How to Buy the Best Camera for Your Needs

Quick question: what’s more complicated, buying a house or getting married? Solution: neither, it’s buying a camera! That’s right, and I had written this guide because if you do not go about it right, then one day you’ll realize you’ve produced a horrible mistake and you’ll give up photography. Okay, that may be an exaggeration. The truth is, buying a camera is quite easy once you know a few essential details.

Desk of Contents

What to Look for in a Digital camera

People say all cameras are good these days, and that’s definitely more true than it is ever been. Pretty much any digital camera made in the last few years will produce amazing pictures, and if you had to use a random digital camera, chances are you could make it function.

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Panasonic G9 + Laowa 2X Macro @ 50mm, ISO 640, 1/200, f/4. 5

Nonetheless, you may still find features that vary amongst models that can make your job as a photographer a lot easier. But what feature do you search for first? Although all contemporary image sensors produce great quality, there are six main points I like to think about when it comes to selecting a camera:

  1. Zoom lens Selectio in: Do you need specific lenses like supertelephoto primes or tilt-shift lenses? In this case, I’d stick with Canon, Sony, or Nikon. Sony also has amazing third-party lens support.
  2. Video Features : Do you really need 4K 60p, log/Raw video, zebras, vector scopes, limitless recording, or anamorphic support? Here Panasonic cameras are a strong contender.
  3. Autofocus Ability : Do you need to capture fast and erratic action such as wildlife or sports? The particular Canon R6, Canon R5, Nikon Z9, Sony a9/a9II, and Sony a1 are all excellent cameras, or you can get an older model DSLR like a Nikon D500 or a Nikon D5.
  4. Resolution/Megapixels : Will 20-25MP be enough or do you need the flexibility of 45MP or more? If you believe you might need a ton of resolution, you will want to get a high-resolution full-frame camera like the Canon R5 or Nikon Z7II.
  5. Sensor Size: Do you need a large camera sensor like full frame or medium format? Or could you prefer a smaller APS-C or Micro Four Thirds sensor? Smaller camera sensors have some disadvantages within image quality , but they’re less expensive and have a crop aspect that can be useful for sports, wildlife, and macro photography.
  6. Weight : do you want something lighter than a precious metal bar? In that case, smaller messfühler cameras from Fuji, OM System/Olympus, or Panasonic may not only be lighter yet less expensive also! Likewise, many mirrorless cameras are lighter in weight than a comparable DSLR.

It’s a smart idea to write your needs down and keep them in mind when looking at options.

If you’re ready to look at specific digital cameras, you can jump later in this article to the list of common and available digital cameras to get a better idea of the possibilities if you’re purchasing new. But if you’re not too familiar with brands, the following section will give you a better idea of what each company has to offer.

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Nikon Z6 + 500mm f/5. 6 PF @ 500mm, ISO 2200, 1/500, f/5. six

Brands at a Glance

If all camera brands used the same mount, then the next time when the uncle (who uses a Cannon R5) asks me, “can I use your Nikon 500mm PF? ” I could state yes! Although… who are I kidding? I’d still say no .

In reality, there are many different camera manufacturers, each of which offers some thrilling and unique features and which use their own mounts. This makes trying out different manufacturers a bit difficult, so it’s a good idea to choose one that satisfies your needs.

If you like wildlife, and you think there is certainly even a small chance you might want to get into the “big glass” like 500mm primes and above, stick with “big three”, or Canon, Nikon, or Sony. In fact , my common recommendation is to go with one of these three brands if you’re not sure where your photographic journey will take you. The other brands really are a bit more specialized and can be good if you know what you want .

Canon

Mounts: Canon RF (mirrorless full-frame), Canon EF-M (mirrorless APS-C) and Canon EF (DSLR)
Canon is one of the largest brands, and they already have an impressive mirrorless ecosystem.

  1. Canon has the R6 , which is the most affordable full-frame mirrorless digital camera I would recommend for action photography. Their own Canon 100-500 f/4. 5-7. 1 lens is also quite light for a long focus, so this lens with the R6 would make a very able and lightweight wildlife system, albeit with a slow optimum aperture of f/7. 1 .
  2. Canon has the unique 600mm and 800mm f/11 DO lenses, which is the most affordable way to experience a decent level of quality at these focal lengths.
  3. Canon has the only first-party macro lens that will go beyond 1: 1 magnification.
  4. Canon actually has two mirrorless systems that use different mounts: the RF mount (their main mount) along with a more niche system, the EF-M, which is an APS-C-only mount.
EOS R6
The Canon R6 is among the best relatively affordable full-frame cameras when it comes to AF performance

Fuji

Mounts: Fuji X (APS-C) plus Fuji G (Medium Format)
Most people who look at Fuji will look at their own X-mount APS-C system, even though the G mount is one of the most widely used ways to get into medium file format.

  1. Fuji has a large collection of APS-C lenses because of its APS-C-only X-mount
  2. Both systems are mirrorless only, and Fuji does not make any kind of DSLRs
  3. Many Fuji models like the Fuji X-T3 plus X-T4 use the unique 26. 1 MP X-Trans sensor
  4. Many Fuji cameras have a different approach to ergonomics, making use of more physical dials compared to most cameras. They also have the well-developed JPEG engine with film simulations
  5. The Fuji GFX 50S II is one of the more affordable ways to get into mirrorless medium format
Fuji X-T4
Fuji has a chic tactile aesthetic that puts a photographer in touch with actuality

Nikon

Mounts: Nikon Z (mirrorless) plus Nikon F (DSLR)

Nikon has been a little slower with their mirrorless system than other brands. Nevertheless , they have recently made an enormous splash with their relatively affordable Z9 flagship and exclusive 800mm f/6. 3 lens.

  1. Has access to pro-level phase-fresnel lenses in the 300mm, 500mm and 800mm focal lengths. These are lightweight animals lenses that do not can be found in any other brand (though Canon has a couple of “diffractive optic” or DO lens at other focal lengths). This makes Nikon a very strong wildlife system.
  2. Nikon also has some unique supertelephoto zooms like the Nikon 180-400 (F-mount) and the Nikon four hundred f/2. 8 Z (Z mount) with built-in teleconverters.
  3. It has the least expensive high-resolution action-oriented full-frame flagship, the Nikon Z9.
  4. Nikon has an outstanding selection of f/1. 8 primes.
  5. The Nikon Z system has the largest diameter plus slimmest flange distance associated with any full frame mirrorless system today, allowing more flexibility for Nikon’s zoom lens designers than any other brand name (and allowing almost any other company’s lens to be adapted to the Z system with an appropriate adapter).
  6. Some Nikon digital cameras have a base ISO of 64 rather than the usual a hundred, which gives them the best dynamic range on the full-frame marketplace, comparable to medium format.
Nikon Z9 Front View
The Nikon Z9 does not actually need its 120fps 11MP JPEG setting, since its heft frightens wildlife into standing nevertheless

Olympus/OM System

Mounts: Micro four thirds (mirrorless)

Olympus recently sold their camera division in order to JIP , who are today continuing the brand as “OM System”. The O-M1, the first camera from OM System, is an action-oriented giant.

Some fascinating features of this brand are:

  1. The OM-1 is the just smaller sensor (below full-frame) mirrorless camera that has a stacked sensor, and it has by far the most superior autofocus for a mirrorless digital camera with a smaller sensor
  2. Together with Panasonic, it uses the open micro four thirds mount
  3. Has almost 200 lenses available
  4. They have the unique Olympus 150-400mm f/4. 5 TC1. 25X lens for tiny four thirds
  5. Because of the smaller sensor and lenses, you are able to build a very capable system with a micro four thirds camera that is not very large
  6. Olympus has been focusing on unique features more than most brands, as covered in this article .
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OM Program OM-1 — the only piled sensor camera for micro four thirds

Panasonic

Mounts: Micro four thirds and Leica L (mirrorless)

Panasonic’s cameras are strongly video-oriented, but they also are fantastic photos cameras too. I personally use the Panasonic G9, which is one of my favorite cameras I’ve ever used, not just for its video features but for its intuitive and ergonomic interface.

  1. Panasonic’s GH series continues to be the top choice for many videographers, and the latest GH6 is usually packed with more video features than almost every other camera
  2. Panasonic makes cameras in 2 mounts: micro four thirds, and the full-frame L-mount. Both lines have very good video clip features
  3. Panasonic also makes many very good video-oriented lenses with minimal focus inhaling and exhaling and clickless apertures
  4. Like Olympus, Panasonic cameras provide a lot of power and newer features in a lighter bundle.
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Panasonic G9 + Laowa TWO TIMES Macro @ 50mm, ISO 800, 1/125, f/3. two

Pentax

Mounts: Pentax K (DSLR)

Pentax is currently the only company that is still showing commitment to the DSLR. Their own most recent model, the Pentax K3 III, has many exclusive features such as the largest viewfinder ever for an APS-C camera.

  1. The Pentax K3 III is the most recently launched DSLR
  2. Pentax has over 30 currently available APS-C particular lenses and over 100 lenses in total
  3. Pentax also offers the K1 Mark II, their most recently released full-frame model
  4. The Pentax Nited kingdom mount is compatible with a wide variety of autofocus and manual film-era lenses, many of which have auto-aperture control
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Pentax is still committed to the DSLR, and their E mount is compatible with contemporary as well as retro manual lens

Sony

Mounts: Sony E (mirrorless)

Sony burst in to the camera world and now has a strong selection of cameras and lenses. They have an open license model which makes it very easy pertaining to third parties to make lenses for their system. In fact , out of all the mirrorless systems, they have the most native lenses. What are a few of the unique features of the Sony system?

  1. The Sony a7R IVA is the highest resolution full-frame mirrorless digital camera, a title that is in fact shared with Sigma fp D
  2. Sony has implemented sensor-shift technology on some of its cameras, which (at the time of this article’s publication) is just not found on comparable Nikon or even Canon cameras. This technology shifts the camera sensor and takes multiple pictures, allowing you to quadruple an image’s resolution when photographing the nonmoving subject.
  3. Has well over 300 native lenses
  4. The only real brand with a 200-600 move, although Nikon is supposed to launch one eventually
  5. It has the highest-resolution flagship action digital camera, the Sony A1
Sony Alpha 1
The Sony a1 is a beast and something of the best cameras for animals

More About Lens Selection

If there are one area where cameras are not equal yet, it is lens selection:

Lens_Counts_Native_Mounts_Mostly_MIrrorless
Native lenses available for the most common current mounts from different systems

This just shows indigenous lenses, not adapted lenses. (For example, the Cannon RF and Nikon Z . cameras also have easy access in order to adapted lenses from their DSLR counterparts. ) However , there is absolutely no denying that Sony has the most native lenses by far, and that’s due to third-part lenses made via their open licensing model, and also their comparatively long time around the mirrorless market.

Not shown in the graph above are Nikon and Canon DSLR systems, each of which have a large number of native lens options, especially using third-party lenses into account.

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Taken with the 500mm f/5. 6PF — the lens unique to Nikon

Yet beyond pure numbers, there are some differences between the lens selection for each mount. Here are some examples:

  1. Canon RF has some special items like the 600mm plus 800mm f/11 DO lenses, which is the least expensive way to experience these focal lengths with respectable image quality. They also have access to a huge array of lens from their DSLR EF attach. Unlike Sony who has a 200-600 zoom and Nikon who is planning one, Cannon has a 100-500 which is also very good but much lighter.
  2. Nikon Z ‘s Z lenses as very high quality lenses like its f/1. 8 primes. Personally, I feel that while Nikon has less lenses than some other brand names, you don’t have to think very much because all of Nikon’s lenses are a perfect blend of optical quality plus affordability. Nikon not only has got the unique 800mm f/6. a few (a phase-fresnel lens) but it also has access to many distinctive lenses in F attach.
  3. Sony E has the largest third-party lens support and currently has the highest quality superzoom (the Sony 200-600) that can achieve 600mm. Because there are so many third-party lenses for Sony, it is easy to choose the right blend of cost, weight, and performance.
  4. Fuji has the largest selection of lenses specifically for APS-C. With Fuji, you get a very well-made camera with lenses that are generally lighter than their full-frame counterparts.
  5. Micro four thirds lenses are designed for a smaller messfühler, so they are some of the least heavy lenses available. Micro four thirds also has one of the largest lens selections, with many choice optimized for stills as well as for video.
  6. Pentax E contains a respected set of “limited lenses” as well as the mount supports many manual-focus only legacy lenses from your film era.
  7. Fuji G lens are in a class on their own. Chances are if you are seriously interested in this particular medium format category, you are already aware more than I do and possibly don’t need a guide.
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Panasonic G9 — micro four thirds cameras have over 200 lenses to select from, including the Venus 50mm 2X Macro

Canon plus Nikon are also the only brand names to offer first-party tilt-shift lenses in their DSLR mounts, which could easily be used on their mirrorless cameras. However , Venus Optical technologies does offer a variety of tilt-shift lenses native to Nikon F/Z, Canon EF/RF, Sony A/E, Pentax K, and Leica L.

The Options

There are so many cameras out there, and so it would be impractical and confusing to list them all. However , I put the most recent versions from the major brands in a table. You can visit the B& H page of each camera simply by clicking on the name of the camera.

For each brand, I have also highlighted a recommending starting point in green . This is typically the middle of the road model that will more than satisfy almost every professional photographer except the ones who shoot fast action or requirement a lot of resolution.

What about DSLRs?

With the exception of the Pentax K3 III, you will find very few DSLRs that can be bought new. Some of these are the Nikon D500, the Nikon D850, the particular Nikon D6, and the Cannon 1DX III.

Moreover, this stock is usually depleting rapidly. Based on this and the fact that stock plus support for DSLR lenses is diminishing, most people would be better off buying a mirrorless digital camera if they are buying new.

However , there are still good get a DSLR, one of them being price. If you are buying used, you can get a very capable digital camera for an excellent price. For instance , the only mirrorless cameras that may touch the Nikon D500 in terms of autofocus performance are thousands of dollars more expensive than this, and an used D500 is really a steal these days.

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Pentax K-50 + Sigma 10-20 f/4-5. 6 @ 18mm, ISO 100, 1/50, f/9. 0

Just keep in mind that using a DSLR, you will not be able to make use of any new mirrorless lenses. However , a DSLR could produce wonderful pictures for several years to come.

Best Places to Buy Your Camera

Right after intense deliberation and maybe a few crying, you’ve finally reached a decision on the best digital camera for you. But where in the event you buy it? It depends on whether you want to buy brand new or used. Simply put, buying used will save you money in the long run, but it will occasionally become a greater hassle if some thing goes wrong.

Buying New

You’ve most likely heard of B& H Photo , which is my first recommendation for any large retailer. Although they are usually based in New York, they ship all over the world and I have bought from them in both Canada and Sydney.

Adorama is another popular store. Some other nationwide options in the United States are Best Buy and Amazon . com .

So far as large retailers go, We definitely prefer the customer service of B& H and Adorama over Best Buy and Amazon, with Amazon getting the worst, but they invariably is an option sometimes for new plus in-demand items.

I strongly recommend trying out the local camera store and assisting them if they are decent. Not only will it help maintain the variety of stores, but a good camera store will also enable you to try a few models in-store to help make your decision. A local digital camera store can also help you get sizzling hot newly-released items much faster than a large retailer like B& H.

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This particular groundhog is overwhelmed and decided not to buy a camera

It is also easy to buy from B& H and Adorama in Canada . However , certain items such as new Nikon cameras cannot be bought from the usa due to restrictions, so it is good to look at the following Canadian retailers also.

  1. Henry’s
  2. Vistek
  3. The Camera Store
  4. London Drugs   (Yes, is partly a drugstore but hey, they carry cameras like the Z9, A1, and R5 so who was I to argue? )

Here are some suggested local Aussie stores:

  1. C. R. Kennedy
  2. Ted’s Digital camera
  3. Michael’s

If you live elsewhere in the world, I don’t have experience with the stores in your area, but suffice to say that there are camera stores in each and every country where you’re freely able to read our web site, except maybe the Vatican City: )

Buying Used

Buying used is a little different. However , it is definitely worth considering because you might get older but still very capable models. Personally, I purchase more than half of my gear used, and I’ve certainly not had any major issues.

For example , I recently saw a very lightly utilized Nikon Z7 on FredMiranda. com for just $1450, which is less than half the particular $3000 for any new Z7II, and the initial Z7 might be all you ever need.

To take another example, you could get a second user Sony a9 and an used Sony 200-600 together for approximately $4000. This is still $1500 cheaper than a new Z9, and the Sony combination would be more than enough for most wildlife!

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North American Beaver, photographed with an used camera — Nikon Z6

There are basically 2 different ways to buy used: through a huge retailer and through classified ads such as message boards, with all the latter being cheaper. Shops like B& H, Adorama, and most camera stores in fact do carry used equipment, but here are two additional well-known and reputable locations that specialize in used equipment:

  1. MBP
  2. KEH

For first-time used camera buyers, I would suggest a large retailer with a come back policy like B& L, Adorama, KEH, or MBP. I just checked KEH and there’s an excellent grade Sony A7III which is $1500… $1000 cheaper than a new A7IV! There are just so many great, lightly used cameras on the market that most people never really have to buy new.

The other option is the classified ads or forums. They are more risky since many of these are final sale, and you also never know what you might be obtaining. However , there are two areas I do recommend:

  1. FredMiranda
  2. Pentax Forums (for Pentax gear mostly)

Both of these forums have seller review systems, and I have used both of them. The Fred Miranda forum in particular has a very active buy and sell section, and you can just choose to buy gear from people who are active forum members and who have hundreds of positive reviews. The “customer service” in the highly rated members is very great and I would not hesitate to buy very expensive items from top sellers.

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Cover taken with a lens I purchased used — The Sigma 105mm f/2. 8 Macro

What about eBay, a. k. a. the “dark place”? Actually, I have also bought quite few items from eBay and I think as long as you stick to sellers with 100% feedback (or something very close to it), then it should not be a problem. However , I still prefer FredMiranda. com because you can actually buy from the same people with whom you argue about equivalence .

Nonetheless, be aware that there are some problems with buying used. There are frequently no warranties, although occasionally those are transferable. Used, the camera will probably have got several thousand shutter actuations. Mechanical shutters have a finite lifestyle, and highly used digital cameras won’t last as long as new ones.

Conclusion

We still remember buying my first camera. It was a harrowing and stressful experience of endless deliberation over features. However , I found the treatment to this dilemma: just maintain buying cameras. Trust me, it eventually gets very easy after the twentieth camera. But seriously, I (and probably many others) would be more than happy to vicariously spend your money for you personally, so leave any queries in the comments!

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