On Instagram I’m asked constantly about what camera should I buy, is this or that camera any good, what’s the differences between them? I thought, it’s time for a blog on this and maybe it will benefit those searching for a camera in the future.
I do try to keep up with the latest and greatest technology in cameras and lenses, which seems to constantly change every single month! There’s far more options now, than there were 10 years ago. We have your typical D-SLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex), D-SLT (Digital Single Lens Translucent) and Mirrorless. For some they’ll prefer a DSLR for it’s bigger body form and optical viewfinder. Others will prefer mirrorless for it’s smaller body form, electronic viewfinder and being the latest and greatest in technology, with features specific to the mirrorless system.
1. Determine What You Want To Photograph & What Brand Fits Best
Most people don't have an idea on what they want to photograph and when choosing a camera this is an essential question one must be able to answer for themselves. Why? There's so many cameras out there, but does a camera that offers more superior low light performance offer more for you than a camera with high resolution, but not so good low light performance? Is a camera that's easy to travel with more for you vs one that's big and bulky like a DSLR?
You may be someone that wants to photograph more landscapes than street photography for instance. In that case a camera like the Sony a7R III would be better than the Sony a7 III. You're obtaining more resolution, which is typically ideal for many landscape photographers, but is 42MP really better for you as opposed to a 24MP sensor? Are you really in need of such a high megapixel count, even for landscapes?
Once you have an idea on that, what brand offers more of what you want? I photograph with Sony, as that was the camera that I first bought with my own money (Sony Cybershot W-120). Most I knew owned Sony Cybershot’s and Sony was always the brand I had electronics from. At the time they were just getting into DSLR’s, as they purchased Minolta’s camera business in 2006. At this time you never saw anyone in the professional world really utilizing Sony and many looked down on me because of that, but fast forward over 10 years later and Sony is now the brand that's on top of Canon and Nikon. I suppose I made the right decision back then? =)
I’ve had every format of camera, from DSLR to DSLT and now Mirrorless. I have many friends who photograph with the most common, Nikon & Canon, but most have since switched to Sony because of me, Ha! I'm pretty loyal to the Sony cameras, but I have also used Fujifilm cameras for some of my images recently. It’s about the camera that suits YOUR needs the best and what you find to be user friendly for you.
2. Crop or Full Frame or Something Else?!
So what do you look for? You want to assess what you plan to do first. Do you just want a camera for simple photos of the family or do you want to get serious in photography? That’s important because then you may not need an expensive fancy camera. Technology has improved so much over the years that a simple camera phone has an incredible camera(s)!
The larger the camera sensor the more expensive things become. If photography is more of a hobby for you then you're fine with crop sensor cameras. They're more affordable and you have more lens options available, as you're able to use lenses designed for those sensors and sensors that are larger (such as full frame lenses being able to be utilized on a crop camera). The upside to this is that if you use a crop body camera like the Sony a6400 and utilize full frame lenses, you'll obtain better sharpness with those lenses.
What and how you photograph is important as well. Someone photographing wildlife might prefer a crop camera, because a lens you attach to it will have a tighter crop than a full frame with the same lens attached. If you're into home interiors then the full frame would be more to your liking as a wide angle lens of 12mm for instance is going to be 12mm. On an APS-C crop that would be an 18mm instead. If you're into portraits, you may be interested in that really creamy bokeh, which is better on the full frame sensor vs a crop camera. This is why you really need to have a clear idea to what you're wanting to do with your photograph and photograph, because there will be pros and cons for everyone and they will differ from one photographer to the next.
The difference sensors also brings questions like which one has the better quality? These days all of the modern sensors are amazing, but it's still true that the bigger sensors perform better, especially when it concerns low light capabilities. Is that something that's important for you? That's something you certainly have to ask yourself.
You could be someone like me who simply utilizes both and it then becomes the question of which do I obtain first? A crop camera or full frame? Before you make that decision, keep reading the other points, which are essential as well!
3. Buy the Body Only!
Many interchangeable lens cameras that are available these days have kits, where they come with lenses in the box, typically one or two lenses and body combinations. Most of these "kit" lenses are very inexpensive starter lenses. They're often times not high quality glass and are just to get people started. I always recommend for people to just purchase the body only and buy a better lens to pair with their cameras. This of course depends on your budget, but if you're looking to really do photography as a business then you'll benefit from starting with a bit higher quality optics. It doesn't have to be a ZEISS lens, like what I use, but just something a step up from the kit lenses.
If you're buying a crop body camera like the Sony a6400 then you can really go either way. If it's just a hobby, or you're just wanting a nice compact camera, that's better than your smartphone then the kit lenses aren't terrible and will do okay. If you're buying a full frame camera however then no matter what, YOU SHOULD BUY ONLY QUALITY LENSES! I can never justify anyone obtaining a full frame camera, as they're usually $1500+ to begin with and if you have money to spend like that on a body then budget concern on a lens shouldn't even be a comment from anyone. You simply should not shell out that kind of money, to only slap cheap glass on it! No one would buy a sports car and put cheap tires on it and would put high performance sports tires on their car. Cameras are no different. If you want the best quality out of any camera you utilize you should use premium lenses. Many people don't ever see the true performance of their cameras and think something is wrong with the camera and decide to upgrade the body, but never upgrade their lenses. They're expecting better results, but they're only shifting the problem onto another camera body.
If you can afford it, buy just the camera body and obtain your lens separately. If budget is a concern then spend less on the camera body, so you're able to put more money towards a better lens.
4. Lenses, Lenses, LENSES!
Once you've gone through all of that, most may have selected a camera that requires lenses to be attached! If that's you then read the second part of this blog on "What Camera Lenses Should You Buy?". This is the most IMPORTANT part, that one should go through carefully, as your camera is only as good as the glass you attach to it. You can purchase a $3000 camera body, but in utilizing kit lenses for instance, your photos will look like $300 images, vs the $3000 of the camera body you paid for. Quality glass is ESSENTIAL!
If you have any further questions, feel free to leave the below in the comments!