"Which camera should I buy?" You may not like my answer.


It’s the question I get asked the most.  Ironically enough, it’s also the one I hate to answer the most.  It’s nothing personal but when I get asked that question all I hear in my head is “Which camera can I buy that will guarantee I get the most amazing photos in every situation, no matter what?”  Here’s my answer, it doesn’t exist.  Oh I know that there are some cameras out there that come close but, generally speaking, if someone is asking me the aforementioned question, they’re not willing to shell out the kind of money that it would take to lay hands on one of them.

Here’s the other problem.  When I DO try to answer the question, it needs to be addressed by me asking more questions and it usually ends up in a blank stare looking back at me.  It goes something like this:  “How will you be using your camera?”  “What do you like to take photos of the most?”  “What kind of lighting conditions do you anticipate being in most often?”  Here is the answer I always get:  “Well, you know, my daughter plays volleyball and my son is playing basketball.  I like taking landscape photos and sometimes I like to pose the kids for portraits.  Aside from that, I’d like to see if I could use it to start shooting some weddings and stuff and maybe start a photography business.”

The blank stare comes in when I reply  “Well there are several things that you need to consider for the types of photography that you’re planning to shoot.  If you’re shooting indoor sports you’ll need to make sure that your camera can reach high enough ISO ratings in order to gather enough light for a good image that’s not too noisy.  To go along with that, you’ll also need a fast enough lens with a long focal length to make sure you can get as much light to the sensor as possible and zoom in close enough to get a good picture from the stands.  If you’re thinking about ultimately photographing weddings, you’ll need a few other lenses and possibly some speedlites to make sure can get good exposures in low light....by the way, what’s your budget for a new camera?”  Most common answer?  “Oh I figured I could spend about $500.00 right now.”

At that point the voice inside my head says “Just keep using your phone, it’ll probably do a better job.”  Rather than coming off as rude, I simply state that in order to do what you’d like to do with the camera, and get good quality photos from it, you’re probably looking at spending anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000...just to get started.  To which the reply is usually “Ok, thanks, I’m not spending that kind of money.”

Don’t even get me started on the “I have a nice camera but it doesn’t take very good pictures, I think I’m going to buy a more expensive one so I can get better shots” scenario.  If you already have a “nice” camera, put it on the Auto setting, and then get photos that you’re not happy with, why would you spend more money on another camera that you don’t know how to use?  The only thing that will come from it is spending even more money for photos that you’re not happy with!

I have a better idea...take a small portion of that $500.00 that you were going to spend on a new camera and take a basic photography course.  Learn how a camera operates and the basic fundamentals of gathering light.  It’s really not that hard!  Learn the principles of the Exposure Triangle and start to make your own educated decisions on which camera and lens combination will best serve your purpose.  Once you understand the basics, you’ll feel empowered and the “creative juices” will start flowing!  THEN, you can come and ask me about what aperture and focal length I think produce the best portraits.  Ask me if I think the newest crop sensor camera model paired with a 70-200mm f/2.8 will do the trick at your daughter’s volleyball game.

Please don’t get me wrong, I will ALWAYS answer questions to the best of my ability...all I’m saying is invest just a little bit of time and money in yourself before wasting it on something that you won’t be happy with and not even know why.

If you'd like to learn more about the basic operations of your camera, I have online and in-person classes available.  Click here to learn more about upcoming LIVE classes or here for the online version.