Want to Buy your First Camera? This Camera Buying Guide is for you.
In this guide, I have tried to answer every question that came into my mind before buying my first camera.
I know it is not easy to choose the right camera in 2024 as hundreds of options are available in the market.
But, after reading this article. You will have enough understanding to find that one unicorn.
You will learn the following.
- Choose a Camera in 5 Easy Steps
- Different Types of Cameras
- Important Camera Features
- Where to buy Your First Camera
- Camera Buying Guide: FAQs
How To Choose a Camera in 5 Easy Steps?
Below, you can check out the quick and easy 5 Step Guide to Choosing a Camera. These 5 Steps will help you understand the roots of buying a camera as a complete beginner. I will also share my own experience of How I suffered an $800.
1. Find Your Purpose
The first thing you need to do is find out your purpose for buying a camera.
Are you looking for a camera to take family photos?
Are you looking for a camera to take pictures of nature?
Whatever your reason, you need to be able to narrow your search down.
If you are looking for a camera to take landscape pictures, you are probably going to want to look for a camera that is a point-and-shoot camera or a semi-professional camera like a DSLR.
If you are a hobby photographer, you will probably want to look for a camera that is either a semi-professional or professional camera.
Once you are well aware of the buying purpose, you will cut down the long list of cameras.
2. Select Your Budget
By this time, you have a strong reason for buying a camera.
Now, it’s time to define your budget.
Cameras have a wide variety of price ranges. You can buy a camera for as low as $50 to $25000.
On average, you can buy a good DSLR camera for under $1000 for both photos and videos. Once you have got your hands dirty using a camera, you can slowly upgrade to more premium options.
In my experience, the initial camera cost is not enough. You might have to spend some money buying accessories like Filters, Lenses, Flash, Memory Cards, and much more.
Also, consider the costs of service and repairs of the camera.
3. Choose the Camera Type
Once you finalize your Purpose and Budget for the camera, it is time to choose a camera type.
There are 8 Different Types of Cameras (we’ll discuss this later in the article). The most popular camera types are DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras.
DSLR Cameras are pretty heavy and have complex machinery. They are excellent options for taking photos.
On the other hand, Mirrorless Cameras have a compact body framework and digital mechanisms. They are perfect for both photos and videos.
If your primary motive is to click photos, I will recommend a DSLR Camera.
If your primary motive is to record videos, I will recommend a Mirrorless Camera.
4. Understand Different Camera Features
By this time, you are well aware of the cameras available as per your purpose and budget.
Now, it’s time to understand the features you will need to solve your purpose.
You have to know what is available on a camera. It’s essential to know the settings on a camera and what they do.
You will know more about the features below.
For example, Shutter Speed is a setting that allows you to capture motion. If you’re taking pictures or a video of a moving object, you will want to make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to capture the movement.
You also need to understand Aperture, which is the size of the lens opening. The larger the opening, the more light that can get into the camera and the brighter the photo will be. If you want to take pictures in low-light settings, you need to ensure your camera has a large aperture.
The features list is never-ending, thanks to the technology.
5. Buy Your Camera
You have come to the final step of choosing a camera.
By now, You’ve finally decided on the camera that suits your needs and budget. Now What?
It’s time to decide whether you want to buy a brand new or a used camera.
To buy a Brand New camera, you can go on to the Online Retailers like Amazon, BHPhotoVideo, and many more or go to the official brand store.
I would highly suggest you buy a brand new camera until that used camera seller is known to you.
If you’ll ask me, my experience with used cameras was terrific. Maybe it doesn’t happen with everyone, but that used camera was my worst investment.
I had bought a used Nikon D750, and it just stopped working in a week. And, that wasted my $800.
At that time, $800 was a big deal for me. And if you are also tight on budget. I suggest you either wait and save more money or buy a camera in your range.
Different Types of Camera
Now, it’s time to understand the different types of cameras. I will also share the pros and cons of each style.
The first and most popular camera type is DSLR cameras.
DSLRs are considered the Professional Cameras of the Photography World. Since they are the most expensive and most advanced, they naturally have the most features.
DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex, and as the name suggests, they use one lens to focus light onto a digital sensor.
The sensor then digitizes the image and displays it on a screen. It means that the photographer can see the picture in real-time and adjust the focus and lighting manually.
The versatility of DSLR cameras makes them a favorite for those who are more serious about photography.
Our next camera type is Mirrorless. It is trendy amongst Different Media Creators, Like YouTubers, and Social Media Influencers.
Mirrorless cameras are a Hybrid Between Digital and Film Cameras. They don’t have a mechanical mirror and an optical viewfinder.
The camera’s sensor is at the camera’s back, and the images appear on the LCD screen. They have a large sensor (as big as 35mm film) and a small lens (as small as 35mm film).
Mirrorless cameras indeed tend to be more expensive than DSLRs. But they make up for it with their lighter weight, smaller size, and much better image quality.
You can also get Mirrorless Cameras with full-frame sensors, which is great if you’re looking to take portraits.
Mirrorless cameras are a popular choice for shooting video. They usually have many different settings, which allow you to take professional-quality videos.
Micro Four Thirds Cameras
Our next camera type is the Micro Four Thirds Camera.
Micro Four Thirds cameras are a relatively new type of camera. They are smaller than a standard DSLR camera and have interchangeable lenses.
They are also more compact than a “full-frame” camera.
Micro Four Thirds cameras are an excellent choice for hobbyist photographers who want a portable and lightweight camera. You can take fabulous pictures at the beach, at parties, and on vacation.
A Micro Four Thirds camera is also an excellent choice for professional photographers who want to travel light but still get incredible pictures from a reliable, portable camera.
Point-and-Shoot Cameras/Compact Cameras
Our next type of camera is Point and Shoot Camera. They are also known as Compact Cameras.
Point-and-shoot cameras are a dying breed. They are replaced by cell phones, which have become all but ubiquitous.
No one is going to care about point-and-shoot cameras in 2024. They had their moment in the sun, but now, they are on the way out.
In the past, point and shoot cameras were the most popular camera for consumers.
However, mirrorless cameras and smartphones have replaced point-and-shoot cameras. Both have better features and capabilities than most point-and-shoot cameras.
Point and shoot cameras have continued to drop in popularity with the rise of smartphones but are still available, along with a few other types of cameras.
You may be wondering: why buy a point-and-shoot camera?
Point and shoot cameras are ideal for those who want a camera to take snapshots of their family and friends but don’t want to deal with the hassle of a DSLR or other type of camera.
If you don’t want to deal with the bulk or complexity of a DSLR, a point-and-shoot camera is a great option.
Our next type of camera is Bridge Cameras.
The bridge camera is a digital camera that sits between the Single-Lens Reflex (SLR) and the point-and-shoot camera. It is also known as the “hybrid camera.”
It is small to a medium-sized camera that offers many of the features of an SLR but in a smaller, lighter, and less expensive package.
Our next type of camera is Action Cameras.
Action cameras are the most popular cameras available in the market today. They are small and handy and are used to capture high-resolution footage of every adventure you take.
In 2024, action cameras will be one of the most popular cameras in the market.
The action camera is a type of camera used to take videos while doing extreme sports like surfing, mountain biking, or snowboarding.
The cameras are lightweight, and they have a rugged build to withstand impacts and vibrations.
Most action cameras are built to be waterproof and can take videos even underwater.
You can mount Action cameras on a helmet or handlebar, but you can also put them on your wrist, surfboard, or kayak.
Our next camera type is 360 Cameras.
360 cameras have been around on the market for a few years. But they’ve only recently been getting a lot of attention.
They work by taking many photos and then stitching them together to create a panoramic image that can be viewed from every angle.
360 cameras are generally more expensive than regular cameras. They’re great for casual photographers, but professionals might want to think twice.
Our next type of camera is Film Cameras.
Nothing beats the film camera if you want the absolute best image quality. You might need to get used to the fact that 35mm negatives will be showing up in the mail, but your results will be worth it.
There is a reason why photographers who have been shooting film for over a decade insist that it is the best way to capture images.
If you are interested in shooting with film, you need to use a film camera.
Film cameras capture light through the film, then chemically process to form a latent image. This image can then be digitized and manipulated on a computer.
Essential Camera Features to Consider
Sensor Size is a camera feature that defines the photosensitive surface of a digital camera’s image sensor.
A larger sensor will have larger pixels, which in turn means more light will hit each pixel — which is known as “larger pixel size.”
That’s why larger sensors will make a camera perform better in low-light shooting.
It’s also why they will be better at capturing fast motion (e.g., car, sports, and wildlife photography).
Larger sensors won’t just help you take better pictures — they’ll also help you take amazing videos. Since larger sensors mean larger pixels, they allow for better quality video.
The difference between a 4K video taken on a larger sensor vs. a smaller one is enormous.
Finally, larger sensors will give you better image quality — especially when you take photos at the same shutter speed and apertures.
What is the ISO range? ISO range is a camera setting that defines the image sensor’s sensitivity to light. ISO numbers indicate the sensitivity of an image sensor to light.
A higher ISO number means that the image sensor is more sensitive to light. ISO ranges are the most critical camera features in 2024.
For example, ISO 100 means the camera sensor or film is twice as sensitive to light as ISO 200.
This means that if you expose a photo for the same amount of time or amount of light, the ISO 200 photo will be half as bright as the ISO 100 photo.
In other words, ISO is a standard measurement of sensitivity to light. It is a crucial camera feature that must be considered when buying a digital camera in 2024.
One of the most important things to consider when buying a camera is how fast it can take pictures without missing a moment. Continuous shooting works by taking photos at a fast rate after each other.
The continuous shooting feature is the opposite of the single-shot mode. The single-shot mode allows you to take a picture with one click.
The continuous shooting mode allows you to take pictures at high-speed rates. The continuous shooting mode is also known as burst mode or high-speed burst mode.
The continuous shooting feature is not just helpful for taking pictures of moving objects. It can also take many different photos of the same thing at different angles.
Frames Per Second (fps) measure the time between shots. The faster the frames per Second, the quicker the camera can take photos.
Image stabilization is a feature that reduces the effects of camera shake. An optical system often provides it but can be done digitally too.
Image stabilization can be broadly categorized as Lens-based, digital-based (also called Pixel-based), and hybrid. Lens-based stabilization (also called optical stabilization) uses the mass of the lens to move the image around.
Digital stabilization uses the sensor in the camera to shift the image around digitally. Hybrid stabilization is a combination of the two.
It is a great feature to have if you use a camera to take pictures of a moving subject (e.g., kids, sports, wildlife) or a low light condition.
Stabilization is achieved by a device that moves the lens in the opposite direction of the camera. And hence reduce the vibration and blur.
The megapixels resolution (the number of pixels on the sensor) is the most popular camera specification. It is considered the most relevant and helpful feature when choosing a camera.
However, soon (less than five years), the resolution will be less critical. This is due to the advancement of image sensor technology, which will resolve no longer be a crucial feature in the future.
Viewfinder Type refers to the type of visual display of the camera. Most cameras come with a viewfinder (also called an optical viewfinder) that shows the user a display of the subject through an optical lens.
Many new cameras are becoming more advanced and are replacing the optical viewfinder with an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that uses a type of display to show you the subject.
Electronic Viewfinders are used in a variety of different lighting conditions. The user will see that they are getting an accurate representation of their subject.
It is essential to know what your camera has and use it. If you are using your camera to capture fast-moving objects and you need to have a clear view of what you are photographing, you will want to make sure that your camera has a fast refresh rate to capture the subject quickly.
Suppose you will be using your camera in a variety of different conditions. You will also want to make sure that the camera you purchase has a viewfinder that can be adjusted to various other lighting conditions.
The weight of a camera is a critical detail. Cameras with a lightweight are easier to use. They are more convenient and comfortable to carry. They are also easy to handle and allow you to take quick shots. It is essential to consider the weight of the camera you need before making a purchase.
The durability of a camera is one of the most important things to consider. With more and more people using their smartphones to take pictures, the demand for long-lasting cameras is higher than ever.
To make sure that you get the most out of your camera.
You can break the durability of a camera into a few different categories.
The first thing to think about is the build quality of the camera. You can break the build quality into a few different things.
The first thing to think about is how durable the camera feels. When you hold a camera in your hand, you want to know that it can take a few knocks and keep ongoing.
The camera should feel well built and shouldn’t feel like it will break if you drop it.
The next thing to look for is how well the camera is protected. The camera must have a good amount of rubber around the edges to absorb the impact of a fall.
Shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter remains open when you take a photograph. It’s measured in fractions of a second.
Longer shutter speeds give the sensor more time to capture light and color.
For example, a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second would allow more light to get through the lens than a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second.
A fast shutter speed is used to freeze the action by having the shutter open for a short time.
You can use Fast shutter speeds for more creative shots, such as photographing the movement of water.
Exposure is the amount of light that can reach the image sensor of a camera when taking photos.
If you expose the camera sensor to too much light, the photo will be too bright!
If not enough light reaches it, the photo will be too dark!
The brightness level of a photo is called exposure. The exposure of a photograph depends on the amount of light that can reach the image sensor.
The screen is one of the most important aspects of a camera, especially for those who love photography.
You can preview images and videos or for camera settings. The screen is also used during the framing of the picture.
In addition, the screen is essential for shooting through the viewfinder, so you can see what you’re aiming for.
Although some cameras don’t have a screen, they do have a viewfinder, so they can still take pictures.
You can’t overstate the importance of a good flash.
If you are one of those who take pictures at night, a good flash can make a huge difference.
In some cases, flash is required, for example, when taking pictures of paintings or sculptures, as the museum owners will not allow you to use external lighting.
Where to Buy Your First Camera?
Once, you are done with choosing a camera. It is important to find a valued place to purchase it. No doubt, cameras are very expensive and you would like to spend money where you get the best price and after sale service.
I am not a big fan of buying used cameras, and always recommend you to buy a new one.
Below, I have shared the list of marketplaces where I shop most of my cameras and photography gears.