The most frequent question I get pertaining to photography is “What kind of camera should I buy?”
And I get it. Buying a camera is a huge investment- not only in terms of dollars or euros, but in your memories. If you buy a camera you hate, your photos will suffer. And if photos suffer, scrapbooks suffer. And if scrapbooks suffer, nostalgia suffers. And no one wants nostalgia to suffer.
The trouble is that I’ve bought the raddest camera around (Canon 5D Mark II- it’s a professional camera. I don’t recommend buying one until you really know what you’re doing. It’s a POWERFUL machine), so I don’t look at cameras or lenses anymore. I’d love to add to my lens collection, but that’s going to be a next year purchase. This year I want to be solvent.
And new camera models come out ALL THE TIME. It’s kind of crazy how often Nikon or Canon releases a new hobby DSLR. As far as I can tell, they’re the same old camera, just with new names. So, in this post, I’m not going to direct you towards a particular brand or model. What I WILL do, however, is give you guidelines- tell you what to look for when purchasing a new camera.
The first thing you want to ask yourself is, “Self, do I have any intention of learning how to use this camera?” Because if you don’t (and it’s totally okay if you don’t want to), save your money and space and get a good point and shoot. Seriously.
I know, I know. Everyone is getting a DSLR these days. And they look awesome. And expensive. And make a great sound when you take a photo. I totally get the appeal. Trust me.
But DSLR cameras are enormous. And heavy. And don’t fit in your purse. So, really, if you’re not going to learn how to use the controls, if you’re not going to use your focus points, if you don’t care a thing about ISO, f-stops, or shutter speed, then stick with a top-range point and shoot.
And to find out what point and shoot is the best at this particular point in time, simply Google, “best point and shoot.” At this point and time, PC World rates the Canon PowerShot S100 as the best point and shoot around.
But if you DO want to learn how to use a camera, here’s what you want to think about:
*How well does the camera work in low-light situations? Because remember, the light from a pop up flash doesn’t flatter anyone.
*Does the camera autofocus with all available lenses? My first camera, a Nikon D60, didn’t AF with the cheap 50mm lens I bought. And since I wanted to shoot with my 50mm (pretty much exclusively), the D60 became useless to me, and I had to upgrade.
*Do you intend to shoot video with the camera? If so, you’ll want a DSLR that has AF in video mode (the Nikon D90, for instance, doesn’t)
*How many focus points does it have? Some cameras have as little as three. Some have as much as 45. Three is too little. 45 might not be necessary.
*How fantastic are the brand’s lenses? Because remember, you’re not just investing the 500 bucks in a camera. If this becomes more serious, you’ll be investing in lenses. And if you’re shooting with a Canon, you’re going to need Canon lenses. Pretty soon, you’ve invested thousands in a brand, and it becomes difficult to switch halfway through.
*Is the newest Canon/Nikon/Sony the best it offers? Just because it’s newer doesn’t mean it’s better. I still maintain the Nikon D90 is some of the best value for money you’ll get. It’s the body of a Nikon D300 at half the cost. And since it’s older, it might be cheaper than some of the newer models out there. Does it have it’s drawbacks? Of course. It doesn’t AF in video mode, for one. But it’s still an EXCELLENT camera.
My takeaway message is this: Before you buy a camera, Google it. Google the reviews. See what people are saying. See if people are saying, “Save your money and buy a refurbished camera.” Reviews are so, so helpful.
Whatever camera you buy, DSLR or point and shoot- I suggest you spend a few hours learning how to use it. And *shameless plug* what better way to learn than with a Starting Out Workshop offered by yours truly? I offer fancy camera and point and shoot classes for those just starting out on their photography adventure!
Good luck! And happy shooting!
Posted by sarah