Purchasing a digital camera is a commitment.  It requires savings, planning, research, and brand selection.  Most photographers own their same camera for approximately three to five years.  If they stay with the same brand when upgrading cameras, they could own their lenses for up to ten years.  You are not just buying a camera, you are buying into a brand.  Do you plan on staying with that brand for years?  Most do.  Therefore, the decision of which camera to purchase is not one to take lightly.

In order to assist our customers with their next camera selection, here are 10 questions to ask yourself to help narrow the search.  Each answer helps us get closer to recommending the perfect camera.

  1.  What do I want to photograph?

Landscapes. Wildlife.  Sports. Portraits. Bugs. The Milky Way.  Each of these photography genres requires a different camera, lens and/or equipment.  You do not have to stick with one genre or even two, but knowing what you want to capture makes all the difference in what gear you choose.

Sports photographers require a camera with high FPS (frames per second) to capture all the action.  Most also require far-reaching zoom lenses with a low aperture to allow for sharp images in stadium lighting conditions. Portrait photographers, on the other hand, likely do not need to consider high FPS cameras.  Low aperture lenses are useful to portrait photographers, so there can be overlap in lens selection. 

  1.  DSLR vs Mirrorless?

Right now, there are two main styles of cameras available. DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. This kind of camera uses the basic structure initially designed for film cameras.  Mirrorless cameras remove the mirror mechanism allowing the light from the lens to go straight to the sensor at all times. There are many benefits to each style, but as a whole, DSLR cameras are not able to keep up with Mirrorless cameras.

Investing in a DSLR camera has to be a deliberate purchase.  The camera industry is definitely moving towards mirrorless as all new lenses and cameras are mirrorless.  There are still many fantastic DSLR cameras but finding lenses for them in the future might be difficult.

  1.  What will I use the photos for? 

Do you plan on printing and selling your photos?  Selling prints on Etsy?  Using your images only for social media?  Maybe your images are just for you.  The answer to this question will help you know what kind of priority to place on megapixel count. 

  1.  Will I edit my photos?

Editing photos is a lengthy process that requires skill and software.  There are some cameras that have color profiles or settings that capture great images that require little to no editing.  Wedding photographers shoot in RAW and edit the photos for their customers.  Having the ability to shoot in RAW is essential, but not essential to every photographer.

If you are just a hobbyist who wants to take vacation photos and does not plan on editing, we would recommend a completely different camera than one for a wedding photographer.

  1.  What is my budget?

Cameras these days are a significant investment.  Some camera and lens combos can cost upwards of $5,000.  This price does not include some of the additional costs associated with a new camera.  We suggest adding some of the below costs to your camera purchase to achieve a more accurate estimate. Each one of the items listed below are not included in your original camera purchase price.

Memory Cards – $40-$300 depending on capacity and speed

Screen Protector – $30

Extra Battery – $39 – $99 depending on the brand

Battery Charger – $35

UV Filter – $50 – $130 depending on filter size

Mack Warranty – Available in 3-5 years from $30 to $799

Camera Bag – $99 – $400 depending on style

It is imperative to consider the costs related to your preferred genre as well. A landscape photographer will need a tripod; a portrait photographer will need lighting. Without the essential accessories, some cameras will be virtually useless. 

  1.  Do I like a specific brand?

Do you have a photographer in the family that has always shot Canon?  Or have you received some Nikon lenses from your grandfather?  Have you read all about Fuji or Sony?

Needless to say, in purchasing any mirrorless camera, all the brands we sell have excellent digital cameras.  You will not find a bad camera.  There are only bad cameras for what you want to do.

If you are loyal to a particular brand, let us know and we can tailor those brand cameras to your needs.

  1.  Will I shoot video?

Most current DSLR and mirrorless cameras shoot some type of video.  If you shoot only video, we have cameras for you.  If you need a hybrid camera that takes fabulous stills and stunning video, we have those as well.  Do you want to shoot first person video like a vlog?  We have cameras particular to that as well.  

  1.  How important is printing?

Sadly, most images shot these days will live on a hard drive and never see the light of day.  They may be featured on social media but most will never make it to print.  And while sad, cuz printing your images is so cool, that is okay.  Whether or not you print your images has more to do with megapixels.  If you are planning on printing, especially to a large wall size, the more megapixels you have the better.  If your intention is to mainly share your images on the internet, megapixels are not as important.

  1.  How long will I own the camera?

There is a phrase that states, “Marry the lens.  Date the body.”  With how fast they come out with cameras these days, it is quite possible that you will want to upgrade your camera body before your lenses.

  1.  Do I want to adapt any current equipment or purchase new?

Every major camera brand has developed an adapter to allow older lenses to be used with current cameras. Do you have any lenses from your old gear you still want to use? Depending on the brand, this is possible. Most lenses work seamlessly when used with the adapter. If you have much older lenses, there may be issues with auto-focus but the lens should still function.

So there they are, 10 questions to ponder before you buy that digital camera. Our Action Camera staff is here to guide you to the camera that works best for you and your needs. These questions can really help to best guide the camera buying conversation. If you know ALL the answers to these questions, congratulations. You are ready to buy your new camera.

Written by Michelle Nicholson