By: Brianna Zantman
How the heck do I buy my first camera? A friend of mine recently wanted to buy a camera, as spending more time at home has led more photo enthusiasts to pursue their hobby with better equipment — for beginners this might mean graduating from a point and shoot or iPhone to a DSLR.
It can seem intimidating, but with the right research and perfect guide (the one I’m about to provide to you) you’ll be set. So here is what to look out for:
The Most Important Factor: What is Your Goal?
Knowing what type of photography you are interested in or the results that you are looking for will help determine what camera will be best for you, here’s a few questions to get you started:
Are you interested in portrait, sports or nighttime photography?
If portraiture is your passion you will want to make sure your camera is compatible with portrait lenses. Some cameras do not have the option for interchangeable lenses. This is one of the most crucial steps in growing your photography — I will talk about this more later, as when in search for the right camera you should consider how it can grow with you in the long run.
Interested in sports? Then you definitely will need a camera with rapid fire shutter speeds and one that is capable of continuous shooting.
Check out DP Review’s Buying Guide to Sports and Action.
Does night time street life or capturing beautiful sunsets fascinate you? Then you’re going to want to pay attention to cameras that have high quality IOS’s. The higher your IOS the more light your camera will capture. But be careful, a high IOS can quickly lead to a grainy photo.
High end recommendation: Sony a7 iii Highly recommend looking at the IOS comparison on this beauty compared to any other camera. It has crazy high IOS opportunities.
Going for a more nostalgic look? Or wanting to expand your skills?
I recommend trying out a film camera. Not only will it give you the dreamy vintage vibes you might be yearning for, but it’s also a great way to expand your photo skills if you’re looking for a new challenge.
Want an easy introduction to film? I recommend the Minolta Maxxum 7000
Interested in getting into the nitty gritty of film and want to control everything? I recommend the Olympus OM-1
Do you care about video quality?
Some cameras have incredible video quality with just ~good~ photo quality and vice versa. Me personally — I don’t take videos on my Nikons, so it’s not a feature that I pay much attention to.
Is studio work more your gig? Or do you plan on taking your camera everywhere you go?
If you’re interested in creating your own home studio, make sure your camera has a hot shoe attachment for different flashes or wireless connectivity to other lighting equipment.
Check out Ken Rockwell’s recommendation guide which includes lots of lighting equipment and accessories as well.
Whether you’re on vacation or more interested in environmental photography, the lighter the equipment the less of the headache you’ll have from lugging around clunky cameras, so make sure to check out of the weight of the camera you’re looking at.
Check out DP Review’s Buying Guide for Travel.
How much time are you willing to spend on learning something new?
Looking for a fully manual camera or something that has automatic settings is something to keep in mind as there is always a learning curve when picking up a new hobby.
Who doesn’t like wifi connectivity?
Again, considering your budget will be a huge factor in this perk, but having the instant connectivity is helpful for any self-portrait lover.
Sensor Size and Budget
When it comes down to it, sensor size and budget are the two biggest considerations. The bigger the sensor the better the image quality. Larger sensors allow for more light and more of your scene to be photographed — but this can cost a pretty penny. Determine how much money you are willing to spend first before you start comparing high end models with large sensors.
A Camera That Grows With You
Once you become the master of your own camera is when you should upgrade, it will take some time, but having a camera that will grow with you is important. As your skills develop you might want to try different lenses or different shooting techniques, having a camera that is adaptable in this way will only help you in the future.
Don’t Give Up
So you bought your new camera… and there’s so many buttons and you don’t know what to do!? Just breath, I gotchu. Start easy and slow.
Ask a photographer friend if they would be willing to walk you through with easy to understand language of how the different settings work. Watch YouTube tutorials and just start experimenting.
Most importantly, remember this: a fancy camera does not automatically equal great shots, it’s the photographer behind the camera who works the magic.
Give a non-experienced photographer the most expensive camera you can find and it’s a safe bet the photos will turn out terrible. Give a pro a beginner level camera and you will be stunned.
So don’t give up! You, with time and patience, can be the true master behind the art if you try.