A question that I get asked quite frequently as a photographer is, ‘What camera should I buy?’. Firstly, I am always happy to help advise on this because it means you are entering in to a wonderful visual world, where capturing moments and memories are important to you. Hence you are a person after my own heart. Secondly, every photographer out there will give you their own point of view based on their experience and so the recommendations could vary so much.
Now I am no expert on all cameras out there, but as I get asked about this a lot, I thought I would give my own advice, based on the usual request that comes from the average person, who likes to take photographs and is considering buying something better than their phone to capture images with.
As for buying a camera, I say look at three points and it helps to narrow down your choices.
1 What do you want to use your camera for and where will you be using it
2 Do you have a budget and is it continuous
3 How do you learn
Think about how you currently take photographs. When and where do you take them? Are you on the move? What are you mainly taking photographs of?
So for example, if you always like to be taking photographs out and about and on your travels, do you need a light compact camera that is easy to take everywhere, get in and out of a bag swiftly, use with ease and use quickly? Conversely are you happy to have a bag, shoulder strap, extra lens and batteries potentially? (My pro camera bag with laptop is my whole hand luggage on holidays and weighed 13kg when I went to Costa Rica but that is normal for me!)
Are you taking photographs of landscapes and would like wide angle?
Are you taking photographs of pets and moving things, so a fast shutter speed to capture movement is important?
Are you taking photographs of people, or objects, so something that lets in good light would be useful?
Do you need a flash that you can turn on and off as required, or even have not mounted to the camera to control your lighting more?
All cameras will have this kind of information online that tells you what it offers so you can work out what is more important for you.
People feel they have to spend a fortune on getting a big digital SLR to take on photography, but if you never take it out because it is too heavy, then what is the point. The new iPhone 7 with its portrait mode is incredible!!! (My next purchase I think) Don’t be drawn in to the bling if it is not really practical for you and your lifestyle. Compact cameras these days have amazing functions and I often head out with my little Sony compact on those days when I need to travel light, or to not have to worry about my pro camera.
Having a DSLR is awesome obviously, but with it comes repairs, sensor cleaning, the want to buy more lenses and generally an ongoing budget. You can do more with a DSLR but only if you learn how to use it. (Hence my third point of how do you learn?)
I know so many people with expensive cameras that never take it off auto so it is doing no better than what a compact can capture really. If you love to watch You Tube clips, download photography tips, or maybe can even pay for a little tuition, then a DSLR with lenses is practical. If you simply want to read one page of a manual that tells you which button to have the camera on for what, then maybe a compact is the way forward for you.
Now on the other hand, if you really fancy taking on photography and love to learn new skills, go for the camera with lenses and in-depth functions, because it opens up a whole other world of creativity.
Sources for learning
There are loads of photography cheat sheets on there that help with the basics
There are no end of videos on how to do things for your photography tuition if you are the kind of person who likes to teach themselves
I can recommend several photographers depending on your location that do 1 to 1 training and even online courses, so do get in touch if this is of interest. We are hoping to run something like this at our new business of St Marks Stays, so follow the Facebook page and we will announce on there when we do set something up.
For if you start investing more and want to edit your images in Photoshop, or Lightroom
Sources for comparing cameras
You can often put in the camera model and it gives you all the information and technical details.
Sony compact cameras
I have one that means my husband can use it on auto and I can use it with the manual functions so it works for both of us.
Panasonic Lumix compact cameras
We have had a few of these and easy to use.
(Sorry not a Nikon person so can’t give the best advice on those but again can put you in touch with people than can help)
The Canon 750D is today’s equivalent of what I first started out with and shot several weddings with only that one camera
Mirrorless cameras are becoming more popular but I know several photography friends that like and dislike them, so a bit like Marmite. Not used one myself as the slow to focus element puts me off at the moment.
To give you a little glimpse, then check out the current results of a survey going on in The Guild of Photographers as to what the professionals are using.
If you are looking for a camera, I hope this helps to get you thinking about what may work best for you and enjoy your new photography journey.