Mark Bunting Photography | Getting Serious - #1 - Don't Buy a Camera! (Well, not just yet!)

Getting Serious - #1 - Don't Buy a Camera! (Well, not just yet!)

April 26, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


Interior shot of Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast

(Nikon D7000 & 16 to 85 mm f3.5 to 5.6 - Lens at 16 mm (24 mm in 35 mm equivalent) / 1/50th / f3.5 / ISO 800)



Getting Serious - #1 - Don't Buy a Camera! (Well, not just yet!)


So you want to make the move from taking pictures with your smartphone (which is perfectly capable of taking some pretty decent pictures) and get a 'real' camera.


That's great!  It does assume that you are also looking to learn - at least a little - about how the 'real' camera works - because if you are going to use your 'real' camera on auto all the time you may as well save yourself some money and stick with your smartphone.


The dilemma most people face is which sort of camera to buy for their first 'real' camera.


Let me help you here.


Don't buy your first real camera - borrow it instead.


Talk to your friends & family - or contact your local camera club.  There are thousands of much-loved but no longer used cameras in drawers & cupboards up and down the land.  And their enthusiastic owners will be only too glad to lend you one to help you get started.


I have found that photographers are generally a pretty friendly bunch of people and that is especially true of helping those new to their hobby.


But which sort of camera to borrow?


A simple 'point & shoot' / shirt pocket / cigarette box sized camera - small & light enough to easily carry?


A bridge camera - a sort of half way house between a 'point & shoot' and a more sophisticated Digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera?


A CSC (Compact System Camera) - smaller than a Digital SLR - but able to change lenses.


A Digital SLR - able to change lenses, sophisticated & able but larger, heavier then CSCs or Bridge Cameras.


OK - if you can, borrow a bridge camera.


If you find it too big & bulky that tells you you may wish to go down the smaller, more portable 'point & shoot' route.


If you like your borrowed Bridge Camera, I would suggest you stick with it and use it whilst you get to grips with some basic techniques and learn about shutter speed, aperture and sensor sensitivity.  Once you have cut your photographic teeth on the Bridge Camera you can then decide if you are happy to stay with Bridge Cameras - many of which are extremely sophisticated - or move to a Compact System Camera or a Digital SLR - both of which are able to change lenses.


Now, at this stage, if I were to ask you what is the most important aspect of a camera you might say image quality, or sharpness or ease of use.  All of which are important.  But actually the most important aspect is size & weight.


The larger & heavier it is, the less likely you are to want to carry it with you when on a day out / whatever.  You may not believe me now, but try lugging a top of the range Digital SLR plus a pro zoom lens around for a day and you'll agree.


So, the Bridge Camera is a good compromise between the small & light 'point & shoot' and the larger & heavier Digital SLRs.  And many Bridge Cameras weigh about the same as some Compact System Cameras.


So, get networking, ask around, contact a local camera club - in a drawer or cupboard somewhere nearby is a Bridge Camera waiting to be borrowed by you.


(Insight - So what do I use?  I always have my phone with me, so, that's one camera for starters.  In my rucksack - which is really my man-bag as it pretty much comes everywhere with me - I carry a fairly sophisticated 'point & shoot' - currently a Canon S120.  And if I am out walking the dog / out for the day I carry a full-frame Nikon Digital SLR with one lens - typically a 28 to 300 mm / f3.5 to 5.6 consumer zoom.  On an assignment I would take 2 Nikon Digital SLRs and a collection of lenses, depending on what I am going to shoot (landscape, nature, theatre, sports etc) and where (outdoors or indoors) and when (in daylight or at night).)


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