Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How to choose a camera

Are you looking for a digital camera but you're not sure which type to choose? There are only two questions you have to ask yourself to find out the best camera for you. What is your budget and how will the camera be used.

If your budget is between $100 to $300, forget about buying an SLR camera. Digital cameras are so good nowadays that a lot of point and shoot cameras out there are more than capable of taking almost any kind of shots.

For example, if you need manual controls on your camera to set aperture and shutter speed, most of the major camera manufacturers like Nikon and Canon have a line of cameras with those settings. Some of the complaints I hear is that the speed of the shutters for these cameras are not fast enough to take photos of children or sports. If so, then take a look at a line of Casio Exilim high speed cameras. They have cameras that are capable of taking 30fps (frames per second) or more, which is faster than most SLR cameras. Problem solved.

The next question you have to ask is how will you be using the camera? Do you just want a camera to take occasional photos of your friends and family? Maybe your cellphone camera is good enough. Do you want a camera you can carry around in your pocket? Then obviously an SLR camera is out of the question. Are you more of a hobbyist who want to learn a bit more about photography? Then a higher end point and shoot or an entry level SLR camera might be the answer to that and will fit your budget.

If you are a more serious about photography and can afford to spend over $500, then an SLR camera is the best way to go. Since there are a lot of type of SLR cameras that ranges in price from $500 to over $8,000. How do you choose the right one?

Again, you go back to the two choices. What's your budget and how will it be used? If you're just using it for a hobby to learn and not as a source of income, any entry level SLR camera is good enough. These cameras will have 90% of the manual controls you need. If you're shooting sports photography, then the important factor to consider is how fast it can shoot continuously. In which case, you will need a higher end SLR for it.

The most important factor in SLR cameras is the lens, not the camera body. Invest in the lens, they last a lifetime. The body changes every 18 months or so and just gets better every time. A high quality lens from the 1960s works just as well today.

Digital photography is an expensive game, you can easily get dragged down to spending more than you need. Megapixels doesn't matter anymore. You can get a good quality 5" x 7" print from a 3MP camera. Unless you're printing poster sized photos, you rarely need to go higher than 10MP.

The quality of your photos is not dependent on the camera, it's dependent on you.

Here is a list of people who uses really simple cameras but achieve great results.

Chase Jarvis a commercial photographer that uses some of the high end professional cameras for his work. But he has a portfolio of photos using just his iPhone.

Sion Fullana is a journalist, a writer, a filmmaker in New York and takes a majority of his photos using an iPhone. He considers himself an iPhoneographer.

Wilson Tsoi has a great portfolio of photos using an obsolete Canon A620.

The great thing about their photos is that unless you knew what they were using, you wouldn't know they were using some of the most basic cameras in the market.

When someone tells you that you have to have an expensive gear to take great photos. Tell them, it's not the camera, it's the photographer.

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