18/06/2009

What sort of camera to buy?

Remembering of course that the camera does not make the photographer; just as the saucepan does not make the chef.

Have you purchased your camera yet or are you faced with a dilemma of what to buy?
To start with, there are many brands and models of digital cameras on the market today and if you are just starting out in photography, but hoping to get serious, the choice is entirely up to you, but I would strongly recommend a DSLR type camera. Not necessarily one at the high end of the range, but one that at least suits your budget. Some of the newer digital "point and shoots" have much to offer, but sometimes just for the sake of a few extra dollars you can have a camera that will not only allow for full or semi-manual operation and the ability to interchange lenses, but it will also allow you to have more control over the photos you produce.
When you go out to purchase your camera, make sure it is from a reputable photo equipment dealer and not just an electrical store that sells cameras on the side. You might get it for a few dollars less, but you'll find the after sales service will leave a lot to be desired.
Let the sales assistant know that you are just starting out and that you are not looking to buy the top of the range SLR, but something of quality, but more suited to a novice photographer. Get them to give you a brief run-down on the benefits of the camera they suggest and at current rates, you should not have to pay more than $750 to $900 for it.
If you have decided on a SLR camera, make sure you also purchase a UV filter and fit it onto your camera lens, for no other reason than for the protection of your lens. This will eliminate any scratches, dust, salt spray or finger marks from contaminating the front element of your camera's lens. Keep it on at all times. It is far cheaper to replace a broken filter than a new lens and remove it only when you want to fit other filters.
Generally, the lenses fitted to cameras these days are of a zoom type and could have a focal range anywhere from 17mm to 200mm. This is a reasonable range to play with. They are not "fast" lenses, but they will still allow for many photographic situations and will be quite okay for anyone just getting a feel for this great pastime.
What's a fast lens? See my chapter on "Lenses"