One of the most frequent questions I often get asked is “what type of camera should I buy”? Unfortunately that’s a little like asking what kind of car should I buy? In short, it depends on how you plan to use it.
If you are happy to simply “snap” pictures of those magic moments when they come along then you are probably best buying a compact “point and shoot” digital camera. If on the other hand you want to take your photography to the next level, then you need to be looking at something which is going to give you a lot more control. In this case you should consider investing in a DSLR.
In recent years DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras have dropped in price, while the quality of the images they produce have risen to the point they rival (some would say surpass) their 35mm cousins.
When it comes to professional photography, Canon and Nikon dominate the DSLR marketplace with both manufacturers offering excellent cameras and optics. As for which manufacturer is best? Well that is a mater of personal preference. At Steve Kelly Photography we use both Nikon and Canon and I have to say that both do the job adequately, although when it comes to shooting on film I prefer Nikon. On the other hand, look at any press scrum and you will find it is largely dominated by photographers shooting on Canon.
At the end of the day providing you have a decent pro/semi-pro camera body I would say the most important thing you should purchase is the best quality lens you can afford. All to often I see people shooting with cheep budget lens attached to a top of the line camera body and asking why they can’t get the same quality results as the pros. The answer is simple, it doesn’t matter how good the camera is if you put a poor quality lens on it you’re going to get poor quality photographs.
Finally don’t forget that a camera is only a tool. What makes a good photograph is often down to the photographer not the camera. Recently I was commissioned by a legal firm to shoot a series of photographs showing “cooked and processed meat displays” in Calgary stores. Since I couldn’t obtain permission to take such pictures legitimately I had a problem. To solve this I purchased a small 10 mega pixel compact camera from Costo, then simply visited each store in question and collected the images I needed. Nobody questioned what I was doing and the results were excellent even when enlarged to 20 x 16. Had I tried to walk in to the store with my Canon 5D and start taking pictures I would have been asked to leave pretty dam quick!
Steve Kelly is a photojournalist and commercial photographer in Calgary, Alberta