We are often asked by family and friends “what camera shall I buy?” This may seem an easy question to answer but the advice we always provide is unbiased and is based on us finding out a few things first.
Firstly, we need to understand the budget that is available. Entry level DSLR’s start at around £300 with a standard kit lens and Compact System Cameras (CSC) also start at around £300.
We also need to know what sort of photography they intend to do. DSLRS are larger and weigh more than CSCs. Both systems accept interchangeable lenses, have similar operating features but with one exception. A DSLR has a standard viewfinder which you bring to the eye while a CSC does not, you use the rear screen on the camera as the viewfinder.
With a DSLR it is possible to buy the camera body only and then choose the lens or lenses to go with it rather than accepting the kit lens that is supplied with the camera. CSCs tend to be supplied with a choice of one lens although additional lenses can be purchased. Depending on the type of photography being undertaken will determine lens choice. For landscape photography a wide angle lens may be required whereas for wildlife a long telephoto is ideal.
If you intend to travel a lot you may prefer the CSC system as the camera and lenses are smaller and weigh less than the DSLR equivalent. An important consideration when you consider how much can be taken on aircraft these days.
Generally, a DSLR will offer the greatest flexibility with lens choice and accessories but the gap between DSLRs and Compact System Cameras appears to be narrowing.
Both camera systems will generally suit all genres of photography. It is the lenses that help the photographer specialise with their own subject area. Some more expensive DSLRs offer features that also help (e.g. a higher burst rate of being able to take pictures at 8 frames per second – ideal for Sport and also Wildlife photography.
Camera sensor resolution plays an important part because if you intend to print large you need more megapixels for better quality prints. If you only intend to view via your computer this is not as much of an issue. Be warned though that it is easier to create a smaller image file from a large image file rather than vice versa.
Having established the budget, the type of photographs they intend to take, it then boils down to what make. This is where it gets more difficult.
The camera market is dominated by Canon and Nikon. Other makes like Sony, Olympus and Pentax also have good products to offer. If you were to compare the entry level models for both camera systems from all of these manufacturers they would more or less offer similar features at around the same price. Our advice would be to go to a local high street retailer and actually see the camera and how it feels in your hands. Do you like the look and feel of the camera? You may find you prefer one make to another. Are the controls and menus (of which there are many) laid out in a way that is comfortable for you to understand and use?
We would not recommend buying a camera “blind” off the internet without having first picked the camera up. The look and feel is of the camera is very important.
In essence, it all boils down to:
- Selecting a camera platform which matches the type of Photography you do and how you intend to present your images – DSLR or CSC?
- Available budget. If you have £1,000 to spend – spend more on the lens than the camera body as this will have a more noticeable effect in the quality of your images.
- Camera Make – Buy a camera that feels right for you and is comfortable in your hands. Ensure that either system chosen have the range of lenses and accessories available to you as your interest in photography grows.
To get the most out of your investment come on one of our courses. The camera manuals supplied with the camera will tell you what to do but not necessarily why. We offer a wide range of courses to suit your individual needs to ensure you get the best out of your photography.