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Buying a camera #photography

This morning I had a look to see how much the cheapest camera was on Amazon and found this one for just 31.99.  It is an 18-megapixel camera and has all these scene modes:

Auto/Night Portrait/Night Scenery/Portrait/Scenery/Beach/High sensitivity.

There is a note in the blurb that says to take photos in good conditions. That is the problem with cheap cameras, you need good conditions which means good light. However, you can take family photos and snaps at parties because you simply use the flash. This camera won’t be so good for landscape photography but for occasional snaps, it would be fine. My DSLR is more controllable and it has a much larger sensor and so is much better in poor light. If you’re buying a camera you have the cheap ones for taking snaps at one end of the market and full-frame DSLRs at the other end that are phenomenally expensive when you have bought the lenses and filters and all the gear a professional photographer uses.

Buying a camera

Good light

Keen photographers wait for good light. I took this photo as the sun was starting to set and so I had a golden glow on my subject (the tree) which I was trying to get about 1/3 the way across my frame so it didn’t dominate the picture. I wanted viewers to notice the background and the geese in the foreground. For this picture, I was able to set the ISO which determines how sensitive the sensor in my camera is and I also set the aperture (how wide the shutter opens) and the shutter speed. I have more control with a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex).

Buying a DSLR

One problem with taking a photo with a cheaper camera is camera shake. If you can hold the camera close to you and very still, that is a big advantage. So a viewfinder helps you to get that rock-steady grip. Most cheaper cameras now use the live view screen at the back for a viewfinder and holding the camera out in front of you tends to produce camera shake. If you decide to go straight to a DSLR to start photography you might start with a cheap used one and buy either from the pages on Facebook or find one on eBay.

DX or FX?

My camera is a Nikon D3200 and so it has a DX cropped format sensor. This means the sensor is about half the size of an FX full frame format camera. I checked and there are used D3200 cameras on eBay for about £150 including the kit lens. The D3200 has now been superseded by the D3300 which isn’t that much different. That one is £404 on Amazon with a kit lens. You should shop around when buying a DSLR. My next camera will probably be the full frame D750 which is around £2400 on the popular sites like Amazon with the lens that I want. If I shop around I can get that down to £1800. I will be able to use my DX lenses on the D750 in cropped mode and I can use the FX lens on my D3200. If I use the 24 – 300 FX lens on my D3200 it will effectively behave like a 36 – 450 lens giving me 50% more zoom. It will be like cropping the image. I think the DX lenses will work fine on the D750 because it has a DX lens setting. FX lenses are better and the image processing on the D750 will be better as well and the bigger sensor means larger pixels so it will work great in low light.

Buying a camera

All this sounds quite complicated so it comes down to what you want to do. Do you just want to take snaps of people? Then a cheap camera will do that. I would go for a bridge camera with a viewfinder, though. If you set a cheap camera to portrait, the shutter speed will be fast and so things like camera shake aren’t a problem. They are great for portrait photography, as are mobile phone cameras. If you want to get serious about photography buy a DSLR. The cheaper DX-format cameras are great and you can buy either the DX lenses or the more expensive FX lenses to fit on them.

Buying a camera can be a big decision if it is an expensive one so do your research and shop around. If you would like to follow my blog and read some ideas about photography each week just enter your email address at the top of the sidebar or follow me on Twitter for updates. You can also find links on my Facebook page.

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