The Latest in Digital Cameras

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Did your shutterbug awaken after previewing some of the photos from this year’s Interprofessional Photo Contest? Did you find yourself frowning at your smartphone camera or lack of camera? I did. While I have not seriously followed photography since my days with my single-lens reflex (SLR) film camera, the photo contest rekindled my interest. After a bit of research, here’s my look at the latest and greatest in digital cameras.

Wi-Fi-Enabled Cameras

For impromptu pictures and picture-sharing, the smartphone reigns king. However, for more formal or more planned photo ops, you may be hankering for a better-performing camera. With Wi-Fi-enabled cameras, you get the best of both: the photo quality of a dedicated camera and the sharing capabilities of a smartphone.

Pros:  Photos can be uploaded directly from the camera into social media or online storage platforms, or they can be sent to a dedicated app on your smartphone; many options can be found for under $200. 

Cons: Smartphone apps that come loaded on these cameras may be finicky; user experience may be limited for those without an Android- or Apple-based smartphone; their usefulness is debatable, given the constant improvement in smartphone cameras.

My Pick: Samsung DV300F Dual View Smart Camera, which features a front-facing liquid crystal display (LCD) screen for all your self-portraits.

Wi-Fi SD Cards

If you already have a digital camera, but want to be able to share pictures wirelessly, consider Wi-Fi  secure digital (SD) cards. These have built-in wireless transmitters allowing you to view photos on any device connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

My Pick: Eye-Fi  SD cards.

Mirrorless Cameras

A more recent innovation in digital-camera technology, “mirrorless” cameras, claim to have the photo quality of a DSLR, or digital single-lens reflex, camera, the big cameras you see professional photographers lugging around — without the bulk. Featuring compact camera bodies and interchangeable lenses, these cameras are situated to replace DSLRs for the amateur photographer. Prices range from $200 for heavily discounted older models to $1,000-plus.

Pros:  Impressive photo quality, can handle non-ideal lighting conditions, interchangeable lenses, small body, packed with features, such as high-definition (HD) recording, built-in photo filters and editors, image stabilization, face detection, etc.

Cons: Interchangeable lenses are expensive (prices usually start in the hundreds of dollars), bulky and manufacturer-specific, and may lack more advanced and professional features found in high-end DSLRs.

My Picks: Olympus PEN and Sony Alpha NEX models.