Lessons from a professional photographer to help you document the everyday.

Lesson Three

“How do I know which camera to buy?”

How to choose your first camera:

  • Research & pick a brand or two
  • Set a budget
  •     Include; memory cards & other supplies
  • Don’t look at camera kits
    Buy the camera + a 50mm 1.8 lens separately
  • Shop the Sales / get creative with buying
    Stay away from the gray market or imported cameras

Having a camera is a great way to document your life and the lives of those around you! There are so many different companies that make cameras, and then under those companies you have different models and they all do different things. When I bought my first DSLR, I went in blind and it actually worked out really well. When you compare the top two brands (Canon and Nikon) you won’t see much of a difference as far as what the images look like.

I looked into the Canon brand first because that is what my grandfather had. I knew that with his film camera, there were lenses that I could use on my camera. (Nikon lenses don’t work on Canon bodies and vise versa, you can buy an adapter but I live by the philosophy that less is more and have not tried taking photos that way. This is where you are committing to a brand since most likely you’ll buy accessories or gear that only match up with the company’s products.)

Before I totally ruled out Nikon, I tried them out side by side in comparison to Canon cameras. To me, it felt like Nikon camera bodies were larger and the button were not as intuitive. Since being loyal to the Canon brand for about 5 years now, I have used a Nikon Camera for 1 shoot and I was able to learn what I needed in a matter of 10 minutes so, under pressure, Nikon was not hard to get to know.

I decided which brand I wanted to go with and from there I set a budget for myself. In my case, I was scrounging for money to create this budget, so going over really wasn’t an option. I then went to snapsort.com and compared Canon cameras. The website is very thorough however the technical details of the camera world can be quite confusing. I went with what I knew – I knew that I wanted nice images that would print huge if I needed them to, that made it so I could weed out cameras with low megapixels. I also wanted to be sure to buy a camera that had good resale value just in case I changed my mind later and wanted to sell.

Within my budget there were only a few cameras left so I picked the Canon Rebel T2i. In the photography forums that I was a part of, they always talked poorly about kit lenses. Saying that they weren’t worth the extra money and they really don’t do much good. Being the “rebel” that I am, I bought a kit which was included a camera + lens. Had I listened and purchased the camera and a lens I’d actually use, I would have saved myself around $300.00.

Shortly after I purchased my camera, I bought the lens that was suggested – A 50MM 1.8. I know that in the beginning lenses can be confusing or intimidating, but they really aren’t. The 50mm is something that everyone uses, even professional photographers will use or have used the lens for quite some time. In my case, it took me 4 years to make the decision that I wanted something different and I still use the 50MM for a good amount of my sessions.

Be careful when shopping for a camera, there are stores out there who look legit but are actually selling gray market cameras. I will write a post about this issue in the coming week because I know first hand what it’s like to be swindled and confused when it comes to buying a camera.

Don’t have the funds to buy a fancy new camera from a store? I suggest looking online at yard sale pages, community pages or craigslist for lightly used cameras. This is where you might be able to come up on a really good deal. (Always be safe and never meet a stranger from the internet alone or in a remote place, choose a gas station or other location where there are many cameras just in case you end up with a dishonest person) People will sell their camera before anything else and because of that, you’ll be able to find cameras and gear for what you are willing to spend. Also, check out factory refurbished cameras. I was always afraid of the term “refurbished” in my mind, I was thinking they were cameras that someone broke and returned. That’s not the case especially if you buy directly from Canon, Nikon or the camera brand of your choice. They all have sections of their online stores dedicated to refurbished cameras. The cameras come with the full warranty which means that you can have it repaired by the manufacturer within the amount of time explained in the warranty paperwork.

About the author…

Hi! Thank you for reading my blog posts, I’m a mother to five and professional photographer to hundreds. My days as a photographer began in Southern California where my friends and I had walls full of photos printed from our adventures. I currently shoot with a Canon 70D *gasps* a crop sensor?! Yes. A crop sensor, because it’s not the equipment that makes a good photographer. It’s creativity and challenges that do. I strive to document life as it is, to #sustainchildhood is my ultimate goal for you and for me. If you’ve found my article interesting or helpful, please consider sharing this page and using the hashtag #sustainchildhood so that I can see your work!


Photographer & Blogger, The Black and White Blog Co

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