Deciding on the right digital camera for YOU can be difficult, but you can narrow down the search with these 4 easy steps.
Having purchased many digital cameras through the years, and knowing there’s a bazillion different models to choose from, it’s not surprising when people ask, “Which digital camera should I buy?”
Being every camera has its pluses and minuses my response is usually, “What are you planning to use the camera for?”
When I started the search for my first digital camera...
- I knew I wanted a general-purpose camera.
- I knew I wanted a Nikon after speaking with several family members that owned them.
- I knew I needed one that could be used in either automatic or manual mode for use in a photography class.
- and I wanted one that could offer the versatility of taking landscapes & wildlife pictures, as well as snapshots at family gatherings.
The camera store sold me a Nikon D70 kit back in 2004, and it had everything I needed.
Step 1: Know what you want the camera for.
The D70 lasted me throughout the early years of digital technology upgrades. After Nikon came out with better, faster equipment I made sure each camera body I purchased would use all the same lenses and equipment. This made my initial investment last.
It was 2013 when my 'Step 1' changed. I tried the 365 photo challenge using nothing but manual camera settings, and let me tell you… it didn’t take long to discover that I SUCKED at manual photography!
My images were often too blurry, too dark, too washed out, or somewhere in between. And after sorting through hundreds of images every day, I was hard pressed to find a single good one to post.
Throughout the year my camera skills improved daily, but I struggled to find interesting subject matter after the first three months. That said, I got into photographing sunrises, sunsets, and birds since I could always find them. But after defining my subject, I discovered it wasn’t just me screwing up the shot.
My general-purpose camera wasn’t cutting it!
My sunrises and sunsets would turn out grainy, and the blacks a muddied gray. My bird images were blurred… not just because I didn’t have sharp focus, but because I couldn’t get enough light at the speed I needed and cranking up the ISO also made the image grainy.
Additionally, I discovered that the camera didn't have enough resolution (megapixels) to crop photos without the end result being a pixelated mess, so back to the camera shop I went to discover which camera options offered better output.
Expecting this next purchase to be more than twice as much as the last, the camera guy recommended the Nikon D7000 which would still use my old lenses, and not break the piggy-bank.
Able to use ISO settings without mucking up the photo, good in low light, more frames per second, and higher resolution – the D7000 was quite the upgrade from the D70.
Step 2: Know your subject and output size to help identify the perfect digital camera.
After you get a list to meet your first and 2nd criteria, you need to decide what type of camera you want.
Do you want a professional model camera with all manual settings? A pro model offers the best resolution for output, fast shutter speeds, and versatility in lenses for specific shooting, but unless you are going into the photography business, this is an expensive investment.
Maybe you’re looking for a semi-pro model that has both automatic and manual settings? The semi-pro model offers 'some' of the same bells and whistles as the pro model, but are a lot less expensive. With a semi-pro, you can change out the lenses for specific shooting, monkey with manual settings to massage your creative side, and still flip it in automatic for those quick, no-brainer shots.
Or maybe you just want a simple automatic for taking snapshots throughout life? There are all kinds of automatic cameras to choose from, and some even offer telephoto, wide-angle, and macro lens settings for added fun. Although you are limited by the cameras functionality, these cameras are usually a lot smaller than the pro and semi-pro models for no-lug, easy transport.
Do you want a camera that shoots video too? All the camera types listed above will offer versions with video capabilities. You’ll just need to revisit Step 2 for determining the right camera.
Step 3: Know the type of camera you want.
Knowing the type of lens you want will definitely help to determine the perfect camera body. Keep this in mind especially if choosing to buy a camera kit to make sure it comes with a lens you’ll use. Also knowing if a particular lens will actually work on the camera you plan to buy is pretty important, so do some research or ask for advice.
If you are planning to shoot landscapes, you’ll want a wide angle zoom. Look for fast glass having somewhere near a f/2.8 or f/4 aperture, and plenty of zoom. A weather seal mount, filter threads, and image stabilization maybe handy as well.
Are you planning on taking photos at your kid’s soccer game, or the next NASCAR Race you're attending? Then you’ll want a fast telephoto lens, and perhaps a wicked tripod with a quick mount/release plate and gimbal head for stabilized tracking.
If you’re planning to take photos of people, you may want a portrait lens. Maybe you don’t ever want to change a lens, and instead, have a simple camera that has a wide-angle/zoom built right in. Knowing what you expect from the camera and lens will get you pointed in the right direction.
Step 4: Determine your lens needs to find the perfect camera.
All that’s left to do from here is Go Shopping!
I hope you found this post helpful in determining the perfect digital camera for YOU!
Thanks so much for reading!