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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Choosing Your Camera


I get this question in my messages/emails everyday so I thought I'd write a news article to get it out there for you! That way my emails don't go unanswered either.

QUESTION - What is the best camera to buy?

ANSWER - There is no 'best' camera out there, a camera is suited to what YOU want. Think about it, if you old school and want a vintage look to your photographs, then the best result for the style you want would be a film camera, possibly a Holga / Polaroid.
If you are a budding fashion/portrait/landscape photographer, then you'd go for a higher end digital photographer, unless you want to go back to photography roots and use film for this.
On the other hand, if you're a documentary photographer you could use digital or film. If you're a budding Henri Cartier-Bresson, you might be using film exclusively, to achieve that very raw film look.
If you're a professional photographer then you need something that matches your job, most agencies will look for DIGITAL, because it's standard for magazines and you get the job done quicker, it's also vital because of all the editing techniques you can do digitally. You will also need to consider the amount of megapixels it has, from my experience, most clients/agencies will be looking for something 8 mpx +, stock agency websites look for 12 mpx +

Choosing your perfect camera will involve a bit of research, this is quite daunting when you're first starting out. I remember the first time I laid my eyes on the millions of cameras staring out of me from the glass case at a local camera store, scrolling through millions of camera websites online. I honestly didn't have a clue, and for most of you reading this (or I hope you are!) you'll be in the same position.

1. First, it's the big question - DIGITAL or FILM.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages -

DIGITAL Advantages
- Can be used automatically (even though this isn't the best way to start)
- Economical, you can print your own prints through a basic photo printer and you can get very cheap photographs at your local camera shop/lab or online shops.
- Memory card can be used and emptied over and over again, without the need of buying film
- Very easy to process, your digital darkroom is accessible at the click of a button!
- Most cameras have an LCD screen so you can view your photo, and playback the ones you've took. This is easier to proof your photos so you can get rid of the ones you don't like immediately.

FILM Advantages
- More hands on meaning you value your work more, you have created it from capturing to printing
- 35mm films range from 8 megapixel up to 18 megapixels
- Better for large prints - for detail
- You can easily proove you are the owner, because you have orginal prints and negatives (this is important in copyright cases, where digital would be much harder to recognise)

DIGITAL Disadvantages
- Digital files can easily be deleted (computer problems, memory stick errors etc)
- You need to spend quite a bit of money to get a quality camera (around 8mpx)

FILM Disadvantages
- Takes a long time to process (capturing an image to the printing process takes about a day)
- You can easily loose your pictures (through accidently letting light into the film, putting the film incorrectly on the spindle, not mixing the right chemicals)
- You cannot view your images until they have been processed
- Film is costly. Nowadays film and processing equipment is very expensive. Due to the demand of digital cameras in the industry there is no need for film, so producers raise the costs of the equipment.


A pixel is a single point in a graphic image. Every 1 megapixel means '1 million' pixels.

If you've chosen to go for a digital camera, you need to understand that the higher the megapixels, the higher the resolution. Unlike film, you need to get a camera that states what megapixel it is.

If it's likely you will only be shooting family snaps and printing 4x6 to 8x10 prints, you obviously have no need for a better camera, for you I would recommend anything 5 megapixel upwards.

If you're an amateur or semi-pro and it's likely you will be shooting portraits / art photography / landscapes or documentary, you're megapixel must be much higher. I would recommend anything 7 upwards.

if you're a professional, and you're need for resolution is bigger (for instance, you're on an agency and you're working for bigger clients who demand high res) you will need something about 10 mpx over.


SLR (Single Lens Reflex) - an interchangeable lens camera, is better for those that want to become professional. You *will* need to change your lenses to suit your need.
You will also be able to manually focus, and you get much more control over the overall focus.

COMPACT - Even though compact cameras come with a good amount of megapixel nowadays AND claim they give you full manual control, it's mostly likely that they will not give you as much control as an SLR.
A compact camera is perfect for snapshots and practice.
Please note you cannot change lenses with this camera.


This is an important one and probably one of the most confusing to a first time buyer. There's Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Minolta, Polaroid, Olympus & Casio - just to name a few!
My answer would be a little bit biased and lean towards the Canon area, just because I find them easier to use and I've had Canons for two years now.
However.. the brand must be entirely what you feel comfortable with.

There has been a debate for years between Canon & Nikon, both are very good makes and probably the two top end brands. Most professionals use eiter one of these. So if you're looking to go pro, you're best bet is Canon or Nikon.
Smaller end brands are best suited for amateurs or for snapshots.

To help you, I've found to very good sites that review the cameras (below)


There are a few places to purchase your camera, but you should do research before jumping into the deep end..

-> UK
I'd suggest Jessops or Jacobs. There is also warehouse websites which I highly recommend, Warehouseexpress is excellent value.
You'll also find they are in electrical stores such as
Currys or places such as Argos. However, electrical stores will not store higher end DSLRs.

-> US/Canada
I'd suggest Target or CircuitCity
or in Canada
Camera Canada or Best Buy

-> Other Countries You'll find most of the .com websites will ship to your country.

-> Online Stores
For a great deal, you're best bet is to buy your camera online.
Here are some trustworthy online sites that I recommend -
*Digital Rev
*Pixmania UK

To compare prices of digital cameras online, I recommend these websites -

-lara (
larafairie) on DA
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