What to Look For When Buying a CameraThere is such a huge choice of equipment available today for any photographer, that it can be completely bewildering trying to decide what to buy. Especially when you're unfamiliar with all the technology that goes into today's high-tech offerings. Once you've read this quick guide have a look at the links at the bottom of the page to find useful buyers guides for today's cameras. There is also a glossary of terms page which you may find useful, as the technology increases so do the number of terms used to describe it!!
As a professional photographer in London there are so many equipment stores, conventions and support. I get asked all the time about which camera to buy..so
When you want to buy your first serious camera there are a few questions you should ask.
What do you want to take pictures of?
What will you do with the pictures?
What is your budget?
Will your picture taking change over time?
My own equipment
Compact DigitalIf you want to take great pictures of friends and family at home, on the beach, at a party in fact anywhere, the best camera for the job is a small automatic compact camera you can slip it into a pocket carry it with you everywhere, never miss that opportunity to freeze the moment.
Today the place to put your pictures has got to be the Web. The quickest and easiest way of getting your pictures on the Internet is by using a digital camera plugging it into your PC and uploading straight to your home page.Some cameras will now have a facility to upload directly onto facebook and twitter and act more like a phone, but without being able to call anyone!
You can e-mail your pictures to anyone anywhere. You can then print out your pictures using your PC and your home printer. Software for processing photographs on your computer is a whole different minefield but there is a lot of advice out there, so have a look on the links page for ideas.
Digital SLRThis is the standard "professional" camera. The digital SLR it's the one used by Sports photographers, photojournalists, Fashion photographers, Travel photographers, even underwater photographers use them. Most serious amateurs will own a digital SLR and a range of lenses and accessories.
The Digital SLR is a good choice as your first serious camera. The reason for this is very simple. It is the most versatile camera system available. You can change the lenses the flash system and accessories to suit the widest range of picture taking circumstances.
If you want to take landscape pictures fit a wide-angle lens, mount it on a tripod. Perfect for high quality large prints.
If you want to take pictures of people, use a medium lens of about 50-85mm, stand at a comfortable distance, the longer lens will give a more flattering effect.
If its very dark you can pump up the ISO which on the better SLR's is really quite amazing and have very little grain or plug in a flashgun to light up your model whether you use one small flash on the camera or plug into lots of studio sized professional studio strobes.
If you want to picture sports action use fast high ISO, to be able to use a high shutter speed that will freeze any movement, a long telephoto lens will fill the viewfinder with the action. The better SLR's have superfast ability to take up to 10 shots per second, although you pay through the nose for these ones.
If you wanted to take pictures underwater fit the camera into a waterproof housing and dive in.
The digital SLR is the most versatile piece of kit available to the photographer.
If you're on a limited budget then I would opt for some really good lenses rather than a wizzy camera body. Most of the SLR bodies will be pretty good now, it's the lenses that make the difference in a lot of circumstance. And with lenses don't get too excited about a super telephoto lens..the more it zooms, the less amazing the image..generally speaking a prime lens will give better performance than a telephoto lens but having said that there are amazing zoom lenses out there. Let me know if you need advice!
Buying NewWhen buying a new camera a little research is required. Go along to a specialist camera shop, speak to the sale staff, tell them what kind of pictures you want to take with the camera.
Set yourself a budget; spend what you can afford. Be careful of spending more than you intended just because the model you like looks good and has lots of unnecessary features.
Trying to save a few pounds by buying something cheaper that will not keep up as you develop your skills and need more control of the camera is a false economy. After a while you will out grow your camera, then have to spend more money buying a better more expensive model.
Try before you buy, ask to hold the cameras you like while in the shop. Does it feel comfortable? Is it too heavy can you reach all the dials and buttons? Do your fingers get in the way?
It may be impressive to have a large camera with lots of buttons and dials but if its too heavy to hold and you don't use or even know what the buttons do then it's a waste of time. But don't buy a camera that's to small if you can't hold the camera comfortably then it will useless to you.
Don't fall for the glossy adverts Just because a camera is advertised as "Professional," don't think that you have to buy that one if you want to develop a career in photography. Great pictures can be taken with very modest equipment.
Try to buy into a system. Look for a camera that is made by one of the major brands, they design their cameras to be used with lots of lenses and accessories so that as your photography develops you can change and adapt your camera to be able to take pictures the way you want to.
Consider second handBuying any used cameras is going to be a little risky you can't be sure what your getting or how it has been treated. This doesn't mean you should ignore secondhand. It could be a great place to pick up a bargain. Try Ebay for example, where I bought a couple of lenses and where you get a huge selection of second hand digital cameras and as the technology moves on, so the older models come up for sale, so you can pick up a bargain here.
Buyers guidesKelkoo's digital camera guide
Which buyers guides and reports
My camera equipmentIf you're reading this and don't know who I am, I am a professional family photographer and pregnancy photographer living in London and have been running my own business for the last 7 years. SPT Photography is my business name. Currently I have 2 superb Canon EOS 5D mk II camera bodies and with them I use a number of lenses depending on what I'm photographing. The ones I use 95% of the time are the 24-105mm f4 L series IS USM Canon lens and the amazing 70-200mm f2.8 L series lens. These two are a fantastic pair of lenses for most situations, I can get large groups in shot as well as zooming in quite close for those intimate shots and the 2.8 lens has beautiful depth of field. The Auto Focus is fantastic with both on these lenses and they create very sharp images. I also have a prime 50mm f1.4 lens which is amazing but I have to say I don't use it much as I'm a bit of a zoom fan. I have recently also bought a wide angle zoom which is the 17-40mm f1.4, another L series lens, which has been brilliant for taking large groups at weddings or where there is little space. Phew I think that's it for now, but I do obviously have a camera top flash which I try and avoid using as much as possible but which is necessary some times.
If you want any advice on buying camera equipment do email me. I also do lessons and can produce a beautiful voucher if you would like to give a loved one a photography session with me. My camera equipment was bought from Park Cameras, an online retailer who were fantastic in their service and expertise, and also the Flash Center, again who were extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend both retailers.