The Perfect Family Camera Purchasing Guide

June 28th, 2016

The camera on your phone likely serves as your family camera most of the time. If your child is doing something unbearably cute, you whip out your phone and capture the moment as it is happening. However, there are occasions when you may want more options than what your iPhone or Galaxy Series can offer. It’s worth the investment in a family camera to capture those memorable moments at the family picnic in sharp detail. June 29th is National Camera Day, and since cameras are pretty important in our line of work, we family camera purchasing guidethought we could help you celebrate by giving you some useful information to consider when buying a family camera. There’s a lot of industry lingo that probably means nothing to you, and may as well be written in Greek. We put the following tips together to help serve as a guide to purchasing the perfect family camera.

Know “The Holy Trinity” – ISO, aperture, and shutter speed are referred to as the Exposure Triangle. This is because they control how sensitive your camera is to light (ISO), how much light is exposed to your camera (aperture), and how long your exposure lasts (shutter speed). You’ll want to talk with someone you trust about how to gauge these factors because your needs will determine what kind of camera you should consider.

  1. ISO – Simply put, a higher ISO means a brighter picture. This number tells you how sensitive your camera’s sensor is. Don’t assume that a higher ISO means better pictures in a dark environment, though. SIDE NOTE: A good rule of thumb is that the bigger the sensor, the better the picture.
  2. Aperture – Think of aperture and light as you would a faucet and water. It controls how much light enters your camera. That can have a variety of effects on your images, and can result in overly bright or too dark photos. Aperture is identified by a number with an “f” in front of it, e.g. f/10. This can be a bit tricky to understand because a lower number means MORE light. So, f/3 is brighter than f/18.
  3. Shutter speed – This determines how long your camera’s “eye” stays open. The number measures how long your shutter remains open, measured in fractions of a second, for example, 1/125. This means the shutter remains open for one 125th of one second. The shorter the amount of time the shutter is open, the better it will be for action shots. If you plan on taking lots of sports pictures, you’ll want a very fast shutter speed.

Choose Your Lens Wisely – One lens is not as good as another, but there’s no industry standard to adhere to that will help you determine which lens is better than another. High-quality lenses are made with glass and durable materials. That’s not to say that lenses made with plastic are automatically low-quality. A good rule of thumb is that the heavier the lens is, the better it will perform. Your experience may vary.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better – Megapixels have become shorthand to describe the quality of an image. Really, though, all they do is determine how much data your camera will capture in each image. This dictates how big your image can be before starting to lose quality when printed out. If you don’t plan on going much larger than a 6×4 print-out, a 3-megapixel image will suffice. Check with someone you trust to give you specific advice for your situation.

We hope this serves as a bit of a cheat sheet for you if you’re looking to purchase a new family camera. We highly recommend talking to someone you trust who does photography professionally (or even as a hobby), because your specific needs and wants for the camera will vary from others. One event you won’t have to worry about capturing is school photos. If you haven’t signed up for picture day reminders yet, you can do that here on our main site.