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What camera should I buy?… and why having the latest camera shouldn’t matter!

Some gear aficionados swear by having the latest camera body and you would think in principle this is a good attitude to have but you would be wrong and here’s why:

  1. You’ll most likely be better off spending the extra money elsewhere – A prime example (excuse the pun intended or not) is lenses. There is no point having the latest super duper automatic everything 35MP camera and putting a cheapo kit lens in front of that top shelf price sensor. You will lose detail and be disappointed with the results. It may even push you in the direction of selling the camera on and spending more cash on a replacement for you to make the same mistake again. Spend the money on some decent glass and you’ll notice the difference in your photos straight away.
  2. Muscle memory – it’s a known fact that you need to do something around 20,000 times for your body and mind to be able repeat that action exactly the same every time as second nature. If you constantly change your camera, the weight is different, the buttons are all in slightly different places and it makes it really difficult to get used to these changes unless that shiny new camera is in your hand A LOT! The average SLR user won’t hit 20k clicks of the shutter for a few Years! Buy a camera body and stick with it. That way when the lighting situation or action you are taking photos of changes at a moments notice, you can make that change in settings and whip that camera up to your eye in one movement. The same goes for the camera’s menu system. How can you expect to know exactly where every setting is on demand when those new cameras have a slightly different menu system? Trust me on this you won’t regret it so practice, practice, practice.
  3. You don’t need the extra megapixels – For Mr Average DSLR user who rarely prints and just uploads to social media you won’t perceive any noticeable difference to the naked eye between a camera of over 10MP and one with twice the MP count. It’s only when you print huge with lab quality printers that the MP count matters.
  4. Shooting in Manual Mode matters – scene selections and programmed semi-automatic modes are great features for beginners but when you start to progress onto trying more creative techniques you really need to be familiar with using your camera in Manual Mode. All of these programmed modes on high end cropped sensor DSLRs are there largely to sell cameras. Sorry to scare those of you who are frightened to turn the program Mode towards the big ‘M’, but at some point you’ll need (and want) to learn how to use your camera in Manual Mode. Even the most rudimentary DSLRs have a Manual Mode so swat up on the exposure triangle and have some fun learning about the extra control you get, saving a packet as a bonus!

Top features to look for in a camera body:

  • You can work with the menu system and control layout – at my local camera club there is friendly banter between Canon and Nikon system users but in all honesty each system is more or less as good as each other. What is important that you play with a number of different cameras before your purchase and see which feels most intuitive for you.
  • Camera has a Manual Mode
  • Ability to shoot in RAW image format – this is important because it allows you to capture much more image data which helps no end if you get into post processing your images down the line
  • ISO range from 100 to 3200+ (the top end figure here is quite low these days but really you’ll only be shooting in ISO higher than this if you are shooting outside at night)
  • Internal focus motor – this allows you to buy 2nd hand lenses and still use auto-focus. This is an extremely economical way of building up your equipment so look out for bodies with this feature.
  • Cropped sensor – for many a cropped sensor body is ample for most shooting situations. The adverts for full frame cameras are very attractive and the mags review these favourably but many novice users will feel out of their depth if they jump straight into the full frame market and end up frustrated with their new hobby

This feature set points to a mid range crop sensor DSLR body (the choice of brand is down to your preference). Don’t discount buying second hand either just make sure the condition is good and the shutter count is low.

I’ve used the same camera body for a number of years. It has served me extremely well and I will miss it when the time comes to finally upgrade (probably when it breaks). Investing in lenses is a much better way of getting the better image quality we all strive for. Finally if you do go for an expensive top end body, stick with it for a few years so that it becomes that cliche an extension of you!

Spoiler alert people! I don’t print my own photos! I use a quality digital printing lab instead. The quality of paper and printers is far better than I can achieve at home on an all-in-one printer. Check it out, you’ll find it’s more cost effective and you’ll be happier with the results. You’ll also find you get more prints too – my preferred means of looking at my photos!

Some of my personal favourites from my portfolio have been taken on my trusty old Nikon D90 to view my gallery click the button below:

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I also have a bunch of favourite gear and my most used bit of kit outside of my camera is my trust Billingham 335 bag. Its useful in so many ways and is even big enough to carry all my gear and a macbook pro at the same time. It’s water resistant too so perfect for those heavy dew laden mornings when I’m out early to capture sunrises. I’d highly recommend any Billingham bag as they suit my sense of style and will be last a lifetime of photography.

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