Originally Published January 15th, 2019
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
— Dorothea Lange
When it comes to gear, I’m a fan of the philosophy’s of photographers like Valarie Jardin & Eric Kim. Basically, these two argue that you should spend more money on experiences, books, & learning rather than buying tons of camera gear.
As photographers, we all struggle with G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Obsessing over gear is one of the coolest aspects of photography—but we shouldn’t let it get in the way of making great photos.
Think of it this way—the newest, bestest, most “megapixely” camera isn’t going to make you a better photographer—but the right camera will help you take more photos.
Here’s a list of things to consider when picking out your first/next camera.
“The best camera is the one you have with you.” —Chase Javis
I think one of the most important things to consider when buying a camera is portability. I recently had to replace my broken Fujifilm X100T and for a few days I was considering buying a Fujifilm X-Pro2. I ended up just sticking with the X100 line & bought the newest model (X100F). The deciding factor for me was portability—the X-Pro2 is just too big.
I want my everyday camera to be something I can throw in a small bag or better yet—a jacket pocket. What good is a camera if it’s too big to carry around with me wherever I go?
Focus on portability & take your camera everywhere.
For a time I thought having a huge digital camera with tons of lenses was a sign that I’d made it as a photographer—I was officially a professional!
I’m not knocking on DSLR cameras—they’re awesome! My Canon 5D MKii is the workhorse of all my gear, but its not necessarily right for every job. What I’ve come to find out over the years is that I prefer a simpler camera for day to day shooting & creative work.
Less = More
When it comes to being creative—sometimes limiting our tool kit forces us to dig deeper in order to make more interesting photographs. My favorite camera has a fixed 35mm lens. Granted, I have a couple conversion lenses that I can throw on it—but that’s it, I’m limited to those 3 options.
Look for a camera that’s simple, intuitive, and easy to use. Unless you’re doing something specific like sports or landscape photography—pack light, minimal gear.
I’m a sucker for Fujfilm because their cameras have the look & feel of an old school film camera. When I see my camera siting on my desk I can’t help but pick it up and start shooting—it just feels good in my hands, which means I intuitively take more photos.
I customize my camera with a cool leather case, a soft shutter release, a fancy strap—none of these things are necessary, but it makes the whole experience of taking photos more fun for me.
Style may not necessarily effect the quality of your photos, but having a tool that’s fun to use will definitely mean you’re picking it up more often.
4. Manual Options
One piece of advice that I always give people who are interested in photography is to buy a camera with manual options. If you have control over your camera’s settings—you’re going to have a much better experience making photographs.
After all, a camera is just a glorified plastic/metal box. The real image making takes place in your mind. Be in control of your camera by learning the “trinity of exposure” (shutter speed, ISO, & Aperture).
A camera with manual options is a must if you want to learn the fundamentals of photography.
5. Wi-fi Capability
I threw this one in because I’ve recently become a fan of my camera’s Wi-fi option. It’s so nice to upload my photos directly from my camera to my phone, edit them, & share. It makes the experience of making photos so much easier.
In the end, it’s just gear.
I hope this list helps you make a better decision with your camera purchase. Of course these are my personal thoughts on photography & you may have a much more different approach with your equipment. Just remember the most important thing is to have fun & make great images. At the end of the day—you could do that with a plastic disposable camera!
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments!
Thanks for reading!