What Camera Should I Buy?

The holidays are approaching, and I’m already getting lots of requests for camera advice.

“What camera should I buy?” must rank as the most frequent question I receive.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one answer.

Instead, I reply with questions of my own:

•  How do you intend to use your camera?

•  What level of photographer are you?

•  What level of photographer do you hope to be in the next two years?

•  How often do you foresee purchasing a new camera?

•  What is your budget?

The “best” camera for one person, is not the best camera for every person.

Here are some additional questions to ask yourself before making a purchase:

•  Will I be shooting in low light situations?

•  Will I be making prints of my photos?

•  If so, what is the biggest print size I would ever want?

•  What type of zoom capability do I need?

•  Am I a “forever jpeg” person, or do I shoot in RAW?  Do I want to learn to shoot in RAW?

•  Do I want something small and lightweight?

•  Do I want to change lenses?

•  Do I have the budget and/or desire to buy lenses (now or in the future)?

•  Do I know, or plan to learn, the technicalities of photography?  Am I a “just put the camera on automatic” person?

•  Do I want video capability?

•  Did I remember to budget for memory cards, batteries, a camera case, a flash, lenses, lens filters, lens hoods, and/or a tripod?

Once you have a list of what you need, and expect to need in the near future, you’re ready to narrow down your choices.

There are a lot of good cameras on the market, made by several different brands – Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, etc., etc.

(Personally, I’m hooked on Canon lenses so I’ve built a Canon system.)

Once you’ve determined your needs and your budget, I suggest you actually test out a few different cameras.

You can do this by borrowing cameras from friends or by renting them.  (There are several well established rental companies out there.)

Sometimes the final decision on purchasing a camera comes down to how a camera feels when it’s in your hands.

(I purchase all my photo equipment through B&H Photo.)

3 Responses to “What Camera Should I Buy?”

  1. Pam

    I am not a photographer. I take pictures of the birds and deer and such in my yard and on my nature walks, and most times my phone does just fine for me. But there have been several shots this last year that were unsatisfactory because of the limitations of the zoom feature on my phone. My husband bought me a Sure Shot, but I could not get a clear shot zooming from 40 feet away. Can you please recommend an easy camera that has a good zoom feature? Thanks!


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