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Thread: Buying your first camera. The guide.

  1. #1
    Member EGG80X's Avatar
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    Buying your first camera. The guide.

    Here is a guide I borrowed from another forum because of I am sick people asking what camera they should get....... Mods please sticky this thread

    Buying your first camera

    Ok, so you're about to make the leap into the photographic world and buy your first camera, and chances are you have a lot of questions that you'd like to ask.
    Lets start off with a few simple questions which you probably already have answers too.

    Incidentally, the OCAU wiki has a Camera Selection article available here.
    This little post is intended as a guide, rather than a model specific breakdown. For that sort of thing, you can also visit this side by side comparison tool from DPReview.com.

    While this little guide isn't overly in depth, it does offer a simple and practical process to purchasing your first camera. I'm not going to tell you what exact camera model you need to purchase, as they change frequently, and what is one man's meat is anothers poison.

    What's your budget?
    Setting your budget is important, because this defines what camera 'bracket' you'll end up buying from.

    $90-$300 is about average for a Point and Shoot (P&S) camera.
    Camera's in this price point usually have basic shooting modes:
    • Program mode (also called green mode, after the little green box typically used to identify this mode). This mode will auto select all the appropriate apetures/shutter/flash settings based on the camera's metering of the scene.
    • Landscape mode, which sets up the camera to take a photo in daylight, with all subject area's in focus.
    • Sports mode, shooting 'fast' action, adjusts focus so that it tracks a moving subject, can use a 'burst' mode (shoot multiple frames quickly in sequence with only one shutter button press). This mode really isn't all that great for shooting extremely fast action.


    P&S's usually include a basic video recording function, as well as some minor adjustments such as ISO, day/night shooting.

    $300-$900 is about average for the more advanced 'pro-sumer' cameras (which are more SLR like than point and shoot, in terms of features and looks). At this price point you'll start to see some low end SLR's in the mix.
    In this price point, you'll get more manual control over the camera, such as apeture and shutter speed, manual focus, selecting individual focal points, and perhaps even a real viewfinder, rather than an electronic one.

    $900-$1900 will get you anything from a low end SLR to a more advanced SLR.
    In this range, you'll get pretty much all the above mentioned features. Camera's will typically have a hot shoe for flashes and a PC Synch port (although not all do).
    You'll also be needing to by a lens with an SLR (something of a walkaround nature, such as a 17-85mm lens). There are many lenses you can by for these camera's, which are mostly used in specific situations.

    $1900-$10000+ is the price range for more serious SLR's. This bracket typically includes the serious enthusiast camera's such as the Canon EOS 5D or Nikon D300, to much more professional oriented cameras like the Canon EOS 1D series or the new Nikon D3 (and prior to that the D2x).
    At this point, you're pretty much buying a camera with all the above mentioned features, plus the durable construction used in the body, as well as better specs on things such as burst frame rate, shutter durability, flash synch and other things. You can also plug wifi transmitters and GPS units into these models (although these features are starting to branch down into the $900-$1900 price range).

    One thing to note, is that while not strictly true, the megapixel count of cameras tends to increase in relation to the money you spend.

    What's the main use of the camera?
    This really goes hand and hand with what you're willing to spend on the camera. For instance, you can't expect to spend $200 on a P&S camera and expect to be out on the sports track shooting fast paced action at 30 frames a second and get good results.

    Be realistic with this - if you're planning on just using the camera to record those extra special moments in life, then all you need is a P&S camera. If you're wanting to capture the special moments, plus a bit more of a hobby, then perhaps looking at a pro-sumer style camera is best. For those of us wanting to do more serious work requiring more control than the standard happy snap, then an SLR is what the doc will prescribe.

    Now that you know how much you want to spend, and what you're going to shoot, lets start looking at some other things to consider.

    Ergonomics.
    How the camera feels in your hand when you use it is pretty important. Especially when you start spending mega bucks. Does the buttons layout make sense? Are they spaced evenly apart, but not so far apart you can't reach them, or to close you end up mashing them all at once?
    Does the 'operating system' of the camera work simply, or is it overly complicated?
    This is where the advantage of buying from a retail store stacks up against buying online (see below).

    What card format to use?
    There are oodles of card formats to use these days, however the choice as far as digital cameras are concerned is pretty much limited to one of two types. Either SD (Secure Digital) or CF (Compact Flash) type.
    For the most part, the cheaper cameras (sub $900) use SD cards. Most cameras over the $900 mark use CF (although some new models are dropping it in favour of SD).
    Given the really low prices of both these storage formats, there's no real hassle of switching formats if you outgrow your gear.
    That said, Compact Flash has an advantage over the SD format in that it is able to withstand physical damage much more easily than the SD format. For this reason, most higher end camera's use the CF format.

    Buying online or from a retail store.
    A lot of stuff can be found really cheaply online from either eBay or many other online retailers without physical presence (i.e. store fronts), thus saving you a bit of moolah in the process. The only disadvantages to buying online, are that you can't try before you buy (mostly), and sending an item back for repair work can become a painful process, especially if it's a grey import (not imported by the manufacturer or it's licensed distributor).

    Buying from a retail store on the other hand does offer some security in both looking after warranty issues, and trying before you buy. On the other hand, sales people can be a pain in the neck to deal with (especially staff that try to impress you with their knowledge, but end up looking like complete idiots and loosing the sale), and stores can close down.
    Buying from a reputable store is important, and the old adage 'if it's too good to be true, it probably is' is a good adage to stick by.

    Grey import or not?
    As outlined above, a grey import is essentially brought into the country legally but without authorisation by the manufacturer. Typically grey imports have a warranty provided by a third party, as the manufacturer doesn't recognise the item as an authorised import.
    You can save a lot of money buying grey import cameras (especially in the higher price brackets).

    Accessories.
    SLR's and pro-sumer camera's have better room to grow in terms of 'accessories'. Tripods, battery grips, speedlights (flashes), remotes and more can be purchased for these cameras.

    Point and Shoots typically have a few other accessories, such as mini tripods, remotes and in some cases, add-on lens extenders/adapters.
    If you're after a lot of control of the photo, then being able to change lenses or flashes is pretty important.

    Understanding the lingo.
    A large jargon buster guide can be found here.
    This runs through an A-Z guide on a lot of the lingo/jargon that you'll see being thrown about.


    Well, that about sums up what you need to keep in mind when buying your camera.


    Good luck!
  2. #2
    Member siddr20's Avatar
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    ^ great find!!

    Here is something i have written by myself..
    Hopefully this can help too..


    Hi all,

    Im sure the following information will be useful for those wanting to get into photography.

    There has been numerous amounts of questions related to "What camera should i buy" - for your first digital SLR camera.

    The following information is just from my knowledge and experience. Im no professional, but just wanting to help others.

    Feel free to add to this thread too

    If something I have written is incorrect please do let me know. NO need to be an idiot about it in the post.

    -------------------------------------------------

    HOW TO PICK YOUR FIRST DIGITAL SLR CAMERA!!


    1) What do I like to photograph?

    Just ask yourself this question. Once you have found your answer, picking a camera will be much easier.

    Why? Well different cameras/len combos acheive different things. Sure point and shoot cameras are just,
    a one peice package, but knowing what you would like to shoot would make picking a camera and matching
    the right lens a whole lot eaiser.

    Examples of different types of photography:

    - Action
    - Marco
    - Portrait
    - Motorsport/Sports
    - Landscape
    - Lowlight/night time
    - Indoor (eg clubs, etc)
    - etc etc.. There are soo many different flavours


    2) Know how a digital camera works and its jargons!!

    Know how a digtal camera works. Start with the basics of how the light enters perhaps.
    Knowing this basic knowledge will aid you later on.

    Eg) In digital cameras the light enters thru the lens, then the apeture and finally the sensor.
    The Apeture will decide the amount of light entered into the camera while the sensor will convert this process
    into an image. Knowing this little basic knowledge will aid in taking photographys. If you dont know this then taking photos
    in manual mode will become a much harder process. (This is just basic information and not in depth)

    Understand the jarons - Eg) ISO, Apeture values, metering system, histrogram, shutter speeds etc.

    THE COMPLETE BEGINNERS DSLR GUIDE TO PHOTOGRAPHY: Click on the link below for more detail explanation!!
    http://www.nissansilvia.com/forums/i...owtopic=308729


    3) Now its time to pick your SLR camera

    If you couldnt answer the first question then keep thinking. Atleast choose something? Why, well keep reading

    So different types of photography requires different features.

    Not every single digital SLR camera has the ability to do everything.

    The following is a rough guide of choosing the right camera to your specific needs!!

    -Action:
    ----------The camera must have a high shutter speed (to capture sharp unblurred images)
    ----------Ability to take continous shots
    ----------Large frame rate (eg, 6 upwards is quick)
    ----------Large autofocus points (the more the better if you wanna autofocus a subject)


    -Low light/night time shots
    ----------Low noise at high ISO levels (once again ISO, noise etc is explained in the sticky thread)

    - Landscape
    ----------

    ^ THIS SECTION STILL NEEDS TO BE FINISHED..


    Compare different cameras to your budget price range:

    See which features attracts you. Compare these features to others and make a note of it!!

    Does the camera have auto sensor cleaning? (not necessary but most new digital cameras have it)
    Is it quick to start up?
    Does it provide good waranty and aftersales support?
    Do many users use this camera? - find out the ratings - perhaps ask in here?
    Can I fit different types of accessories to the camera?
    What kind of memory card does it take?
    What resolution can the camera go up to?
    What is the max ISO?
    etc


    Have a feel of the camera

    Best thing to do is go into a store and get a feel of the camera. Come SLRS are too bluky, some functions are not easy to access quickly..
    Some buttons are not in the right spot etc etc. So get a feel of it before buying anything!!

    The body isnt everything:

    Just remember the body (camera) isnt everything to creating stunning shots. The lens also plays a huge role. The image clarity, sharpness, detail etc is all varied across different lens.


    Types of manufactures:

    -Nikon
    -Canon
    -Sony
    -Sigma
    -Fuji
    -Olympus
    -Panasonic
    -Pentax
    -Samsung


    Good entry level SLRS: a rough guide (all under 1k with standard kit lens)

    -Canon 400d, 450d, 500d, 1000d
    -Nikon D40, D60, D3000, D3100s
    -Sony A200
    -Pentax K100D/200D
    -Olympus E-410

    Just remember there is a bit of a difference when it comes to comparing budget entry level slrs to the more consumer market level SLR cameras. These cameras generally have more megapixel (not that it means much) and is generally quicker. The price tag is generally about 100-300 dollars more than the basic entry level cameras. What sort of cameras am i talking about? Well for example, canon 350d (8 megapixel), and say the fully budget entry level D40 (6 megapixel).

    Best to research as much as possible before buying


    My TIPS:

    If you really wanna get into photography and you are on budget, then theres no harm in buying a 2nd hand digital SLR camera. Practice on this to get the hang of all the features and then perhaps in a years time once you are comfortable and able to expand your phtographic skills; buy your next slr camera.

    Reading all the guides/tuts will only come useful if you practice. Practice Practice Practice!! Its the only way to take great shots.
    Just go out one night and explore what the camera can do. Explore all the manual functions. Experiement with different settings with different subjects.
    Its the only way to become good.




    Work in progress i guess.. hmm

    hope this a good idea tho or i just wasted 15mins typing this up lol


    for lens reviews and comparisons please go to www.photozone.de
    Last edited by siddr20; 16-09-10 at 11:01 AM.
    Sidd Rishi Photography | www.sidd-rishi.com.au
    Sydney Wedding and Fashion Photographer
  3. #3
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    awesome info STICKY!
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    Member HKS200's Avatar
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    awesome helping a great deal i'm in the pro-sumer range I think
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    Member Deviliss's Avatar
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    Nice guide mate!

    Will help me out alot when i'm buying mine this year!!
  6. #6
    Member siddr20's Avatar
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    Just realised what i typed has so many spelling mistakes.. Will fix it up later lol
    Sidd Rishi Photography | www.sidd-rishi.com.au
    Sydney Wedding and Fashion Photographer
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    Member markie's Avatar
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    very helpful since im planning to get slr..

    props
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    Member Levos1's Avatar
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    Nice!
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    Member Tsol0811's Avatar
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    Ive got a Sony DSC-F828 for free off my dad.
    I know its not a SLR and is like 6 years old but heard its a quality Sony cam.
    Any one recommend if this camera is good and any tips?

    So far ive take alot of nice shots.
    I think its a good start for my practice
  10. #10
    Member broady's Avatar
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    Yeah but this didn't really help me at all. Kelv, what camera should I buy?




    jk... Happy shooting, peeps!
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