How To Buy Your First Camera On A Budget

Buying the right first camera is something all photographers have to go through. It’s almost always a question of money. How much should I spend vs how much I can spend. In this post I will share with you my process of buying a new affordable camera.

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Whether you are a beginner or an professional photographer you’ll always be faced with the challenge of adding something new to your inventory. This advice is for purchases where it’s not easy to make a quick decision. For someone looking for that perfect camera with the best price, megapixels, aperture, ISO sensitivity and the best frame rate (fps) for high speed shooting.

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My first camera

 

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When I got my first camera in 2005, it was a Canon 350D with a 18-55mm kit lens. This was definitely the first true entry-level DSLR. I didn’t want it with the 18-55mm kit lens though, I really wanted something more professional like the Canon 70-200mm f4.

Looking back today, that lens would have been too difficult for me to learn basic photography skills, plus the price alone was equivalent to 3 x Canon 350D bodies & 3 x 18-55mm kit lenses.

“No Ways!”… Months after buying my 350D, I realised something really important.

Moving from a mobile/smartphone camera isn’t just about getting more megapixels. It’s all about control. Any camera that can give you plenty of control to change your aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance with interchangeable lenses is a great option for a beginner.

Kit lens

A lens is one of the most important pieces of camera equipment for a photographer. A good lens, well kept, should last you many years, in most cases longer than any camera body would. That’s why the professionals spend thousands on “glass”, and why there is so much talk about which lens (or lenses) are the best for you.

Most kit lenses are affordable simply because the manufacturers are in competition with each other to have the most reasonably priced camera kits, to do this they create inexpensive kit lenses. A kit lens is great to start with, and you can always buy other, better quality lenses once you’ve outgrown it.

“Guess What!”…If you have a kit lens USE IT AS A KIT LENS! The 18-55mm is a moderate wide-angle lens that is great for landscapes, architecture and environmental portraiture. The 55mm end on this short telephoto lens is great for zooming in on detail.

Your kit lens is probably a much better lens than you give it credit for, but as with every lens it has shortcomings. At some point you will bump into these limitations. However this is not a bad thing, it simply means that you’re at the stage where you are ready to take the training wheels off and you want to take better photos.

Here are my steps to buying a new affordable camera.

 

Step 1: What is the pain you need solve?

 

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This is the first step if you already have made a camera purchase, but you are now speculating if you would have better results with a new one.

The tools we use should help to solve the pain we have. There are times I bought new camera equipment thinking ill get better results with it.”BUT…”

This wasn’t the right strategy. What you need to know is, what the limitations of your current gear? If you don’t know them, you may have not reached them, maybe you don’t need a new camera just yet.

 

Step 2: Do your research

 

When doing your research on what camera to get, you first need to ask yourself the following question.

What field of photography interests me?

Here’s a great infographic courtesy of photographyconcentrate.com to help you see the different fields within photography.

 

infographic-31-ways-to-make-money-as-a-photographer

 

Picking your field of interest early on will help you to identify what type of camera equipment you should invest in.

For me my interest lies in Travel Photography.

I then do a quick Google search for any names that come up first under the term “The Best Travel Photographer.” The first name Google pops up is “Colby Brown.” Great photographer by the way “check out his website” I then procceed to Colby Brown’s website and start “snooping” around.

 

What do the professionals in my field use? What do they say I should use?

On the website I found Colby Brown’s blog, A blog is a good way to find out what equipment the professionals in your chosen field are using. After scrolling through a few articles I find exactly what I’m looking for. A post on “25 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Sony a6300.” I then read this interesting article and did some more digging. The Sony a6300 is Colby Brown’s camera of preference at the moment.

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“In the last few years, no company has continued to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible as Sony has with their full frame mirrorless & APS-C cameras. Because of this, many photographers are flocking to Sony and finding themselves not only trying to learn a new camera but a menu system as well.” – Colby Brown

After reading this article I decided that I want the Sony a6300, so I went onto Amazon to find out the price.

“WHAT! Over $1000, NVM…” which then brings me to my next question.

 

What is the entry level version of what the professionals are using?

 

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I then headed back to Google “what is the best entry level Sony Alpha” I asked. On the first page I found an interesting “Sony Alpha a58 Review.”

“Sony is a newcomer to the entry-level DSLR scene, but since its market entry in 2005, it has managed to produce some of the best ones available. Sony’s latest offering, the Alpha a58, has excellent image quality, a robust feature set and an attractive price point for budding photographers.” – toptenreviews.com

After reading this informative review I then head back to Amazon to check the price of the Sony a58.

The Sony a58 with an 18-55mm kit lens will cost you under $450 on Amazon and it “offers the basic features you’d expect from an entry-level DSLR and a couple of extras that beginners can appreciate.There are nine scene modes to choose from that help to optimize image composition for a variety of circumstances like portraits, landscapes, nights or sunsets. Learning to shoot manually grants you access to the camera’s full potential, but these settings are helpful for getting the best results in auto-shooting modes”. – toptenreviews.com

 

Step 3: Get what you can afford

 

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My advice is that, you only buy what you can afford without breaking the bank. Buy quality products from quality brands. It is much better to get an older version of a good camera, than a brand new cheap – waste of time and money camera.

Note, though there are always products more expensive and that can do a better job. You need not lead the pack. You just need the best product for the job. Do not be tricked by those extras that more expensive camera have. Do your research! Get a camera with features that you’ll use on a daily basis.

What other suggestions would you have for someone who is looking to buy an affordable camera?

Please like & share if this article has been useful to you, help me help others like yourself! – Photo Keith.

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