Lesson 9: How to Buy a Camera (tips and advice)
Buying a new camera is a fun and exciting experience. As with most electronic products, digital camera technology improves every year. Competition between leading DSLR camera manufacturers like Nikon and Canon is hotter than ever, so if you’re looking to buy a camera, you have more choices than ever.
Buy the Right Camera for YOU!
To start off, your primary goal is to buy a camera (and accessories) best suited for your budget and the subjects you plan to photograph. You may want to create a list of the features, controls, and physical size. Take a moment and watch this video on
DSLR Camera Buying Tips from a Pro (free video)
Don’t forget that in addition to the camera, you may need to budget for additional accessories:
Choosing the Right Camera
Basically there are three types of cameras:
- Compact (point-and-shoot pocket cameras)
- DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex)
- Medium Format
A majority of the lessons provided on our website deal with digital cameras and primarily DSLR’s. Since this site was created in the year 2000, you’ll also find some references to film cameras (which are starting to make a resurgence, much like vinyl records.
This is a good starting point, a DSLR body with built-in metering, two lenses (some people would prefer three lenses) and a flash unit. The pop-up flash unit mounted to the body is only useful in limited situations, so you may want to get a flash unit that mounts to the top of your camera. If your budget allows, three lenses would be ideal; Wide Angle (21-28mm), Normal (50mm) and a telephoto or zoom (70mm – 200mm).
The newer, smaller digital cameras are remarkably good, both technically and in their ease-of-use. However, if you want to take photos of your kids’ activities, whether organized sports or general play, or plan on using the camera for good coverage of any event, then take a harder look at those cameras that offer a built-in zoom lens. Of the three major camera makers, Nikon, Canon, and Olympus, most have very fine small cameras with zoom lenses that are optically excellent.
Test Your New Camera
When you buy a camera, get at least one memory card and start taking shots before you fill out the registration card for the camera. You do this to make sure everything is functioning properly and, if it is not, ship it back to the site you bought it from and they will exchange or return it. If you have waited too long and/or filled out the registration card, and something is wrong with it, you’ll have to ship it back to the manufacturer and wait.
Video camera buyers should try to get a model that has an “optical zoom lens” as opposed to a digital zoom. Digital zooms are not perfected yet and the results of shooting at longer focal lengths might prove disappointing.
If you’ll be using the telephoto on either still or video you will definitely need some sort of support to stabilize the whole camera. Tripods are good but if you will be covering any event that involves moving around (sports, weddings, rock festivals, etc.) you’ll probably be better off with a monopod. It is a one-legged, collapsible, and light weight support that allows you great mobility and provides excellent support.
10 Mistakes People Make When Buying A Camera (Free Video)