Google search “Camera for beginners” and you are entering an earth-shattering, hair pulling, tech comparison dilemma.
Photography School Tips: How to choose a camera for beginners
All those hidden fears come alive! Isn’t this supposed to be a fun process? Yet with so much choice, with so many different brands, you are left feeling more confused than ever.
Well at the London Institute of Photography we frequently get asked what the best camera for a beginner, but our feeling is that engagement with the art form should come before obsession with the toys – don’t run before you can walk.
Equally, it is also very important to understand that different cameras are suited to different purposes. If you are thinking of becoming a street photographer or if you want to go unnoticed, a huge 3KG DSLR will not work as you’ll find it ultra-obtrusive and, guess what, people will either shy away or demand to know why are you are taking their photograph. For this type of photography, a small point and shoot like a Ricoh GRII will do the job nicely. However, if you arrive on an advertising shoot with a little Ricoh (I dare you), you will probably find that it ain’t going to cut the mustard. A DSLR with more megapixels or even a medium-format camera would be much better for this type of job.
But that said, here at LIoP, we would generally recommend Nikon and Canon, or Canon and Nikon. And, before you go down that age-old argument of which is best, they both produce outstanding images. But if you’re looking for another really useful tip on this matter, here’s a great one: see what your friends have so that you can swap lenses.
Why don’t you try popping into a shop and getting your hands on a camera before you make any purchase, and maybe even rent a couple of options over a weekend? This will give you the opportunity to really play around with it, perhaps try out a few of your friends’ lenses, see how the camera feels in your hands, and check out the results.
Of course, pay what you can afford, but a good starting point is around £500-£600 for a DSLR camera with a standard zoom lens, ie 18-55mm f3.5-5.6. OK, it is true that there is always something new coming out that in some way exceeds its predecessors, but every modern DSLR has enough resolution to shoot for the size of a billboard….. did anyone notice those iPhone billboard-sized images posted around London last year?
A good site to get an overview is www.dxomark.com. They seem to have a preference for Nikon, but from our experience Canon and Nikon are neck and neck.
But irrespective of that, the most important thing to remember is that whatever equipment you have available, it’s not Nikon or Canon but you the artist that will determine the success of your results.