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What Should I Know Before Buying a Camera?

What Should I Know Before Buying a Camera?

Purchasing a camera is a big deal. Below are just a few things to take into consideration before purchasing something you’ll be using for quite a while. Check out these camera buying tips to help you pick out the perfect gear!

Types of digital cameras
There’s no “do-it-all” camera. Here are a few varieties of cameras that you can purchase.

Point-and-shoot cameras
Point-and-shoots are basic, entry-level digital cameras. If you’re looking for something that’s purely a camera and not an electronic multi-tool, a point-and-shoot is a solid option. These are spectacular for those with a rudimentary understanding of cameras. Point-and-shoot cameras mostly utilize automatic operations like auto-focusing, automatic white balancing, and auto-exposure. There’s little to no fiddling, unlike DSLR and mirrorless cameras which cater to power users. As the name suggests, it’s as simple as pointing the camera and shooting a picture. If you want a camera that’s capable of taking decent photos on a budget, a point-and-shoot is your best bet.

Mirrorless cameras
Mirrorless cameras offer more functionality than point-and-shoot cameras. This is due in part through the capability to use interchangeable lenses. Mirrorless cameras lack a mirror and optical viewfinder, standard features of a DSLR. Mirrorless cameras like the Sony Alpha 9 II from suit certain styles of photography more than others. This is particularly so when it comes to candid shots, street photography, and conquering that self-conscious feeling you get with a digital SLR strapped to your face. Mirrorless cameras offer a few advantages over DSLRs. Most obviously, there’s size. A mirrorless option is considerably less bulky than a DSLR. Additionally, autofocus tends to be a strong point among mirrorless cameras. Usually video quality is superb as mirrorless cameras are relatively newer when compared to DSLRs. Similarly, lenses are excellent with modern systems which balance performance and affordability.

Sony Camera

DSLR cameras
One of the reasons people want to upgrade from a point-and-shoot digital camera to a digital SLR is the improved image quality. A key factor in this improved image quality is the increased size of the sensor that a DSLR has compared to a point-and-shoot camera. DSLRs like the Canon EOS 6D Mark II  from provide the best picture quality and functionality. However, like other camera options, DSLRs come in several flavors. Entry-level DSLRs start from around $600 and come with fewer features than the pro-level DSLRs. For instance, many entry-level DSLRs lack premium features such as Wi-Fi and weatherization. You’re paying mostly to have manual features as opposed to automatic ones. The picture quality is top-notch in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing. Another clear difference between a point-and-shoot and a DSLR is size. All that lens, mirror, prism and enlarged sensor have to go somewhere.

Your purpose is important
Before you go out and buy a really fancy camera, you should take into consideration why you’re getting it. Do you want it to shoot bands at concerts? Family gatherings? Scenery while on vacation? Professional photo shoots? Headshots for actors? Your intent really matters. Many people just starting out may very well want a point-and-shoot for general photography. If you don’t plan on touching the manual controls too much and would rather the camera run on auto-pilot, this an excellent justification. You also need to consider location. If you’re shooting on vacation, you may consider a rugged camera. If an indestructible camera is overkill, many DSLRs come with weatherization.

What the megapixel count truly tells you, is how big you can make your image without having to enlarge it digitally. A 3-megapixel photo is more than dense enough to be printed out at the US standard 6 by 4-inch size at 300ppi, while 9 megapixels get you closer to a regular sheet of paper at the same density. Most digital imaging ends up being consumed on computer screens. If all you need are new profile shots for Facebook even a solitary megapixel will suffice. If you’re shooting for billboards, murals, or other enormous photo sizes, you should get all the megapixels you can.


You’re in the driver’s seat
It all comes down to one thing: control. Do you want to drive manual or automatic? If you want more control and have the expertise, you’ll want something without the training wheels. Look for the ability to control your ISO, capture modes, number of megapixels, RAW shooting, and image stabilization. Typically, high-end cameras of any category including point-and-shoot, afford greater control. But mirrorless and DSLR cameras like the Nikon D3500 generally yield full control. Do your research and compare camera models to see which one will best satiate your power-hungry heart.
Nikon D3500

Buying a camera’s never been easier. It’s hard to get one that won’t take decent pictures without a lot of effort. But buying the right camera still takes some doing. Ultimately there are a lot of things to consider, and a lot of numbers to ignore. But the key is to figure out what kind of photographer you are.
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