If you are not a pro and you are about to buy a new good camera, I’m sure you will ask advice before you spend a good slice of your salary on a piece of hardware.
The first advice is “Don’t listen to fanboys!” This is not only an advice before you buy a camera, but in general. There are two kind of fanboys, the one that just likes a vendor and consider every camera just a tool to accomplish what at the end is the only important thing: take a picture!
Then the other fanboy an extremist fanatic one. Try to avoid his/her advice because for them, the brand is just a kind of religion or a way of living. For them there is no better camera than the one they love, and you are looking for an objective advice before you spend your money right? So you’ve been warned.
So here some advices for non pro users, before you buy a new camera:
- Don’t listen to radical fanboys! How to detect them? Easy, just pronounce the name of the competence. If he is a Canon guy, just say that you are going to buy Nikon because their optic and sensor is superior (usually they get more upset when you touch their vendor’s weak point and that’s funny!) or, if he is a Nikon fanboy, just say that you are going to buy a Canon because it’s cheaper and the ergonomic is superior. Based on the energy in their reaction and the number of insults for the opposite vendor, you will discover them. And I forgot, if they are Pentax fanboys, just tell them “Pentax? What is that? A brand?” But if, otherwise, they just point out a list of possible choices from different vendors, you know you will get the most objective perspective from that person experience.
- First try to get a clear idea of why do you want a new camera and what do you want to do with it. If you are currently happy with the camera you have and you never missed any particular option but you want to get more Mpx or the natural next upgrade, just try to follow your vendor advice for the new version of your current camera. Check forums and try to get your hands on the new one before you buy it. This is the easy scenario because you are not looking for anything new, you just want to upgrade what you already have so you can focus on a specific vendor and a particular device line. This is a good site to see comparisons and performance of each latest camera: www.dpreview.com
- If you want to upgrade for your next level as a photographer and you are looking for something that will let you learn more about photography, be careful before you buy a reflex. Usually a reflex is harder to use than a compact, it’s big, heavy and more expensive. Buying a reflex won’t make you more professional and believe me, it won’t even make you look professional. Experienced photographers can understand if you are a pro or not, based on the way you hold and handle your camera :)
- Do you want to learn photography to be a pro and make a living with it? In that case measure your steps, think about what kind of photography you want to start with. Products? Wedding? Fashion? whatever? Check your budget, and for how long you can live receiving no money at all. A little outdated, but good advices here for “how to go pro” A general advice is, buy a semi-pro DSLR. Any big vendor Nikon, Canon or Pentax is fine and they have reasonable prices. Also be very careful about lenses. If you decide to go with one vendor, try to make the right decision at first. You don’t want to buy a Canon body, a couple of good lenses and then realize that maybe a Nikon would fit better with your expectations. You will change many bodies in your photographer life but few lenses. So be careful. It’s OK if you make the wrong choice with the body model, because you can always upgrade and still use the same lenses and accessories.
- Do you just love photography and you want to get better pictures, and improve your knowledge but you have no intention to work on this field? In this case forget high end pro equipment. Of course this depends on your budget, but as a general rule, if you are not going to make a living with photography, just take an entry level DSLR or a semi-pro from the major vendors. The Pentax k-y are great for this. My suggestion is, take an entry level, a cheap standard lens (usually the one coming with the kit) and a bright prime of 50mm or 85mm or take a good point and shot that let you go completely manual: like a Canon G12 here a revision of the previous model G11
- If you just don’t know, and you are afraid that maybe in the future you are going to loose interest in photography but you want to try and you want to learn, in that case I strongly recommend to take a good Point & Shot camera like Canon G12, Olympus pen or Panasonic Lumix
- About 2nd hand it’s not bad and nothing to be avoided. You have to understand what you are buying, how to check for defects and also from who or where you are buying it. I got my old Nikon D200 from a 2nd hand shop and it still works. This is a pro camera, very robust so the possibilities to buy one with some defect are less than a cheap, Point & Shot 2nd hand camera. My suggestion is, don’t run away from 2nd hand, but try to buy with the advice of a friend with experience in photography, so eventually you can get a good deal. Don’t forget to offer your friend a beer! :)
- Finally, remember to start small but never start too cheap, you get what you pay for. Ask yourself what do you really want to do in photography, talk with friends with experience and check camera reviews. It’s much better to get a camera that match 90% of what you are looking for than paying much more money for a camera beyond your expectations with options you’ll never use. Remember, for every product you buy, it doesn’t matter if it’s a camera or a laptop, every option that you don’t need or don’t use, is wasted money.
- And for those that just want to get better pictures: Don’t waste your money buying better cameras, first figure out why you think your pictures are bad. Is it the camera or is it you?