HOW TO CHOOSE CAMERA

The best camera is the one you have with you

Chase Jarvis

This quote by Chase Jarvis has influenced me a lot since I started to embark on photography. It’s now motivated me to write this post. The best camera should always be the one that you chose to be with you for a long way down the road. You should really be careful about selecting the very first camera, especially for novice photographers, who might either have no idea or know not enough about choosing a camera. You have to understand yourself as well as every aspect of a camera. I hope this post might help you with that. Let’s jump into the detail!

How to choose a camera?

DEFINE YOUR PURPOSES

To define what type of camera that suit you the most, first and foremost, you should ask yourself the questions below:

  • Why are you buying this camera?
  • How do you plan to use it?
  • What is your long term goal with it?
  • Which manufacturer?

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A CAMERA?

Type of device

DSLR camera: shorts for Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. DSLR lens is interchangeable with a proper mount. It means that you can replace kit lens with other lenses (even if they come from different manufacturers). This type of camera is now used by most photographers, from novice to professional.

Mirrorless camera: the camera will be ‘mirrorless’ when we drop the reflex mirror or the DSLR viewfinder. Mirrorless cameras also accept interchangeable lenses with proper mount. Its pros are it usually smaller, lighter, and quieter than DSLR cameras.

Films Cameras are analog cameras. For people who are enthusiastic about photography and want to sell your photos, a film camera would be a reasonable choice. I would say that a film camera is a perfect fit for those who are very careful. Since you can just take 36 shots with 1 roll film, and you can not delete photos once you hit the button.

Our recommendation: 

For beginners, you would want to try every type of camera to choose the best suits. We would highly recommend you to rent cameras, go for a shot, and get true feelings about them. Films camera would be harder for beginners, so try DSLR first with different lens: 50mm fixed lens, 70-200mm zoom lens (We will talk more about lenses in a later section). But if there’s any problem with renting cameras, don’t worry about that. You just need to follow our instructions here and really think about the questions in the first section, then you will find the best fit for you!

>> Check the best affordable cameras for beginners

Sensor size

This is the most important feature to determine a camera’s performance and image quality. The larger the sensor, the better camera quality.

Megapixel

It will be meaningless if you choose the enormous number of megapixels if the sensor size if small. For shooting purposes only, the figure for megapixels should be about 18-20. If you want to print your photos in a large size, it should be bigger than 30 megapixels.

ISO sensitivity

You could have seen a wide range of ISO on an ordinary DSLR camera from 100 – 6400. For the most part, the bigger the number, the more noises your photos might have. If a camera could provide a high-quality photo at ISO 1600, it would be one of the best cameras available on the market.

Other features

You should consider the camera support of wifi in case you might want to work in a photo studio.

A COMPLETE CAMERA KIT

Memory cards

Determining a good memory is not just about storage capability. We need memory cards with high and effective transfer speed. For the most part, a suitable card for our purpose should be at least 45 Mbps.

Our recommendation:
  • If you want to use your camera for taking photos and earning money purposes, then the SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I would be perfect. With storage space up to 512gb, reading speed of 90Mb/s and writing speed of 95 Mb/s, the card is even suitable for those who want to take 4K videos.
  • Besides, you would definitely need to contain your memory cards in a case when you go outside. We highly recommend the Pelican case, which can store up to 12 SD cards, 6 mini SD cards, and 6 micro SD cards. It’s also waterproof, so the weather will no longer bother you.

Lens

Two main parts of a camera kit are lens and body. We will talk about the top 10 camera bodies and our recommended lenses in another post. Now we will focus on general detail about the lens and recommend lenses that a beginner may want to start with.

  Focal length

Focal length (in millimeters (mm) unit) is a lens’s feature that tells us how much of the view and how large each object in the scene will be captured. Let’s see an example:

You can easily spot the difference: the larger the focal length, the smaller the view you’ll take and reverse.

  Zoom lens and fixed lens (prime lens)

Zoom lenses allows you to change the focal length

PROS

  • Flexible when you want to capture a variety of subjects (scenery, portrait)
  • Suitable for those who are wedding photographer
  • Don't need to change lens regularly, so it'll be less dust

CONS

  • Bigger than prime lens
  • Tends to have smaller aparture
  • Harder to shot in low light condition

Fixed lenses: Just like its name, it just has 1 fixed focal length

PROS

  • Smaller and lighter than zoom lens
  • Tends to have larger apartures
  • Easier to shot in low light condition
  • Shallow depth of field, nice bokeh

CONS

  • Not flexible for different purposes
  • Need to change lens regularly

  Standard lens you should have

Prime lens recommendation
    • Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens: Great for portraits: you can take full-body portraits with the background completely out of focus. But also micro – you can see detail in extreme close up. This is a favorite of many professional photographers.
    • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens – This is the best selling DSLR lens of all time. Needless to say, it’s great for portraits, action, and nighttime photography. There are many reasons why you want to choose a 50mm lens to start with: It’s closest to the human eyes’ view, it’s cheap compared to its quality, it has a large aperture so it will be easier to shot in low light condition and your picture will have a great depth of field with it.

Zoom lens recommendation
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS – This is a flexible lens since you can use it for portrait photography (at 50mm focal length) as well as for scenery photography (at narrower focal length). It’s also recommended by many people who are working as photographers. This is one of the best budget-friendly alternatives to the kit lens. This must be a perfect choice for beginners who have a low budget but still want a more-advanced lens than a kit lens to go far in the photography career.

Tripod - Monopod

  • Tripods are needed when you shoot in slow-speed exposure or when lenses of extreme focal length are used since any movement can cause blurred images.
  • Monopods are an alternative to tripods when you have to move a lot while shooting.

Filter

Filters are beneficial to our camera in many ways: enhance color, reduce light, ensure proper exposure… But I would say the most important feature is that they protect our lens. You should definitely include a UV filter to your Camera kit. Since this kind of filter will protect your lens from dirt, moisture, and dust, you will be able to shoot in dusty, or wet conditions.

CONCLUSION

Choosing a suitable camera is a crucial thing to do for beginners. We believe that when you finish reading this article, you will know what kind of camera you need and what to consider when choosing a camera!

If you have any questions on how to choose a camera or want to share anything with us, just leave a comment! We appreciate it!

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Truc Doan

Truc Doan

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