By: Aden Savko
With many camera choices out there, deciding what camera is right for you can feel so overwhelming. Even when you do your research, there is no substitute for hands on experience with a certain camera. Everyone has different taste, so there will never be the perfect camera for everybody, but, with so many choices, there is a camera out there somewhere that is perfect for you.
The Squire recently interviewed Mrs. McElhaney, an experienced photographer, to gather her opinion on the topic. The first thing to consider when buying a camera is your skill level as a photographer, which will decide the functions you will need your camera to have and whether you should buy used or new.
If you are just beginning in photography, there is no shame in buying a cheaper and used DSLR, and it might even be better to learn on than a more expensive camera. With an older model DSLR, which has less features, you will mostly have camera basics to learn and these basics are what you will be using throughout your photography career. As you get to be a more experienced photographer, you will want a more capable camera and most likely want to buy new rather than used. Many camera/electronic stores have open box programs, which means that the box was opened but the camera was either not used, barely used, or a display model. This is a great way to get a bit of a deal on an expensive model of camera and improve your photo quality.
A big question in modern photography, is whether to buy mirrorless or DSLR. A mirrorless is different from a traditional camera because there is no mirror, hence the name, and no traditional viewfinder, which is the thing you look through to see what your camera sees. Although mirrorless seems to be the future of photography, with many professionals making the switch, there are plenty just as capable traditional DSLRs in the world when it comes to photography.
While cameras like the Canon EOS 90d, Nikon d780, Nikon d500, and Canon 5d Mk. IV are all as good or, in some cases, better than almost all mirrorless cameras, as far as photography is concerned. Where mirrorless cameras have just about all DSLRs beat is video production. The big advantage they have is being able to see what they are shooting and better process it. This leads to better and faster autofocus, a smaller formfactor, due to the lack of a mirror, and better subject tracking. From a photographer’s perspective, making the switch already is very optional and completely up to you. However, if you are a beginner, I recommend buying a beginner level mirrorless so that you are ahead of the game.
Once you have moved on from a beginner level, you have a choice to make: Do you want a crop sensor or full frame? Much like mirrorless versus traditional, there are many advantages to each format; however, this gets way more complicated, so let’s cover the basics. First up is price; the beginner’s camera market is almost exclusively crop frame, whilst the full frame market can get very pricey, with the cheapest crop frame camera Canon makes costing around $500, and the cheapest full frame camera priced at about $1,300. Next is performance, but this comes with a disclaimer. With modern sensor technology, the difference in quality is almost nonexistent, so do not allow this to change your mind about what sensor size camera to get. Full frame cameras generally have better low light performance, due to the sheer large size of the camera’s sensor, and crop frame sensors will generally produce slightly more grainy photos in extreme ISO conditions. Think about it like a solar panel – the one that receives the most light will have the most energy to work with; however, when done right, a smaller one can be just as effective.
Eisenhower Art and Computer teacher, Mrs. McElhaney shared some great advice about making that first camera purchase and starting out as a photographer, “No matter the camera you buy you still have to have the authenticity of creating the composition, lighting and really making the photo have a dynamic look.” The best way to reach success as a career photographer is to go beyond just snapping pictures for fun and develop your own style and feeling through your pictures. As Mrs. McElhaney explained, “Originality really plays into your photography. What makes your photograph really stand out?” Although she also pointed out that there’s nothing wrong with those who just want to take quick photos on their phone, purchasing a camera can help you develop your creative talents and take your photography to the next level. Once you’ve purchased your camera, Mrs. McElhaney encourages students to spend time practicing, “The only way to achieve this is to practice, go out there and shoot as much as you can. I personally started my business in 2014 and I’ve only gotten better.”
Regardless of which type of camera you choose to use or how you decide to begin your photography hobby, the camera is not the important part of photography, the photographer is. Your camera is nothing more than a tool to tell your story, and story is what always wins.