With the holidays coming up, I’m getting asked whats best to buy – brand A vs. brand B… etc. I’m also seeing the question popping up regularly in my photography forums I surf.
So I thought I’d post my thoughts on the topic. I own Nikon equipment. That doesn’t mean I am Nikon biased. I originally considered Canon, but decided to base my final opinion on what felt best to me.
I have seen magnificent photos from many brands of cameras. There is no one I’ve met to this date that has been able to identity what brand camera took any particular photo without being told or seeing exif information. With that said – I think that illustrates the point that it is not the camera that takes great photos, it is the photographer.
My personal experience started with wanting to take better photos of my husband at the track. Getting a photo of speeding motorcycles blazing by with a disposable camera is a joke. I was also interested in wide angle shots and night photography. So I decided to investigate what was available.
After I researched what cameras were capable of what I wanted to do my next step was a field trip to the store. I went to the store and held both cameras that I contemplated buying. In my opinion, the Nikon was more rugged and solid than the Canon. The Nikon just felt better in my hands, which is why I decided to go that route.
There’s more than ergonomics that would base your final opinion, but if you’re an avid photographer – how the camera feels in your hands is mighty important.
I liked how certain features of the camera were within easy reach. I liked where buttons were, I liked the menu options… basically I had a preference for the layout and design of the Nikon. I also liked the build quality of the Nikon lenses.
Other factors to base your final decision would be what you plan on photographing. Are you just wanting to take some quick photos of the kids and family? General snapshots on vacation? My suggestion would be to get a nice point and shoot camera. Something that’s small, quick and convenient. No bags or lenses, no fidgeting with alot of settings – P&S’s are great for being on the go.
However if you want something that gives you a little more control, an SLR maybe the way to go. If you want to do something with longer exposures or control the depth of field or shutter speed, an SLR will give you that option.
SLR’s can be a benefit when it comes to low lighting situations or high speed action shots. Of course to obtain those sort of shots you do have to invest in faster lenses. If you go this route, be aware that it can be a hefty investment. Lenses and filters add up quick.
You have to learn the basics of photography to maximize the full potential of an SLR. Too many times I’ve seen someone purchase an SLR and criticize it for not performing as well or easily as a point and shoot camera. Sure, almost all SLR’s have an ‘Auto’ mode – but to get those great photos you typically see, you have to venture out to the MSAP modes.
Most of the time I also learn that the very same people complaining have done almost no research on basic photography and almost never read the camera manual. If you think an SLR is the way you want to go, just devote a little time to learn the basics. Read the manual – most questions you end up having are usually answered there.
After you determine what you’re typically photographing, research reviews and specs, get a chance to test out the ergonomics of what feels good to you – then consider making your purchase. No matter what you end up buying, be sure to remember it’s not the camera that takes great photos, it’s the photographer.