What camera to buy ?

What camera to buy ?

What camera for starting out in photography?

If I had a camera for every time I’ve heard that question, I could supply Pelling and Cross – but they went bust in 1982, so lets exaggerate and say Amazon.

I would love to reply, “No doubt about it a Cannikonytax D765D ” unfortunately it’s not as easy as that. The question is very similar to asking what shoes you should you buy.

Shoes can be walking, running, tennis, evening, trainers, jumping, slippers, etc, etc, etc….


Well it’s the same with cameras, so you must think in the same way as buying a pair of shoes. What size do you need? What are you going to do with them? Can you afford Church or Gucci? Or, is it a pair from the bargain shop on the net?


It’s important to understand that, with digital development, camera bodies can become outdated very fast, whereas well looked after lenses, are usually usable for at least 20 years.


As an amateur starting out it’s not wise to buy a very expensive camera. It could take you a couple of years to become a reasonably accomplished photographer and to learn exactly what type of photography you want to do, then you may realise the camera you purchased, is not only outdated but isn’t really the camera that’s perfect for you. In fact you bought hiking shoes when you should have bought a pair of running shoes, so to speak.


For example a 43mp full frame camera isn’t really the thing to start with, it may have everything you could need, but is extremely complicated to use and incredibly expensive, not only will it take an awful lot of computer memory ,the 300 page instruction book needs a degree in photography or and physics to understand.


Like a good pair of evening shoes, it looks great and makes you feel like Fred Astair, whoops! I meant David Bailey, unfortunately looking and feeling like either of them, won’t improve your pictures. (For the youngsters out there, they are famous people from the sixties.) anyway would you buy a Rolls Royce to learn to drive?pin hole camera site


So what you really need is a decent pair of trainers, you have all those brands to choose from and considering this is probably one of the most important decisions of your photographic life it’s worth thinking about vey carefully, because not all cameras work the same way, which probably means once the make is chosen you won’t want to change, you will become either a Canonist, a Nikonist, a Pentaxist,a Sonyist or one of those rare beasts a Leicaist, all convinced that their make is the best on the market. Men particularly tend to defend their make with more venom than they would their wifes reputation.

No what about lenses, well they aren’t compatible between camera brands, even with special converters not all lenses can be fitted on all cameras.

So choose a brand that will accept a wide range of focal length lenses at a reasonable price, that you might want to use in the future, for example a super long telephoto or a short fisheye. All that leaves Leica out of the choice, as their lenses although extremely good are also extremely expensive.


This is one of the reasons that it’s difficult to get away from Canon or Nikon.

Another very important thing is your friends, are they photographers? What do they use? It’s always nice to share lenses with a friend, (to avoid loosing the friend, make sure it’s insured)


Don’t and I repeat don’t get involved with arguments about which brand is better, bear in mind that things change so fast, that it doesn’t matter what is best today, it’s tomorrow that’s important, the strange thing is, I’ve only ever heard amateurs in arguments like that, pro’s just use the gear and frankly it’s not very important what brand. But if you own more than one brand changing a lens can be very annoying when you try to turn it the wrong way.


Also make sure the camera fits your hand, for me I need a heavy big bodied camera, whereas for my wife, a small light body would be great, in fact a Kodak Brownie would be as good for her, as any camera would stay in the cupboard, because she uses her phone, yes I feel very embarrassed!

But you know what I mean.


Well now you have chosen a brand that you will almost certainly be giving away to a nephew or niece, within 3 years at the most, we should decide on a budget.


Now that should be pretty easy, how much do you love your niece or nephew!! Let’s be sensible after all they’re still pretty young, so we will go for something simple, after all they’re only starting out so if it has too many whistles and bells, they won’t take the time to learn, about the workings, and it will be set on automatic until the time comes for it to go and join Pelling and Cross in the sky. (Youngsters again Pelling and Cross was a famous camera shop in London, in the 60s. This is a pretty good history lesson as well.)

So, simply learn everything about what your choice of DSLR does and more important what it doesn’t do, before you buy.


Now your spending a lot less than you thought you were going to do, you can decide on the lens or lenses you need, again the same question arises, what will you be shooting. Go say it,” A bit of everything I suppose”


Now this is where the boffins that design cameras and lenses know better than you and I, they add lenses to cameras that with their experience will create the ideal combination for an all round beginner. These are sold together and call body and kit lens, these are great quality but not as robust as a pro lens. That’s OK because amateurs don’t throw cameras around like a pro.


Other problems, like less possibility for low light work, or weight are unimportant at this stage.


Now you are equipped with the make and model that fits you, plus the ideal lens, especially designed personally for you, by the best experts in the world.

It’ time to get going on a few training runs.


What’s the downside of this momentous decision? Well, when you go out with your newfound friends at the local photo club, you will have to put up with–


“Oh you would be better of with a Cannikonytax D765D, how can you be seen with the standard kit lens? Think of the clubs reputation. What will you do when you need a print the size of that wall? Listen to me, I’m a semi pro! I’ve been at it for a long time there’s nothing better than working with real film, all this digital nonsense……


Your answer is very obvious and really absolutely true you say “Oh! It’s not mine I’m just testing it for my niece

Well at least you’ve sorted out a nice Christmas present for your niece or nephew, in a couple of year’s time. Or maybe sooner if you listen to the camera club!


So now you go out and buy a Cannikonytax D765D and use it on automatic.


My conclusion buy a cheap DSLR the make that you like with a kit lens, if you find you like photography, sell it and upgrade. Or if you don’t really get into it it’ makes a nice ornament on a shelf next to your partners Brownie.




Retired advertising photographer, now living in the Gers France and having a great time.

Leave a Reply