It’s a question that comes up every holiday season! What’s my advice on buying a camera?
Most consumers are looking to spend around $600-1200 on a full DSLR with interchangeable lenses if they’re coming to me, and I’m sooo happy to help! This is the category often called “prosumer.” These days, ALL cameras do amazing things. The old credentials like megapixels are through the roof – awesome and unnecessary. So here’s what I think you should really be looking for:
(1) Canon, Nikon, Sony. They’re amazing, and they are each neck and neck with the best features and innovations. One year Canon is better, the next year Nikon is better, and today I’d also highly recommend the mirrorless (notably lighter weight) options coming from Sony. The best thing you can do is physically go hold them in a store to see which one suits your hands and mental dexterity best. This first decision should be based solely on how it feels to you.
(2) Second big recommendation is not to buy the kit lens – the lens that may be offered as a package with the camera. People often think camera quality is where it’s at, but lenses are crucial. The key is to get the lowest aperture/f-stop that you’re willing to pay for. Some great ones can be found for a few hundred dollars. Photographers’ favorite, most recommended lens just happens to cost just around $130, so check out the Canon 50mm f/1.8 or the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 if you can! (or for a little more, try the f/1.4 versions)
What length? A 24-35mm lens distance will help you cover a big group, scene, or the room of a home. A 50mm lens is kinda the industry go-to, because it’s great for everything – namely people and any individual things you want to capture, such as flowers or a baby. The 85mm distance is great to have for a bit of zoom and depth of field (the background faded or blurred out), and anything over 135 will be a true zoom for things farther away. If you want to shoot wildlife, go upwards of 200-300mm. These distances can all be covered in a couple of lenses of course, if you want to purchase the 24-70mm zoom lens, etc., but hopefully this gives you some idea of that that looks like.
(3) Lastly, SLR or mirrorless cameras and interchangeable lenses will only look as good as a point-and-shoot if you don’t learn a liiiitle more about all the buttons. I recommend the book Understanding Exposure to get you started for just over $20, but then just get out there and shoot shoot shoot (I dare you to put your settings on manual!)
When it comes to memory/flash cards, bigger is always great, but not if one gets lost or corrupted. As a wedding photographer, none of my cards are over 32GB because I can’t afford to lose a substantial part of the day. For hangin’ with my friends on a weekend trip, though, I do pull out my 64-128GB. Totally up to you. If you’re really gonna take a ton of photos, you will want to get an external hard drive for your computer too.
Another thing you might want to think about is your editing software. Many computers come with something, so it just depends on your commitment level. You can get the industry standard, Adobe Lightroom, for just $10 bucks a month, and it will allow you to make all kinds of beautiful and easy edits to your photos.
Hope this helps get you started, but reach out to me any time with questions at stacey[at]staceyhedman[dot]com!