8.20.2010

Photography Friday - Choosing a Camera!

Anyone wanting to delve deeper into the world of photography - whether professionally or recreationally - will need to decide on the all powerful camera! But where do you start? I get this question all the time!

There are so many options to choose from, so HOW do you weave your way through the mumbo jumbo to find what YOU really want? Do you want a DSLR? A compact camera? A Pocket camera? AHHHHHHH!

Okay, take a deep breath. Before you head to Best Buy, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions.

FIRST: What do you want it to do? (duh, take pictures!) No, no... what KIND of pictures do you want it to take? Are you looking to go pro? Are you hoping to get great candids of your every day life? Do you want it to be portable?

SECOND: How much are you willing to learn? Some cameras (specifically DSLRs) have quite a learning curve attached. How much time and energy are you willing to spend learning the ins and outs of how to operate it? Honestly, are you going to want to dish out the extra dough for a camera that you are going to use like a point and shoot?

THIRD: How much are you willing to spend? This one is self-explanatory. Keep in mind, that when buying an expensive DSLR camera, you will likely be looking at spending more on lenses, and even MORE on repairs.

So, what are the differences between a compact or a DSLR? DSLRs are those crazy big and fancy looking cameras with interchangeable lenses and fancy filters. The "D" in DSLR stands for digital. Should I even talk about digital versus film? Nah. The SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. If you want to learn more about that...look it up. What do you think I am? A camera expert? Ha! Anyway, DLSRs are bigger and heavier - harder to haul around with you. They are also expensive, but you can have complete creative control over your images and the quality is much better.

The Compact cameras have one fixed lens, are usually smaller and lighter, and are pretty intuitive to use. You don't have as much control over the resulting images, but I've found that compact cameras are getting better and better in quality all the time.

Which is better? Well, that depends on your answers to the 3 questions above. For me - it's SLR all the way. The quality and control far out weighs it's bulkiness. For you, the answer might be different!

What brand to buy? Totally up to you. What I suggest: go to the store and pick up every different camera in your price range. How does it feel in your hands? Are the buttons easily accessible? Does it work the same way your brain does? I know it sounds weird, but really - I've found that Canon camera work the same way my brain does. They are much easier for me to use. I know others who feel the same about Nikon, or Olympus, or Pentax, or, or....

What to look for?

Pixels are a good place to start. Generally speaking, the more pixels - the better. It's a good determining point for quality, but not the only one. You don't want to buy anything with lower than 8 megapixels, and now a days you are hard-pressed to find one with lower than that.

Optical zoom. You want to look for a compact camera that has optical zoom, NOT digital zoom. Digital zoom is nothing more than digital zooming in your image, depleting the image quality. Look for OPTICAL, people, OPTICAL!
Photo from Photo.net


Price. You need to buy what you can afford.

Control/Settings. What settings does it offer? Does is offer any manual controls? How much internal memory does it have? What kind of memory cards does it take? What software does it come with?

I know it seems like a lot to process, but buying a camera is like investing in your memories. You want to spend some time thinking about this kind of purchase. Finally, ask your friends! Why do they love/hate their cameras? Look at their images - are they good quality? Maybe ask if you can try theirs out! There are lots of options and information out there when you are looking to buy a camera.

Okay, question for YOU! What camera do  YOU use? Do you love it? Hate it? Why?

Can't wait to hear from you!

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7 comments:

Frolicking Night Owl said...

I got a nikon d80 a few years ago and have really enjoyed it. i knew nothing about photography, fancy cameras, etc when my hubby talked me into the purchase so i definitely had that learning curve. but now i'm totally having fun with it & hoping for an upgrade soon. :)

grahedge said...

Great article; thanks Bobbi-Jo. I particularly like the pics showing the difference in 10x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom (I knew about the difference, but had never thought to test it out). On the subject of megapixels, I thought that 5 megapixels were sufficient for anything up to A4 size; so, unless you want to enlarge to more than A4, you do not need more than 5.

Mary said...

I have the Canon 40D and love it. :)

Mary

Anonymous said...

thanks for the tips!
jill

Andrea said...

Great post. Thanks.
I have a Canon point and shoot. I'd love a DSLR one day. I'd also love to find the manual so I could know how to use all the features I do have.
My phone also has a great camera when in need.

Crystal HW said...

A lot of manuals can be found online http://www.canon.com/icpd/

Crystal HW said...

Great article! Never thought about optical vs digital zoom before...learned something new.