Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What Type Of Camera. Let's Get This Out Of The Way.

What Type Of Camera Should I Buy?

I've read hundreds of opinions about what type of camera a person should buy. Even after reading so much of it, I can't give you a good answer and neither can anyone else. I can only tell you what I believe to be true after my purchases. Here's a summary of the different advice I've read.

The One You Have With You

There's a real gem of a piece of advice, unless you don't have a camera yet! 

The point of this is advice is good though. For the common Joe, the more you carry your camera, the more photos you're going to take. Even the best take a huge number of photographs, so it stands to reason that if you always have your camera on you, you'll eventually end up with better photos to share.

Great, but give that advice for a person with interests lying in the sports photography or wildlife photography and they have the right to call you a useless moron in the area of photography. For these interests, you need a huge zoom and you can start with my personal favorite, the Swiss Army Knife of cameras, the Super-Zoom(also known as a bridge camera). I can talk all day about bridge cameras and they are cameras that you can "have with you". This would be the correct answer to just about any new photographer's question about what camera to buy. 

The Highest Tech You Can Afford

Worst advice ever, even if the newbie is a millionaire. The high end cameras require high end training. Without training and many hours of practice, high end cameras can confound some to the point of giving up the hobby. Not to mention, they're often to bulky to have with you often. The new 4/3rd's cameras are changing this fact, but they're still daunting little cameras to master. 

The only person that I would give this advice to would be the type that I know enjoys bragging about his possessions more than he ever enjoys using them, and yes, I know people like this.

The Cheapest Tech

Pass on the cheap camera's too unless you just want to have fun.

It doesn't take long to wish you could shoot in the RAW format. RAW is an important option after you're past the initial learning stages. If you're camera can't do it, you'll be buying another soon.

Here are some basic guidelines when considering a cheap camera - 
  • Can it shoot raw?
  • The wider it shoots and the more it zooms the better because this gives you flexibility. 
  • Battery life and battery availability in common stores. 
  • Mega pixels, but not as important as you think. It's a complex subject and more isn't always better. 
  • Tripod mount. Most have this. 
  • Anti-shake mode that will allow you to leave the tripod at home more often. 
  • Warranty
  • Accessories if you want to do specialized shots like macro photography. 

My Advice

I've yet to find the perfect camera and I've had quite a few. I've had some that I like a hell of a lot better than others. Here are the qualities that you're looking for. 
  • Do you like the way it looks and feels? That's right. It's my most important requirement. The more you like the external aspects, the more you'll want to use it. The more you use it, the more great photos you'll end up with. 
  • Do you like the menu system? Learning the settings can make a previously hated camera a great one as you learn to adjust the camera for ever-changing conditions. 
  • Can you afford it and still have money to go places to use it? No camera should have a payment plan. 
  • If in doubt, buy a bridge camera that can shoot raw. They do everything, the just don't do everything well.
  • If you can't find one camera that does what you need, buy a couple. I have a point and shoot, bridge, and an old DSLR. It's a great combination of cameras to cover the gamut of many types of photography. 

In Conclusion

There it is. The first post on my least favorite photography subject, the camera. It probably didn't help much, but maybe I helped you lean towards the idea that it doesn't really matter that much anyhow. If you have a moderately good camera and it's not producing good photos, it's probably you, not the camera. No worries though. If it's you, it's just a matter of the joy of learning to make correct that problem. 

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