The two questions I am asked most regularly so I thought I would answer them in a blog. Let’s take the first one.
What is the best camera?
There is a very simple answer to that, and it is
The one you have with you and know how to use.
There is no point having a fancy all singing all dancing camera if it’s too big for you to take out with you as you simply won’t have it there when you need it. The second part is also crucial as you are unlikely to get the best shots if you don’t know how to use the camera that you have.
When I am teaching workshops, I ask people to remember when they first learnt to drive a car. The first time they got in it was a case of how am I ever going to make all these pedals, indicators etc work together. Now when you get in your car you simply do what’s needed every time you indicate you don’t have to think I need to do x,y and z to make that happen you just do it. This is because you have become unconsciously competent at driving.
If you want to get the very best images you need to do the same with your camera and there is no other way to do this than spend time with it in your hands. The very best photographers know their gear inside and out and can make all the adjustments needed in the dark without looking at which button or dial they need to use.
Now we have dealt with that question on to the next one.
What Camera should I buy?
Now this is a lot harder question to answer, and you need to remember that even if you won the lottery and went into the camera shop to spend your winnings you can’t buy the perfect camera. Every camera has limitations and the more time you spend with a camera the more you will realise how impressive your eyes are. That being said to help you make the decision on what to buy you need to know the answer to the following three questions.
- What is your budget? You can spend inordinate amounts of money on cameras so start with having an idea how much you wish to spend.
- What are you planning on doing with the camera? What genre of photography interests you? If you are a beginner this might be a difficult one for you to answer but it’s still worth thinking about.
- How big/small do you need whatever camera you buy to be. There is no point buying a massive pro DSLR body with a huge prime lens if you won’t be able to carry it as then you won’t have it with you!
There are basically four main types of cameras
- Compact cameras – small light weight and likely to fit in your pocket may have an electronic or an optical viewfinder.
- Bridge cameras – like a compact camera but with a much bigger fixed zoom lens.
- Mirrorless cameras/ Compact system cameras – Next step up with these you will have the ability to change the lens depending on what you are shooting. All have an electronic viewfinder
- DSLR – Digital single lens reflex. Historically the top level of camera with the most functionality, interchangeable lenses and an optical viewfinder however many of the camera manufacturers have announced that they will not be bringing out any new DSLR cameras and are concentrating on developing their mirrorless offerings.
First question you are going to ask is what is the difference between an optical viewfinder and an electronic one? In DSLR cameras there is a system of mirrors inside the camera so that when you look through the viewfinder you are looking through the lens of your camera so it’s an optical viewfinder. In a mirrorless camera what you see through the viewfinder is a small screen showing what you are pointing your camera at so it’s an electronic viewfinder. I was concerned when I moved from shooting with a DSLR to a mirrorless camera that I would not get on with the electronic viewfinder, but I don’t even notice its different.
All my cameras as Canon cameras simply because the first camera I purchased was a Canon camera and like everything else people tend to stay with the same brand. Back when I bought my first proper camera it was down to Canon or Nikon but now there are a lot more options to choose from. If you can go have a look at them in a shop, see which appeals to you.
Once you have narrowed it down to a few options check out some reviews. There are loads of magazines and websites that will explain the difference between a couple of cameras or watch a review on you tube. My only suggestion is read/watch several so that you get a balance of opinions. Then its a case of finding the best place to purchase from but thats a whole nother blog!