One of the questions I GET all the time and SEE everywhere in forums and all is What kind of camera should I get?
First of all ….. if you’re talking about a point-and-shoot camera, I have no idea. Not my thing. I haven’t bought a point-and-shoot camera in about 10 years.
I’m sure there are photographers who do use point-and-shoot (Image is Found comes to mind), and they would know far better than I.
Second of all …. if you’re thinking about getting an SLR camera, I think which camera you get depends on how much you know about photography.
If you are a professional or experienced photographer, I would recommend checking out the FAQ and resources for photographers you love to find out what equipment they use. There are subtle differences between Canon and Nikon, there are features that only professionals would notice.
So, for the purposes of this question, let’s assume that you are looking to get your first dSLR to learn to shoot manually.
When using digital SLRs (single-lens-reflex) cameras, the camera body is sold separately from the camera lenses. Personally I have 4 or 5 lenses to use with my camera body(s). The lens you use is what determines how versatile your manual settings can be.
So the short answer is …. Put the bulk of your budget into a great lens, and then the rest on a camera body.
If you are just learning, the best thing you can do is get a really versatile lens so you have a lot of options and settings and things to learn. If you learn to shoot manually with an f-stop 1.2 lens, you can use/work pretty much any other (lower quality) lens.
As far as brands go, there are pros and cons of all the brands. I happened to choose Canon because my wedding photographer and friend Melissa Jill uses Canon.
This was a GREAT set up for me to learn on. This is all I had for years!
My next camera (someday) will be the Canon 5D Mark II – I can’t wait to play with those video tools!
I can’t say it enough, ESPECIALLY if you are learning, the camera body you get is less important than the lens.
You can justify getting a Cannon Rebel, for example (I think that is the lowest on the totem pole of SLRs), if you spend a little extra money and get a GOOD lens.
So, the next question becomes …. What kind of lens should I get?
My lens recommendation for A) products, portraits and an all around lens B ) versatile enough for you to learn how to use your camera well C ) good price/value is a 50mm f/1.4 lens (Canon’s is about $400).
Rule of thumb: the lower number of the f-stop the better, the more versatile, and the much better value (ex: the Canon 50mm f1.4 is about $400; the 50mm f1.2 is about $1200)
Also remember, fixed-length lenses (ex: 50mm instead of 16mm-75mm) are generally better quality than zoom lenses (because you can get lower f-stops with fixed lenses).
And finally, if want to be triply sure about what you’re buying try borrowing equipment before buying. Your local photography store will probably rent to you, or try BorrowLenses.com or a similar company.
What kind of camera do you use?
Do you have any tips to add for someone looking to get a dSLR to learn to shoot manually for the first time?
P.S. If you spend $1500 on a dSLR and lens, please please please do yourself a favor and learn to shoot it manually. Don’t spend all that money for ‘auto’ settings.