’re even able to shoot the moon without leaving your seat – just crack open the window!
This optical marvel brings obvious strengths, such as being able to capture subjects at great distances, and cutting costs on otherwise expensive lenses, however, they all feature smaller sensors than DSLRs. The Panasonic and Sony feature a 1in CMOS sensor, though the Nikon features a 1/2.3in sensor, which is the same size as a smartphone. Also, in the case of the Nikon, you can’t shoot RAW images, only JPEGs. This doesn’t mean you can’t get amazing results, but areas such as low-light performance won’t match APS-C or full-frame cameras.
Are you jealous of the portable compacts? Do you want a more pocket-friendly setup, but yearn for something with a bit more oomph? Then get ready to open your wallets – this is the place for you! These ultra-premium compacts sport either APS-C sized sensors, the same as many advanced mirrorless or DSLRs, or in the case of the Leica Q, a full-frame 24.2MP sensor, which gives it exceptional image quality.
Larger sensors bring a whole host of benefits, such as better low-light performance, larger megapixels and improved image quality, a must if you’re looking to create large prints. You also have the benefit of remaining incognito – perfect for street photography.
You’re limited to a single lens, of course, whether that be the zoom of the Canon G1 X MkIII, the fixed 23mm f/2 of the Fujifilm, which offers an equivalent of 35mm, or the Leica’s 28mm f/1.7. However, this glass tends to sport gloriously wide apertures, which are ideal for shooting in low light, as well as getting dreamy bokeh in your out-of-focus areas.
With every new camera purchased, the model it replaces in the buyer’s kit bag will, in turn, become the latest addition to the buoyant secondhand market. Camera retailers and auction websites are rife with bargains, especially at this time of year.
Tech-savvy consumers can easily grab some of the last few generations’ very best, for an absolute steal. We’re listing our hottest picks for some of the best-value secondhand cameras on the market, sure to suit all budgets and needs. We’re even including a handy buyers’ guide, so you can easily dodge any potential duds as well.
With the major camera companies releasing a slew of new cameras and lenses, our first thoughts always turn to carrying solutions. The humble camera backpack, which is anything but these days, comes packed full of chunky dividers and spacious compartments, making finding the right one incredibly tricky.
So this month we’ve decided to dedicate an entire group test to finding the perfect backpack. Whether you want a multi-purpose day bag or something that will double as a fashion statement, we’ve got you covered. These are our top ten picks for the best backpacks on the market…
Cameras. We love them, but even we marvel at the sheer number of different models. If you’re stepping into the world of photography for the first time, it’s going to be a daunting place. Do you go DSLR, or is mirrorless the way forward? Should you stick with a compact camera, or invest in a bridge camera with a superzoom lens?
We can’t give you a definitive answer to those questions. The kind of camera that best suits you is a personal affair, and one that depends on a great many factors. That said, we can offer you a head-start. These nine entry-level cameras are a great place to begin, whatever your budget…
A dedicated lens can really help to get the most out of your subjects and take your portraits to the next level. This selection boasts a wide range, all within that focal length sweet spot, which will really flatter your model. They also feature wide apertures, perfect for creating those beautifully blurred backgrounds.
Without further ado, here are the ten best portrait lenses guaranteed to give you amazing results…
Whether it’s the subtle changing of the leaves, the wispy clouds floating in front of deep scarlet sunsets, or hazy coastal sunrises, autumn is a landscape photographer’s dream.
With such a vast array of stunning possibilities to add to your portfolio, you’ll want to make sure that you have the best tools to capture the scene. Of course, you already have your camera, so now it’s time to attach a good wide-angle landscape lens.
The following ten optics represent not only excellent quality, but also outstanding value, making them ideal for all skill levels and every budget.
Fast aperture lenses are rightly seen as the pinnacle of optics, which may explain the hefty price that’s often attached. These behemoths offer users a host of benefits, such as a shallower depth-of-field, better light gathering abilities and stunning bokeh in the out-of-focus areas.
Many professionals swear by fast apertures. The extra stops of light they capture often mean the difference between getting the shot or missing it.
While there are literally hundreds of telephoto lenses on the market, we’re limiting our search to those with a maximum aperture of f/4 and wider, and 100mm and over. Here are Kirk Schwarz’s pick for ten of the best.
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If you like to shoot street, landscapes or architecture images, a wide-angle lens is an absolute must. These optics allow you to pack more of a scene into the frame, and can help create a feeling of depth. But their ultra-wide angle-of-view isn’t their only appeal – they’re also fairly compact and lightweight, making them perfect for outdoor photography, plus they have a close minimum focusing distance. To help discover which is the perfect wide-angle optic for your camera, we’ve tested 7 of the best for APS-C DSLRs…
Fixed focal length prime lenses offer unparalleled image quality, with little distortion and great sharpness making them the choice of professionals the world over.
Every manufacturer has a capable f/1.8 prime to suit any budget in its range, but the most coveted lenses are usually those with the widest apertures, thanks to their ability to let in more light than traditional kit lenses, allowing us to work handheld in much darker conditions than normal. So for this month’s group test we’re exploring the wider world of primes, with a range of focal lengths on offer from 24mm to 135mm.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 wide-aperture primes under £1000...
Here are our 10 best telephoto zooms under £1200
If you’re eager to get closer to the action, then a telephoto lens should be at the top of your wishlist. These powerful optics are the perfect partner for wildlife or sports photography, as they allow you to zoom in tight to shoot high-impact images.
Most feature built-in image stabilisation systems to help minimise camera shake, which is more of a risk when shooting with longer focal lengths.
However, some of these larger lenses can be rather heavy, so come with a tripod socket to transfer the weight. We’ve tested 10 of the very best telephotos under £1200 to reveal the optimum telephoto lens, and with prices starting at just £269 there’s something here to suit all budgets...
Here are our 10 best macro lenses under £1000
Close-up images, by their very nature, demand the highest quality from the lenses we use to capture them, so in these situations most photographers will reach for a macro.
These specialist optics allow the focal point to be extremely close to the end of the lens, which means you can fill the frame with minuscule detail and magnify small objects to achieve impressive – and often surreal – results, and reveal worlds otherwise unseen.
We’ve rigorously tested 10 of the best macro lenses currently available. All of the lenses here boast a true-to-life reproduction ratio of 1:1 or more, and are available for under £1000. Let’s find out who makes our top ten...
Lenses are such an integral part of photography, but we always judge them by the same standard. Is the image sharp? Are the corners free from vignetting? Is the chromatic aberration evident?
Sometimes we forget that they are simply tools – a means to an end. But what do you do when you want to take a break from the norm and capture an image with a bit more of an artistic feel to it?
Luckily there are options designed just for you. With creativity in mind, this month we are checking out lenses that each give a different and unique effect to inspire your creativity.
Some of these are as cheap as £10, while others are a bit more expensive. Kirk Schwarz looks at 10 of the best creative lenses...
Here are our 10 best mirrorless travel lenses under £1500
Travel photography – with its alluring promise of exotic lands, different cultures and tropical vistas – used to be the preserve of the professionals, as they were the only photographers with the time, funds and gear necessary to capture the best images at the world’s best locations.
But now, thanks to cheaper airfares and more keenly priced kit, great travel images are within reach of all of us. And it’s mirrorless cameras and lenses that sit right at the top of the packing list, as their capabilities now equal those of DSLRs, making them great compact and low-weight alternatives to their chunkier cousins.
Let’s check out the 10 best mirrorless travel lenses under £1500...
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