One of the most common questions every budding photographer asks is: what camera should I get? This is usually followed by a complementary statement like I’m not looking for something professional or I’m on a budget or I want something cheap but takes pictures like this [insert famous photo from etc. etc.]. And ladies and gentlemen here is the answer you’ve all been waiting for!
I have no idea.
Really I’m not being sarcastic at all. I honestly have no idea which camera to recommend to someone. First off you need to understand that a camera and its accessories are just tools and better tools aren’t going to instantly make you a great photographer. Think about it, no one ever asks William Shakespeare what brand of feather and paper he used to write all his plays. Secondly each person is individual, has different needs, different budgets, and different priorities. Rather than recommending a particular camera for you here’s a series of questions you should ask yourself to figure out which camera is best for you (kind of like online dating.)
What will you be shooting?
Portraits? Landscapes? Sports? Food? Travel? Events? Start off by taking your subject matter into consideration. This will drastically narrow down which camera bodies you should start looking at. Certain subjects will call for specific mechanics and technical specs from a camera body. For instance if your primary subject is going to be sports, then you’re going to prefer a camera body that has more frames per second, a crop sensor, and performs well in low light.
Does size matter? (that’s what she said!)
If you’re moving around or traveling a lot you might what to consider the camera’s physical size. For me this is one of the utmost important factors I look at when I’m traveling for non-work related trips. My D800 is my work horse camera and it’s large and bulky. It’s quite cumbersome to carrying around when your exploring new places or just want preserve a moment. Luckily, technology has come so far! You don’t need to carry a large camera to take good photos. I mean Nokia somehow shoved a 42 megapixel camera into a phone and mirrorless cameras pack a punch! Some of them you can even have the option of changing lens. My go to small cameras are: iPhone 4s, Fujifilm x100s, and my Pentax K1000.
What’s your budget?
Your budget will most likely be the determining factor to which camera you purchase. This was actually one of the main reasons I jumped the ship from Canon to Nikon [Joining the Darkside.] You should look at overall amount that you’d want to spend in total. Your total cost could include the camera body, camera lens, memory cards, computers, lens accessories, bags, lights, light modifiers, grip gear, software, …the list goes on. Once you’ve figured this total number you should prioritize and budget for the necessary items you need to get started.
For most beginners I’d recommend getting a camera body, spare memory cards, and one awesome lens.
Expensive Body & Cheap Lens vs Cheap Body & Expensive Lens
If you know that you’re going to stick with photography for a while as either a hobby or profession always spend more money on a good lens. Camera bodies are constantly depreciating in both fiscal value and technological advances. You’ll find yourself going through so many bodies the longer you stay in photography. When I started shooting digital I went through a Rebel XT, 30D, 5D, before getting to the 5D Mark II. Lens are a good investment for the long run. They don’t depreciate in value (sometimes they appreciate! My 85/1.2L appreciated after a certain set of earthquakes) and their quality and build lasts. I wouldn’t spend money on cheap lens –I’m talking about 15-300, kit, plastic, third-party knock off lens that over time don’t hold up to their OEM counterparts.
Canon or Nikon?
Now that I’ve shot with both I can confidently say that, it doesn’t matter! Each camera has its pros, cons, and after post processing the final photos look identical. Here what I would do before picking which camera brand to go with. Visit a camera store and test drive a camera from both brands. Play with them or just rent them out for a day. Whichever brand you feel most comfortable with is the brand that you should go with. Personally I miss my buttery bokeh from my Canon lens, but I like the build of Nikon’s equipment more.
– Canon Bokeh –
– Nikon Bokeh –
If you’re a photographer with plans on becoming a filmmaker some time down the road, there’s only one answer: get a Canon. I’m suggesting to gravitate towards Canon on the film end because of the lens build. Canon lens have same orientation for racking focus as cinema lens. Nikon is reversed. Granted a DSLR is no comparison to a R3D or Arri, but if you’re going to start on a DSLR camera you might as well start to practice good habits.
Where Can I find the best prices?
I use this magical website called Google that let’s me find all the deals!
Now Really Which Camera Should I Get?
One you’ve answered all the above questions for yourself I’d do a little researching again on the magical land of Google and see which cameras are available on the market that fit my needs. New cameras are constantly coming out! Keeping up is a bit overwhelming –hence why I don’t! Every couple of years when I’m in the market for another camera body I’ll browse through credible review sites and see what’s worth picking up. Here are few review sites I frequent: dpreview.com, fredmiranda.com/review, and youtube.com/user/DigitalRevCom.