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How to Pick a Camera for Better Portraits

Learn which cameras are best for portrait photography from professional photographer Joe Sinnott in this Howcast photography tutorial.


Hi, I'm Joe. I teach photography at the School of Visual Arts in New York. I'm going to talk a little bit about choosing a camera for taking portraits.

I have a point and shoot camera. I like it lot. It's a ton of fun. It's not a great choice for shooting portraits because the camera doesn't have very good latency. Latency is the interval between pushing the button on the camera and having the picture actually happen.

With a little camera like this, a little under-powered camera like this, when you push the button, you've got time to go use the bathroom, paint a room, and retype the phone book before the picture actually happens and that's not a great way to shoot a portrait. When you're shooting a portrait, you want to hit the button and have the picture actually happen right away when you see whatever it is in the view finder.

A DSLR is usually a much better choice for shooting portraits in part because they have much better latency characteristics. When you push the button, the interval between pushing the button and having the picture happen is actually very, very short. And one of the things you're paying for when you get into more and more expensive DSLRs are performance characteristics. Basically, pushing the button and having the camera happen much, much faster.

One of the things that you can do even with a DSLR that's a little on the slow side is when you frame up your subject and you get them in the position that you want, if you push the shutter reliefs half way, the camera will lock exposure and focus so long as you don't take your finger off the button, it will hold that. And then you just push the button the rest of the way and the picture will happen right away and it won't have to keep hunting focus frames to frame.

And those are a few tips for choosing a camera for better portraits.

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