Pro Photography Tips | buying the right camera

Photo answers- which camera should I buy?

Nikon cameras are my preferred choice for my pro photography business.
Nikon cameras are my preferred choice for my pro photography business. | Source

How to choose a camera

Several years ago - long before I decided to pursue pro photography - the only cameras I had experience with were Brownies, Polaroids (anyone remember these?), and a variety of disposable cameras that offered different film speeds.

That was then - this is now. Today I work full time as a writer and photographer and I'm a Nikon DSLR junkie.

Why did I choose Nikon? Because I was once told by a successful pro photographer to choose either Nikon or Cannon. I looked at both and liked some of the reviews from Nikon over Cannon.

Which brand to buy should be your first decision. Choosing a camera, especially one that has interchangeable lenses, will be one of the most important choices you make.


Because the camera body is the least of your investment. The lenses will be where you spend the bulk of your camera budget once you get beyond inexpensive compacts.

Which camera should I buy?

OK, let's talk about why you want to buy a camera.

If you want a camera that will take nice pictures of your family and you never plan on making a living as a photographer, there are a lot of great choices available to you.

If this describes you, the driving force behind your decision will probably be your budget. You can get a lot of great point-and-shoot type cameras for under $300.

At the lower end of the budget, you will find that cameras won't last very long. They often have cheap plastic parts that wear out quickly (gears, shutter, buttons). At the upper end, you can get decent cameras that could last for years.

The next step up from a compact point-and-shoot are more serious gear that allow photographers to get artsy with their work.

One of these cameras that I like is Nikon's D3100 for around $500. The nice things about this camera are the great photos you get by using the automatic settings for different scenarios and the high resolution that allows for great wall art.

Close up? Action shots? Night time? All the settings are there. I would recommend this camera to anyone who wants to practice composition and playing with light without having to know about f-stops and what-not. This is also a nice camera to help you learn some pro photography skills (if that is the direction you are heading).

Personally, if all I wanted were nice photos of the family, most smart phones will do. Skip dual hardware and just use your smart phone. Just make sure to dump the photos often. Pictures take up a lot of your storage space.

Recap- Which camera should I buy?

If you want a nice compact camera for your family photos, anything over $150 will be good for you. Or you can use your smart phone.

If you want more capabilities and are thinking about going pro, the Nikon 3100 (or other similar brand offering) will be good. Some of the lenses you collect now can carry on with you when you go pro.

Warning: When you buy a lens make sure it is compatible with your camera. For the Nikon D3100 here is the compatibility chart.

Pro Photographer gig

Clients include boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, and inns
Clients include boutique hotels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, and inns | Source

What's your photography question?

When I started out as a pro photographer, I had a bazillion questions. I didn't go to school. I didn't earn a degree in photography least not from a traditional photography school. I learned by reading EVERYTHING I could. I watched videos. I asked questions in forums. I practiced and made lots of mistakes. One of these times I will tell you about my very first fashion shoot in San Francisco.

So what's your photography question? If I can help you, I will. Just ask.

Until next post...happy shooting!

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Comments 14 comments profile image 4 years ago

Hello again BAGT - this is just what I need - voted up and useful! I've thought about pro photography for a long time as I build websites and constantly think when I do what pics should be included as part of the design. My (naive?) question - what does SLR mean? profile image 4 years ago

2nd question: how much zoom do you need with a lens?

bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 4 years ago from Bay Area California Author

Hey P-Dog- Good to hear from you. I do a lot of website content in my business. Are you thinking of taking pix of actual client stuff or just stock pix for filler and background?

DSLR is Digital Single Lens Reflex :)

bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 4 years ago from Bay Area California Author

Zoom- that depends on where you stand and where your subject is. If you are into nature (animals) or sports photography, it is really good to have at least 200mm. 500 would be best. Zoom lenses get pricey for really good ones. In my business I use the Nikon 70mm-200mm. It seems to serve just about any situation (i'm not a sports photographer and nature is basically landscape). I recently shot a concert and wished I had brought my 300 though. I couldn't get as close as I was told when I booked the gig...ah well, live and learn :) profile image 4 years ago

thanks BAGT - great tips. The websites I've been building have been brochureware and include client stuff - not stock. The question that is always on my mind with photography is what makes a good pic - I've got it down to Balance or Flow - as I read this researching logos. Features inside a picture assume certain weight and I find balancing features makes a pic better - flow is about...well flow - things moving rather than balancing - would love to know what you are thinking of when you take your pics?

bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 4 years ago from Bay Area California Author

When I take pics, I look at how light and shadow enhance the scene (or subject). I also look at form and space and how the subject fits into the space. Balance is tricky. There are hard fast rules in art that say something is "balanced." But think about Radio Shacks logo- it is not really balanced in a traditional sense. Sometimes things off balance create tension that make people take notice. That can be good for creating advertising that makes people take notice.

Everything I shoot demands certain emotions too. For instance, I just did a shoot at a concert on Friday. Those kind of shots require a different feel than a product shot for instance.

What kind of clients do you typically work with? profile image 4 years ago

Websites I do are for trades mostly (as that is what I also do) so nothing has to be too pretty just to the point really - though taking a good shot of a house not as easy as you think. I'm not a fashion photographer! Also, I've been building/toying with a shopping cart in php (programming language) so I suppose at some point I'm going to have to advice a client how to take shots of products or do it for them - who knows - after a shot is taken you have to then also think about how to display it on a webpage. Great to exchange experiences with you, I must say.

daisydayz profile image

daisydayz 4 years ago from Cardiff

Great hub, very helpful. My hubby is a semi-pro photographer and has a Nikon D7000 and a vintage Canon A1 he uses mostly but also has a Canon EOS something!? I have a little nikon digi and a Diana so lots of cameras in our household!

photostudiosupply profile image

photostudiosupply 4 years ago from Rochester, New York

Very helpful tips are here that should be considered while buying a new camera. Great hub bayareagreatthing.... profile image 4 years ago

BAGT I think Radio Shacks logo is about Flow - i categorize it this way anyway as the R is moving down the circle

bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 4 years ago from Bay Area California Author

PDog- iStock photo or similar stock photo sites may be a good solution for you. Taking a photo of a house IS tricky. I shoot architectural photos and there are many things to consider when you take the shot. If you haven't used a stock site, check them out. I kind of feel like they have ruined the market for a lot of pro photographers- but the reality is, they exist. For you it may be a good solution.

RE: Radio Shack- I see your point. Flow and balance may be similar :)

Daisy- nice collection. The Cannon is a good Camera. I had a small Nikon but soon got frustrated with it's limitations. I still have it though. You can never have to many cameras :) thanks for stopping by and commenting.

bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 4 years ago from Bay Area California Author

Thanks PS :)

American_Choices profile image

American_Choices 3 years ago from USA

Can I buy a camera for photos and videos too? I wish for one device - am I asking too much!

bayareagreatthing profile image

bayareagreatthing 3 years ago from Bay Area California Author

Sure you can! check out the Nikon 1 J1. It is a nice consumer choice. In video mode you can press the shutter to grab a still shot. They have interchangeable lenses. It runs about $575.

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