When you are looking for a new camera there are tons of them out there to choose from and making the choice can be a daunting task. Many people get caught up in the name game. Canon versus Nikon/Pentax/Sony blah blah blah. Others situate themselves on opposing sides regarding whether it is better to shoot Film or Digital. and then there is the decision between Compact point and shoots and SLRs.
When I talk to people about photography they frequently ask me what camera I use and which one they should buy for themselves. My most common answer is that depends on what you want to do with it. If their answer is "I don't know" then any camera out there will do the job.
To be short and sweet I thought I'd share some tips on how to look for a good camera.
- Figure out what you will be using the camera for. Will you be taking snapshots of the kids, shooting weddings or making huge prints to hang on the wall (if you think you'll be doing the last 2 then you will need an SLR, preferably one with a "full frame sensor")? will you want to be able to shoot video too (some SLRs and pretty much all of the Compact cameras can shoot video now)?
- Come to terms with how much gear you're willing to lug around with you. If you choose an SLR be prepared to have to carry a lot more gear then you would if you buy a compact point and shoot
- Decide on what format you want to shoot in ( for the sake of simplicity choose between an SLR or Compact camera)
- Figure out what you are willing to pay and stick with that amount give or take a few dollars. Don't let the sales clerk try to up sell you on the latest button that you will never use on the newer model.
- Go to a reputable store (I like The Camera Store in Calgary due to their great staff)
- Test all the cameras in your price range by doing the following:
- hold them in your hand and feel the ergonomics of the design. Does it feel too big/small? Can you easily reach the buttons with your thumbs while holding it? Does the layout of the buttons make sense to you?
- Press the menu button. Go through the menu items and see how easily it is to navigate through them.
- Take some photos of things you would normally shoot (i.e. people, the flowers out front of the store, the landscape of the city etc...) Take the sale clerk with you.
- look at the photos and zoom in on them to see which camera has the better detail and less grain in the image
- don't buy anything the first trip to the store. Go home/out to the car and think about what you saw. I you have the chance look up the camera on this website and see what they have to say (they know what they are talking about).
- See if any other stores are offering the camera you want for cheaper. You can go back to the store and ask for a price match ( I have combined a few store's lower prices into one purchase at a single store several times).
Regardless of what camera company you choose to go with (Pentax, Canon, Sony, Nikon etc...), all of them make some really good cameras. The bottom line is how well the camera fits into your way of shooting and personal tastes and how comfortable you are holding/using it.
I hope this helps you in your future camera purchase. If you have questions leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer it.