Friday, 8 February 2013

How To Chose A Camera

It is difficult to talk about photography without eventually talking about cameras.  The choice of cameras available today is staggering as is the volume of reviews and opinions.  How can we make sense of all this confusion?

There is no universal right answer when it comes to choosing a camera, it depends on many variables.  I would like to suggest that deciding on what subject you will actually shoot is the first thing to be done; not what you might shoot or could shoot but what realistically is achievable.

To illustrate how this decision process could go I will talk about how I should have made my choices with the benefit of hindsight.  From the pictures I have posted here you can see that my subjects are usually in good light, seldom move very quickly and that I enjoy most things to be in focus in the frame.  Most of my pictures are viewed on a computer or an A4 print. Almost any camera will meet my requirements so an endless list of performance features is not required.

Reviews seem to stress features such as high ISO performance, focus speed, resolution and frame rate to arrive at the "best camera".  However for my needs none of these things are important so those features can be removed from the decision making process.  It turns out that a top end compact does a very good job for me and my recent pictures have been taken with an Olympus XZ-1.

Now I have to confess that my first choice of camera was a DSLR, an Olympus E-3 with some nice lenses.  Then I wanted something a bit smaller so I bought a mirrorless camera, an Olympus E-PL1 with a few odd lenses.  My last choice was the XZ-1.  So how do I chose which camera to take?  It depends on the job in hand but most of the time the XZ-1 wins if I am going to walk a lot, the E-PL1 wins if I need a bit more image quality and the E-3 wins if I need a weatherproof responsive camera.

My conclusion would be that the lightest camera that will do the job wins and if I was left with just the XZ-1 I could complete the majority of my photography.  You don't have to spend a fortune or become a pack horse to enjoy photography.  Each individual will have a specific set of camera performance needs and it is worth sorting those out before buying.

Having said that, if we want a camera that we don't need then that is fine also as long as it gives us pleasure. 

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