Buying a new camera? Then read this

Once upon a time I had zero interest in photography but as we were going on the trip of a lifetime I figured I should get a ‘decent’ camera.

I went to a local camera store and spoke to the guy there who had been to some of the places we were intending to visit.

He came up with a camera and a lens and a couple of other bits like a couple of filters etc. and said this what you need and it’s going to
cost you $1000.00.

So, I bought it and got hooked on photography.

Now was that the best camera for me?
Could I have got a different camera cheaper but with same quality?


Now, granted this was pre-internet and digital cameras, so research was a lot more time consuming. New camera models didn’t get
released every 6 months or so as they do today.

But I trusted him and I guess it did the job.

But 18 months later I had upgraded and had a top of the range camera and sold the original one at a second-hand photo market.

So maybe it wasn’t the right one.


What you shouldn’t do


Since then I have bought many cameras and used them for various applications.

In doing that I have developed a fairly simple set of questions to ask when buying a new camera.

Let me go over what most will do when buying a camera.

First, they spend hours trolling through reviews and checking places like Amazon or B & H for the best price. 

Then they may go into a camera shop and screw the salesman into giving them the best internet price.

Then they buy and off they go. 

Alternatively, they buy online if they couldn’t get the deal they wanted at the bricks and mortar shop.

What’s wrong with that?

Well most people wouldn’t buy a car that way or even a TV.

Buying it that way means that the camera ends up sitting on the shelf unused. And then they blame the camera manufacturer or
salesperson for making the damn thing so complicated.

You see everybody is different when it comes to comfort levels and abilities (and lots of other things as well, of course).

How do you know it’s the right camera for you? If it’s sitting on your shelf unused it’s not the right camera!

Buying a new camera? Then read this

The Smartphone factor

I know a lot of people have gone for the convenience of using their smartphone instead so the camera they originally bought is
now redundant.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not against smartphone cameras, I use mine all the time.

But there are lots of applications that a smartphone won’t pass muster on. That’s a future post I think.


What you should do


Here’s my system

1 Be clear on what you are going to use it for.

Here’s some questions for you to answer:

Q Do you want images with Bokeh (where the background is blurry but the subject is in focus)?

A For best results get a full frame DSLR or Mirrorless (not many Mirrorless have full frame) with a ‘fast’ lens. What’s a fast lens?
Well a lens that has a small f stop number of say F3.5

You could also get crop sensor camera with an ‘fast’ lens but it needs have a low F stop number of at least 2.4

Q When would you use it?

A Taking product shots or maybe portraits of your employees or yourself



Buying a new camera? Then read this


Q Are you going to take action images

A You will need a camera that has a high number of FPS (frames per second). Depending on the action 6FPS should do but you
can go as low as 4FPS

Q When would you use it?

A For freezing motion or multiple shots of an action scene (see examples)

Q Will you be taking workplace shots

A The good news on this is almost any camera will give you images of people in the workplace. However, you may want to go for
one that has a reasonably high MB (Mega Pixel) if you are using this for print publications.

12Mb is the lowest you would go.

Q When would you use it?

A Taking groups of workers either in posed or casual situation depending on the sort of image you are trying to portray.

Q Will you be taking Landscapes

A You can take Landscape images with pretty much any camera including the smartphone. However, if you want good quality and
flexibility then an interchangeable lens camera with a wide-angle lens that will go at least as wide as 24mm (in 36mm).

You’ll also need a tripod.

This is because to get a Landscape in focus you usually need a high F stop number. A high F stop number reduces the amount of
light and therefore will increase the chances of camera shake blur.

Q When would you use it?

A Plenty of examples out there for using Landscape images.

Wineries or Breweries in scenic areas. Restaurants, Accommodation etc. etc.

Anything that needs a sense of place and a scenic backdrop


Buying a new camera? Then read this


2 How much can you afford?

Pretty obvious I guess but worth mentioning anyway.

No point taking out a loan or getting into debt over a camera.

Especially if it’s your first one.

After all you may decide that it’s not for you and it gets consigned to the shelf in your office with lots of other redundant tools.

You can get a pretty decent mirrorless or even a DSLR camera for less than a $1000 including lens.

3 Try before you buy

This is the most important factor. Your comfort level with any device will determine how much you use it and what you will get out of it.

Go into a camera shop and test drive cameras within your budget that will give you the features you want, decide on the most
comfortable and buy it.

Does the grip feel good?
Is it easy to turn to portrait or vertical mode?
Does the weight seem too heavy, too light or just right?
If it has a viewfinder, does that fit comfortably against your eye?
Can you see anything trough it?
Is the rear screen easy to see? How easy is it to see when you are holding it?
How easy is it to adjust the dials and access the menu/s?

Now I know some of you will try before you buy in the shop and then jump on the web and buy from the cheapest online outlet.

But just remember you wouldn’t be able to test drive it if the shop didn’t exist.

By all means shop around online but a least give the shop an opportunity to match it or get into the ball park.

So to summarise do yourself a favour and ask these 3 questions before you decide which camera to buy:

1 Be clear on what you are going to use it for.

2 How much can you afford?

3 Try before you buy

As an example there is no point getting an expensive DSLR that will give you those ‘bokeh’ shots (where the background is all blurry)
if that’s not how you are going to use it.
You’re just wasting your money.

Likewise, no point in getting a small compact or smartphone if you do want that ‘bokeh’ because you’re not going to like the results.

There are other questions that could be asked but let’s not confuse the issue too much.

If you want to know more then go to these posts:

The essential feature to have on your camera

4 features you must have on your camera

8 features to have on your camera

The 6 features you don’t need on your camera

You can get these all in a PDF by going to Camera Features Guide

From a stock photography point of view then this post may also be worth reading:

A Basic Stock Photography Equipment List

Be really interested in any comments you have. Just drop them in the section below.



Categories: Buying a camera, How to, travel photographyTags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: