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Picture perfect

With the longer days and warmer nights of summer comes more photo opportunities than you can shake a selfie stick at. But getting that perfect #nofilter shot isn’t down to luck, it’s about picking the right camera for the job and using it well.

How do you find the right one?

Laurie Field, our buying assistant for mobile, photo and wearable technology, spends every day looking at the latest and greatest cameras out there.

“The first thing you need to think about is what you want from your final photo,” says Laurie. “If you want to take a quick shot of your friend on the beach and put it on Instagram, then your mobile is perfect for that.

“Smartphones now fit pretty large sensors into very small handsets, and image quality is getting better and better. For a lot of people that will be perfectly adequate to get the picture they want.

“But if you’re more focused on getting the best quality image, a standalone camera from our DSLR or compact system camera (CSC) ranges might serve you better. They have much larger image sensors, higher megapixel counts, and ultimately offer much greater control over how your photograph is going to turn out.”

Don’t know your shutter speed from your ISO? Don’t be put off

“I think people do find the idea of DSLRs and interchangeable lenses a bit daunting, but you don’t have to be a professional photographer to buy one of these cameras. They’re getting easier to use and many of them come with guide modes built in, so you can learn as you’re using it. That’s part of the fun, and a great feature to look out for if you want to improve your photography skills.”

So, what are some of the other features you should be looking out for when you buy a camera?

“Megapixels are still the easiest way to tell you how much detail and definition you’ll get from a camera. But there are other things to be aware of, like the quality of the sensor and features like image stabilisation and zoom.

“Phone cameras are getting better in all of these respects, but a standalone camera will always do better. Zooming in particular loses a lot of detail on a smartphone, whereas if you have a camera with a zoom lens, the image quality stays the same no matter how close you get.

“Then there are more practical things to consider, like vari-angle screens that can flip out to help you when you’re taking photos from difficult angles. They’re great for festivals and worth looking out for.”

The traditional camera market is adapting for our photo sharing needs, too

“Obviously, a big benefit of taking photos on your phone is that it’s very easy to share them with your friends and put them on social media. A lot of the cameras we stock now have wi-fi, so once you’ve taken your shot, you can easily send it to your phone or computer to upload, giving you the best of both worlds.

How do you choose between all the different models?

“We’re seeing a big rise in our compact system cameras, which essentially give you a lot of the same features as you get in a DSLR, but they’re smaller, lighter and easier to use.

“They still have the large sensor so you get a similar picture quality as you do in a DSLR, and they also have interchangeable lenses, so you have the flexibility, too. The biggest difference is that they don’t have a mirror system, so they’re smaller and much easier to carry around.

“Even with just the standard 18-55mm lens that they come with, you’re going to be able to take a lot of different shots, and learn the type of photos you like taking.”

For the serious photographer

Laurie says there’s only one thing you should be investing in.

“6K is the next big thing in photography, definitely. We stock the first real mainstream 6K camera, the Panasonic GH5, and it’s an expensive piece of kit, but it’s selling well because of the images it can produce.

“6K is a really premium feature. I think people who are still buying high-end cameras are really looking for the things you can’t get in a smartphone, and that is the absolute best in image quality.”