I am often asked by student clients which camera they should buy? It’s a minefield out there – so much choice, new terms and you really do not know where to start looking. There is no one definitive answer to this question, so here are a few guidelines that I regularly offer to help…
- Don’t buy a pack – buy body and lens separately. The idea of a pack may be sold to you as being very attractive and a good deal, but the chances are that the lens included will be a zoom lens and as such will not offer a low enough f-stop to enable your creativity to shine though.
- As said, don’t buy a zoom lens – a good place to start is 50mm – such a versatile lens – what is called a fast lens, known for its ability to capture low-light photographs. The focal length, when put on a full frame camera is more or less how the human eye sees. They are small and therefore light and will happily shoot most types of photography. My own 50mm lens was a gift from my mum about 20 years ago and has been a workhorse ever since. If you are investing in a 50mm lens, do your homework as the prices vary tremendously depending on the quality of the glass and how fast they will shoot.
- Buy the best lens you can afford – it will be a life long investment – you can upgrade the body anytime. As you have read above, my own lens has been with me a long time and has seen four or five bodies during that time.
- Consider a full frame camera rather than a crop frame camera (or crop camera) Does the camera have a full frame sensor or a crop sensor? The full frame camera will always be the more expensive of the two. When you look through the sensor, it is like looking through a large or a small window. This does not bother some people, but if you are going to take most of your photographs in a small space, then a full frame camera is the one to go for.
- Factor in money for a tripod… you will get so much more value from your lenses if you do – and buy a remote shutter release cable for a few extra pounds whilst you are at it. Again, which tripod I hear you ask. The answer is the one that will keep your camera safe! Many cheap, flimsy tripods may blow over in the wind or wobble over if you accidentally knock it indoors. Yet again you only get what you pay for – the more expensive the better the spec. I have had the same Manfrotto tripod and head for more years than I care to remember. That says it all…
- Always consider second hand – there are specialist dealers – ring up and talk to them, I have used on particular supplier for my film cameras for over a decade and they are always so very helpful if i ring up. Going back to the full frame camera against a crop frame one. If you can’t afford the full frame camera of your dreams, then I would strongly recommend looking into second hand. Things to be wary of are how many shots it has fired and also if you buy from abroad check on any taxes that you will have to pay over and above the asking price. Once again, I prefer to use my two or three tried and trusted outlets here in the UK.
- Do your homework so that you are completely happy with what you are investing it – speak to people, do go a local camera club exhibition, go to trade shows, speak to shop owners – online or on the high street. Write down what you want from your new kit to avoid being overwhelmed. If you are, then make your polite apologies and leave to consider and do more homework!
I know I said 7 tips, but here are a couple more. Ask yourself these questions…
What is my budget?
What do I want to shoot – this may change but be clear in your head when you buy your first camera. If you just want to take up photography then ask yourself what resonates with you, look at photographs that you really like – are they indoors or outdoors, children and families, nature, landscape… Chat to your family and friends if you are not sure – the answer may be right under your nose 🙂 To help further – have you read my previous post? Maybe go back and reread that and grab the checklist to work through to help you.