What Camera to Buy?

I love photography but I’m not a gear head.  I feel like guys are usually more into the technical jargon.  Me?  As long as the thing does what I want it to do, we are good to go!

Digital cameras are so advanced and affordable now that many people are ready to upgrade to SLR.   One of the questions I get asked most is which SLR to buy.

Canon 5D
Canon 5D

I shoot with a Canon 5D and I love it.  No it’s not the Mark II.  Video is fun but I’m solely interested in stills so haven’t felt the need to upgrade.  It would be the equivalent of buying a Ferrari and not going over 80mph.  Pointless.

I love the ‘regular’ 5D.   It’s phenomenal.   Buttons are easily accessible and photo quality fantastic.   It’s what most wedding photographers use who shoot with Canon (though most have the Mark II).  It’s in the higher price range but if you are serious about photography I would make the investment.

Now if you only want an SLR for a casual hobby (“better travel photos” is what I hear most often), I would recommend the Canon Rebel.  This is me at the Grand Canyon years ago when I first got my Rebel (notice I chose a photo where you can’t see my face).  We slept in the car the night before and I looked tore up!

Canon EOS Rebel
Canon EOS Rebel

The Rebel served me well for years.   I still have that thing and I love it!  Here’s a tip though – the lens that comes with an SLR camera (if it does come with one) usually sucks big time.   As a first lens I would suggest the 50mm f/1.8.  It’s only around $100 and a great lens for the price.  It’s prime which means there is no zoom, but it really teaches you how to shoot.  Change up your shot, stand on top of things, GET IN THERE!  Lots of fun. :)

Canon EF 50mm f1.8

In general, besides the camera, the lenses are very important.  The pic above is Carla at a recent trade show, btw.

Whatever lens you do get, I highly recommend f/2.8 or less.  My favorite lenses are the 50mm f/1.2 (if I could shoot with one lens it would be this one), and the 70-200mm f/2.8L.   I keep those on my 2 camera bodies during weddings 95% of the time. Occasionally I will switch one of them up with a wide angle 16-35mm f/2.8.

You really don’t need a lot of different lenses and accessories. People are always talking about the new “it” camera, this attachment, that flash, etc..  Honestly, you don’t need a bunch of fancy schmancy stuff to take good pictures.  Most of the point-and-shoot cameras now take amazing photos.   I take wedding ring shots and any macro detail shots at weddings with a point and shoot (the Lumix LX-3).  It’s great.  I have friends who shoot street photography with old 35mm cameras (you know the kind your parents gave you when you went on field trips) and their photos are AMAZING.   It’s not so much the camera but what you can do with it!

Oh and sometimes I get asked about Nikon.   To be honest, I don’t have any experience shooting with Nikon but I hear they are excellent.  Canon and Nikon both specialize in cameras so anything they make is going to be pretty solid.  As for specifics regarding Nikon, sorry I can’t help out more!  If you have questions about Nikon you can ask my good friend Margot.  She can help ya out. :)

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