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Buying a new camera is a big decision, but also a fun decision.
Whether you are buying your very first camera or upgrading to something new, purchasing your camera is an exciting process. Ask yourself a few questions when buying a new camera to ensure you get the camera you need and want. This can be quite an investment so it is a good idea to take your time.
Think through each of these questions. You will likely have a few more questions as you read this post so take note of them. Having a list as you begin to shop for the right camera will be helpful.
7 questions to ask before buying a new camera.
1. What is my budget?
Camera’s can get quite pricey so it is important to decide on your budget before answering the following questions. This way you will know exactly what you want to spend without falling in love with something way out of your price range.
Here’s a ballpark for what you might spend on different types of cameras.
Point and shoot- $150-$400
Beginner DSLR- $400-$800
Full Frame DSLR- $100-$3000+
You will also need to consider the price for any extras, like lenses, batteries, camera bags, memory cards, flashes, tripods, etc.
2. What will I be photographing?
Knowing the purpose of your camera will be essential when determining which camera to buy.
- Think about the main focus of your images or if it is going to be a hobby camera that can be used for nearly any type of image.
- Think about the quality of image you want to get.
- If you are going to be taking professional photos or quick photos of your life or both.
- Will you be photographing super close images or images that have a vast depth of field?
All of these elements will help you determine what camera to buy. You need to make sure that whichever camera you choose has the capacity to take the types of images you want to take.
3. What feels best to me when I hold the camera and try out the settings?
This is one of those questions that is often overlooked. Most people will ask, “what is the best brand to buy?”.
There are two brands that really stand out, Nikon and Canon, but this really comes down to preference. Canon and Nikon both have great reputations for putting out great cameras. The features are very similar, but the buttons, dials, and settings are set up differently. You need to hold them each in your hand, practice shooting and changing settings to determine which brand fits you better. I personally love Nikon, but have several photographer friends who love their Canon.
4. How much control do I want to have?
If you are simply looking for a camera to throw in your purse so you can quickly get a few images when you are out and about, you may not want to spend the money for a DSLR. However, if you want to control your exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, etc. than you will need a camera that allows you to manually adjust settings.
Looking back at the purpose of your camera and thinking about your photography goals will help you make this decision.
- Do you want to take portraits with a nice blurry background and sharp subject?
- Will you want to take night shots with blurred street lights?
- Are you going to be photographing a lot of action?
Each of these examples require much more control of the settings and therefore may justify purchasing a DSLR.
Some point and shoot cameras are considered hybrids and allow for some adjustments, while DSLRs will allow for complete control of the settings.
Decide how much you will need to adjust your settings before purchasing your camera.
Here are my favorite beginner DSLRs that allow for complete control over the settings:
If you want to learn more about how to use all those settings, sign up for the Manual Mode for Beginners course. It’s FREE!
5. What size camera fits my lifestyle?
This is an important question to consider. When I first purchased my DSLR I quickly realized how much bulkier it was than my point and shoot. However, I knew it was the right camera for me and soon got so used to carrying it around that I forgot how big it was.
If size and weight are a big issue for you than a point and shoot or mirrorless camera might be a better fit.
Just make sure you don’t make a sacrifice for the types of images you want to achieve just because of the size of the camera. If a larger camera is what you need to meet your photography goals, you will figure out how to carry it around.
There are many cameras made specifically for travel and outdoor activities as well. If you will be backpacking, hiking, or doing other active activities with your camera, than weight and size will likely be very important to you.
Here are a few great choices for outdoor enthusiasts who are concerned about size and weght:
6. Will I want to take videos?
If you plan to do a lot of videos, you will want to look for a camera that provides good audio and quality video recording.
You can also look for add-ons that are available for the camera such as lenses, external microphones, lights, wi-fi connectivity, and memory.
Most cameras have the capability of shooting video if you just want to do small clips here and there, but if you want to do any advanced videography, look carefully at the specs before choosing your camera.
Here are a few great cameras that allow for quality videography as well:
Lower budget, but still amazing quality
For a larger budget
Looking to shoot professional videos?
7. What size prints will I want to print?
Lastly, you will want to decide what size photos you are going to be printing (or your clients will be printing). Most cameras have between 12 and 24 megapixels right now and either would be plenty to develop regular photos and enlargements. If you want to be able to make massive prints then you will want to find a camera with more megapixels so your photos will be crystal clear even at the large size. 24.1 megapixels will most likely be more than enough for what most people will want to do.
You may also want to decide if a full frame camera is needed. A full frame camera will run you a lot more money, but will allow you to capture a much larger frame as well as let in a lot more light. When you are thinking about the size of your prints, also consider the size of the frame needed. If you are not a professional, you will probably not need to spend this extra money. And honestly, you can take professional quality images without a full frame as well, it just depends on your desires as a photographer.
As you think through the questions on this list and look at some of the cameras I have shown you, I hope you are able to find the camera that is just right for you. Buying a camera is an exciting thing and opens the doors to so much creativity and enjoyment for years to come!
Take me on this journey with you and let me know what photography questions you have in the comments below.