Types of Cameras Complete Guide

Last Updated on March 16, 2021

If you are looking for the best film camera or digital camera then it can be difficult to know what to get with all the options and models out there. There are many different types of cameras and whether you are a beginner just getting into photography or a pro looking to shoot with a different camera style this guide will get you where you want to be.

What Are The Different Types of Cameras

line of camera being held up

Below you will find the guide to the different types of cameras and what style of photography they are best suited for.

Compact Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless cameras offer one of the most significant leaps forward in technology for cameras in a generation. These cameras offer nearly all of the features that you get from a DSLR camera but they are significantly lighter, more compact and usually cost less than their DSLR counterparts.

As the name would suggest, these cameras operate without the need for an internal mirror to reflect light to the sensor.

Light enters a mirrorless camera and goes directly into the sensor and the image information is then sent directly to the camera’s LCD screen. Mirrorless cameras offer an exceptional alternative to a DSLR camera. Mirrorless cameras are becoming very popular with professional photographers around the world who shoot in many different styles.

Mirrorless camera design generally offers an electronic viewfinder as opposed to using an optical viewfinder.

Because these cameras offer exceptional performance in a lightweight and compact package, they are incredibly popular with traveling photographers.

Mirrorless cameras offer you tons of control over your image quality and they excel as adventure, travel, wedding, and event photography cameras. Many models come with built in Wifi and video capture. There are a growing number of lenses giving flexibility in shooting environments.

Modern mirrorless cameras are a real player in the professional camera market. They offer exceptional image quality with truly stunning results while coming in at a lower cost than comparable DSLRs. To check out the article with recommended models check out the best mirrorless cameras.

Recommended Mirrorless Cameras

Canon EOS M50
Sony a7R III

DSLR Cameras

The most popular camera style for professionals and hobbyists around the world, DSLR’s have earned their popularity with superb performance and ease of use. No matter the style being shot, there are many photographers shooting it with a DSLR.

DSLR cameras get their design from 35mm film cameras. But there are two primary styles of DSLR cameras and it is important to know the difference. When looking at DSLR cameras you will find crop frame sensor models and full frame sensor cameras.

Full frame cameras are the higher end models of the two, and they offer higher image quality due to their larger image sensor.

Crop sensor DSLRs can still provide you with good performance and they are a great entry point into taking photography more seriously. They offer some solid performance at a much lower price than their full frame counterparts.

Lenses are compatible between crop sensor and full frame sensor cameras but lenses do not offer identical performance when on a crop frame or a full frame. This difference in performance is again due to the difference in sensor size.

DSLR cameras offer a wide assortment of lenses to choose from which makes DSLRs an attractive option. You will find lenses all across the price spectrum as there are both amateur lens lines and professional lens lines.

DSLR cameras offer a photographer a lot of control over their settings as well. They usually offer both fully automatic mode and fully manual modes. Some DSLR cameras provide you with the option of setting aperture priority and shutter priority too.

One of the most popular features of a DSLR is that they have an optical viewfinder and offer better performance in low light shooting conditions.

Recommended DSLR Cameras

Canon EOS Rebel T6i
Nikon D7500

Medium Format Cameras

Medium format cameras are very high end specialized cameras most often utilized in shooting professional advertising photography.

You will not see a lot of these cameras as they are extremely expensive. Top models cost upwards of $50k! They offer amazing image resolution and produce truly awesome images. They offer larger sensors than even a full frame camera.

They are not versatile cameras and are rarely used in photography styles other than advertising. They do not offer high burst speeds or sophisticated autofocus systems. But for those in the market for a medium format camera this is not an issue.

Recommended Medium Format Cameras

Hasselblad H6D-100c
Hasselblad H6D-50c

Adventure Cameras

If you like shooting your back country snowboarding trips, watersports, or any other adventures then you may want to get an adventure camera. These cameras are designed withstand whatever rough and tumble conditions you throw at them while still providing solid shooting performance.

Adventure cameras offer similar performance to compact camera models. This means that they do not offer all the performance and features of a DSLR or mirrorless camera. But this is necessary for them to stand up to the conditions of adventure photography.

The top models offer a shockproof and weatherproof design. The lenses are equipped with strong glass and they are generally compact and lightweight making them perfect for traveling.

These cameras are not designed for professional shooting but they do offer a great camera option for those who live for great experiences and want to photograph their adventures.

Recommended Adventure Cameras

Nikon W300
Olympus TG-870

Advanced Compact Cameras

An advanced compact camera is a great camera type for people looking to advance beyond shooting with a smartphone. These cameras are a great hobbyist camera style has they offer more features and better image quality than standard compact cameras while maintaining easy functionality.

These cameras offer you the ability to shoot in manual modes for more control over your camera settings. This is a great way for the budding photographer to start honing their skills without dropping as much money on a camera.

With the ability to shoot in higher resolution than standard compact cameras and phone cameras while still being lightweight, these are a great style.

Recommended Advanced Compact Cameras

Canon Powershot G3X
Sony RX100 IV

Zoom Compact Cameras

Zoom compact cameras are ideal for photographers looking to shoot higher quality images than they can with their phones without stepping up to a DSLR or Mirrorless camera. These compact cameras have a fixed lens that comes with powerful zoom functionality. These cameras really shine over a phone in their ability to zoom in on distant subjects. Zoom range usually is in the 28-300mm range.

These cameras also offer you automatic exposure with manual setting options as well. These are easy cameras to shoot with with just enough settings to help you get a great shot.

Recommended Compact Cameras

Canon Powershot SX540
Panasonic Lumix ZS50

Point and Shoot Compact Cameras

Point and shoot cameras are the most popular entry level camera for people who want to start taking pictures without worrying about manual settings.

These inexpensive cameras offer easy operation. Simply line up your shot and press the shutter release. The camera is fully automatic meaning that you do not have to adjust any settings.

A point and shoot compact camera is lightweight and travels well. They are great for shooting family and social events and are even a great option for the young aspiring photographer.

These cameras have built in flashes and a zoom lens making them a solid all around performer. They won’t produce pro level images and they won’t be able to shoot in all situations but they are a very good entry point for the new photographer.

Recommended Point and Shoot Compact Cameras

Nikon Coolpix A300
Canon Powershot ELPH 190is

Camera Types Wrap Up

There are a lot of camera options out there for your to choose from. But once you know what cameras are best geared for your particular needs it is easy to get a great camera for your photography style and skill level.