Before You Buy A Camera – Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Just as a picture is worth a thousands words, a camera can cost a pretty penny depending upon what you need. Any person planning on being a serious hobbyist or professional photographer, should expect to spend money on equipment. You can get started in photography for under $100, or you can go all out and buy a complete set of top of the line gear for as much as you’re willing to spend. Since there are so many options for new photographers, let’s skip all of the cool accessories (filters, lenses, tripods) and break down your most important first purchase:  The Camera.

What Do You Need in a Camera?

The first thing to consider when buying a camera is to determine why you want a camera and know what you want it to do. For example, an all manual DSLR (like Canon’s Rebel) is great fun for photographers but is likely a major hassle if you’re taking pictures of your friends out having fun.  Here’s a few key questions to ask yourself to help decide what you need:    * Do I want to use film or digital?    * Am I taking pictures for fun or for a career?    * Am I comfortable using a manual SLR?    * Is image quality a make or break issue for me?Since every camera works differently and has it’s own pros and cons, you’ll need to figure out what you want so you won’t be overwhelmed with the choice in equipment. Professional photographers or those wanting to become professionals, often don’t want to give up image quality for a lower cost while the average person doesn’t care about the extra 0.5% of clarity for their family photos. Its all up to you.

What Do You Want to Spend?

There is really no limit when it comes to spending money on camera gear. You can pick up a little pocket camera for around $100, or you can spend as much as $10,000 on a top of the line digital. Even a manual film SLR can be expensive so make sure you know what you want before making a purchase.  Before you pull out your wallet, ask yourself these questions:    * Can I really afford this camera?    * Do I really need all of these features?    * Will this camera work for what I’m buying it for?Sure, a camera with 13,000 frames per second shooting option and a giant touch screen would be great, but it is overkill for taking a few family photos. Don’t go overboard but if you want to work as an professional, don’t sacrifice on flexibility and results just so you spend less out of pocket in the beginning. You’ll end up having to buy a better camera later, so it’s often best to wait a little longer so you can buy exactly what you need. You’ll be glad you did.If you are honesty with yourself about what you really need and how much you can spend on a new camera, you’re going to be a lot happier with your purchase. If you need help working out what you need or how different cameras perform in different situations, do a little online research, read customer reviews, or talk to the guys and gals at your local photo shop (not the drugstore!). No matter how much you spend or don’t spend, your camera will probably cover the bases.That’s because many consumer level cameras work great in 90% of situations. Some of the photos in a recent Swimsuit Edition of Sports Illustrated were shot with a disposable camera so don’t think for a second that a lower budget is a handicap. As always, the most important thing is to have fun and take great pictures.

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