Do not go out and buy an expensive camera!
Chances are if you are reading this Blog, you have an interest in photography. Chances are also that you already own a camera of some sort. It may be a good Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR), a point and shoot camera, or just your cell phone. You do not need a great, expensive camera to take good photographs. Especially when you are just starting out, This is important.
Learn the Basics
First learn some basics about photography (keep reading this Blog!). Learn the technological basics of how shutter speed controls motion and how aperture controls depth of field. Learn the artistic basics of composition like the Rule of thirds and Leading Lines.
Next decide what type of pictures you like to take. This only happens after some experience and actually taking a lot of pictures. Do you like people pictures, or scenic shots? Do you like taking close up shots of flowers? Do you like portraits, or candids? Do you yearn to be more creative, or do you just want to record the moment for posterity? These are the questions you need to ask yourself before you decide if you actually need a new camera.
What do you really need?
Then decide what you really need in a camera. Think of the features and creative aspects you really need. I have many students who have come into my class and insist they need a new camera because their current one takes lousy pictures. I generally have to break the news to them that it isn’t the camera. Nine times out of ten it’s the operator. The sad truth is they just don’t know how to use the camera they already own. Buying a new one will just give them a new camera they don’t know how to use and the end result will be that they still take lousy pictures! I tell them to learn how to use the camera they already own. Know what it will do; know what it can’t do; and know how to make it work to its best advantage. And then, only then, will you know if you really do need a new camera.
If your goal is to take one of those nifty pictures of star trails throughout the night sky, yet your camera does not have a “bulb function”, then you know your camera is ill equipped to take that picture. Then decide if having a bulb function is worth the expense of buying a high end camera that has that function. For the one or two times you may actually want to take that kind of picture, is it worth it?
If you don’t know what the bulb function is, keep learning before you decide you need it.
Do your Homework!
Then, when you determine that yes, you really DO need a new camera, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Read; ask questions, understand what the various features are and why you might (or might not) use them. Never go into the store without knowing what you want –or do not want. The store’s sales person is there to sell you something. If you are not informed they’ll smell that a mile away and often sell you a more expensive camera than you need, or a lot of accessories you will never use.
I meet people all the time that have been bamboozled into buying lenses they don’t need, tripods they will never use and cameras they don’t understand. Take the time you need to know just what you want to get out of photography before you spend your money on anything. You can learn the basics and understand photography with any camera, be it a point and shoot or cell phone camera (many cell phones today take great pictures!).
You don’t need that $1,500 Nikon or Canon to take good pictures. First learn how to take great pictures with the camera you already own, then graduate to that Nikon or Canon (or Sony or Olympus).