3 November 2020

Tips for Buying Your First Professional Camera

So, you've decided to take the plunge and spend the money for a high-end, professional camera. And the biggest problem is once you spend the money, you've gone in a direction for which it's difficult to go back and change direction. Wishing you had purchased a different camera after the fact is a hard pill to swallow. 

The first consideration to make is what do you plan to do with the camera? Will you be doing commercial photography? Stock photography? Fine art? Or are you a serious hobbyist who wants more control over a point-and-shoot? 

When it comes to commercial photography, SIZE MATTERS. A sensor with a large pixel size should be an important feature to consider. If you're going to produce images for large applications such as posters, then you should understand the point being made here. Attempting to stretch smaller images into larger sizes will only cause the image to be pixelated and render it unusable. If you're going to create prints for fine art, then you will benefit from having a camera that can accommodate producing larger sizes. 

Another feature to consider is whether to get a traditional or mirrorless camera. Mirrorless cameras work well in dynamic situations such as street photography and weddings. These types of cameras are better suited for reducing distortions from camera shake. Photographing a bird in flight or aircraft at an airshow, in these instances you will not have the luxury of using a tripod and mirrorless might give better results. However, fast shutter speeds can compensate when photographing with a camera in motion. You will also want to make sure the camera has a good, reliable auto-focus when shooting in fast-moving environments unless you are proficient with setting the manual focus while "on the run."

You should list the camera features that are important for the type of shooting you will be doing. Do you need strong noise reduction at high ISO settings? Can the camera function correctly in hot or cold environments? Use your list to weed out cameras as you compare the different models. 

It can be assumed you will be purchasing a camera with interchangeable lenses. Even if you only have two lenses in your inventory, lenses can be a significant investment beyond the camera body. Some people have the means to purchase multiple cameras and build a collection of lenses, but most people can afford only one camera. So, you will probably need to become a "loyal customer" to a particular camera brand. Cameras are like any other type of electronic equipment these days, and that means it will become obsolete and require purchasing a newer camera down the road. If you purchase a different brand later, then you will need to replace all your lenses. Canon and Nikon are pretty good with allowing customers to use their lenses on new camera models. But you can't put Canon lenses on a Nikon body and vice versa. Once you commit to a particular brand, that will probably be what you're "stuck" with for a long time. Do your homework and be happy with your choice! 

It should go without saying that you will want a camera that can shoot in RAW format. This means you will want to purchase photo editing software that can work with RAW files. And you will need to learn how to use the software. Software is relatively inexpensive, but it can be a huge investment of your time learning how to use the software. Most people begin with Adobe Lightroom. It's cheap and much easier to learn than Photoshop. If your photography moves to new plateaus, then you can consider purchasing advanced software later on. 

One of the main reasons for buying a professional grade camera is because you have more control over settings. You will want to understand shutter speed, aperture settings, and ISO. You can have ultimate control when the camera is set to manual which provides many options for taking photographs in a wide range of conditions. You will be spending a lot of money for nothing if you are unable to take advantage of these various capabilities. You might want to bone up with some online tutorials if you've been working with a point-and-shoot camera in order to justify the expense. 

Lastly, make sure you get a good camera bag for your camera. You can purchase a kit that comes with a bag, but they are usually not of the best quality. Perhaps you only need a simple bag for transporting and keeping dry, but you may want to consider something more durable if the camera will be jostled around in crowds or the trunk of a car. 

Congratulations with your next step in your photography endeavors and hopefully this article helps to guide you on your purchase. 

Stock photos via Dreamstime.com

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