One of the frequently asked questions I get from people is: “I have decided to buy a camera and as you are a photographer I wanted to ask you which company is the best and which model should I buy?” Whenever I hear this question I have no choice but to answer with another question: “What is the reason you want to buy a camera? What kind of pictures would you like to take – landscape? portraits? insects?” People usually answer with: “I don’t know… I just want to take the same photos I take with my smartphone, but I want them to be of better quality. You know.. Like when you use a camera…”
I can admit that there are some people who buy a camera not knowing anything about photography, but they become so passionate about it and learn every day and decide to switch their career and become a photographer. But the rest 95% buy a camera, either leave it on the dusty shelf or try it out once and go back to the store and ask why their expensive camera that is supposed to take great pictures is actually taking blurry, out-of-focus, too bright or too dark pictures. I guess it is not the easiest job on the planet to explain to a customer that it is not the camera that is at fault…
So just to spare you a ton of money and time I have decided to create this checklist for you BEFORE you buy a camera. Here you have some things you should know before buying a camera and 7 signs that show you should stick to your smartphone camera —>
- You believe that your new camera will take good photos instantly.
When you buy a camera – no matter how expensive it is – it WON’T take you great photos for no reason. You MUST learn how to use it. You wouldn’t buy a surgery toolbox and instantly know how to do an operation, would you? So why would you assume that your camera will instantly take great pictures? One should think that there must be a reason why there is a camera manual included.
So if this is the reason why you want to buy a camera- do yourself a favor and save your time and money – just stick to your phone. Or maybe just buy yourself a new phone. They really do make smartphones with a great inbuilt camera these days.
- You want to take pictures of your friends/kids/family so that you can upload them on FaceBook for everyone to see.
As I said earlier, they make some pretty great in-built smartphone cameras these days. And if you want to buy a camera to take the same pictures you would with your phone, just stick with your phone. Or maybe upgrade your phone. Because as said before- your camera won’t take better quality pictures just because it is a camera. If you want to take better pictures, there are plenty of online classes (such as iPhone Photography School) that teach you how to step up your smartphone photography and take amazing pictures. Maybe your friends won’t even believe you took them with a phone. When you will learn all the amazing things you can actually do with your phone camera, you will be ready to buy a camera and you will be happy you started with your phone and did not fail your camera shutter during your early days.
- You think that it is a good idea to buy a camera and set it AUTO mode forever and you will get great results. Because camera knows what it’s doing.
Yes, there is an AUTO mode for a camera, but also that does not mean you will get a great result. Most of the photographers will tell you that AUTO is the worst mode you could use. Let me give you an example…I sometimes work as a photo retoucher and I had this one client who bought the most expensive camera he could find and he traveled around the world taking pictures of different locations and on-location conferences. He used to choose a MANUAL mode. But not knowing what he was doing, he managed to choose settings that resulted in blurry pictures, so he decided to switch to AUTO. Because camera knows what it’s doing, right? Wrong! Oh, so many times, the camera reads the light wrong and gives you blurry or overexposed pictures anyway. Sometimes white balance is sooo off that everyone is orange. Pure orange. And when everything is right with colors and light, it still is not a good picture when you don’t know what composition is. Editing those pictures was not a rose garden, to say the least.
Stick to your phone, mate.
- You have never heard of ISO, shutter speed and aperture.
Ok, this is pretty much the same as the previous one. But just in case you read points 1 to 3 and still want to buy a camera, please spend some minutes on youtube learning about those 3 little (big) things.
- You believe that the more expensive the camera is, the better pictures you will get.
Firstly, please read the point nr. 3 if you haven’t yet. Secondly, if you really want to buy your first camera, do not start with the most expensive one. You don’t want to learn to ride a bike before learning how to walk. Especially if you have just started out your photography and are scared to take pictures anywhere but outdoors with some beautiful natural light. You really don’t need your first camera to be the newest model. When you start to agree to some low light photoshoots with paying clients, you can start to think about an upgrade.
- You don’t like to carry around heavy baggage (equipment).
This is something you have to keep in mind. When you buy a camera, it is just a body. You need lenses too. If you want to shoot macro images, you need one lens, if you want to shoot wildlife from afar, you need another lens, if you want to shoot portraits, you need another one… To carry them all, you need a camera bag. If you want to shoot stars, you need a tripod. If you want to work with people under low light conditions, you need to think about purchasing some flashes and lights. Then it is time for reflectors, umbrellas…. The list is endless, really. Not only this is expensive, but if you hate carrying heavy stuff, you either need to hire a porter or you should rethink your hobby/ future profession.
- You want to publish your pictures straight away to your social media.
Would you be surprised if I told you that photographers retouch and edit their pictures before publishing them? I doubt that. But this is something people forget when buying their first camera. When you shoot with your phone, you can do some quick edits and upload your pictures to your social media for everyone to see. When you shoot with the camera and you choose to shoot RAW, you need to have a special program to actually get a solid JPEG that can be uploaded to social media and this takes some time. So be ready for it.
P. S. If you have read this all and still want to buy a camera- I welcome you on board and wish you a great journey in the world of photography! In case you are looking for some inspiration to start your career, I had a great opportunity to interview some amazing photographers from all over the world about how did they start their career. Some inspirational stuff: SHOULD YOU BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER.
P. P. S. My top advice for everyone who is 100% sure they want to buy a camera and they are sure what they are gonna use it for, I suggest to rent out a camera in rentals for a weekend to try it out and see if it is a fit. If not, you can always rent out a different one. It undoubtedly is easier than to sell a camera you have just bought some weeks ago.
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