Can you guess which question I get asked the most?
If I had a dollar for every time I got asked ‘Which camera should I buy?’, I would be rich…or at least have a couple more lenses in my bag.
So, which camera should you buy?
Answer: I don’t know.
There are A LOT of factors that go into purchasing a camera. Especially a dSLR camera. This is like asking me which car you should buy…I’m not exaggerating.
I may not be able to tell you exactly which camera to buy, but I can offer you some advice:
(Disclaimer: I’m using Nikon and Canon as examples because these are the most popular consumer, prosumer, and professional brands. Also, these are my own personal views and I’m only speaking from my own experience. I am not, nor do I claim to be, an expert. I highly advise you spend time doing your own research and reading reviews.)
- Figure out your budget.
- What will you be using your camera for? Is it for travel, personal hobby, maybe you want to go pro, or to capture your family? If it’s for travel, will you be ok lugging around a dSLR camera and lenses? If it’s for personal use, can you afford an expensive hobby like photography…because, trust me, photography is by far the most expensive thing I’ve gotten myself into. More expensive than shoes and handbags.
- Ask yourself if you really need a dSLR camera. Do you really want to worry about changing lenses or having to spend more money on a new lens? Would a point & shoot be enough for what you need? You’d be surprised at the quality of some point & shoots out there and some produce better quality photos than a lot of dSLR cameras.
- Go into a store and play with the different bodies. Canons and Nikons feel different and your camera should feel comfortable in your hands. I found Nikon to fit mine better and I found it more user friendly BUT a lot of people told me that about Canons when I was looking, too. Also, Nikons are a bit heavier thus sturdier which is what I liked, too. I didn’t like the way Canons felt plastic-y. Def. give them a physical look over.
- Do some research. I would narrow it down to maybe 2 or 3 cameras and compare them and read the reviews on them.
And here are some buying tips:
- If this is your first dSLR camera, purchase a kit which usually includes the camera body, 1 or 2 lenses, and sometimes a camera bag and other accessories.
- Check different retailers such as B&H, J&R, Adorama, Amazon, and even Costco (I got my first dSLR from Costco). They usually have the best deals. Also, for SoCal locals, Samy’s Camera has no tax sales several times a year. Get on their mailing list to be alerted.
After purchasing your camera:
- NEVER EVER leave your camera/camera bag in the car. It will get stolen.
- Don’t use a camera bag if you’re not going on a professional shoot. You might as well wear a sign that says “mug me”. I use my Nikon camera bag to store lenses and other gear at home. I use a diaper bag when I’m out.
- READ THE MANUAL. I know it’s boring, but if I told you you’d become a better photographer after reading your manual, would you read it? Ok, YOU WILL BECOME A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER AFTER READING YOUR MANUAL.
- Shoot anything and everything. Practice makes perfect and this definitely applies to photography.
- Another reason why you should shoot anything and everything: you will discover your style. And once you discover your style, you will know which lenses you need. Don’t just purchase a lens based on what the internet or your friend is going gaga for – you will end up regretting it and/or be stuck with a lens you never use.
I hope some of these were helpful to you. Here’s a great post about buying a dSLR camera and in the bottom he lists his camera picks (which I agree with). Ultimately, it’s not about buying the best camera, it’s about buying the right camera…FOR YOU.
I have several more of these FAQ type posts lined up and they’re all questions I get asked often. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or email me.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite photography quotes: “The best camera is the one you have on you at that moment.”
Until next time! xo