At some point in time, this is a question that every photographer asks. It's also a question that I get asked frequently — probably several times per week. And that's totally cool! It's just that I find myself usually giving the same answers to people. So I thought I'd wrap a few thoughts into a post for those who haven't ventured out to ask the question yet.
First of all, you have to understand that I never give out the answer as a specific make and model. If you ask that question of anybody and they give you a specific answer, don't listen to it. The process of selecting a new camera is so involved that somebody else can't answer it for you. But if you're in the market, here are 3 important things to ask yourself:
1. Do You Own Equipment?
If you already have lenses, flashes, and other accessories for a specific camera brand, it's probably a better choice to stick with that brand. The main reason is cost — starting over with a new brand can be a real hassle. This applies to those of you who shot film in recent years, and you still have equipment that fits modern cameras. If you don't have existing stuff, just ignore this question.
2. What's Your Budget?
Money makes the world go 'round. Before you even start comparing brands or models of cameras, think about how much money you're willing to spend on a camera. This is VERY important — set that limit, and stick to it. Otherwise, you'll be having nightmares for the next two years.
3. How Does It Feel In Your Hands?
Once you get past the first two questions, it really boils down to this. If a camera feels out of place in your hands, you won't enjoy it (and it's all about fun, now isn't it?). Put aside all the resolution-noise-speed-focus-format-button-menu-stabilization-etc… CRAP! And make sure you're comfortable with how the camera feels in your hands. You're the one who has to hold it and use it for the next long while, so you might as well make it enjoyable. Once you get a feel for the cameras, then you can jump back into all the technical stuff and proceed to torment yourself.
And if you're looking for some follow-up reading material on the subject, here are a few good ones:
- Camera Buying Guide
- Your Guide to Buying Old Film Cameras
- How to Buy a Digital Camera – A 9 Step Guide
- How to Choose a DSLR Camera
- Buying your first dSLR
- Buying used photography equipment
- How to frak your next digital camera purchase
- 5 Tips for Acquiring Old Cameras
- Digital Camera Buying Tips for the Recession
- Buying a digital camera for your kids
What other tips and advice do you have for buying new (or used) cameras?