One of my favorite quotes is:
“A camera didn’t make a great picture anymore than a typewriter wrote a great novel.”
I will be the first to admit that I do not have the best camera or lenses. I have a camera that works well enough for what I need it to do, but could totally use an upgrade in the next few years. But right now, I really don’t need it. Everyone—especially professional photographers—uses their phones to document everyday life. Back in college I had an entire assignment shot on smartphones for a photo series.
My advice for you as far as what camera to get is to first decide what you will actually use it for. I think so many people believe that they must have a DSLR camera to take great pictures, and that is just not the case. A lot of people ask me what camera they should get, and honestly I am not the expert in the latest cameras. Actually I know very little about the cameras that have been released in the past few years. I do understand what all the features do, and how to compare models. But overall they are almost all the same to me. Here are the different types and my opinions on them:
DSLR: These cameras are great if you really want to spend time learning about all the different functions. You can buy different lenses, and play with thousands of settings. But if you are never going to change the lens, or take it off Auto, don’t waste your money. There are plenty of great point-and-shoot cameras that I would recommend you purchase instead. I use Canon and that is what I tell everyone to get, but Nikon really is a great company too. If you have always used Nikon, stick with them. Don’t change because I prefer Canon. I would just say to get the best model for whatever fits your budget. Start with a kit that comes with a lens and the body (an extra, longer lens would be great too). If you are just starting out with DSLR cameras as a hobby, don’t get a full frame camera, which is way more expensive—I don’t even have one yet. But if you are really serious about photography and want to become a professional, especially in commercial or editorial, go ahead and invest in one.
Point and Shoot: Honestly, I would recommend to anyone to start with a good point-and-shoot camera. That’s what I started with, until I learned all the manual settings and what different lenses did. There are plenty point-and-shoots that are waterproof and have major zoom options. They are typically much smaller than the DSLR models, and therefore much easier to carry. Also they offer much more color options, if that is something you care about. Instead of having settings like Manual, Aperture, Shutter Speed, Program, and more, they have much more simple settings that don’t require you to understand everything about the full camera functions. This is ideal to start with, because I think it is best to learn how to take good pictures first, then learn how the manual settings can help achieve different images.
Mirrorless: Real talk. I have not researched mirrorless cameras, but I have heard great things. Again, I am in the business of taking awesome pictures, not selling cameras. If you are starting out, I wouldn’t worry about them.
Accessories: There are a lot of great accessories that I would recommend you invest in. First would be an extra battery (or two). Have them both charged at all times, so in case one dies in the middle of your trip to the zoo you will have a backup! Memory cards are a must. My husband and I both use lots of medium sized cards. That way we can change the cards for each shoot, and have backups incase one starts to have issues. Anytime you use a new card in your camera, make sure you “format” it. This will erase any images you had on there to begin with, which you should backup often. And speaking of backing up files, you really need a cloud storage and/or external hard drive system. I recommend having every picture backed up in (at least) two places. A carrying case or bag is another essential purchase. You don’t want anything to happen your new camera, and it will provide a home for your spare battery and memory cards! You don’t need to have a tripod, but a simple lightweight one is always good to have just in case. They are very helpful if you are in low light situations and need to have a lower shutter speed, or if you want to jump in a group picture!
Resources: Here are a few places that I highly recommend that know WAY more than I do about cameras.
Speciality Camera Store: If you live in a smaller town, Best Buy or Target might be your only option. But since I live in DFW, we have camera specific stores like Fort Worth Camera and Arlington Camera. Bigger stores will have a decent selection, but they will not have the extensive knowledge and options that speciality stores will have.
YouTube: We live in a wonderful world where there is a video for EVERYTHING on YouTube. So search your camera model and “tutorial” and there should be several videos on all the camera functions for beginners.
Creative Live: This site has tons of classes for beginners, but do cost some money. They have great courses from actual professionals that can help you learn about your specific camera (they don’t have videos for every camera made, but they do have a lot). They also have courses that can help you learn the fundamentals of photography, from shooting in manual mode, to lighting and posing.
Hope this helps! If you have any further questions about what camera you should get, go ask someone at your local camera store! 🙂
Copyright Melissa Maddox Photography 2017
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