What you want in a Camera

Calla Lily in Black and WhiteFrom time to time I get asked what camera someone should buy.  It is a tough question.  Then I thought about the questions we used to ask customers when I worked in a bike shop, and thought about how you should be able to ask similar questions, so today I thought we could discuss those questions and what you should ask yourself if you want to get  a new camera.

How often will you use the camera?

What type of photography will you do?

What is your budget?

These are basic questions, but they are a good start.

How often will you use the camera?

This is important, if you are planning on taking thousands of photos, then you will need a better quality camera than someone who is only going to be taking a few shots on the weekend at family parties.  Cameras do wear out, though, I’m not totally sure about compact cameras and whatDegraves Street moving parts they have, if any, but DSLR’s do have parts that wear out.  Shutter mechanisms can break, I had it happen to me earlier this year.

If you are not going to be taking many photos, then lower end or entry level cameras will probably be fine for you.  If you are planning on taking a few hundred a week, then you will need a better quality camera.

What type of photography will you do?

This is also important, the person who just wants to take photos at the family BBQ on the weekend will want a very different camera to someone who wants to go and take photos of waterfalls, or large landscapes.  It matters, and the camera you need for these will be different.

Other things to consider are how much control do you want over your image.  Do you want to be able to change lenses?  Do you want a compact camera but still have some control over settings?  Will you be using a tripod?  Do you want to carry a lot of gear around with you?

Cameras come in a variety of forms and you can find a camera to suit every need, from the very basic photographer to the professional.  This post isn’t for the latter, they know what they need and what they want.

You really need to know what sort of photography you want to do and then you have to match your camera to that.

I knew when I bought my first digital camera that I didn’t want anything flash, I just wanted something that was small enough to fit into my bag that I could take with me every where, but it had to take fairly good images as well.  I was looking at taking record shots just for me, and not shots that would be considered great photographic works.  It also had to be good enough to take 20120728-0592snaps of the family.  You get the idea.  I ended up with a Canon Ixus 60 which was perfect for what I wanted.

When it came time to buy my first DSLR I need more specific things.  As I knew that the main subject for my photographs would be cycling and netball, I wanted a camera that would be good for those, so frames per second were important.  I wanted to get the best I could afford.  The other things I wanted was to be able to use my old lenses from my days of film, which meant, for me, the camera had to be a Nikon.   I also knew that I had to get a certain level or the lenses wouldn’t work on it.  The camera I choose was the Nikon D300s, it took around 7 frames a second, was in budget and had great reviews.

What would I buy today? That is a good question, since buying my first D300s what I want in a camera has changed, and I do want a new one.  I thought it was the D800, but I have been doing some research and I am not so sure anymore.  I have discovered the spot metering isn’t going to be that different to what I have now.  Then I was reading a blog post over at  Nature and Travel Photography by Justin Reznick, and Justin has me thinking.  I don’t know what I want now.

What is your budget?

What your budget is is very important.  There is no point wanting a professional camera if you only have a few hundred dollars.  My husband always said you should get the best you can for the money you have.  Kangaroos Running Away

Think about not just what you want right now, but also try and think about the future.  If you want to play right now, to see if you like it, but seriously think it is going to turn into a hobby then get a camera that can become a hobby camera as well.  Don’t buy a compact camera that has no control over anything, but you think you might want some control, to try out things.  Compact cameras are usually point and click and not much else.  I got frustrated with mine in the end, because I had no control.

Seriously, most DSLR have the same basic features.  The entry level ones come with a lot of program modes that can be good to use.  The higher end ones don’t, and expect that you know what you are doing and what settings you need for photos.  If all you can afford is a entry level DSLR, and you are just starting out, you aren’t going to be disappointed.  Don’t forget with any DSLR you will need lenses and you will need to work out what you are going to photograph as to what lenses you will need, but that is whole other post.  Though, lenses need to be considered in your budget.


Have I just made it more confusing?  Maybe.  Really, you just need to know exactly what you want the camera for, and the more you know the easier it becomes to choose one.  It really only A Canon View Under the Jettybecomes hard when you can’t answer the questions.  The clearer you are, the more likely you are to find a camera to suit what you are wanting to do.

If I were looking for a camera today the things I know are, I want to do landscape and architectural photography.  I want the option of being able to print my images large.  I don’t mind carrying gear with me.  I want good quality lenses.  A full frame camera would be good.  I want to be able to mount it on a tripod and the camera needs to be able to bracketed shots.  My budget, $0, at the moment, so I won’t be getting anything right now, but you get the idea of what I am saying.

Know what you want to do and find the camera that will do that for you.

I know many of you have ideas about this as well, so please, share your experiences and what advice you would give others.


  1. Great post! Honestly, I dont know if my DSLR is entry level or not, since I bought it used, but I am happy with it for now…though I have been starting to research different cameras since I know my camera is about five years old. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Renchick, researching cameras is fun, I have been doing it more, and I never realised how many of them there were out there. If you are happy with what you have then that is good, what do you have?

      • I am ok with it, though I have been having some troubles with it lately. It is a Canon D30. It has been a good camera, but it will likely need replacing in the next year or so. And I am a little afraid to look at prices:-)

  2. Great advice Leanne. It all makes perfect sense to me… I have an older Canon SX30 IS which still does everything I want to do with photography at the moment. It still has options I am just recently exploring and learning about. I believe this camera is at the upper end of the point-and-shoot camera class. Your posts keep my interest in photography growing!:)

    • I was checking those out the other day for someone else, they seem to be really good cameras. I think you can do a lot with them. That is great to hear John, thank you so much. :)

  3. Perfect post. Years ago, back in the age of dark rooms and emulsion, I managed a camera store. With this post, you would be hired on the spot.
    I still miss shooting with my Mamiya 645, take it out every now and again and reminisce. Digital is nice, but it is not the same.

      • you can buy a digital back for the RB67 as well but the 645 can’t be converted. I miss both of these cameras they were great esp with the TTL view finder.

      • Thank you, though I will admit I don’t know the cameras you are talking about, I knew more of the main stream photography gear. Sounds like Ben has some advice for you. Thanks Ben

      • They are pretty much relics at this point. I’ve moved on to digital slr. I have had to accept that digital is not the same as emulsion. wow, makes me sound old! lol

      • Not at all, you could still do film if you are unhappy with digital. I don’t know what is still around, I love digital and could never go back, but many are. I think digital is different and needs to be treated differently, editing is vital for it to be successful.

      • You are correct, I think digital is to be recognized for the art that it is. Digital does have wider latitude for exposure. And digital is not toxic to process. I think with digital we have seen a surge is people taking up the art of light, and this is a good thing.:)

    • moondustwriter says

      Great article and timely. First camera I shot with was the Mamiya (I was 10). Moved through a few Oneidas picked up in Japan. I am embarking on my first “real” digital not the point and shoot digital. After shooting with camera phone for years I am excited to see what I’ll be able to capture in my lens.

      • moondustwriter says

        Did I really say Oneida? Guess I was shooting with silverware. I meant Olympus – golly

      • I love digital, and I like that it is still like the older SLR’s. I hope you love your first digital camera, what are you planning on getting?

  4. Good insights! I’ve had a Sony A200 now for God knows how long. It has served me well, but as I have gained more experience I have been wanting to upgrade to a camera that can offer more MGPX for editing purposes. I’ve had my eye on the Canon Mark 2 but Sony recently came out with the a99 (a bit out of my price range) but the a77 seems to offer control, speed and more MGPX.

    • I was talking to a guy from Sony today about the a99, it seems like a fantastic camera, I hadn’t even realised sony did cameras like this until earlier this week. I don’t know about the a77 but if it is anything like the a99 it will be a wonderful camera.

  5. I think this is a good theme to tackle. Personally I think two of the biggest questions are how much weight are you willing to carry and do you want to change lenses? If you don’t want to change lenses then you have a fixed focal length like the Fuji X100 or a zoom like the G15 etc. These don’t weigh too much. If you want to be able to swap lenses you can still get a micro 4/3 with high quality glass or you are into the big DSLRs with expensive lenses that may weigh a lot. And I think the answer depends on what you intend to use the camera for. If you want to shoot birds in flight you really need a DSLR with fast/high number of frames per second and at least a 400mm lens. Landscapes you want probably a full frame sensor and short zoom like 24-70 or perhaps 70-200 at most. To a degree I think I would advise someone to spend more on the lenses than on the body. If the budget is tight then find a reputable second hand gear dealer – lots of gear-heads trade up all the time and get rid off very good cameras which have low shutter activation counts. Most digital cameras will have a more restricted life than an old manual film camera. I still use a film camera 52 years old. But the improvements in digital are less dramatic nowadays as they change incrementally rather than in step changes (whatever the marketing blurb says). Why spend more on the lenses? The body does one thing – it opens a shutter so that light hits the sensor or film. That’s it. You can play with aperture, shitter speed, ISO and not much else – it simply captures (or as my friend Alister Benn says, harvests) light. What affects the light before it hits the film or sensor? The glass in the lens. QED. Just my thoughts.

  6. Thank you Leanne. I have the same buget as you at the moment but am like a kid in a candy store when looking at cameras. You have confirmed what I was telling myself all along however. I know what I want, I dont want or need professional but more than basic. My current camera gives me modest control that I have to master first and before I wear it out. Like ISO. Lol. Working on it however.

    • I hate that budget, it is crap, haha, sounds like you have put a lot of thought into it, I think I have decided to stay with the ones I have for now. Not that I really have a choice, but I am happy to stay with what I have right now.

  7. Thanks for the nice article. Maybe a bit beside the subject but important anyway I think. Main photographic tools are your eyes and legs and a standard (non-zoom) lens 30 or 50 mm. It forces you to come close to the subject and walk around and most times you have the best quality lens at a fair price.

    • I’ve never been big on the prime or fixed lenses, not that I can’t see how they can be good, but I am lazy, so zooms suit me better, I hate being limited like that, but hey that is just me. I’m sure people will like that though, thanks Johan.

  8. Its funny – I was asked ‘what camera do I buy’ by a colleague a few months back. It didn’t take long to work out that he was just after a really fast focussing good quality point and shoot so he could take pictures of his kids and holidays and do some videoing. I thought it would be hard to separate what I use a camera for from what his needs were, but in the end, it was easy – I suggested a Nikon J1 as a really good compromise between point and shoot and micro 4/3 – its a cracking camera for what he needs and easily in budget.

    One lesson I took away from the exercise was that I don’t need another camera or lens – looking at my own requirements with the same view, I have what I need and then some.

    • You have made some good points Charlie, and I was similar a while back, but I am starting to see we all have different requirements and the camera that might be suitable for me may not be the same as one for someone else. We all have different wants and needs, oh yeah and budgets.

      I have come to similar conclusions, there are things I want, but they aren’t necessarily things I need. I think the camera I want hasn’t been made yet.
      Thanks Charlie

  9. for landscape work and if you gave a lot of money to blow a medium format digital camera would be perfect. The only thing is would need to invest in a whole new kit including lenses.

    The only thing I would add is that using your film lenses on your digital camera most likely will have changed the focal length of the lens. Sometimes it is also worth thinking about not upgrading the camera but buying a faster lens.

    My main camera is getting on now and i will most likely replace it with the cannon 60d but I am open minded (as long as it is canon as I have a large number of lenses).

    Interesting post.

    • I have thought about the medium format thing, and would love to go that way, but in the near future it isn’t going to happen. I think it would be best though.

      Yes, that is true about the lenses, though they were better than nothing when I first got my DSLR, though I almost never use them now. One I haven’t used for while.
      The point you made about the lenses is spot on, I have been doing that as much as possible. I have got a couple of very good lenses, some middle of the road and at least one that is pretty much crap, but a lot of fun. I think with Nikon, that is the key totally, it is their lenses you want.

      Thank you Ben, you added some great information.

  10. My two penny worth to this thread. I think one ought to always start with a modest camera (maybe just a compact) and then move on to bigger and better things if you find that
    a) you’ve discovered you have a passion for photography and can take half-decent pictures AND
    b) your current camera limits your flexibility and experimentation with photography techniques.

    What one doesn’t really want is an expensive piece of kit which you continue to use in ‘Auto’ setting, if at all:-). (And it is always good to keep a compact handy for those random unprepared occasions when you don’t have your big camera).

    If you’re one of them, I’ll be more than happy to buy your Nikon glass off you!!

    • That is a fantastic point, I heard something the other day, can’t remember where that something like 75% of DSLR are never taken off auto. Why get a camera like that when a compact camera would suit the needs of the person so much more.
      Haha, my camera has never been on auto, I am happy to say, my camera doesn’t have an auto function, haha. Thanks for that Jawahar.

      • Thanks for the kind words Leanne.. Your reply got me thinking a bit about Auto modes. Do you think shutter priority, aperture priority and auto ISO are just different slants on the full auto modes? Afterall, one can rarely go horribly wrong in one of these modes most of the time! I tend to use aperture priority for most non-macro work and full manual for macro (where you have the time and patience to get it just right!).

  11. I’ve always liked that photo of the flower – you’ve posted it before I think. I liked your review. My two cents … many folks don’t understand that very, very good images can be taken with today’s excellent family of compact cameras. I’m always surprised at the really good images I was able to take with my SONY Hx9v. Crazy. Now, having said that – there are lots of thing this little camera can not do (but it does have a fantastic panoramic function that my D600 does not have). I think that anyone getting into photography needs to work, first, with something small – and only then graduate to a DSLR. Many believe that it’s the camera that makes good photos – it isn’t – and you and I know it. It’s the eye behind the camera and the picture-sense behind the eye! Right? Cameras don’t take pictures all by themselves – it’s the artist behind the lens that does 99% of the work … the remaining 1% is the camera’s job. You should stress that to your readers. They should play around with a compact for a while – develop their ‘eye’ – and then, perhaps upgrade to a real performance piece of equipment. D

    • I get so sick of being told that I must be able to take good photos because I have a good camera, seems the years of learning composition and how to make the camera work don’t count.
      I don’t know that I would always recommend a compact for someone, but I would ask them a lot of questions, if you find the money for a camera, it might be the only one you get, and some DSLR’s aren’t really that expensive, it really does depend on the person and how much they want to learn. My daughter started saying she wanted to photography, I let her use one of mine and withine half an hour I knew that she wasn’t interested in learning how to use it, so I got her a compact camera. Much better for her.
      You know that cameras that do panoramas, well they just take a normal photo and then cut the top and bottom off, you could do that yourself.
      Thanks Dave, you made some great points.

  12. I would love to have a D800. I think it would fit your need for landscape and architecture well. It has 14 stops of DR at the base ISO. Its highest resolution would give a good leverage for cropping if needed or print large.

    • I like the ISO with it, but I am starting to have real reservations about some of the other features. I don’t think it is the camera for me now. I will continue with what I have for now. I think the only camera that Nikon has that I would consider upgrading to is way out of my price range, even if I had a budget. Thanks YellowCable.

  13. I finally got the camera that I wanted! I do mostly people photography and I love it. I have a few lenses from my previous camera, but only one that I really love. Now the objects of my desire are more lenses. I want more primes. I have a 50mm 1.8. What a 50mm 1.4, an 85mm and a 35mm, and one really good zoom lens, but I haven’t studied up on those enough to know which one to lust after.

    • I haven’t used a prime lens since I got my first SLR. I have to admit I like my zoom lens, and the freedom that comes with them, though I have been thinking about getting a couple to try. Could be interesting.
      My problem with the camera, is that there are only two things that my current camera doesn’t have, one of those no camera does, and the other there are a few choices, but I will probably stick with what I have right now.
      Thanks for your input Joylene.

  14. Very nice article! I had the good fortune to be in a photo club and could compare the cameras of the different members, ask them questions, and see how the photos taken by the different cameras compared.

    • That is an interesting idea, I was in one of those once, I found it very stuffy and clicky. Thanks, probably good for newbies.

  15. Nice post, Leanne!
    I just ‘graduated’ last year from my basic compact digital to a Nikon P500. No lenses to change, still fits in my purse (if it’s a big one:) ) and a fair amount of control, for learning about Such Things, and an array of presets, too.
    Someday, maybe I’ll be ready for a Big Girl Camera…and I’ll have this post to refer to, when that day comes!

    • I love that idea of a big girls camera.
      I have thought about getting another camera to put in my hand bag, but the camera on my Galaxy S3 is pretty good, so I just use that now. Glad you liked the post Marie, it has been great to hear what everyone’s thoughts are on it.

  16. Good information for those entering into the digital world. Me? I prefer to stick with analog.😉 What can I say? The smell of the darkroom. The magic of watching a print appear. Knowing that when I press the shutter that moment is forever captured in time.

  17. I enjoyed this post very much Leanne…thank you for taking the time to do it! Like most people I’ve been taking photos all my life, of family, vacations, etc., but in the last few years I’ve felt a pull to take shots of everything that interests me. I don’t have a quality camera and won’t purchase one until I feel as though I’m moving along in taking photos…besides my budget is like yours at the moment $0. For now I’ll continue along doing it the way I am but when time comes I’ll remember this post!

    Your shots are amazing…

    • Don’t you hate that budget Heather? I think if you are enjoying photography, then you would really enjoy a DSLR, don’t forget they don’t have to cost the earth. Thank you Heather, love hearing what people think, well most of the time, haha.:)

  18. Good info, Leanne…and very informative for all camera-wanters (is that a word?)!

    There are so many options out there, it can become very confusing. With all the ‘trials’ you’ve been doing with various cameras, I think you should be applauded for eliminated some of the frustrations people deal with when camera-shopping!

    • Thank you 1000, I try to help, though I don’t know exactly what is out there, though I have been thinking that I should learn more. My biggest problem is that I am not really technical, don’t want to be, I work more intuitively I think, and I just do stuff. I know what I want my camera to be capable of.

  19. Just what I needed to read! I am ready to take the plunge, I have also been told to frequent pawn shops once I know my needs lol!

    • I would be very careful with pawn shops Bonnie, you don’t know if a camera has been dropped or what, find a reputable second hand place that will offer you some warranty if you want to go second hand. I think you would love a DSLR, you take beautiful photos, though, I think you should also think about a macro lens as well. You will love it.

  20. Cindy @ In A Stitch says

    Oh My Gosh! Your photographs are awesome. Great post. I have a Canon DSLR and I could only dream of taking quality photos like these. It’s not just the camera that counts. Talent falls into the equation as well. You have TALENT!

    • I don’t know if talent if the right word Cindy or experience, I have been taking photos for many many years. I also spend a lot of time looking at other photos, looking to see what like and don’t like. Learning from others. If you have the desire and the passion, you will take beautiful images, you probably already do, I still don’t think mine are great. Thanks

  21. Excellent post. I go through a similar process when people ask me for recommendations on cameras, and they usually end up just overwhelmed. What I want and need in a camera is very different from an average user, and that makes it tough giving advice.

    • That is so true, it is hard to recommend a camera to someone who is only beginning, and trying to work out what they need. Thank you Timothy.

  22. Great article Leanne, gonna share it, I have been using my entry level Canon Eos T3 for about 3 months, religiously for most of my pics on my blog. Going to invest in my first tripod and my interests are both landscape and want to get into macro, did my first portraits of my granddaughter recently and I was hooked. I want to practice with my Eos some more, but looking to the future, with your experience and knowledge, would you evolve into a better Canon or would you suggest I move into a Nikon? I have no experience with Nikon, and if i get a better Nikon which would you recommend? or should I just get a couple more lens and stick with what I have. I am getting comfortable with my little Canon, and I am amazed with some of the shots I have been able to capture with hardly any experience! I am glad I am finally following my passion!

    • Lots of questions Patricia, firstly congrats on the portraits. If you get a tripod remember to think about what you want it for, and how much weight it should be. Whole set of other questions when looking for a tripod. I don’t really know that camera Patricia, but it is probably a good idea to think about good lenses as well. Doesn’t matter how good your camera is if you are using crap lenses. Going from one brand to another is a hard thing to do. They all work in a similar way, but they are different. The thing to ask yourself Patricia if you are looking to get another one is, what is it you wish your camera did now that it doesn’t? If the answer is nothing, then stick to what you have and spend money on lenses. It is good to follow your passion. Thanks

  23. I was on this post like a Redtail Hawk on a chipmunk, considering the problems I’m having figuring out how to best utilize my Nikon D3100 for the singular purpose of taking quality pics of my paintings. To be quite succinct… I still suck at it. I’m considering perhaps a different lens than my Nikkon DX (18-55 mm), a set of 320-500 degree lamps, quality software and an 18% grey card to zero things in. It’s not that I haven’t experience with good cameras (like my dad’s historic Voightlander Vitoret.DR), but my new digital has me a little flummoxed… the colours are wishey washey pale, the details are fuzzy and overall it’ been a disappointment. It’s not that I can’t afford to upgrade, it’s because I’m too much of a digital immigrant to know what I need to change up.😛

    • I think I can safely say that you are using the wrong lens to photograph paintings, to photograph your art work, it is a lot more technical that people think. The lens and camera has to be pointed right in the middle of the painting. It has to be level. The problem with the lens you are using is that it would distort it some. I can’t believe I am saying this, but maybe you should try a prime or fixed lens. The other thing you could try is a telephoto zoom, less chance of distortion. I don’t think the camera is the problem, more the lenses. The lens you have is probably causing vignetting and some other problems, I hope this makes sense. I took some shots of some linocuts I did with my 18-105 and they were not good.

      • Forgive me for adding my two cents here … and ignore the comment if it is out-of-line or off base … but white balance and the quality (temperature) of the lights used are absolutely crucial here. You mentioned an 18% grey card … might it be easier to adjust your white balance if you adjusted with a white card? Perhaps you should try natural, rather than artificial, light. In either case the camera should be entirely on manual …. don’t let it make any decisions on its own … you know better Masqua. D

      • It makes perfect sense, Leanne, and I’m going to be taking your advice in the near future. The lens I have came with the camera recently purchased D3100 and I was sure it was not going to be the perfect fit. When taking a shot of a painting, I have been setting it up so that the piece is aligned to plumb and leveled and that the camera dead center, but there are still distortions. There is a very good camera shop (henry’ that I’ll be using as a source for equipment. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

      • After looking at what a 50mm f/i-8D AF.S is capable of, I’m thinking it might be a good fit for what I need.

      • Please let me know how it is. I do remember in one of the art courses I did they had a camera set up with a 50mm lens for photographing small works, so I think this is a good decision.

      • It shouldn’t take long as I’d like to make that purchase as soon as possible. When I’ve my first pic up with the new lens, I’ll let you know. Thanks for your input again, Leanne. Very much appreciated.

      • Hi again, Leanne. I see you’ve already noted my first pic with the 50mm lens (Achter de Muren). I just picked it up today. Funny thing is, I shot a painting which was reproduced off an old b&w family photo which has lots of barreling.

        I think I like this lens better already. Thanks for your help… you were bang on with advice.

  24. Pingback: What Camera Should I Buy? « Behind The Lens

  25. Hey Leanne, I know you’re a busy person … but if you have a minute could you tell me how you post your images to WordPress … .jpg or .tiff or .gif … what format? And, what size? I’ve been sending things at about 1120 X 800 or so … what size are you sending? I’m asking because many of my images don’t look as crisp as they should and I have been wondering why this might be. No rush … when you have a minute or two. Dave

    • No problem Dave, I do jpegs, seems the easiest. I do 800×530, I think it is, don’t want them too big on the internet. That is all, your images look fine to me Dave, are you processing on one computer and looking at them on another, I post on my laptop, and I have noticed that on my desktop they look different. I don’t know if that helps at all.

  26. Really nice post! I am going to buy a DSLR camera pretty soon but have no idea what to get as I just want to play around now but I’m pretty sure it will turn into a hobby quickly. This really helps me in my search! Thanks.

  27. Such a wonderful and informative post. Now that you’re saying you’re second guessing the Nikon D800, I’m off to read the other post. I’m curious as to what caused you to think differently. It’s like finding the perfect husband. There isn’t such a thing.😉

    • That is so true Emily, I have decided that I don’t need it and the one thing I thought it did, turns out it doesn’t do, no camera does, so may be I just need to wait. Thank you.

      • Did you see the post on what Reuters uses? They like Canon. The Mark IV, the 1st choice, then the Mark II. Thought it was rather interesting.
        Yes, I heard my Canon 7D is up for an upgrade this next spring. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with it. Also heard that the Canon sensor isn’t up to speed with the Sony version now. Just enough to confuse even more.:-)

      • No I haven’t seen that post, their are so many others that love Canon. I have heard the 5Dm3 is a brilliant camera. I have also heard that the Sony a99 is also really good, had a lovely conversation with someone from Sony yesterday.
        Yes, all designed to confuse you, haha:)

  28. Thank for this post, Leanne, and your email. This is very helpful. Photography is already a daily hobby, and I’m frustrated by my 4 year old compact, so it will have to a low end DSLR with the best combination of megapixels and focal length I can find for between £100 and £300. Something to learn on and get frustrated with in turn, by which time I’ll know whether there’s any point in getting something better. Something fairly unobtrusive and portable, too, for the unexpected moments.

    • Thank yourself, you inspired this post. There are a couple of cameras to consider, I don’t know the prices, but the Canon 1100D or the 600D are both good cameras, and the D3200 or the D5200 or D5100 from Nikon are all good. You could probably use them for years, and for the most part, as a lot of the comments has said, it is the lenses that are worth spending money on. Canon is usually cheaper at the end, and I would probably advise the Canon. If you could afford it, I would go with the Canon 600D, lovely camera, lots of options, or the Nikon D5200, Lens would depend on what you want to do with it. I hope that helps.

  29. Hi Leanne

    Thanks for this post

    I have been using compacts forever as I can carry them in my handbag, and therefore they are with me when I see the perfect shot. I have worn them all out…. I have to upgrade every 3 to 4 years. Every time I do, I go for the fastest shutter speed, the best zoom (NOT digital zoom) and the largest file size. Then I read reviews of this type of camera on CNET and then buy the one they recommend. Then I buy the biggest SD card I can afford, two batteries and take the highest resolution photos I can. Some of them I really like:)

    I have been considering DSLR as my next camera for a while, but as a complete amateur, I have decided instead to go for a bridge camera… A bigger lens, semi-automatic- ie it still has the auto mode, Macro that works properly and an adjustable HDR setting – brackets that I can change the parameters for…. Santa has hidden my new camera… Watch my blog for some new photos in the new year!:)

    • ooohhh how exciting Barbara, you do seem to really know what you want, that is fantastic. I love your attitude. I have heard some of the bridge cameras are great and there are some good Canon ones, I will be looking closely after Christmas to see what you do. :)

      • Thank you:-) I’ll try & write a review too at some point to let you know what it is like for an amateur who would like to learn more but is getting slower at learning these days!!

  30. I love the ease of digital cameras though I am definitely an amateur…prefer to not have to carry & change lenses. Great photograpy…thanks for coming by & the “like’!

    • That is good for you to say, then it makes it easier for you to decide what camera you want. A lot of people don’t like to worry about changing lenses. Thanks Joni

  31. Just to agree, get the best you can for the budget you have!

    And if people do chose the dslr route, remember the lens you shoot with will make a major impact on the quality of the image. A fixed prime lens is always a fail safe first buy.

    • Thank you callumgmedia, you have pointed out some good points, the lens is the key and so many people don’t get that. Thanks

  32. arnoldthearmadillo says

    I have the same budget at the moment but if that was not the case, some of the super compacts are starting to look good, fearture rich, plenty of zoom, macro and bracket exposure. These all appeal to me along with the price

  33. hamnatabu says

    Nice post and VERY informative!! I was recently asked this question myself. I will pass your blog post along to the person who asked. Thanks again!

  34. mistymidnite says

    That is a very nice post. I absolutely love travel and photography..(also waiting for break in budget) But, sincerely this answered some of my questions. Thank you !! Just really great.

  35. Great post! I would recommend everyone who is considering to invest a lot of money in camera and gear to read this first! The more money you want to spend, the more you should think about. You don’t go around, buying a car just because you had a brainfart, do you? It’s the same for a camera. I played with the idea about a year before I went into the shop, actually. Funny enough, I ended up with the D300s, too, and am very glad about it.
    There’s one thing, I would add to all this: You also need to consider, what you want to do with your pictures after shooting them. Do you simply want to send them to friends, blog them on WP or on Facebook, have them printed on little photo-paper. Then a compact camera is pretty much enough. However, if you are about to take the same time, working on these pictures as you have taken to shoot them, consider getting a serious DSLR. Plus, consider to invest a few hundred dollars/euros/pounds/you currency into hard- and software if that is not available for you yet.
    I have started with serious photography a bit over a year ago with a single DSLR, a mid-quality 18-200mm lense and nothing else. Within a year, I got four more lenses,hard/software worth upwards of 900€, tripods (yeah, two actually. One might be suitable for every situation) additional memory cards, remote release, filters, etc. Things I never considered when I got the camera. So, don’t stop thinking only about the camera. If you go into this seriously, be certain, you are going to invest not only the same amount, but probably double that into gear and equipment. Not that I complain:)
    Again, wonderful article, with wonderful pictures. Thanks so much!
    Cheers, Andreas

    • Thanks Andreas, you have pointed out some great stuff, it is scary when you add up how much money you have spent on gear. I try not to think about it/

      Thank you for the added points too, great points.

  36. Really good questions and information! I take photos mostly to incorporate into my montages, so my (high-end) point-and-shot works well for that, plus it’s small enough to make candid shots of people easier to take. It’s really true that you need to consider what you’ll use the camera for specifically, although this can change once you actually have the camera!

    • That is very true and you sound like you know what sort of camera you need and have it. Thanks colormusing

  37. I’m so glad I actually looked at my reader today! This post made me consider some things I hadn’t yet (as there’s a good posibility of me upgrading to a dslr (it *is* almost christmas:) ) Great post!

    • Ahh Christmas, I wish. I hope it helps you choose which one you would like. Feel free to ask if you like some further advice, Good luck and thanks

    • Are you saying that to me Andrew or to everyone else, haha, I have lots of plugins and filters, but for right now, thanks to you and lots of others, I am going to stick with what I have.

  38. I remember when I got my first real camera, a Nikon D3000. It rocked! Sigh…good memories of trying to figure out how the F**** to use it. hehe But it was lovely !!

  39. Your photography is beautiful!!!! I notice you water mark your images which I’m wondering if I should do. So fun looking at your images! Amazing work!

    • If you think your images are great, then you should protect your work, actually you should just do it, you never know. I do it to all images I care about, some I don’t care about, so I don’t watermark. I hope that helps Shelley. Thanks

  40. This is a really helpful post, thank you. I would add for me that I should have taken a photography course or six a long time ago, though it’s never too late. I love manipulating images and yes, would rather do this as I snap the shot with lenses and filters and such – but, gosh, with Photoshop, it seems unnecessary – except if I ignore lighting completely and shake my hands while taking the picture (!) And yes, if I took hundreds every day, I sure wouldn’t want to ‘shop them all. Anyhow, thanks for the food for thought. I’m always tempted, but rarely motivated to upgrade equipment I don’t use often enough.

    • I think there is an attitude with a lot of newbies, not saying you are one of these, but they think that composition, lighting and that isn’t important when taking the photo, it can all be fixed in Photoshop, you should take the best possible image you can in camera and use photoshop to enhance it. You don’t waste time them. There is lots to learn, and it all takes time belasbrightideas. Good luck with it all.

      • Aloha Leanne: that’s exactly what I do. But what I guess I meant to convey is that if the day isn’t perfect or the time doesn’t lend the best light – it’s a shame, if I’ve gone 3 hours offroad – NOT to snap photos anyway. And since I’m not professional nor aspire to be, it’s ‘good enough’ for me like that – though I am still thoughtful with composition. Thanks so much for your input, I really do appreciate it. Your photography is wonderful!

      • I always think when that happens that I am doing study images, Sometimes when the conditions aren’t what you were expecting, you can get something really amazing, because you have to think differently. I love it when that happens. Good luck. And thank you so much.

  41. leo brady says

    Hey Leanne
    I hope you are well!

    Thanks for all the excellent tutorials!

    Just my experience ….

    I originally owned a Nikon 300s DX which took some beautiful pictures. I used a 24mm Nikon lens with it for the most part. But i just had to upgrade…
    I sold it and ordered a D800 FX full frame, falling for the full frame fantasy😉
    It never arrived because of issues with production at Nikon.

    Eventually I bought a Canon 5D mkII with 24-105L kit lens which also produces some lovely images.

    Which digital image is better? Who knows? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

    I believe a Nikon F5 with Fuji Velvia 50 film scanned to digital still produces the best images i’ve created.

    take care

    • Hey Leo, I’m going well, thanks for asking.
      I love your story. I am having reservations about the D800 myself and have wondered if part of my reasoning for wanting it was because it was the latest and greatest. Though, it doesn’t do the stuff I was hoping it would, so no point, will stick with my D300s for now, though the Canon camera is supposed to be a really good camera too. I love the last part.
      Thank you Leo.

  42. Great photography advise.
    I never think of that.
    Three years ago, I bought Olympus E420 without knowing my needs because I’m quite new to photography.
    My main thing is to capture photo of stop motion animation.
    Please tell me whether I make the right choice.

    • Thank you Tienny, I don’t know that camera, so I don’t know that I can comment, I would have to say, does it produce what you want, do you like what it takes, if yes, then you choose well.

  43. Great article and perfectly timed! Presently I have an Olympus Tough which handles the cold nicely as well as the bouncing in the bottom of my bag… ´

    I want to upgrade so that my blog will have better images – iPhone4 can only take you so far!😉

    I have to re-read this post a couple of times and get my answers in order, then go shopping! Thank you thank you thank you:)

    • You are very welcome Kanerva, please feel free to ask any questions, though, at this stage, I really only know about Canon and Nikon. I love what you said about the iphone:). Thanks

  44. Great post, Leanne! I have a Nikon D3100. For someone like me who’d like to learn more about photography, what would you recommend? I thought about taking a class at our local community college, but the time involved — oy!

  45. Hmm.. So, if you’re a “point and shoot” AND a “NOT point and shoot” what do you get? Two types of cameras?? Nope!! I’m totally more confused now… =___=a

    • Apparently you can get what they call a bridge camera, which is like a point and shot, but has some options for controlling some things. The bridge cameras, like the Canon SX40, I think, has a good zoom, but you can have some control over aperture for example. Of course there is also the option of getting a DSLR, using it on auto and taking it off that when you want to try other things.

  46. I know next to nothing about my own camera (Nikon D-300) but I do get a feel for the lens. I have one that I use for almost everything. Why is that? I think I “know” this lens and feel really comfortable with it. I can’t tell you why. :-) (AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm)

  47. Hello from Portugal, literaly the other side of the world:);

    I love your photos, they are gorgeous and I only wish that some day I can manage something half as good. Right now I’m nothing more than a begginer and would like your opinion, please.

    So far I had only point and shoot camera. My parents gave me one, a Nikon Coolpix s3000, when I turned 18 and it worked perfectly until now. But I’m starting to crave something more, I have been playing with my parents camera, a Canon EOS 450D and loved it.

    I was thinking of buying a Sony NEX 5RK, because it’s small and I can carry it around with me, but do you think it’s a good camera for someone that it’s just starting to mess around with this world?


    • It is nice when you want more, and get more out of your photos. I know the Canon is a good camera, but I don’t know about the Sony. I have been hearing good things about them, but I don’t know their specific cameras. Sorry.

      • Thank you so much anyway. Yesterday went to see it in the store to see if I like the touch of it and I’m not quite sure. It doesn’t have a viewfinder (not sure if that’s the correct name) and that felt strange. So, I guess I’ll keep looking…

  48. Hi Leanne. Thank you for your advice. I’ll check those out, but they seem a bit big for me. I usually carry around with me my laptop, a bunch of books and everything I might need on a daily basis, which is a lot. So I really wanted something small…

    • I think you will have to content yourself with a point and click, you won’t get anything really small that will give you control. Good luck.

  49. Pingback: Up for Discussion – How to Choose a Camera | Leanne Cole PHOTOGRAPHY

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