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I'm looking to purchase a compact camera that has all the common features e.g. portrait, landscape, video etc. But can also allow me to take pictures of stars and city lights, and will allow close close up shots (e.g. single flower).

I relatively new to photography, so I'm not looking for the best out there, but I don't want a cheap one either. I'm looking for one in the middle in terms of the ratio of image quality to price.

Currently I am looking at the Canon s120, Canon G series (trying to figure out which one would be for me), Sony DX100 (but i'm not sure which one to buy as I see there are multiple versions, and the latest one isn't always the best one), but would love for some help on which cameras I should look into or opinions on the listed cameras.

marked as duplicate by dpollitt, Itai, inkista, mattdm, Michael C Dec 22 '15 at 1:27

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I have found that the Sony NEX line is great for beginning photography. It's a class called compact mirrorless, which is basically an entry level DSLR crammed into an almost point and shoot form factor (but not quite!).

It has full auto mode so you should be able to use it as if it were a point and shoot, but you have the manual options if you want to experiment. Some shots, astronomical ones in particular, are impossible without manual modes.

Close-ups, on flowers for instance, are better with at least focus set to manual, because auto focuses use higher f stops than are really necessary, so you can't get that cool out-of-focus blur on the out of focus portions(called bokeh) as easily. It is also harder to get the particular flower you want (say, in a cherry tree, auto-focus will try to focus on the tree rather than your particular flower).

I started astrophotography setting my NEX-3N targeting a light across the lake for focus, then setting my camera down on stump and setting the exposure to 15 seconds. I moved on to better techniques(you'll want a tripod), but I still use the same NEX-3N(and the kit lens, no less!).

Video is good as well.

This one is a class up from mine, but is only $250:

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Compact-Interchangeable-Touchscreen-18-55mm/dp/B005IHAIHA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1450730683&sr=8-1&keywords=sony+nex+5

To sum up, it can do astronomical shots, is very compact (though not quite pocket-able), you can treat it like a point and shoot in auto mode but has all the manual settings and changeable lenses so you can transition to a more DSLR like experience without buying a new camera. And if you do decide to go full DSLR later, you will have a better idea what you need from the experience.

Pros:

  • Very cheap for the capability(it's an outgoing model, hence the deal)
  • Great quality images, competitive with entry DSLRs like the Canon Rebel
  • Same APS-C sensor as entry DSLRs(will DESTROY almost every point and shoot for light exposure, essential for astrophotography)
  • Manual mode just as complete as a DSLR, essential for astrophotography
  • Interchangeable lenses
  • Much more compact and portable than a DSLR
  • Good Video

Cons:

  • No viewfinder (Bright sunlight on the screen can make shooting difficult, try the NEX-7 if that's a deal breaker)
  • Sony E-mount lenses aren't as prolific as other, more established competitors like Canon or Nikon
  • Not pocket size like a point and shoot
  • Not a con per say, but this only one of many in this class, so look around!
  • Thank you! I will look into it, though size would be quite a big factor for me, all the pros you've listed seem very compelling! Thank you for the detailed advice and tips! :) – Soph Kay Dec 24 '15 at 0:12
  • You're welcome! Size was an issue for me too, and for me this was the best compromise. I don't know of anything smaller that can do astro photography, so you'll have to pick whether you want convenience and availability(always having a camera in your pocket is a real consideration, the best picture is the one you actually take) or more capability. And pocketable is more of a spectrum anyway, a good big cargo pocket could handle this easily :) – wedstrom Dec 27 '15 at 1:26

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