Every now and then, there will be some friends asking me about what camera to get. A gear that is able to get beautiful shot of their lovely subjects. I am glad they approached me to help them with making their decisions. I hope I can assist them to understand what they need before spending unnecessary money on an equipment.
My friend contacted me early last week. He said he saw my post in Instagram showing so many camera bodies and asked if I still keeping all my old Fuji cameras. After some causal talk, he started to ask me what camera should he buy if he want to invest in one of them.
And then, I started to throw him some questions so that I can understand what is his intension for willing to spend money on a camera whereas nowadays mobile phone also produce very pleasant results. After some sharing of tips and pointers, he decided to think over it. Notably I decided to share what are my questions over here and hope newcomers can do some considerations. Over here, I am not sharing about technical skills and knowledge but rather understanding what is your needs and wants before getting an equipment.
“There is no rush to get the camera. Take your time considering it and don’t forget to ask questions when you are in doubt.”
1. What is your purpose of having a camera?
If you are thinking of learning photography, then you have to ask yourself what is the reason to make you want to learn?
Photography is about forever learning and improving. Upon reaching the limit that you think you can’t proceed further with the current gears, you expand with additional one to continue to achieve it. It’s a passion that you have to continue to grow at your own pace. Patience to learn is one of the critical key components.
Let me share with you about an example:
About a decade ago, I had a friend who got a camera for a reason. He wanted to learn to shoot portraits so that he had more opportunities with shooting models. Thanks to the recommendation by the salesperson, he spent a lot of moneys on getting a camera body, together with flash and many lenses. Many months later, he asked me where can he sell all his gears. Out of curiosity, I asked him what was his reason selling them? He said he cannot achieved what was deem to be his expected results, also claimed he had to spend a lot of time doing learning how to shoot and process the photos. And so, he decided to call it a day.
If you wish to take beautiful shots for travel, daily lifestyle, etc., then you have to ask yourself this question: can your mobile phone do the job?
If your answer is you want better image quality, does not mind the hassle of bringing the camera out and also the hassle of transferring your photos from a camera to your phone (or maybe transfer to a laptop first) to post photos on social medias. I have no objection with your reason because you are clear of why you need a camera.
2. What is your budget?
Having a budget in mind is always important. It will set you a target of what you can buy within that given amount. When I first started to learn photography, I actually overspent the budget that I had. I spent exactly the budget on the camera, without knowing that I need to get accessories such as dry cabinet. Luckily, the camera did come with some starter kits like extra batteries, not so useful cleaning kit and an unstable tripod. So I had to spend more to for a dry cabinet.
My point here is that it is always better to give some allowance to the budget you set for. I think 20% allowance is a good spot. For example: if you have a $1000 budget, keeping $200 aside for unexpected purchase.
3. Are you looking at brand new or second hand market?
This is pretty straight forward. If you are looking for brand new, you can get advice from your photography friend on which good reputation shops you should get your camera from. If you are in Singapore or coming to Singapore for a holiday, you can also drop me an email or DM me in Instagram, I can share the information with you which my preferred shops.
As for second hand market, this is tricky for an inexperience person as you need some knowledge to spot the condition of the camera. For example: certain sellers tend to sell at a lower price than the market offers and we need to know why are they willing to let go at a much lower price tag.
Nonetheless, this might be a good option if you are unsure if you want to pursue this hobby further. If you are no longer interested, then selling off in the second hand market should be able to recover most of the money spend.
4. Is there any camera brand preference?
This is an importance question. You have to love the brand and the camera you are buying. If you are getting a camera brand that you do not like then it will be in a funny situation.
If you do not have any brand preference, I will suggest you to go and try the cameras out in the shops. After all, you have set your budget, identifying which camera within your budget is a simple task. If you are still uncertain with the camera and if your friend has the same camera you want, you can try to borrow from him or rent from camera rental store. Please try out the camera with at least one full week. If trying out for a few days or over a weekends, you might not have sufficient user experience with the camera. So I think a week or more is a preferred option. After all, it is not a small amount of money that you are going to invest.
But if you do have brand preference, narrowing down to that specific brand and models is a simpler task.
5. Interchangeable lens or no?
Interchangeable lens always give you the flexibility to upgrade lens or camera body as time goes by. Able to change lens give you more varieties of lens to suit your needs to explore more. For example, you are interested to go into sports or birding photography, you can purchase a telephoto lens to meet your needs. Or you are into macro photography, you can purchase a macro lens.
But if you are a causal shooter, does not intend to invest more and only bring out for family occasion and travel during holiday. Maybe a non-interchangeable, powerful enough camera should meet your requirement.
Of course, if you are into learning photography, either one is fine. But I believe an interchangeable camera is definitely the better choice as it does not limit your learning within that lens.
6. As a starter, what lens should you get? (For interchangeable camera)
If on a tight budget, having a kit lens and one prime lens should be a good starting point. A typical kit lens provide you a sufficient focal length coverage from wide to mid-tele zoom range and it covers most common usage and versatility. On the other hand, a prime lens give you a good learning experience of using a fixed focus length lens and it also does provide faster speed for low light situation.
7. What should I spend on the remaining budget?
With the remaining 20% budget, you can spend on extra batteries and memory cards. Usually camera shop does run some promotions and giving out extra batteries and memory cards but no harm getting another one set extra.
Not forgetting about cleaning kits such as a good microfiber cloth (but I use chamois leather) and blower to blow off dust.
As for dry cabinet, if you still have budget, you get consider getting one. Otherwise, I think getting a dry box with silicon gels do helps too. If you still have budget remains, keep it for future use.
One last pointer, there is no rush to get the camera. Take your time considering it and don’t forget to ask questions when you are in doubt.
Thank you for reading.
1. All the shots taken here were shot by me.
2. I reserve ownerships to these images, if you wish to use my images for whatever reasons, please notify me and we can see how to works thing out.