A lot of people ask me about buying a new camera. Below are some things you might want to consider before parting with your hard earned pennies:
Type of camera: Compact cameras are small enough to fit in your pocket, great for casual photography and assist if you know little about photography. Bridge cameras offer more facilities but still only have the one lens to cover all functions. A DSLR system camera provides the greatest flexibility with a different lens for a each occasion, Medium Format cameras are large, heavy and expensive but offer very high quality images (useful for commercial photographers). Large plate cameras are used by traditional film photographers but they are very heavy and are for extremely competent photographers (with a darkroom).
Camera system: If you are buying a DSLR, you’ll be buying into a system. Do you need all the accessories offered by Canon, Nikon or Sony? If you already have a camera or lens, you might want to remain stay that system on reasons of cost alone.
Usage: What are you photographing? What weather conditions will you be shooting in? Does it need weather proof seals to shoot in heavy rain or are you a fair weather photographer? For nature, you might want to use a telephoto lens.
ISO: How much light do you need or how sensitive to light is your sensor? If you rarely shoot in the dark, then it’s not really something to consider. The higher the ISO number, the greater the ability to shoot in near darkness but does produce noisier images. ISO settings may run from 100 to 409600.
Size of camera: Do you have huge hands or tiny hands? You might want to physically try the camera in a camera shop. This really is a personal thing and only you can decide to the physical size of your camera.
JPG v Raw: JPGs are easy to immediately show to friends and family but once taken you have limited ability when manipulating images. Whilst RAW images cannot be directly shown to others, they do offer a greater flexibility for image manipulation. I only ever shoot in RAW.
Pixel count: The greater the pixel count, the larger print you can make. Alternatively, you can crop the image and still make a decent sized print from the remaining pixels. However, you do may need a much larger file storage system to keep all your lovely photographs. Some cameras do provide a huge 50Mb sensor though 15-18Mb is ample for many beginners.
Camera weight: For the Olympic weight-lifters out there, using a large camera isn’t an issue, however, carrying a heavy camera all day long especially with a big telephoto lens can be a burden on your shoulders.
Motor drive: If you are photographing landscapes or other subjects that barely move, motor drives aren’t that important. Fast moving subjects do demand more frames per second to increase the chance of capturing your photograph. Look at frames per second between 1fps to 16fps.
Vertical grip (VG)or not: Ability to hold the camera in a portrait position and keep your shooting arm close to your waist. Some VGs are built in to the camera adding not only extra battery power to the motor drive & comfort whilst holding it but unfortunately also add expense too.
Built-in flash: All compact cameras feature this but they are generally only useful unto 3m (10’) from the camera. External speedlites offer greater flexibility but at an additional price.
Cost: Can you afford £5000-100000 for a top-of-the range body or just £50 for a third hand compact camera? It’s your choice!
I realise some of the above pointers may be a little brief but I hope they help you make your decision when buying a camera. I can and do offer much more advice when running workshops.