Choosing the Right Camera

Choosing the Right Camera

  • The photographer's basic hardware item is the camera. Because no one type of camera is ideally suited to all types of work, the choice of what camera to use depends on the subject or subjects to be most often photographed.

  • Thus, photographers are well advised to guard against any bias or habit by which they tend to prefer the equipment most familiar to them. (Indeed, such habits should never be allowed to form.)

  • It is nearly always better-and often cheaper-to buy separate cameras for dissimilar jobs than it is to attempt to buy one "perfect" camera, which will then require an endless series of special adapters or additional gadgets to enable it to do jobs that the basic camera was simply not designed to handle. In some cases, such additions can adversely affect the picture-making capabilities of the camera. On the other hand, some cameras are highly versatile, and every photographer should probably have one such camera. Choosing it requires attention to its degree of adaptability and to its readiness to accept accessories that were not built by the same manufacturer.

  • A beginner who just wants the simplest worthwhile camera might well consider buying a twin-lens reflex. It is easy to handle and is inconspicuous to use in photographing people. A more ambitious beginner would do better to obtain a low- to medium-priced 35 mm single-lens reflex camera. Not only is it easy to use, but it offers a broader range of photographic possibilities through the addition of lenses and accessories.

  • Those who plan to engage in specific types of photography as a career may require cameras suited to the purpose. For example, an entomologist or a nature enthusiast wanting to photograph live insects in their natural habitats will most likely find that a small, highly maneuverable single-lens reflex camera is satisfactory. A landscape photographer needing to record large areas in great detail probably will get best results with a stationary camera of large film size. Any serious photographer who does a significant amount of work at both scales would be wise to consider owning one of each applicable type of camera.

  • Purchasing a camera or cameras necessarily involves financial considerations. Many people just starting in photography buy the cheapest equipment possible as long as it will do the intended job. This can be false economy, unless the photographer's interests and technical needs change drastically as he or she acquires experience in the medium. Given their durability and versatility, even the best cameras and lenses are inexpensive in the long run if handled with reasonable care and adequately maintained. Before buying a camera or making any costly purchase of photographic equipment it would be wise to consult knowledgeable persons-for example, advanced amateurs doing work of the sort to which you aspire, photography instructors, or even professional photographers, if consulted in a relaxed moment.

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