Cameras for Bonsai photography
Start with what you can afford or borrow.
If you put a camera on a tripod in a lighting environment where you control a lot of the variables. Your camera's bells and whistles will become less important to start with. So in other words if you have access to a starter camera start with that.
You can use any good quality digital SLR to capture great images.
Ideally you want to put this camera on a good quality tripod.
Camera phones are great, if you want to get a photo of a tree on the run that shows the essence of the tree, you can get that on a camera phone with not too much fuss. Also if you want to test other factors like lighting or modifiers you can view this on your phone very conveniently.
Also camera phones and videos are great for progress shots documenting growth or work you are doing on the tree.
Where you will start seeing differences between camera phones and SLRs is in depth of field and apeture controls.
Small digital cameras
These cameras are almost on-par or very similar to phone cameras except they can have optical zoom lenses instead of the digital zooms on phones. Some of these cameras have wireless built in to make transfer of images easier.
Digital SLRs - What a complex mix - and too many choices.
I will include the new range of mirrorless style digital cameras in this section as well as the more traditional digital SLRs.
Some of the more modern variants the lenses are bigger in height than the camera bodies.
Some of the older DSLRs will do a great job on this without too much initial outlay, but the modern cameras with improved auto focus and ease of use can improve the experience.
A key point to consider is that you may be worth spending more on the lenses than the camera itself, if you really are starting to push the boundaries.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will put in some example shots taken with a variety of cameras so you can get a feel for the differences.
A couple of key differences to consider when looking at these cameras.
Camera Backs and tilting displays
You may find you prefer a viewfinder to the back of the camera, but also some of these camera backs tilt up allowing you to have the camera lower, but still view the image without stooping.
Plugging your camera into your computer
A key difference between some of these cameras is to be able to connect to the computer and either view the shot image of what you have just taken on the big screen, or also control the camera itself from the PC. This can be very helpful when looking for anomalies that need to be cleaned up, like spider webs that are sitting in the tree, that you just wouldn't see through the viewfinder, but once on the big screen almost take on dinosaur like proportions.