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16 Things to Consider When Buying a Camera

A camera is not a device that you replace every year. You grow attached to the camera you carry. But, that shouldn’t mean that you won’t be considering critical things before buying your first or next camera. These 16 things are the fundamentals that you should keep in mind and keep asking yourself before deciding upon your dream camera.

1. Purpose

Not every piece of camera is suitable for every need. If your purpose is to have a handy camera that you can carry anywhere and offers almost similar features that a DSLR does but compromises on picture quality; point and shoots are for you. 

But if you are looking forward to getting up close and personal with your subjects through image quality and pixel peeping, a point and shoot won’t be enough. If you want to be a sports photographer, you should consider best Nikon lens for sports

2. Limitation

Consider the limitations of your previous camera that compelled you to search for a new one. An old camera might not have the latest video capabilities for your vlog and video ideas. Along with these, it may not support the latest lens that you seek. Check the spec sheet of the product and deduce if that’s enough for you.

Or if it’s a first for you, give a thought about your purpose and do some guesswork about what you might need in the future. For enthusiasts with professional intent, cameras limited by their sensor size or autofocus modes won’t be appropriate. 

In most cases, the difference between a medium range and a premium camera is in sensor quality and lens support.

3. Sensor Size

Two types of sensors are commonly used in mainstream cameras. APS-C sensor and a full-frame sensor. 

The APS-C sensor is a shrunken-down version of the full-frame sensor. Full-frame sensors are of the same dimensions as the reels that our previous generations used. 

For beginners, an APS-C sensor would seem enough. But those small sensors lack the creamy bokeh that you see in professional portraits. And as the sensors are small, a lens with the same focal length would give an output that’s cropped and zoomed in. 

A 50mm prime lens attached to a full-frame body would give a 50mm focal length. But the same 50mm lens attached to an APS-C body would give out results similar to an 80-85mm lens. A bigger number is not necessarily better in this case as for landscape photographers, the lower the focal length, the better. 

A bigger sensor in the best video camera means a broader angle, depth-of-field, and better pixel efficiency. 

There’s a third kind of sensor called 3/4th-used in point and shoot cameras. The small sensor size limits the depth-of-field and crops the corners. 

4. Megapixels

Don’t fall for the megapixel myth. A greater number is not always better. Companies shrink down pixels to achieve a greater megapixel count in the case of smaller sensors. A smaller pixel is good for pixel peeping but lacks dynamic range and low-light capabilities. 

The better the dynamic range is, the more details in highlights and shadows are preserved. In an image with a dark subject and bright skies, having a better dynamic range is a must. 

Almost always the high-end cameras come with a similar or lower megapixel count than the mid-range ones because professional photographers are more inclined to have better color and dynamic range than having a microscopically perfect image.

5. Lens Support

Cameras and lenses don’t go outdated as often as our mobiles do. But as the industry shifted towards digital means, the manual lenses are often not supported directly by the latest cameras. 

That shouldn’t mean that you can’t buy a great old manual lens and use it with your camera. Consider buying a camera with a focus motor that helps you to use autofocus on old manual lenses. 

But you don’t need to invest a lot just for the sake of having a focus motor because the mid-range ones also come with a focus motor and custom lens options now. 

 But the catch is that you need to master manual or aperture priority mode to use them. 

Consider cameras that support a wide variety of new and old lenses to have more alternatives as you go. 

6. Frame Rate and Video Quality

If your purpose is videography, having a 4K enabled sensor that supports at least up to 60 fps frame rate is a must in 2022. The smooth YouTube videos that you see are the results of 4K recording and a higher frame rate.

The autofocus capabilities of the camera are also very important if you are considering videography with your DSLR or mirrorless camera. 

To capture a landscape or portrait, having a jittery focus might even work, but if your camera keeps adjusting focus violently in a videography session, that’s not recommended at all. Consider lens reviews to understand if a lens has a focus motor silent enough to not disturb the recording, and check if the camera has subject detection capabilities to keep the focus stable. 

7. Weight

Assuming you’d carry the camera and gear with you, the less the weight of the setup, the better. A heavy camera, like a DSLR, offers many unique features but is also cumbersome to carry around. And if you need a battery pack, the weight goes up even more. 

Consider mirrorless cameras with similar or better features than a DSLR to accompany you on tours if weight is a problem for you.  

8. Wireless Capabilities

It’s a stretch to assume that you’d always have your laptop with you to import photos on the go. Having Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity on your camera will make the job easier. 

Assume you are having trouble with your AC, and need to send photos to an expert to understand common AC issues. You can just click the images and import them on your mobile to send them directly without needing to involve an extra step in between. 

9. Waterproofing

Monsoon often presents opportunities to a photographer. The gray skies, bright leaves, and windy roads can only be captured if your camera is waterproofed. Not only the monsoon, capturing any sports or events that involve water is eased by having a waterproof camera. 

Consider buying a camera that has waterproofing, or at least splash proofing to get up close and personal with the subjects. 

10. Autofocus Modes

Autofocus modes are getting more intelligent with every passing year. Consider buying a camera that at least has single AF, continuous AF, and hybrid AF. 

The single AF will help you click static subjects and is the fastest option. Single AF doesn’t adjust itself automatically when a subject moves but holds the setting until you change it. Single AF is best for shooting portraits, but isn’t enough for moving subjects like cars and birds.

Continuous AF changes automatically as long as the subject is in range and the AF button is pressed. Continuous autofocus is optimum for sports and wildlife photography, where there are a lot of moving subjects involved. 

A hybrid AF decides what’s best for a particular situation and adjusts the focus mode itself. It’s the most intelligent option to have. For beginner casual photographers, this mode is bliss. 

For a beginner photographer, having all three of the focus modes is a must as almost all the cameras nowadays offer these options. Even if you don’t understand how every mode works, having alternatives can’t hurt. 

11. Focus Points

Focus points are small areas that you find in the viewfinder that sends a signal to the lens to adjust itself in reference to the subject on the point. By having more focus points you’d have more liberty to frame your subjects. 

The more focus points a camera has, the more it will help the AF system and yourself to adjust the focus precisely. Suppose you are focusing on a car on a bridge, without at least 39 or 51 focus points the car will keep getting out of focus throughout the framing of the photo. And for fast-moving subjects like a car, you’re not going to get a good image. 

12. Burst Mode Capabilities

Having superfast burst mode is not a necessity to have for everyone. Depending on your purpose and vision, 15 bursts per second could either be overkill or inadequate. 

Raw is an image format that preserves all the necessary metadata of the image including the exposure details and color data which helps photographers get better results in post-processing. As raw images are much larger in size, burst rates are slowed down while the camera tries to save the image to the memory card. 

If you are a JPG clicker, go for anything over 6 bursts per second, but for Raw shooters, having a 12 or more should be adequate. 

13. Writing Speed

A camera with a slow writing speed will not be able to shoot continuously for a long period of time. If you are using burst mode in Raw, the camera would stop working for a few seconds when the images are being transferred from the buffer to the memory card. A larger buffer size may help the situation, but nothing beats a faster writing speed paired with a class-10 or higher memory card. It’s like comparing an HDD with an SSD. A HDD is much slower, but you’d never be able to connect a SSD in a HDD port and get the same results. 

14. DSLR or MIrrorless

Mirrorless cameras are replacing DSLR cameras pretty quickly. The latest mirrorless cameras from Sony, Canon, and Nikon are as or more capable than DSLRs and are extraordinary in the aspects of video shooting. 

But, they are considerably pricier than their DSLR counterparts. And if you already have a DSLR, changing to mirrorless would mean replacing the lenses too. Which would cost you a lot.  

15. Prime vs Zoom Lens

Lenses aren’t directly related to cameras, but when shopping for a new camera, consider not taking the kit lens that comes bundled with the body. If the shop allows, and most often they do, you can get a huge discount on the model and can buy a separate lens that fulfills your purpose better. 

A prime lens has a higher aperture that allows more light to come in. Prime lenses are also better for low-light situations and help you get more prominent bokeh. But prime lenses can’t be zoomed. 

A zoom lens with a fixed aperture could be your way to go if you are new to photography. Start with a zoom lens, and if your hobby persists, try investing more on prime lenses.

16. Low-Light Capabilities

Not every camera is as capable as the next one when it comes to low-light photography. The sensors are responsible for generating sharp images even in low-light situations, but many other factors like aperture, ISO, shutter speed, and lens are also contributing factors. 

Buy a camera that’s tested for low-light photography and allow you to take the ISO setting to great numbers before introducing unrepairable noise

The Bottom Line

If your budget permits, go for the best camera and lens. But if you are like most, consider investing more in the lens than the camera itself. For cameras, keep the megapixel myth out of your mind, weigh your purpose, and consider the points mentioned above before jumping into buying the dream camera of yours. 

The Blogulator

Web World Developers | Digital Marketing | support@theblogulator.com

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