Monday, 26 March 2012

"Which camera should I buy?"

A question I keep getting asked is "I want a new camera to take better photos. Which camera should I buy? I want to get an SLR". Unfortunately, there is no quick answer.... I normally give them some advice and ask them questions to think about:
  • Yes, DSLRs will take a better quality photo, capture shots faster (frames per second) and come with a range of other bells and whistles that I won't go into details about; there are plenty of articles on the web to do that for me e.g.  Buying a digital SLR on dpreview. The question to ask is, do you need all these features? What are you doing with the photos? Are you simply sharing them all with friends and family or doing professional prints for money?
  • Those that tend to ask me this question are those that simply want to take "better" photos for personal reasons. The answer I give them is the best camera choice will be the one you will take out and use the most. The more photos you take, the more they improve. 
  • What features are important to you? Excellent quality down the the pixel? Will bulkiness and weight deter you from taking the camera out? Need a compact camera for low light? Waterproof for water and snow trips? Compact camera with good zoom? DSLR with one lens only? What is your budget? At the end of the day, only you can decide which camera is best for you. 
  • Once you have some idea of which category of camera you want (compact, micro four-thirds, DSLR, etc), read some reviews out there (e.g. If you can't decide between two cameras, throw that question into google (e.g. "Canon s100 vs Lumix LX5"). 
  • Go to a shop and play with them. Jessops and Jacobs near Tottenham Court Road Station in London have quite a selection.

Ok Ok Ok... so you want me to make some recommendations? Here are some, in (what I think) order of ascending image quality:
  • Sony TX10 --- very pocketable water/beer/snowproof compact camera
  • Canon s90/95/100 ---  Good quality, low light photos, compact camera
  • Panasonic Lumix LX3/5 --- Same features as Canon S90/95/100 but slightly more bulky and less pocketable, however, I find the external controls easier to use. 
  • Panasonic GF/GH series --- Micro four-thirds. Better quality than compacts and a good range of lenses available. A good choice that sits in the middle of a compact camera and a DSLR.
  • Sony NEX 5/7 --- Excellent photo quality and some lens choices, but not as user friendly as other cameras.  
  • Fuji X100 --- I would really love this camera, but you need to understand the limitations
  • Fuji X-Pro1 --- On my wishlist!
  • DSLRs: Canon 60D, 7D, 5D MK2/3 --- depending on your budget 

P.S. I'm slightly biased as I've owned various Canon DSLRs, a Panasonic LX3 and iPhone 3GS & 4S.

Once you know what you want, finding the best price is simple. Try these two sites for a start:
The last thing worth thinking about is that for items of high value, like cameras, consider buying it directly from a shop in case problems arise; sending faulty products and waiting for new shipment can be a very frustrating process.

Good luck with your camera shopping. 
Go out and enjoy taking photos! 

Here are some of my photos for some inspiration: 

Canon 40D



Panasonic Lumix LX3



iPhone 4S




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