Buying your Digital Camera


In the course of courses or assignments, I am frequently asked for purchasing suggestions for digital cameras. Here’s a rundown of my ideas, mixed with buying recommendations from other pros:

How much are you able to spend? Be clear and establish a reasonable maximum price that you can afford.

Understand that price, quality, and features typically go hand in hand. A high-end DSLR will cost more than a compact point-and-shoot camera.

■ Don’t fully fall into the “megapixel myth.” Using a 10 megapixel camera, I obtain excellent results up to 24 by 18 inches (and larger). The quality and size of the image sensor often have a greater impact on the final image quality than the mere amount of megapixels.

As previously stated, you should be aware of the necessary equipment for the sort of photography you prefer. If you don't need interchangeable lenses, a prosumer camera may be sufficient. However, if you are serious about wildlife and sports photography, a camera without interchangeable lenses will limit you.

If you already own a 35mm camera system and the lenses are compatible with a digital camera of the same brand, you should consider acquiring a DSLR from the same manufacturer. You will be able to use your old lenses and upgrade when your money allows to digital lenses.

If you take away anything from this chapter, I hope it's that the digital camera is merely another gear in your backpack and photography is still the main focus.

The fundamental aspects of a great image remain constant: composition, exposure, subject matter, and the decisive moment. A beautiful photograph transcends the tools used to create it. The camera serves as the instrument for capturing your artistic vision.

What to Look for in the Camera Store

Search for a well-organized display with many brands accessible for testing. You must understand how the camera fits in your hands. Are the dials and knobs accessible? This is especially concerning for individuals with little hands. Does the camera feel like an extension of your arm, or does accessing the controls require finger gymnastics?

Does the salesperson have a thorough understanding of the equipment's brand? If you sense a bit of hesitancy or confusion, ask for a clerk who is versed in the specific brands in which you are interested. Be wary of anyone who reads you the specifications of the camera from the manufacturer's manual. Spec sheets have little value in the field.

Is the salesperson attempting to match your demands with a specific camera, or is he or she attempting to "upsell" the equipment?

 Ignore any rumor that a retailer has discontinued selling a brand because of too many returns or too many failures. Just doesn’t happen with the level of today’s equipment. If you hear this, proceed to the next establishment.

Do not expect the same degree of knowledge and skill when shopping at a "box store." Support your local photography store. Frequently, the salesmen are more informed and more equipped to address queries. You may save a few bucks by shopping at a discount store, but you forfeit the information infrastructure provided by a store with knowledgeable staff

Used equipment is an alternative. If the camera is in good condition and has been inspected by a reliable source, I would not hesitate to purchase it secondhand. Consult the yellow pages under "Used Photography Equipment."

Turn around and leave the store if the listed price of a camera you're interested in is increased because the batteries or cables are not included in the advertised price. A digital camera will include all of the essential accessories for taking photographs, including cables, covers, and the obvious components. Unless otherwise specified, lenses are typically not included in the price of high-end equipment.

If something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

The World of Online Shopping 

Over the years, B&H ( and Roberts Imaging ( have provided me with excellent service. If you know what you're looking for, shopping online can be a terrific option, as respectable companies let equipment returns within reasonable time frames, allowing you to examine the equipment at your leisure.

¦ Do not—repeat, do not—pay via Western Union, cash, or money orders for online purchases. This is a world where your credit card can o?er tremendous protection against unscrupulous sellers. Cash and money orders can leave you hanging if the seller is a thief.

¦ If you can’t pay with a credit card, then use PayPal or another third-party payment system that holds the funds for you until the equipment is in your hands and veri?ed.

¦ Some companies advertise unbelievable prices for equipment. Once you call them, usually the story is the camera is sold for that price when it is purchased as part of a “kit,” which usually consists of a bunch of stu?: bag, cheesy ?ash, snazzy neck strap, cleaning ?uid, perhaps extra lenses—almost always stu? you could purchase separately for less money. Again, beware of o?ers that sound too good to be true.

Photography is an art form that requires equipment, and this gear can be dizzyingly attractive—one reason

so many people collect cameras. But as I stated earlier, remember why we have this gear: to provide access to this magical art form we love.