The camera industry is saturated with numerous options so it can be tricky to pick the right model, especially when you’re not sure where to start. Here, we give you the lowdown on how you should spend your hard-earned money.
What kind of shooter are you - photo, video, or hybrid?
Each camera has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, take Nikon cameras. They're known to be great for photography but not so great with video. However, that changed with the introduction of Nikon’s Z series cameras. Most Canon cameras are great at doing both but are still usually thought of for photography unless you have a Canon 80D, or better. Fujifilm cameras are considered great for photography. Yet, cameras such as the Fujifilm X-T3 are video powerhouses.
On the other hand, Panasonic cameras, specifically the brilliant GH5 and GH5s, are known for great video but mediocre photography performance. The Sony Alpha series cameras are known to be good options for hybrid shooters - hybrid shooters being people that like taking photos as well as recording videos.
Before deciding which camera you think you would prefer, think about if you’re going to be recording videos, taking photos, or both. Also, a quick note, mirrorless cameras rather than traditional DSLRs are better for recording videos due to the lack of a mirror getting in the way.
Why do you need a camera? Will you be selling your content or just posting it on your personal social media platforms? This factor can help narrow down your options. For example, if you plan on simply posting your images on Instagram, a large resolution shouldn’t matter. You won’t need a 64-megapixel camera such as the Sony a7R IV. A camera with a 20-megapixel sensor is more than enough. Luckily, 20-megapixel sensors are very common. If you plan on making large prints of your images, you should consider a device with a larger megapixel count.
If you’re shooting a video, there’s no need to fret. Most new cameras can record beautiful 4K footage. If colour grading does matter to you for video, check for log profiles and the bit depth of the recordings. Log profiles allow you to get the most dynamic range out of your camera. Bit depth determines how far you can take your colours. 10-bit is an ideal bit depth, yet 8-bit is more common. If you’re a professional, maybe make the jump to 6K with the Panasonic S1H or Black Magic Pocket Cinema camera 6K. Futureproofing should be considered since the camera industry is constantly changing.
If you’re a beginner and you’re just starting to learn how to use a camera, it might be better if you don’t pick an expensive, professional model. Sure, it may be tempting to buy the best on the market if you can afford it, but it’s not necessary. Most modern cameras can take great photos if you know how to use them. So, if you’re just getting started, pick up something budget-friendly and teach yourself.
Nikon sells a variety of cost-effective cameras to help you get started on your journey. Better yet, try the Moment Pro application on your mobile device. It costs Dhs14 and will offer you a slew of professional features. VSCO is another good option if you’d prefer something free. That’s a good place to start when learning how to interpret exposure. Whereas, if you’re experienced, think about what you need now. Maybe you need an incremental upgrade within the same camera ecosystem you’re used to.
This is where things get a little fuzzy. There are three main types of sensors in DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Those sensors being: Full Frame, APS-C, and Micro 4/3. Each sensor results in a different look, primarily when it comes to the blurriness of backgrounds (or bokeh). Micro 4/3 sensors are only found on mirrorless cameras and aren’t as common as APS-C sensors. APS-C sensors are far more common because they are more inexpensive in comparison to Full Frame. APS-C and Micro 4/3 sensors also carry a crop factor that will determine the actual focal length of your lenses. This crop factor means that your lenses are going to be more zoomed in than they’re supposed to be.
If you plan on shooting video, you should know that when in video mode, APS-C sensors crop in and end up using a sensor size similar to that of Super 35mm. Super 35mm sensors are the sensors used for cinema. Full Frame cameras are usually reserved for professionals. They carry more megapixels, perform better in low light situations, and generally give you cleaner images. But Full Frame cameras are far more expensive.
Maybe go analogue
If you’re feeling adventurous and gutsy, maybe go for an analogue film camera. They’re cheap, fun to use, and really force you to learn about photography. Needless to say, shooting on film is a bit more difficult than shooting on something digital. But, take our word for it, it’s more rewarding because of the process that’ll eventually lead to your photos. Each photograph feels like an accomplishment and makes you think before you press that shutter button. Because at the end of a roll of film, each picture carries value. But this would only really be an option for someone that doesn’t need to record videos.
Professionals might want to opt for the newest and best cameras on the market. Beginners should stick to their budget and find a good starting point. All-in-all, using a camera is about experimentation and having fun. You could use a mediocre camera and still manage to make something stunning. Aesthetics and the messages behind your work are key.