I’ve talked to a few friends who have considered buying their first DSLR camera. Of the conversations I’ve had, there seems to be a common theme: They don’t know where to begin with deciding what camera to go with. That’s an understandable dilemma because the process can be overwhelming if you find yourself drowning in specs and information. The overwhelming feeling is only multiplied if you find yourself wading in the waters of the never-ending Nikon vs. Canon wars. I try to keep things as simple as possible so, hopefully, I can make the selection process easier for you.
Let start with camera brands. The big three are Nikon, Canon, and Sony. Nikon and Canon were forever the solid front-runners until Sony decided that they wanted to be a serious contender in the DSLR market. Their first step was buying Minolta. As far as market share goes, Sony isn’t quite on par with Nikon and Canon yet but Sony actually manufactures the sensors for many of Nikon’s cameras. Word around the campfire is that Canon may actually start using some Sony sensors, as well, in some of the cameras planned for 2015 release. That being said, Sony should definitely be considered a serious option when looking at a camera. Nikon and Canon are still the best of the best when considering the pro level bodies of all of the brands out there. All three brands offer excellent options for beginners and they all are capable of some fantastic images. The absolute first thing I would suggest is to get your hands on options from the three major camera makers and see which one feels best to you. Play around with the menus and make a mental note of which menu system makes the most sense to you and is the easiest to navigate. Each brand has their own software for their DSLRs so play with them all and decide what works for you. Once most people pick a brand, they tend to stay with that brand so go with the one most comfortable to you.
The next deciding factor is your budget. Unless you are made of money, don’t plan on starting out buying the absolute best camera in existence because that will be a shockingly expensive endeavor! I would suggest you first decide what your budget is. Be realistic. You have no idea how far you’ll go with photography. You may find that for one reason or another, photography just isn’t your thing. One the other hand, you may find yourself in a position where you wonder where photography has been all your life and people want to start paying you for your services so you want to be able to upgrade if needed. Get the BEST CAMERA THAT YOU CAN AFFORD. While learning your camera and improving your technical and creative skills, you’ll begin to see progress in your photography. You want to be able to learn all you possibly can and improve as much as possible with the same camera before you find that the camera is getting in the way of your progress.
The final major factor is glass. You want to begin with a simple, beginner level, all-around lens. You can even find kits from the major manufacturers that include a lens with the body. If you end up just buying a body alone and then begin the search for a lens, there are some very solid options out there for you. Nikon makes an 18-200mm lens that I think is the absolute best lens a beginning Nikon shooter can get. That lens covers every reasonable focal length and is a decent do-it-all lens. Canon makes an identical lens with their 18-200mm. Sony makes one that offers a bit more reach with their 18-250mm. Those are very solid lenses that can really help open up the world of photography for you without breaking the bank. From there, you can fine tune your skills and find out what kind of photography you like. Then you can begin to build a lens arsenal that more suits the type of photography you wish to pursue.
I think if you’re really looking into moving up to a DSLR, methodically addressing those factors would lead to an easier, less overwhelming decision-making process. After that comes the fun of figuring out just what to do with the gear you have. I’ll get into what I think is the easiest process for learning photography in the next couple of weeks. Until then, have fun picking out a camera. If you have any questions or want any suggestions, feel free to shoot me an email at Lekan@mtmphoto.com. I can talk photography all day and would be happy to help in any way I can!