This is one of the most asked questions I get by amateur photographers or by people who want to be photographers, how do I choose my camera?
It is a good question and this post will be short and with probably no pictures so it is mainly stuff to consider. A sort of lay of the land and most of it you’ll already know I imagine.
Here is a random picture because I’m a photographer and if you are then you like looking at pictures.
So back to the main story, how to choose a camera.
The first thing is to know that it is gear. Gear can only be chosen when you know what the gear has to do, so you have to learn what gear can do, and what it can do is determined by what you want to do with it, ish.
What I mean is, the first question isn’t what camera, but what type of photography, since this determines what camera operator skills you’ll need and the gear it will take.
For example the picture above was shot with a Nikon D700 and a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens. It was shot at about 100mm and around 2.8. This gave me a certain depth of field (the humans are in focus while the background isn’t) and a certain level of foreshortening (lens focal length changes how far apart things look along the axis of the shot).
Anyway, without being technical, you can see that if you want to shoot portraits and you want to shoot with a shallow depth of field, then you’ll need a camera that can give you an aperture on your lens of 2.8 or smaller.
Notice all of this is tech talk about photography and isn’t talk about cameras. This is my point. How to choose a camera starts with making sure you know what you want to shoot, then learning what it took to shoot it.
But just so I’m not being a complete jerk, here is a quick intro to cameras.
There are cameras whose lens comes off and ones where it doesn’t. If they come off and you look through a viewfinder then they are probably Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras.
DSLRs means that you’ll need a bunch of lenses too so the best thing to do is find a friend that has a bunch and buy a camera that their lenses fit. If they shoot Canon, then buy Canon. If they shoot Nikon, then buy Nikon. etc.
DSLRs are fairly big. The other family of cameras that exist now and are superb beasties if you get the right one are the Compact System Cameras, or Mirrorless Cameras (even though some have mirrors).
The CSCs are much smaller but also have a great range of lenses. Olympus and Fuji and Sony for example make some superb CSC cameras.
Any camera you buy will have a certain maximum resolution and it will have an image capture sensor of a certain size. Sensors the size of a 35mm film are called full frame. Sensors less than that have fancy names like APS-C etc (hit up Duckduckgo to do more research ((it is a search engine that doesn’t track you… www.duckduckgo.com))).
So there are two factors at work so far. Size of camera. Size of sensor.
Bigger sensors are often better with low light and can give you better depth of field control but it is all much of a muchness.
Smaller cameras are superb and are easier to handle, especially for travel photography.
Go to dpreview.com and have a read about cameras to get a really good idea.
Now you don’t have to get a camera whose lens comes off. You can get one with a single zoom lens. This will do the job if you get the right one (for a time). If you are serious about giving photography a go though then in the end you’ll invest in a camera system.
The good thing about big brands like Nikon and Canon is that there is a vast selection of good quality second hand lenses on sites like Gumtree (I’ll do a post on how to judge a second hand lens a bit later).
Beyond the camera and lens you’ll eventually need to think about a flash, a tripod, a reflector, a decent camera bag, several memory cards of the right speed, a way to back up your data on the go and a way to back it up when you get home and finally a computer to edit your images on because no matter what anyone says, if you shoot digital, you’ll eventually have to touch a computer.
I realise this post may have rambled but I am hoping that from it you drew the following.
- Decide what type of photography you most want to do.
- Research the behind the scenes of how the style of shots you like where shot.
- Find out what friends have cameras and figure out what resources you can borrow (legally and with permission).
- With all that in mind, decide if you want to carry a big camera around or a smaller one. Smaller cameras have smaller lenses. Their shoot quality is near enough to being the same. There are pros and cons thus dpreview.com.
- With all this in mind figure out how much it will cost and do more research.
Or just bit the bullet and go get a second hand Nikon D300s off Gumtree with the original twin lens kit (around $400 probably) and go out and shoot or pick up a Canon 70D with a similar kit and go shoot then flog it on Gumtree once you figure out the ups and downs of what you want to do.
See how helpful I am. 🙂
You can write to me below if you have specific questions. I generally get to them.