Buying Guide: Choosing a Digital Camera

Digital cameras come in a wide range of sizes, capabilities, and prices.

Landscape photography requires quality equipment and demands skills, lenses, and filters that will capture fine details and resolve contrast issues. Photo above is Joshua Tree National Park, California. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From pocket models about the size of a deck of cards to pro bodies, there’s something just right for everyone and for every pocketbook.

The Big Question: How do you choose the best camera for YOU?

The first mistake people make is asking this question to camera store sales people.

The second mistake is asking professional photographers.

You wouldn’t ask sales staff at an RV dealer which RV to buy; you should no more ask sales staff at a camera retail store.

The reason people do this is perfectly understandable: one assumes that a professional knows the information so well, that they can just tell them what to get, and the work is done.

Oh, if it were only that easy.

The Sony Alpha NEX-5N is the fourth model in Sony’s NEX line of APS-C format mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. It delivers D-SLR performance and image quality in a point-and-shoot package. (Source: dpreview.com)

When I got started with digital photography, I did the same thing: I asked the pros.

I got the stock answer, “It depends on what you want to shoot.”

That got me nowhere fast. I just wanted to go out and shoot. But, instead, I was just given a huge run-around of more questions that left me even more confused.

Q. What kind of photos do you want to take?

A. I don’t know. Good ones, I guess.

Like buying an RV, choosing a digital camera is a highly personal matter.

I can’t tell you what to buy; I can’t even tell you whether to buy a compact point-and-shoot or D-SLR; but, I can assist you in making YOUR decision.

The right camera for YOU depends on your particular needs.

Questions to Ask BEFORE Buying your Digital Camera

To assist you in buying a digital camera that does what YOU want it to do, ask yourself a series of questions.

What Kind of Photographer Am I?

  • Are you new to digital photography?
  • What is your purpose in buying a camera?
  • Is it for prints of family occasions?
  • Is it to keep RV memories alive?
  • Or is it a dream of having your photos published in a table-top book or in magazines?
  • Is it for professional work?

They’re all good reasons for buying a camera.

If you are a beginner do not buy the most expensive automated equipment even if you can afford it.

There are two types of people who buy new cameras: the ones that just want to shoot casually, and those who are serious and eventually want to progress either as a hobby or professionally.

Do you regard photography as something you take seriously, or are you only interested in getting a good, easy-to-use camera for everyday subjects like family, events, and RV travels?

Pentax goes its own way with a mirrorless camera that accepts standard K-mount lenses. That means access to a huge back catalog of quality optics without an adapter. Unfortunately, it also necessitates a body that’s barely any smaller than a standard SLR. (Source: dpreview.com)

If you’re going to be serious about it—that is, you’re going to be one of those people on a hike that annoys everyone else who has to wait for you to take yet another picture of that tree—you should start with a D-SLR that you can grow into as your photography evolves.

Beginners/casual users likely want digital cameras with numerous automatic controls—many compact point-and-shoot cameras would be suitable.

A serious amateur who aspires to progress in the hobby likely would want access to manual controls, and should consider an entry level or a mid-range (semi-professional) D-SLR.

Please Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories on Digital Photography and RVing

Worth Pondering…

Photography for me is an exciting and personal way of reacting to and commenting on one’s environment and I feel that it is perhaps a great pity that more people don’t consider it as a medium of self-expression instead of selling themselves to the commercial world of journalism and advertising.

—Tony Ray-Jones

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