Ask LH: What Is The Best Camera For Selfies?

Image: iStock

Dear Lifehacker, I'm interested in getting a camera that has a remote control to take self-portraits. What do you recommend? I don’t mind something easy to use, it doesn’t need to be super high-tech, and I don’t like bulky cameras. Also is there some sort of mini tripod that goes with the camera? One I can put on a desk. Or do I need a regular tripod? I'm on a budget, I can spend maybe up to $2k all up? Eek, is that impossible? Thanks, Rena

Dear Rena,

I'm going to give you probably the clearest and simplest piece of advice that I've ever given in one of these segments. I know exactly the camera you should buy, because I bought it myself. (Not specifically to take self-portraits, but it does that very well.)

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You should buy the Fujifilm X100F. It's a $1800-ish compact camera made by Fujifilm with a beautifully detailed 24-megapixel sensor and a fixed 23mm f/2 lens. I bought mine in black, but they're kinda hard to come by at the moment; you can also get it in silver. (One distinction here: compact camera usually means a point-and-shoot camera with a retractable zoom lens. But in this age of small mirrorless cameras with large sensors like the X100F, I wouldn't buy a point-and-shoot.)

Images: Fujifilm

There are a few reasons I'm recommending the X100F so wholeheartedly, and they're the same reasons that I picked one up before my trip to the US. It's small and portable at only 52mm thick and 470g. It has a dedicated optical viewfinder that you can switch to an electronic one if you want to. It takes excellent photos in automatic mode but you can switch it to entirely manual functions with dedicated on-body controls. Its brand new 24-megapixel sensor captures detailed photos even in low light but doesn't destroy highlights.

If you're specifically considering self portraits, then you'll want to install Fujifilm's Remote Camera app (for iOS and Android). It lets you view exactly what the camera's pointing at in real time as a live preview, adjust exposure and focus and other shooting details, and set timers — and just click away over and over. From there, you can transfer those photos to your phone through Wi-Fi (in the same app) and edit them (use Snapseed! on iOS and Android) then post them wherever you want.

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I use a little inch-tall mini tripod that came with my Samsung Gear 360 on the X100F, but any mini tripod like a Gorillapod should be great for what you need. A small full-size travel tripod (I have a carbon fibre Slik with a ball head) will give you a full-height photo that you could use if you want full-length self portraits from a distance.

And yes, sure, it has a fixed lens — no zoom. But the best thing that smartphone cameras have done in the last 10 years is make people realise that you don't need a zoom lens to take good photos. If you find the X100F's 35mm-equivalent lens too restrictive after a while, you can buy a 50mm-equivalent tele converter, which gives you a focal length perfect for classic shoulders-up portraits, or a 28mm-equivalent wide converter, which will give you a field of view very similar to what your phone already captures.

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With a little mini tripod and the remote control app on your phone, this is what you can expect out of the Fuji X100F. Crisp focus with face detection, shallow depth of field, and nice colour and highlight and shadow tones even in default settings:

I'm going on an adventure! Just starting my road trip from LA to Yosemite, first stop Bakersfield, CA.

A post shared by Campbell Simpson (@csimpson) on

And this is what you can expect if you're holding it at arm's length:

A week ago, I climbed a mountain. And then I was too scared to move or look at the view.

A post shared by Campbell Simpson (@csimpson) on

If you want to use it for landscapes and other kinds of photos, it does alright:

I spent all of today here and I want to go back and never leave.

A post shared by Campbell Simpson (@csimpson) on

It's a great camera and I'm very happy with mine. I think it'll do exactly what you need very well.


Comments

    I think I missed the whole selfie thing. I still remember when most people hated having their picture taken. Now when I see a selfie a lot of the time I'm thinking "get out of the way so I can see the rest of the photo".

    oh and get off my lawn

    PS. I've got a friend who also goes climbing in Yosemite. It looks incredible.

    Last edited 01/08/17 3:07 pm

    Could not disagree more! I have a Fuji camera, I love it more than a man really should love an inanimate object. It looks sexy, the low light performance is great, the photos it takes always look stunning straight out of camera. But it is not in any way a selfie camera. You've obviously never actually tried to take a selfie whilst tethering your camera to your phone. Camera in one hand, phone in the other, while you try to frame the shot, look at the camera and tap the shutter button on your touch screen phone at the same time. It's an exercise in futility! If you want a camera specifically for selfies, then you want a 180 degree articulating screen so you can frame the shot perfectly one handed. The best camera for that right now in my opinion is the Sony RX100 V. Yes the sensor is smaller, and you don't have as many sexy dials to fiddle with, but it's still decent quality has a useful zoom range and practically half the size of the X100F.

      Both those Instagram embeds are done how you suggest, with the X100F -- one with a tripod and phone remote, and one handheld and finger on the shutter. All it takes is a bit of practice and decent aim.

      RX100V is incredible and I'd recommend it extremely highly as well.

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