Posted on Jul 20, 2011 in Tech & internet
My old camera died, and I want to get a new one. Should I get a little point-and-shoot one, or upgrade to a digital SLR?
Yay, camera shopping time! Being a professional photographer, any excuse for me to go buy a new piece of gear makes me all tingly with excitement and the anticipation of my wallet being significantly lighter. For many hobbyists and casual picture takers however, the question of “what do I buy to replace this broken thing I had forever and know how to use” can be a bit daunting.
Back when I was just a lad, learning my trade, (well… we never stop learning, but I digress) I worked for a camera shop and was often asked this question. Generally the first thing I would ask is what they wanted to mainly take photos of, then walk through the pros and cons of the various types of camera, and explain why a certain type might be favored over another for that purpose. Here, I don’t know what type of pictures you’re looking to take, so I’ll just go ahead and point out the pros and cons and add some editorial ramblings at the end. Fair enough?
What should I know about choosing a DSLR camera?
What are the pros & cons of point-and-shoot cameras?
I could hand someone who’s never used a camera in their life a $5000 DSLR and they’re not going to instantly turn into Ansel Adams. Were he alive today, you could hand Ansel Adams a $200 P&S and he’d make magic with it.
There’s an old saying in racing that goes: “Before you try and modify your car to go faster, tighten the nut behind the wheel first.” The nut behind the wheel, of course, being the driver. A better camera isn’t going to make you a better photographer, unless you’ve already maxed out the capabilities of your camera and want to do things it is not technically capable of.
So as you make your decision, keep in mind: how tight is the nut behind the viewfinder?
Interested in learning more about how photography actually works? Shoot lots of your kid’s sporting events? Want the highest quality images possible? Got some money to burn? Don’t mind lugging around a big camera and some lenses for it? A DSLR might just be for you.
Want a small, light, easy to carry camera that you’ll always have with you? Don’t care about learning how photography works, just want to get the pictures? Take mainly snapshots and “memory” type photos? A point and shoot is right up your alley.
Of course, there’s more to it than that, and you have to weigh the above pros and cons with your own photography goals, but hopefully this has made things clearer for you.
I’m going to conclude this by repeating something I mentioned earlier. It cannot be understated. The worst camera in the world is the one you don’t use, and the worst photo is the one you don’t/can’t take.
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