18/06/2009

What sort of camera to buy?

Remembering of course that the camera does not make the photographer; just as the stove 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 buy a new camera, make sure you purchase it 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 one 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 blow your budget for it.
If you have decided on an SLR camera, make sure you also purchase a UV filter and fit it onto your camera lens, for no other reason than for the lens protection. 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 standard kit lenses on new cameras these days are of a zoom type and may possibly have a focal range from 18mm to 35mm. They are not what is known as 'fast' lenses, but they will still allow for many photographic situations and can be quite satisfactory for beginners or anyone just getting a feel for this great pastime.
What is a fast lens? See my chapter on "Lenses"