BACK TO BASICS: Buying A Camera

There are many things to consider when purchasing a new camera, but if you keep the basics in mind, it does not have to be difficult. By asking yourself a few simple questions and doing a bit of research, you can gain the knowledge you need to buy a camera that will fit your individual requirements.

One of the most obvious, but important questions to consider, is how you will be using your new camera. The answer will help you define the features you want and need.

Do you want to take photographs of family birthday parties or children’s sporting events, of your vacation, garden, or scenic landscapes? Or do you want a camera that is more specialized for taking macro photography, as an example?

Does your new camera need to be weather resistant? Will you be shooting outdoors in all types of weather? Or do you have more indoor applications?

Do you want the camera to make all the decisions for you? Or do you want the ability to have more manual control, and for example, be able to set your own exposure?

Do you have previous experience in photography? Do you understand the basics of aperture, shutter speeds, focal length and composition? Do you want a camera you can use with the knowledge you have now? Or do you want a camera that will give you more features allowing you to learn more about photography?

Do you take a lot of photos, or are you a special event shooter?

Is size and portability important? Would a compact point-n-shoot fit your needs, or would a DSLR allowing you the option to change lenses be a better fit?

What is your budget? Will you need additional equipment like a camera bag, tripod, or specialized filters? Will you be printing your photos or posting them in online galleries?

When I made my latest camera purchase, I spent some time with my research, compared several different brands and narrowed my selection down to two options that I liked. And I originally thought I was going to purchase Camera “A” versus Camera “B”. Then I went to a camera store and held both cameras in my hand. I realized that I liked the feel, weight, overall build, menus and brightness of the viewfinder in Camera “B”. I ended up buying the Nikon and have been very happy with my purchase ever since.

One of the resources that I found invaluable is a website that I trust and am comfortable sharing with you: cameralabs.com. I found their reviews to be unbiased and their site includes comparisons of all major brand cameras in all price ranges.

Another one of my favorite sources is Outdoor Photographer magazine. As a photographer who specializes in the outdoors, this is a no brainer for me and I have been a subscriber since the magazine started. However, one of the main reasons I recommend this publication is that it is filled with information for everyone, from beginners to advanced photographers. And the featured photography is not too shabby either.

Nowadays, cameras are packed with amazing features, some of which you may find useful and some you may never use. Irregardless, technology has come a long way since the days of film. You can keep it simple or get more advanced. The choice is yours to make. And I am confident that if you stick to a few simple basics, you will find the camera that best suits you.

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  1. August 15, 2011 at 9:29 am

    It’s funny that you should mention the weight and the feel of the camera. When I was shopping for my first DSLR I knew I wanted either the Cannon or the Nikon but couldn’t decide. I had read up on both and they had similar features and functions. I decided on the Nikon D3100 after holding each of them in my hands. I like how the camera fit my small hand and it was easy to grip. The menus seemed easy to navigate as well. My only regret is that I didn’t purchase it sooner.

  2. September 9, 2011 at 7:38 am

    This was useful and interesting infos, I wished to read this before. But actually my camera was gifted me, by my love. I am happy with this Canon EOS 500D, but yes, sometimes it can be hard to hold in the hand, I wonder now the difference of their weights! Thank you David Heilman, with my love, nia

  3. September 9, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Yes sometimes buying a new piece of equipment can be a confusing task. I have found that research and talking to others is the way to go. Sometimes it takes me a long time to finally make a decision. Kinda like being in a restaurant with to many choices. Green beans or broccoli, fish or chicken etc.
    David

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