Which camera should I buy as a new photographer?

Hints & Tips

A question I am often asked is “Which camera should I buy to take photos of my own family”. I get it, whilst I might be your lovely Hertfordshire family photographer, I can’t be with you 24/7. There will be some times that you just have to document your family all by yourself. In fact, this is why I also teach photography to parents, but that is another blog post to be written. If you’re intrigued, you can find out more by clicking here.

Buying a camera is a very personal thing. There are so many brands and models out there that it can all get a little daunting. Before I start, it is worth saying that there is an excellent second hand market. Reputable companies such as MPB, Wex and Cameraworld sell second hand cameras. It is always worth investigating what they have in stock.

Let me first run you through the various types of camera. (Prices correct at time of writing, and I take no responsibility for your purchases!)

Point and Shoot (compact)

This is the most basic camera, and to be honest fairly similar to the camera in your phone. You point, you press, you take a photo. They usually have various settings to play with, such as ‘portrait’, ‘sport’ and ‘macro’. You will have a removeable memory card so that you can easily save the photos on to your computer. But as far as control and creativity, these days you probably have as good a camera that you already carry everywhere in your pocket… your phone! However, they are good for throwing in a bag and some will allow you a fair amount of control. If you need something quick and easy, it may be the answer to ‘Which camera should I buy?’

Pricier ~£400: Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

This camera is at the pricier end of the point-and-shoots, but you get a lot for your money. If you want a point and shoot that will give you some control, and maybe help you along the way to learning more about photography, it could be a good one for you. It allows you to shoot in jpeg, which is the ‘normal’ photo file type, but also in raw, which is much more versatile if you want to be able to edit your photos. You can also take some great videos.

On a budget ~ £150: Fujifilm FinePix XP140

A tough and waterproof camera that you won’t be afraid to pass over to the kids. It has a decent zoom, and you can feel confident that you can chuck it in the changing bag or suitcase and it will still serve you well. It’s not the best for quality, particularly with video, but if you are looking for something sturdy, this is a good camera to buy.

Bridge Cameras

A bridge camera looks and feels like a ‘proper’ DSLR, without interchangeable lenses. If you want a decent camera without the cost and complexity of different lenses, then this is the choice for you. You can pick it up, use it in auto mode and be confident that you will achieve a decent photo with good exposure. Without getting too technical, it is worth bearing in mind that the sensor is also smaller than on a DSLR. This means that you may lose a little quality.

However, if you want to really get to grips with photography, you have lots of settings to play with. When you feel brave, you can take it out of auto and play with ‘aperture priority’, ‘shutter priority’ or full manual mode to get some really sharp or creative shots, or those lovely blurry backgrounds that we all hanker after. You also have some control over where the camera focuses rather than watching that random yellow square pick up on trees and toys rather than your child’s lovely face.

If you’re an occasional shooter, then a bridge camera answers the question ‘Which camera should I buy?’.

Pricier ~£1,000: Sony RX10 III

As bridge cameras go, this is decent. You get good image and video quality, and a tilting screen – oh, how I love a tilting screen! The zoom is lovely and zoomy (technical term) up to 600mm, which will get you brilliant photos of wildlife or the moon… or your children far, far away. It is good in lower light and you can be sure of sharp images. As I mentioned above, it will allow you to take full control of focus and exposure if you take it out of auto. And if you need a little help with that, you can pop on over to www.photographyforparents.co.uk

On a budget ~£390: Panasonic FZ330

There are cheaper bridge cameras out there, but you do get what you pay for. At around £390 at the time of writing, the Panasonic FZ330 could be a good option for you. Like the Sony, you get a tilting screen and a decent zoom, but you will lose out a little on image quality and you will only by able to shoot in jpeg, not raw. However, if you want a good camera that reliably takes good shots without spending a fortune, it’s a good option.

DSLR & mirrorless cameras

This is the bees knees of photography, and certainly the best choice of camera to buy if you want to photograph regularly. Not only can you switch that dial from auto and gain full control of all the settings, including focus, metering and exposure, but you can also switch lenses depending on the type of photography that you are doing. For example, you might want to use a great telephoto lens for wildlife; a wide angle for street photography; a beautiful ‘prime’ lens for portraits of the children; or a dedicated macro lens for flowers and nature. You can also set it up to shoot in either jpeg or raw.

If you are a keen photographer and interested in learning how to really use the camera properly, then this is your best option – you may become quickly frustrated with a bridge camera. I could go into all of the creative ways that you can use a DSLR, but you’d be here all day and I do have a tendency to not shut up once I start talking about photography!

There are many, many options for you to choose from here. Canon and Nikon are the famous go-to brands. Sony produce some really excellent cameras. Fuji are lovely if you like a more vintage feel to your camera, yet love the modern technical aspects. Then you can choose between a standard DSLR or a mirrorless camera. Mirrorless cameras are newer to the market and have a lot going for them: they are silent (that click sound you hear is the mirror inside your camera flicking up and down); they are usually lighter; they have many more focus points to help you get a sharper photo; and when you look in the viewfinder you can see what the final photo will look like. Why wouldn’t I go mirrorless, I hear you ask? Well…. as with everything in life, if you want a good one, you need to spend some pennies.

You may need to buy a lens to go with your camera, although most will come with a ‘kit lens’.

Below I have chosen a few DSLR and mirrorless that I think are great options. Hopefully this will answer definitively the question ‘Which camera should I buy?’

Canon 250d (aka the Canon Rebel SL3) ~£500

This is a great beginner’s DSLR camera. For a start, you’ll get good image quality so you can confidently print large photos or canvases for your walls (to go alongside the ones you got from me, of course 😀 ). You get plenty of AF (autofocus) points for ease of focus, as well as the standard aperture and shutter controls. It comes with a tilting screen – hooray – and best of all it is WiFi enabled. This means that you can send the photos directly to your computer without a cable AND you can control your camera remotely from a smartphone app – no more awkward self-timers.

Fujifilm X-S10 ~£1,000

Fuji’s mirrorless camera is excellent. Lots of people love Fuji for the retro feel to their cameras – when you pick it up, you really feel as though you are holding a beautifully built traditional camera, but with a bundle of great features. Like the cameras above, it has a tilt screen and WiFi connectivity, great image quality and high resolution. And it is mirrorless, so beautifully quiet!

Canon EOS 90d ~£1,300

This is a really great camera for the price: superb image quality, fully articulated touchscreen and takes as good video as it does photos. Essentially, you get everything that the 250d offers, only much better and with sharper images! A really highly recommended camera for an amateur who has big dreams for their photography. I started out with the 70d (now discontinued) and loved it – and this is a great alternative.

Sony a7iii ~£1500

Sony’s mirrorless options are well-known for being high-performance. It is fast, with great auto-focus and image quality. You can also be sure that it will cope well in low-light (and we do live in the UK…) and with hefty image stabilisation it will help you to overcome any camera shake. It’s more expensive than the other options, but worth every penny.

I hope that you have found this post useful – if you find a camera that you like the look of, I’d be more than happy to advise you! Or perhaps you have a DSLR already and would like to know a little more about lenses? Send me a message!

And as ever, if you would like me to take some beautiful photographs of your family in Hertfordshire, get in touch! You can call me on 07950 901619 or email me info@alannahtakesphotos.com or book in a call at your convenience by clicking here. Have a look at what I can do for you at www.alannahtakesphotos.com

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