3 Tips on How to Choose a New DSLR Camera

November 19, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

With Black Friday and the start of the holiday shopping season upon us, I wanted to address one of the most common questions I get asked:

 

"What should I be looking for in a new camera?"

 

Our Starting Point

Let's get a couple of things out of the way right now:

  • The most useful camera is the one you have with you.
  • Megapixels no longer matter.

 

I can illustrate both of these points with a simple statement: My iPhone has more megapixels than the (professional) camera used for my wedding photos seven (blissful) years ago.  Now, I am not suggesting that professional wedding photographers throw away their gear and start using iPhones instead.  However, most of us are not wedding photographers, and most of us already carry a camera with us at all times that has more than enough resolution for Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and even printing up to at least 8x10.

 

Our Assumptions

I'm assuming that since you came here and you're still reading, you enjoy photography enough to want "better" pictures than what you are getting with your camera phone, and that you're not looking for a point & shoot camera.  After all, why would you want to carry around a second phone-sized device that produces similar results?

 

No, what you're asking is how to shop for a DSLR or interchangeable lens camera, like a mirrorless camera.  These types of cameras can give you more control over your photography and can improve the "look" of your photos because they use larger lenses and sensors than what you have on your phone.

 

My Three Tips

My three tips are really quite simple:

  1. Decide on your initial budget.
  2. Go to a store that carries a variety of cameras in your budget.
  3. Choose the camera that feels right, and where you can intuitively find the features you want to use.

 

That's all there is to it!

 

Really?!  That's all your advice?

Yes, that's really all my advice.  Here's why:

These cameras will all take good photos.   Generally speaking, today's entry-level cameras have better sensors and more features than pro-level cameras did just a few years ago, so there's no (good) reason to blow your budget starting out.  In fact, any money you save on the camera now can later be invested in lenses, tripods, bags, software, etc.  What you're really doing is starting to invest in a system that will serve you well for many years.  Someday, the camera body itself will be old technology, but the lenses and other components will work just as well when you're ready to upgrade.

For now, the best way to get started is to find something that feels natural when you pick it up.  Is the camera too big?  Too small?  Too heavy?  Does the screen look nice?  Are the buttons in the right place?  Can you find the settings you want quickly?  Where is the movie mode?  How do I turn on (or off) the flash?  Unless you're one of those rare types (like me) who will read the manual cover-to-cover before installing the battery, you will only use the features you can quickly access, so you'll want to know BEFORE you buy that you are comfortable with finding what's important to you.  The more features you're able to use or experiment with, the more you'll enjoy being creative with your new camera.

 

So what do I shoot?

That's its own story, and I'll be writing about it in a future post.  Check back soon!

 

Thanks for looking,

Adam@LiC


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