What Camera And Lens Should I Buy?

What Camera or lens should I buy?

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This is a question that I get all the time and it is one that is not totally easy to answer.

Before I attempt to give some guidance to this question, what I have observed is that well-meaning professional teachers in photography and sales people behind the counter often give the wrong advice to people. They assume that everyone wants the biggest best quality lens and camera and before you know it you walk out of the shop with gear that is not suited to their needs and weighs a ton.

When someone asks me, “ what lens should I buy.” I ask them questions to assess where they are at in their photography, the level of expertise, where they hope to go with their photography and what are goals in photography and do they have any aliments and health issues. Once they have answered that, then I’m in a better position to answer their question as I have a better understanding of their needs.

Needs and health and age are the three key factors in answering a question that can be so diverse.

In a perfect world, ABC would-be awesome but we don’t live in that world and we need to try and cater for our real needs and not for what we would like in the perfect world.

Photography I strongly believe is about compromise and if we can understand that which reflects where we are at, our choices become much clearer.

Often one person will say that Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax are better than each other and so on because of abc but at the bottom line is, that all the major brands are not going to make a cameras or lenses that takes crap pictures. I think we tend to forget that.

What brand should I pick? Well for me, I made my choice in reference the number of lenses that the manufacture makes and how easily you can access their material from around the world. You might be on a holiday and you drop your favourite lens and if it is a Canon or Nikon, chances are you will be able to find a replacement as both of their manufactures have a large piece of the market place and are found everywhere in the world.

I own a Toyota 4WD, why is that? Simply because I travel extensively in the heart of the Australian outback, I go to remote places and if something should happen to my car, there is no issue in getting parts as most 95% of Stations in the Outback run with Toyotas some are Toyota workshops in themselves. There was a time that I had to go to an Outback Station to see if they had a certain part that I needed as I was having an issue with the car. They did and I was on my way. I’ve been and seen others who have non-Toyota and parts have taken weeks, as they are not well in remote places.

Availability is a key factor and there is no question that Canon and Nikon have a massive part of the market. The other brands are also spread out across the globe but Canon and Nikon have more of the market place.

Once you have decided what camera manufacturer that you are going to run with and don’t forget, basically once you decide who you are going to be with you are locked into it for a very long time. It can be too expensive to keep swapping from one to the other. You need to be happy with your choice and stick with it.

When you go to buy DVD players or Top boxes etc, people usually buy the one that has all the bells and whistles but in reality, do you use all the bells and whistles? No you don’t so you are paying for things that you will never use.

Why buy a camera that has so many bells and whistles if you are rarely going to use them. Be wise and ask yourself would I use all of these things and if the answer is no, then why pay for things that you are never or rarely going to use.

Once you have worked out which camera, now comes the hard part, what lens as the major players in this game have two sets of lenses and a big variety that from both sections.

Both Nikon and Canon have two sets of lenses, they have a professional range and non-professional range of lens so what is the different between the two. Price for one thing, usually the price difference is either doubled of three times the price. That’s because the expensive lenses are made from really high quality glass and the non-pro lens are either poorer glass or they are a highly rated plastic lenses.

Good glass will always win hands down in the quality stakes but you will always pay a price to have that glass.

In the non-pro lens, you will still get lovely pictures but it depends on how big you want to blow your pictures up. If you were someone who rarely does massive enlargements, then why pay big bucks for the lens that you will never get the full potentials from.

On the other hand, if you are a person who often does large enlargements then to get the best quality a good glass lens will come into its own.

Remember it is important to note that it is the lens and not the camera body that gives you your image quality.

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Many people make the mistake where they buy a good body and yet they buy a cheap lens and sadly their pictures will suffer for it. A cheaper camera body with good lenses is always the way to go if you are able to.

Only you can answer many of these questions

A lot of photographers have the 5dmark3 and some speak of it, as it is the wholly grail of canon cameras, and although it is a stunning camera nothing could be further from the truth. Some would never consider a lesser option as it is a status symbol for some. (Not for all however)

If you go to   http://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/6d/vs-5d-mark-iii.htm

You’ll see Rockwell compares all sorts of cameras and lenses and trying to offer some advice as to how and why etc.

He does a very good compassion of the 5Dmark3 and the 6D.

The 5dark mark 3 is roughly double the price of the 6d and these cameras are almost identical under the bonnet. The two major differences are the frame rate on the 6d, which is slower than that on the 6D, and the number focusing dots on screen. 5D mark3 has more.

I was asked how many focusing dots does the 6d have in comparison to the 5Dmark2.

I then remarked when I was growing up with photography we had no such luxuries and yet we still took amazing pictures.

We tend to forget that before the digital world burst onto the scene, we still took outstanding pictures. We tend to lose sight of this and today, the big mistake that people do is pay for stuff that they don’t need.

Now if you were a person who was into action photography and you didn’t need a fast frame rate, taking many pictures per second that you wouldn’t consider the 6D and then again, if you were really into action and sports photography then you will be better of with the 7d amrk2 at 10 frames per second or the 1Dx at 14frames per second.

If you were just taking landscapes and were never interested into sports photography then there is no logical reason why you wouldn’t have the 6d and not the 5D mark 3.

Once again it will always come down to your needs and where you want to go with your photography.

Lenses are the same. We can get caught up with the whole 2.8 thing!!!!! Many people will go on about that you have to have the 2.8f stop lens in its category and in a perfect world that may be true but once again, you need to know what your needs are.

In today’s digital world we can compensate for not having that 2.8 lens. These lenses are regarded as fast lenses. The down side on these lenses, they are nearly always doubled the price and they weigh a ton.

Example- I received a phone call from a person who had just bought a 70-200 2.8 lens and it was too heavy for this person. This person had sore wrist for a lot of her life. Now in theory I know why this lens was suggested to her but in reality it was the WRONG lens for her. She would have been much better with the f4 version as it is usually half the cost and half the weight. Remember what I said, photography is about compromise!!!

Is this person going to get just as outstanding pictures with the 70-200 f4 lens compared to the 2.8 version, off course she is.

I have Canons 70-200f4 and it is as sharp as the 2.8 cousins. There is no question about that and I’m happy to debate that until the cows come home.

Why did I choose this one rather than the 2.8 versions? Simple- Weight!!!!! I’m getting older and I want to minimize the weight that I’m carrying and the bonus it is less than half the cost.

Photography is a very personal thing and in order to best guide a person to what they should buy one needs to ask several questions in relation to their needs, interests and so on.

A few years ago I ran my 12 Apostles and Beyond tour and I had a lovely lady on that trip who was 74 and she had just bought the Canon 5D mark 3. She was 74 and the salesman sells her that? It was way to heavy for her, she had arthritis’s in her fingers and he sells her that and a lens that was way to heavy and I bet you anything he didn’t care about her needs but rather was interested in the commission that he got from the sale. I was so angry with that guy for taking advantage of her.

Most of us take pictures because we enjoy it, it gives us pleasure and we can use the pictures to bring please to others. If you want to keep enjoying your photography then don’t get sucked in to have the biggest and best, as you don’t need to in order to take great pictures.

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Is there one camera and lens that will service your entire needs- short answer NO!! So you just work out what your interest are and work with that. Do you intend to be a professional photographer? If the answer is no, then you don’t need the 400mm 2.8 lens which is big bucks and you need a truck to carry it around, a compromise would be the 100mm-400mm Canon lens if you are with Canon as this is so much cheaper, gives awesome results and so light in comparison.

I feel for people who are looking to buy a camera and a series of lens, as it can be a mind field out there when looking.

Know your needs, know your interests, know your budget and be aware of your health and stick to your guns.

If you are getting older you don’t need heavy gear, you can explore the world of mirco 4 thirds. That’s another story and they are light and they give outstanding quality for what you pay. Will they give you the same quality as the top of the range Nikon and Canon gear and lenses, short answer is No, but you are not paying big bucks and you don’t need to carry your truck behind you to carry your gear. Will they still give you awesome and high quality pictures, short answer is yes.

You can’t compare a Mini Minor to a Rolls Royce etc.

So what should you have in your bag of lenses? Once again it depends on your needs and interests. If you like sports photography and wildlife; to need to be able to get close enough to your subject, then the min distance lens that you need would be 300mm as your starting point. If you can’t afford what Canon and Nikon have on offer, the other three top brands are Tokina, Sigma and Tamron. All offer awesome alternatives within a budget. Do they still take awesome pics, yes they do, will they match the glass of a 400mm 2.8 lens, No but they are more than acceptable and will deliver you wonderful results.

An if you are really into wildlife, I would suggest you buy a good half frame camera and not a full frame and the advantage of that if that when you put your zoom or telephoto lens on the camera it is almost doubled in its focal length. So a 100mm-400mm can become up to 750mm That’s why I have a 7d mark2 which is not a full frame camera and due to the crop factor, you are getting so much more out of your telephoto lens. I’m more than happy with the results of this camera and I love the 10 frames a second and it is a good comprise.

This camera is around $2000 although I was told the other day it was going on some places at $1400. Canons 1DX is 14 frames a second, it is a full frame camera so I don’t get the advantage of the crop factor so when I put a 100mm-400 mm lens on that camera, that is what I get-100mm-400mm where as with a half frame camera you get the advantage of the crop factor and the 1Dx is close to $6000 as compared to $2000. Once again in a perfect world the 1dx would be an awesome camera to have but it is a heavy cameras well and is costly.

What I trying to say and I may not be clear in what I’m trying to communicate but there are many different alternatives and you don’t have to spend more than you are prepared to, to have a good set up with your photography.

When looking at lenses, the best thing is to go into the shop, take your camera body and ask to put the lens on the camera to make sure you are happy with the feel, happy with the weight and ask if you can fire a few shots of outside the shop.

I strongly recommend you to do this and take your card home, look at it on the computer to see how sharp it is. By the way, do this on a tripod and use your self timer on the camera so you are not pressing down on the camera and that is the best way to determine how good the lens is and if you all works out for you, go back to the shop and buy it.

If you have a son or daughter who is between 14-18 and they have expressed an interest in photography, but you are not sure how far they will go or if the interest will last, the best thing to do is not buy the expensive cameras. Both Nikon and Canon (I keep referring to these two brands as I know them better than the others and I know what they have on offer) have entry level digital SLRs with a twin lens kit. This is a good way to work out how serious they are. Use this standard of camera to see where it takes them. The set up will cost you between $750 – $1200 depending what combination that you go with. For digital SLRs you wont get much cheaper than that. If this fuels the passion then down the track they can slowly advance to the next level.

There is more that I could say on this subject but then you would be reading a book. I hope what has been said at this stage, has been helpful.

I can’t say that you should buy this camera and that lens, as everyone’s needs are different. What I have attempted to do is to make you aware of the questions that to know your own limitations and to work with that but from a health point of view and budget wise.

Pete 🙂

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