We were barely into our photo tour when it became obvious that Christine came with lots of questions. She was excited to learn photography, but she was clearly in research mode.
Christine wanted to buy a new camera, and she wanted some advice about what she should buy and why.
On just about every photo tour I've ever led, I've heard questions about gear. They usually fall into two categories.
- You usually want to buy something new, and you need to justify it.
- You want to make sure you save money and smart purchase.
In this episode, I answer many of the questions I continually hear from you. Consider it the Completely Biased Camera Buying Guide 2015.
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Why you need to upgrade
- The camera matters
- The Internet gurus tell you the camera doesn't matter.
- They're partially right. The camera can't tell your subject, lighting style, composition, story, etc.
- Once YOU make those decisions, your camera can either help or frustrate you.
- Improve quality of life or quality of the photo
- Quality of life – this feature so improves the photography experience that I can’t imagine having to live without it again.
- Quality of image – this feature allows me to create far better images than my previous camera could under the same conditions.
- Upgrade from kit lens ASAP. It's the bare minimum. It hampers your ability to create.
- Buy a fast prime. It's the best value for your money.
- Buy a medium zoom. It covers the widest range of possibilities.
- Pick a genre or niche and the best lens to help you create within it. Go deep with your passion.
Seven features worth upgrading over
- ISO Range — Double the range of your current camera.
- Screen size and features — Look for improved LCD resolution. When you review your images, they will look much clearer and sharper. A fully articulating screen — that can flip out and swivel — is one quality-of-life feature that doesn’t get enough credit.
- Durable design — Prosumer and professional cameras, the bodies are larger and constructed of the more durable magnesium alloy. These bodies boast features like weather seals that are also dust resistant. If you are planning to give your camera a workout in a wide variety of unpredictable conditions, then you will definitely want the sturdier body. If you value a smaller footprint and plan to shoot in controlled environments, the lighter cameras might be good enough for you.
- Wifi and social features — Consider the newer wifi-enabled cameras with social sharing functions. Now you can take a photo, transfer it to your phone using wifi, and post to your favorite social network.
- Image processor — Generally speaking, this provides a more responsive camera, as images are recorded much faster with each improved generation. You can also expect better image performance, as the new processors can yield better image ISO performance as well as greater dynamic range. Two generations of improvement should be enough to realize the quality-of-life improvement.
- Autofocus capability — Early DSLRs offered just three auto focus points. Now increased numbers and 3D allow you to acquire and hold your subject more accurately.
- Menu options — Provides more sophisticated ways of controlling the camera and flash
What the camera salesman won't tell you.
- You don't need more pixels, you need more options — 18 - 24 MP is plenty for most applications.
- The version before the one they just announced is good enough & will save you money.
- You don't need that many lenses. Buy the basics. Rent the rest How often will you use that 8 mm fisheye?
- Stick to Nikon & Canon for your DSLR. Choose Sony and other niche for mirrorless.
- Save money for lens and accessories — tripod, flash, protection, and strap. Build them into your budget, not as an afterthought.
- You don't need a UV filter. You don't.