“Hey, Ravindra… My budget is XYZ. Which camera is the best for me to buy?”
This is a very common question many of them ask me and you might have asked the same question with other photographers. The first reply of mine would be – have you done a bit of R&D on what type of camera you really want? So, the next time you ask this question to any photographer, I would say.. do a bit of research on the following, finalize on two or three DSLR / mirrorless cameras, and then check with a photographer. So, in this article, I have mentioned some of the camera buying tips that will help you taking the decision.
Camera Buying Tips:
Following are the camera buying tips that you might want to consider before buying a camera. Internet is full of camera buying tips and I recommend not to blindly go with the tips provided by the brands or influencers because most of the camera buying tips blog posts and videos are sponsored posts. Do not fall prey to these influencers you are posting videos on camera buying tips
What kind of photography do you do?
Landscape, Nature, Wildlife, Sports, Wedding, Portrait, Underwater, Fashion, etc. There are different kinds of photography and go with what you like. So, when you buy a camera, based on the kind of photography you do buy the required lens.
What image quality do you really want?
You don’t need a DSLR if you want to just upload photos on Instagram or social media. Your mobile camera or a point-and-shoot is more than enough. It’s easy to go around with a smaller camera that has no interchangeable lens. If you want to sell or if you are on an assignment, then I would highly recommend you to go for a good quality camera.
Should I go with Kit lens or just the body (with Prime Lens)?
Let me tell you what I did. I bought a DSLR body (Nikon D600) without any kit lens. My first lens was Nikkor 50mm f1.4D. Usually, the kit lens will not have the aperture wide open and it starts with f4.5 and above. I like the prime lens because of its sharpness and quality. If you have plans of upgrading lens in the future then think about – do you really need a kit lens. Don’t blindly go with the low price or offer.
This shop has an offer and discount with free tripod, bag etc?
Another very common question many ask me. Don’t be in a hurry and make a wrong choice. Kit lenses are for general purposes but you may not get the highest quality. And the “free tripod” is another trap. Do not go with that, instead of all these free offers ask them if they can bring down the price of the camera. The tripod will usually be of poor quality. Read more on tripod here.
How much are you ready to spend?
If you have enough money to buy expensive gear, then I would say go for the quality lens. Invest in the lens than the camera body. The lens is meant for a long time and the DSLR body is for an upgrade.
Try getting the camera for rent
Before you buy a camera get some hands-on to the DSLR/Lens. Search in the nearby store or from friends if you can get it for rent for a day or 2. Try capturing different shots, check for quality, noise, low light performance, etc. If you are in Bangalore then you might want to try Toehold where you can get camera gear for rent. This is one of the camera buying tips that I would suggest to get real experience of using the camera.
Do you need a Full Frame or APS-C sensor camera?
I have seen a few famous photographers who don’t use a full-frame camera for sports or wildlife because with the APS-C sensor you can reach even closer when the same zoom lens is used. Example: A 300mm lens on a full-frame camera will give you an output as seen whereas the same 300mm lens on a DX (APS-C) camera can go up to 480mm instead of 300mm output. Full frame is useful for portraiture, wedding, etc. Full frame lenses that are available in the market are more expensive but they can handle low light and noise much better. Read more on which one to buy, a camera with a Full frame or an APSC sensor?
Camera and Lens upgrade
If you have plans to upgrade to a full-frame camera later on, then see that you buy the FX (for full-frame) (Nikon) Lens and not DX (for APS-C sensor) lens (Same is the case with other brands). FX lens will be costlier, but the quality is much better. Else you will only end up spending double the money in upgrading both your camera body and lens.
Think about the long term
The future upgrade and maintenance – As said earlier, invest in a quality lens that your camera body. The camera is not like buying a refrigerator, it is more like buying a house, where you keep adding stuff to make a fully furnished house. Once you buy a DSLR, you then think of buying more lenses as per your needs.
One lens for all
I wish we had one. You can go for a point and shoot where there is no option to switch lenses. You might find a zoom lens in the market which can go from 70mm to 300mm but what about the aperture? With the increase in the zoom, the aperture also increases from f4 to f5.6. This is still a good lens if you are just starting, but as you grow into becoming a professional photographer then you might consider having 14-24 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8. Do you see that the aperture remains the same with the increase in zoom? Also, these 3 lenses have the best of best glasses and are hence are costlier than the camera body.
Spend more on quality glass/lens than camera body
The new camera body will be in the market almost every 2 years, whereas that’s not the case with the lens. The quality lens is important when working under low light, else expect too much noise. Usually, the full-frame lens with an aperture of f2.8 or lower lens is the best.
Want to pursue a professional photographer or as a hobbyist?
Unless you want to get into the photography business, I would say it is better to invest in mid prize range cameras photography. Photography is one of the expensive hobbies. Note that usually there is a new camera body being released every year or two. Whereas the lens upgrade happens real slow, once in five to ten years.
The camera sensor and good quality lens matter here. Usually, the full-frame high-end DSLR cameras have much better low light and noise handling capabilities. A good quality lens might be very expensive, but worth buying. It will usually be faster and have a larger aperture f1.4 etc and low-light performance.
Do not always go with the marketing done by brands and with higher Megapixels
A higher megapixel doesn’t always mean better photos. Consider the Nikon D4S camera which has 16 megapixels. Even mobile phones come with 16 MP or more these days. Nikon did not initially go for a higher MP camera because it can introduce noise in your image and not so great low-light performance. This has got nothing to do with the brand, but the technology. Better sensor and glass is what you need to look into. Also, these high-end DSLR sensors have the capability of capturing noiseless images even at very high ISO settings.
Hope you enjoyed reading this blog post on camera buying tips. Leave a comment below if you have suggestions on camera buying tips. Subscribe to my website and my YouTube channel for more photography tips and travel updates. Buy me a coffee to support my work or you can go to my store to buy some of my images. Also, do not forget to join my FriendZone by signing up for my newsletter.