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
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.