So, you're finally ready to buy that camera you've been promising yourself. With all the awesome photo gear that hits the market almost daily, finding the right camera for you may sound like an easy proposition, but it's actually quite common to get it wrong. There's a lot to know and a lot of advertising to wade through, and a surprising number of first-time camera buyers end up regretting their initial choices. In this article, I'll point out some of the most common mistakes made in choosing cameras and how to avoid them.
1. Being unrealistic about your motivation level
Learning to use a DSLR camera correctly is a challenge in itself. Add on the process of learning to create stunning images with one and you're looking at something that can easily overwhelm the casual shooter. Before you invest in the professional model, consider carefully how much time and effort you want to expend. If you're more interested in having fun with your photography than selling photos, you may want to consider a nice point and shoot camera instead of a bulkier, more complicated DSLR. Many of today's point and shoot models take amazing pictures.
2. Thinking that any camera will make you a better photographer
You've heard it before, but it's worth saying again: The photographer creates the image, not the camera. Many professionals got their start with entry-level DSLRs or used cameras and a surprising number of them still use compact cameras for some photo shoots. An equally surprising number of aspiring photographers believe that the more they invest in a camera, the more likely they are to create professional-looking images. It simply isn't true.
3. Forgetting about the importance of lens quality
This is the chief drawback to purchasing bargain camera kits, which offer bargain prices on good quality DSLR cameras with one or two “kit” lenses. While there's nothing wrong with choosing this option, especially if you're just starting out, don't expect to see the best possible “out of the camera” results with kit lenses, especially telephoto zooms. If you have the funds, buy a reasonably good body and spend the extra money on top-quality lenses. Pro-quality prime lenses will cost you much less than zooms, so don't be unwilling to get some exercise to get the shot.
4. Avoiding the used or refurbished option
There are going to be some who will argue this point, but there's no reason not to explore the possibility of buying a used or refurbished camera, especially for the novice. The same goes for lenses. When you purchase a factory refurbished piece of equipment, you can expect it to be covered by a reasonable warranty. Unless you're an expert, though, buying used equipment from an individual can be risky. To minimize the risk, purchase used equipment only from a reputable dealer that tests and grades each product and provides you with a guarantee.
We recommend our friends at KEH camera for exactly those reasons. Every used piece of equipment on their site is inspected and graded before it goes up for sale. They provide a full, 180-day warranty on each item, such as these Canon EOS 60D DSLRs, that will put you at the controls of a pro-quality, 18 megapixel camera for around $500. That leaves money to invest in really good glass. Incidentally, KEH also offers the best prices you'll find anywhere on new merchandise, too.
5. Not doing your research
Remember that knowledge is power. Don't buy the camera your friend recommended or that new model that everyone's talking about without spending some time reading about it, listening to reviews and determining whether it's right for you. Check out the features. Do you need built in wi-fi? How about dual memory card slots? How good is the autofocus system? There are dozens of questions you'll need to answer, and the best way is to shop and compare. Don't set yourself up for a big disappointment by being too anxious.