December 4, 2012
If you discover you have an interest in photography and decide to buy a camera, there are a few things to consider to get the camera that is right for you. It’s a purchase that needs to fit with the type of photography you want to pursue. So lets start by looking at a few things that may help you decide a starting point when looking to buy.
A pivotal question is; how much are you prepared to spend? Once you know your price range you may have narrowed down your search to some degree. Camera gear can be obscenely expensive and be aware that many people have fallen prey to the notion that “The camera maketh the photographer”. A big expensive camera is not the best fit for all situations.
Areas of Interest
What do you intend to shoot? Different aspects of photography require specific equipment. If you want to shoot landscapes you will more than likely want a wide-angle lenses. If you want to shoot birds or sport you probably require longer faster lenses. If you are into discreet travel photos you may want a camera that is unobtrusive. If you are interested in insects you will need a good macro lens. If you want to shoot your mates at the pub, a mobile phone camera is a good fit. If you want to have a quality camera with you always you probably want a high-end compact.
Do I need a compact or DSLR (digital single lens reflex). What are the differences?
DSLR have interchangeable lenses with more options than you can imagine.
You can buy into a system so that the lenses you buy for your cheaper body will fit the pro-body you are lusting after.
When looking through the viewfinder you are seeing the image through the lens itself.
DSLR’s accept a range of accessories, which makes them extremely versatile.
As a rule they generate bigger files than compacts and the more money you spend the more advanced the technology.
With more options of functions and accessories comes a need for more knowledge to get the most out of them. Many people only utilise a fraction of the potential of their DSLR and a good compact would have been a better fit for their photography.
DLSR’s can end up being massively expensive with a pro-kit costing as much as a car.
They are bigger and heavier.
They are virtually foolproof and the menus are simple to navigate.
They are unobtrusive and much less threatening than a big camera
As a rule compacts are an all in one unit, which have a built in zoom lens and built in flash.
They are light weight and small and therefore more likely to end up in your pocket when you go out.
They lack the flexibility of manual controls of DSLR’s.
Cheap compacts have a pronounced lag between when you press the button and when the camera actually takes the photograph. The worst I have experienced was about 2 seconds of lag. An eternity!!!!!
File size is often smaller than DSLR’s.
They tend to have lesser levels of technology compared to high end DSLR.
Megapixels are not the “be all and end all”
A phone camera is not the equal of a DSLR but as a means of keeping record of your life’s journey they are valid and convenient image making devices. No, the quality is not in the same league but a phone is always with you and for what they are, the cameras are getting remarkably good. By virtue of the limitations of lens and the basic controls, they are in a sense generating a very specific style of photography, a look unto it self. The super compact if you will. If your phone takes the images that offer you all you need as a photographer, then it’s the right camera for you.
Big Versus Small
How must stuff do you actually want to carry? Ok, you are on holiday; you are about to walk out the door to visit the markets and do a bit of site seeing. Are you more likely to pick up a high quality compact camera that fits in your pocket or lug around a 15kg backpack full of camera gear and a tripod? In this situation the DSLR will attract more attention to you and though it may produce better files it is probably a liability.
What are your aspirations as a photographer and what are your intentions for the finished images? If you are looking at photography as an on going concern, either as an enthusiast or as a profession, chances are you will need to look at a DSLR as they provide a greater flexibility with interchangeable lenses and a huge range of accessories. The technology that goes into a higher end camera means the files carry significantly more information and are better suited to being enlarged without degradation. This means the photographs you take could be used in publications or large prints for exhibitions.
As with any purchase you want to end up with a piece of kit that suits your needs. You want to buy the camera that you are likely to use the most. Get online and find some reviews about the types of cameras you are interested in and talk to people in camera stores about the feedback they have received from customers. If you are trying to impress your friends, make sure it’s with the images you take and not the camera you buy.
Images and text © Andy Rasheed 2012
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