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How to Buy a New Camera: 9 Valuable Tips

Updated on May 21, 2020
Photography Focus profile image

I've been advising people on buying cameras since shorter after I purchased my first one ... so for 30 years or more!

Investing in a new camera involves making a lot of sometimes difficult choices. There are so many options when you want to buy a new camera. It can be difficult to know what’s important in a camera.


This article is a camera buying guide for beginners. It will show you how to choose a camera using a list of questions. These will help you know what to look for when buying a digital camera.

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When you work through and answer these questions you’ll feel more confident before you buy a new camera.

1. What's your motivation to buy a new camera?

2. When will you use your camera?

3. Do you have a friend or family member who has a camera?

4. How much do you want to spend?

5. Can you rent to try in your area?

6. Will you learn to edit your pictures?

7. Do you want to buy more than one lens?

8. Is there a camera brand you have a preference for?

9. What size camera suits you best?

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1. What's your motivation to buy a new camera?

Many people are quite content using their phones to take photos. They are not interested in a DSLR camera, a mirrorless camera, or even a compact camera.


I guess if you’re here reading this article you may have already decided to buy a new camera. If you’ve realized your smartphone can take nice snapshots but is not really a great camera, keep reading.


You will get better quality photos when you buy a new camera. Any reasonably good camera will produce better pictures than your phone will. This is because the sensors, lenses, and other features on a camera are superior to those in a phone.


When should you buy a new camera? When you know you want to take your photography to the next level. You know your phone or your current camera is not producing the quality of photos you want. This is the time to find the motivation to upgrade your camera.


Knowing why you want a camera will help guide you in what to look for when buying a digital camera.

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2. When will you use your camera?

Will you use a camera mainly at home or at work? Do you want to buy a new camera to travel with? Thinking about how portable your new camera needs to be will help you decide between a big DSLR camera or a smaller mirrorless camera or a compact.


I am quite comfortable with my big DSLR camera. I have been carrying the same size camera around with me for decades. The camera model has changed, but each new camera I buy is about the same size and weight.


You may be more comfortable with a smaller camera. Now there are many options available when you want to buy a new camera. Mirrorless cameras are very popular because they produce high-quality photos. But they are smaller and lighter than DSLR cameras.

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3. Do you have a friend or family member who has a camera?

Borrowing a camera from a friend can help you know what to look for when buying a digital camera.


Not only can you get hands-on experience, but you can ask your friend questions about why they bought the model of camera they have. Do the like it? Was it a good purchase?


This information can help you gain a better understanding of what’s important in a camera.

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4. How much do you want to spend?

Budget considerations are always important when you come to buy a new camera.


You may like the idea of owning a fancy high-end professional DSLR camera. But this type of equipment is very expensive and may not suit your needs best.


What is the best camera to buy for a beginner? Probably not a professional level DLSR camera or mirrorless camera. Aim lower. All top camera manufacturers like Nikon, Canon, and Sony have many models at different price points.


Set your budget and consider your answers to the other questions here to help guide you in how to choose a camera.

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5. Can you rent to try in your area?

Renting camera equipment before you buy a new camera is a very practical idea.


Once you have done some research you will have a better idea of what’s important in a camera. Then you can go ahead and rent a few camera models in-line with the ones you are most interested in.


Over the course of a few weekends, rent out a few cameras and give them a test run. You might start with a Nikon DSLR camera and then the next week try a Sony mirrorless camera.


Doing this you can get a good feel for what to look for when buying a digital camera.

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6. Will you learn to edit your pictures?

If you’re getting serious about photography you want to buy a new camera that has high technical standards. The better quality the camera’s sensor, the more you’ll be able to post-process the photos without encountering quality problems.


Lower end compact cameras or point-and-shoots have small sensors. These will not give you great quality. You’ll be better off buying a new camera that’s got higher specs. It will mean spending more. It’s worth it if you want to seriously pursue photography.


It’s important to check the physical dimensions of a sensor, not just the megapixel count. Your phone might have the same number of megapixels are a DSLR camera. But the sensor size is so small the photos will be of inferior quality.

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7. Do you want to buy more than one lens?

Compact cameras and bridge cameras come with one fixed lens. Often the lens on these cameras is a good zoom or superzoom. They will range from wide-angle to close up. But the quality of these lenses is not as good as lenses for DSLR or mirrorless cameras.


If a nice selection of lenses is what’s important in a camera, you need to look at the range of lenses available. All the top camera companies have a big selection of lenses available, but not all lenses fit all cameras. You must check this when you buy a new camera.


I like Nikon lenses. Any Nikon lens made for a DSLR body will fit. No matter how new or how old the lens or camera is. I have some lovely old lenses I still regularly use. Other camera brands are more restrictive because over the years they have changed the design of the lens mount. Old lenses may not fit on newer camera models with come brands.

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8. Is there a camera brand you have a preference for?

I definitely have a preference for Nikon. I have always used Nikon since buying my first camera. I am very familiar and comfortable using Nikon cameras.


You may have other Sony or Canon products you like. This brand preference may help you choose what’s important in a camera.


Each camera design is different. The exterior looks and feels a certain way. The menu design and interior operation of each camera model is different. Some people prefer Canon because they are easy to use. Others like Nikon or Olympus. It is a personal choice.

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9. What size camera suits you best?

Don’t buy a new camera that is too big or too small for you to hold comfortably.


Some time ago we had someone join one of our photography workshops. She was a small, older woman. Her hands were little and she had a huge pro-level DSRL camera. She struggled to hold it steady.


Unfortunately she had received some impractical advice from a well-meaning photographer. They had recommended this big camera as being very good. No doubt about it. The camera was impressive. But it was far too big for her to really enjoy using it.


Buying a camera that is comfortable to hold allows you to enjoy photography more.

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How do I buy a new camera?

The best two ways to buy a new camera are from a store or online.


When you buy a new camera from a store the staff will show you how to choose a camera. They may be a little biased if they receive more commission from one brand over another. This is why it is good to know what’s important in a camera for you.


Buying a camera in a store you can pick it up and try it out. This is one big advantage over buying online. You could go to a store and check out cameras you like and later buy online.


Online camera shopping can give you more options for the price. Be careful to buy from a reputable website. Doing a little research will show you some websites are safer to buy from than others.

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Conclusion

This article has given you some pointers on what is the best camera to buy for beginners or even if you have some experience already.


Working through these questions will help you make informed choices from among all the different camera models on the market.


Take your time. When you buy a new camera you want to be satisfied with it for a long time.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Photography Focus

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