Should I even buy a camera at all?

Started Nov 20, 2012 | Questions thread
jonathanj Contributing Member • Posts: 915
Re: Should I even buy a camera at all?

fetanugs wrote:

Well, to put it plainly, that's the question I keep tossing about in my head. I've done my research, made my choices for gear, and have only to buy it...

Yes, you should. It seems like you'd like to take photos, and it's difficult to do that without a camera...

Should you spend a lot of money? No. You don't state what gear you chose, but my advice is to find the cheapest possible entry level DSLR with kit lens, preferably an old model on ebay that you know you'll replace, one way or another. This will:

  1. Take pretty reasonable photos out of the box (jpgs in full auto/ program mode)
  2. Let you experiment with pretty much all the photographic techniques you want (including things like shallow depth of field and manual focus that are extremely difficult on a point and shoot camera, even a high end one). Half the fun in a camera is experimenting to see what happens and what you like.
  3. Have a lot of limitations. Only by using it will you find out what limitations actually matter to you. Do you find yourself wishing it would fit in your pocket? Then you know you need a P&S. Do you want even shallower depth of field and are prepared to pay for it? Save for a full frame. Want better video performance? Look for a camera that targets video. Frustrated with shooting speed when taking pictures of sports? Aim for a high end DSLR. Do you want to burn a load of cash on a status symbol? Aim for a Leica. etc. etc. Your boss might be right, but you won't know for sure until you experiment a bit...

I had a succession of point and shoots but only when a friend passed on his original Rebel that I used for a few months did I really know what I wanted in a camera and why. (small and light, reasonably high image quality in good light, reasonably cheap, don't care about video, etc. etc.) Now I can read reviews of the D800, say, without feeling the need to rush out and buy one because I know it doesn't fit my needs... Yes, photography can be an expensive hobby but at least I only buy things I know I will use, based on experience.

Some of the advice above (e.g. to buy a V1) could be spot on, but it could also lead you down a blind alley that leaves you unsatisfied. My advice is to spend the minimum amount of money necessary to establish the photographic direction you personally want to go in. I myself am really happy with the Samsung NX cameras, but I don't recommend them to friends unless I'm sure their requirements match mine.

Edit: oops, just noticed a later post by you in which you say you want a D5100. Good idea, in my opinion but I say hold off any other lenses until you know you want to keep it. Yes, you might end up switching to a V1, but at least you'll know what you're giving up. (And personally I think it might be better to wait until the V3 comes out and the V2 drops in price, as the V2 seems to solve a lot of the issues with the V1. But that's just my opinion and I don't own either camera.)

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Sigma dp1 Quattro Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Panasonic Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm F4-5.8 OIS +8 more
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