Camera Buyer's Guide

Lesson 14/15 - Making a Camera Choice


Camera Buyer's Guide


Lesson Info

Making a Camera Choice

When it comes to making a choice, how do you make a choice? I think the first choice that you need to look at making is the size of the sensor that's gonna get you to the system that fits your needs and so you're gonna choose a sensor based on your image quality needs, how big the entire camera system is gonna be and what your budget is going to be. Remember those larger sensors are better, but it's gonna cost you more money. From there you're gonna probably wanna choose a brand. You're gonna be choosing this on the available cameras and lenses that they have to choose from right now, the style of shooting that you do and your long term goals. Some camera companies are geared more towards one type of photography or one level of photographer than another one and so it's getting to know those and we're gonna get to know those camera companies here in this next section. From there you're gonna choose a camera and you're gonna be basing it on your current and your future needs, your forese...

eable future needs, the features and the performance it has and of course what budget you currently have. Then you're gonna need to choose what's the appropriate lens and you're gonna wanna be thinking about what your needs are now and what your needs are in the future and what your budget is now and into the future cause there's a lot of people who buy a system that is a starter system and they know it's gonna grow in the future. They don't know exactly which direction, but if they buy into the right system, they know that if they go one direction or the other there is room to grow with that particular system. When it comes to choosing a sensor size, we have a lot of different sensors to choose from and so we can go with a full frame sensor which is gonna give us top of the line quality or we could choose a very, very portable camera with a smaller size sensor and so when it comes to full frame versus a crop size, well if you're a pro you're probably gonna wanna have at least what the other pros are shooting. If not you're gonna be at a disadvantage. Very good in low light and all those other features that we talked about earlier in the class. The smaller crop frame sensor I think is probably gonna be better for most people in most situations, especially under $5,000. You can get a full frame camera and a lens for less than $5,000, but it's gonna be limited if that's your total budget for everything that you're gonna do going forward and so I think for most people a 1.5 crop is kind of the main go to place and then maybe figure out if you need to go up or down from there. When you choose a brand, I don't have a favorite. I really do like all these different brands cause they're all good at slightly different things. They all have their own niche in the market that they are good at and so anyone who says brand X and I'm not even gonna use real brands here. Brand X is better than Brand Y with nothing else said is just flat out lying to you. It's just not true. It's not the type of smart statement you can make. You can say brand X is better at doing this than brand Y. So once you start getting into specifics, whether it's video or sports photography or having small lightweight gear or having the sharpest lenses or something like that, you gotta figure out what it's best at. They're all good, they're all good for different things. You wanna look at how many different available cameras there are. What do you want now and what might you want in five years from now? How big is their lens system, do they have all the lenses you need now and what you might want in the future? Do they have all the accessories that you need to do what you want to do? Could it be remotes or flashes or things like that? Support. I'm talking about repair here. So if you need your camera repaired, where's the nearest place that you can take your camera to get it repaired? If you have kind of an unusual brand that may not be sold a lot in some far off locations, it may need to go a very long distance before it's repaired. How available are the cameras, the lenses and the rest of the accessory for it? I know there are some people who somehow got a good deal on a camera, but then they moved someplace that's kind of far from the big city and now they can't find any accessories for their camera. It's very, very difficult. And so think about your growth as a photographer. What are you doing now and how far do you wanna get into this? And so I know when I got started in photography, I knew it was really something I wanted to do seriously and so my first question is what are most of the pros in the area I'm interested in, what are they using? And that's the system that I went with cause it had the most growth potential. Alright for a lot of you just getting in with a minimum budget, you might be wondering what's the difference between the bare bones lowest priced model and just a little step up. Well there's gonna be some specifics that I can't get directly into, but if we were to look at some of the bare bones models from Canon and Nikon which is the T6 and the D which are great cameras for the price. As you bump up a little bit in price, generally about $100 to $200, you're gonna get some extra features and those features are gonna vary and whether they're useful to you, only you can tell. You have to investigate and figure out what they are and if they'll be better for you. They're generally gonna have a little bit more performance and when I say performance, that's kind of code word for autofocus and generally drive to drive speed. They might be able to shoot at five frames a second compared to three frames per second for the lower end cameras. Now the lower end cameras, they're gonna have less features, less performance and they're gonna have a lower price, but if you're just needing to get into good photography, pretty much any photographer could take one of these lowest end models and take fantastic, National Geographic cover photos with this camera. It may not have all the extra features, but it still has the image quality for doing that type of photography. So between the bare bones and the step up, the next step up is between kind of your entry level camera and more your mid-level camera and so these entry level cameras are very popular kind of with family photographers. They wanna get a good camera, stay on budget and they work very well for that, but for somebody who's really kinda getting into photography, really picking it up as a hobby, one of the biggest difference is that most of these lower end cameras have one control dial for shutter speeds and apertures which means you have to share the duties. You don't have a dedicated dial and it makes those mid-level cameras easier to use. They have a little bit better viewfinder. We talked about that back in the viewfinder section. They're gonna have a little bit better specs on it and so it'll have a little bit higher top shutter speed, in this case so that you could use a shallow depth of field lens out in bright sunshine so it just gives you a little bit more exposure control. It's not critical in most situations, but it gives you just a little bit more room to work with. And in general they're gonna have less buttons versus more buttons which means you get to have more direct control over the camera and when you know what you're doing, there's gonna be a button right there that's gonna be able to access the feature that you want to get to. And so if you're gonna really get into photography as a hobby, things start getting pretty good about that mid-level which is around $1,000 these days where things are looking pretty good on a lot of different style cameras, whether they be SLRs or mirrorless. Alright this next section is the quick round robin of all the manufacturers and so we're gonna look at all the cameras. We're not gonna talk about any individual camera for very long and I have owned Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, Olympus, Leica, that's fun. I think that's everything. Panasonic, yeah, own that. I've owned all the brands. I've used cameras in all these different categories and they all have just a little different niche of the market that they're good at. So let's look at Canon, they're the biggest. They have a wide variety of cameras that are using the crop frame sensor and a bunch of them that are using the full frame sensor as well. So what I like about Canon is that they are the largest system in the world. Variety of cameras, variety of lenses. This is a time-tested proven system by pros, amateurs. It's got the full range in there. These are all SLRs here so you have a very nice view. Great for fast focus and action photography because of all the benefits of the SLR finder in here. Canon is also quite strong with video and so if you like shooting video, Canon is a very good way to go. The specs that they have in their camera are generally pretty good. They also have their own line of cinema lenses and accessories. They have a whole completely different line of video cameras which is also very nice, but very different than this. And so they've done really well in autofocus over the years and so this is why more people shoot Canon than any other brand in most fields of photography. Now the strong competitor to Canon is Nikon which is smaller by only slightly when it comes to the photographic domination of the market. So once again we have a large collection of cameras that are in the crop frame, a large collection that are in the full frame and the same reasons... I like Nikon for the same reasons I like Canon. It's that they have just a large collection and a lot of options for a photographer so these are the safest choices and when I had my first can't go wrong cameras, they were all Canons and Nikons and it's because they're part of a large system and being part of the pack is a very safe place to be and so lot of repair facilities, accessories. They're very easy to get on the market and so it's a very, very safe system to get with. Very high quality lenses and the two of them, which one's better, Canon and Nikon. On one week it's Nikon and then the next week it's Canon because they come out with new lenses and new accessories and they constantly go back and forth and it really depends on which cameras you're comparing. There is a bunch of photographers that are shooting Canon, a bunch that are shooting Nikon. They could all switch cameras and none of them is gonna have their business change. It's something that... It's a personal choice. Some people like the way one camera works versus the other. Alright here is where you get to find out that I'm not sponsored by anybody. I like Sony cameras, but I'm not a big fan of the SLT system. This is the remainder of the Minolta SLR system that was around. They've moved over to what's called a SLT system. I'm not gonna get into the specifics. It works like a SLR, but it's slightly different. It's something that Sony seems to be phasing out. I would not recommend anybody new to photography dive into this market without fully aware the fact that they're not bringing in new lenses for this group of cameras at a very quick rate. It's very rare that they will announce a new lens for this. They only have three cameras. It's probably gonna go down to two at some point here and I would expect that this is gonna be a discontinued system in a number of years. Having said that I haven't said anything bad about these cameras. Technology-wise they're fantastic focusing, they have really good image quality. They have a lot of features. It's just part of an ecosystem that seems to be dying and so I would be very wary of it for that reason. So be careful with what you're getting into here. It does tend to be very good for the money. As far as action it's because of the SLT system. Not gonna get into the specifics of that and there is very limited collection for any sort of professional who really needs some kind of particular gear in this case. Pentax is a smaller company. They're a small but fighting strong little company. They have some great little cameras. They just don't have the market dominance against Canon and Nikon and so you do not see them being shot out there, but they're perfectly fine cameras. They have gone without a full frame camera for quite some time. They finally have a full frame camera out there, but only one to choose from. And as I say it's a small but dedicated company that does a very good job. In fact they do some things that I think are fantastic that Canon and Nikon do not do for some unknown reason. They make many of their cameras weatherized and so if you want an affordable weatherized SLR, one of the only choices out there in many cases, but it is a very limited selection for somebody who wants to grow and get into professional quality equipment. And because they haven't had a full frame camera since now just recently, most of their system is based on the crop frame sensor out there. Alright let's get into the world of mirrorless. One of the strongest names in the mirrorless world is Sony. Sony is coming at the photography world with a lot of technology and they are really forcing Canon and Nikon onto their heels in my opinion with all their technology. At first they were very focused on these cropped frame cameras and now they are shifting their focus more into the full frame cameras. And so their full frame cameras are some of the best you will find of any cameras on the market today. On the crop frame cameras the A6500 is a great camera. The predecessor 6300 and the predecessor 6000, Sony has something kind of unusual that they do and they keep older models around and they kinda get downgraded into lower price ranges. And so the 6500 is a nice little camera, but the lens system for the crop frame sensors here is just very limited. It's good for average consumer which is nice, but if you start having higher demands, they just don't make a really good lens collection. On the full frame side, they are rapidly bringing out the pro lenses faster than you can shake a stick at it. That is where they're concentration is right now is on their full frame mirrorless. They're coming out with great lenses about every three months which is fantastic. So the smaller sensored ones are focused on the lower price range for the most part and the higher end are higher end so there's a bit of a gap in the Sony you might say. And so as I say they're bringing out some fantastic lenses for their higher end cameras. They do have... They're one of the only companies, I will say this as far as making their sensors. They make their own sensors, Canon makes their own sensors and most other manufacturers have to buy sensors from various different companies. There are some manufacturers that buy their sensors from Sony and put them in their own camera. So Sony's working with very good technology right from the base level you might say. And Canon and Nikon have been the two pro systems the entire time that I've been a photographer which is more than 30 years now and this is the biggest challenge we've seen to that duopoly of Canon and Nikon is this rise of Sony because they're coming at it with a lot of really good new technology that Nikon and Canon have not fully endorsed because they have gone mirrorless in this case and so some really good stuff here. Alright this one's kind of unusual, but they still do fit into the mirrorless crowd and that is Leica. They do have a crop frame Leica with a very, very limited system. They have an SL camera which has a completely different system than their range finder system which is what they're known for and these cameras are very special cameras in that they are very manual. You manually focus, you set shutter speeds and apertures. There is an occasional bit of automation that they have on, but they are very manual traditional cameras, but they're also very small. They're very precisely built. They're also very expensive. And so they're fun cameras to use. They're a little bit different than everything else, but they do have some of the highest quality lenses in the smallest package as possible and so there's a lot of travel photographers that really like Leica with this. And so they use a range finder system which we're not gonna get into which is a whole different thing on its own for focusing. Very accurate but particular about how it's used. Very compact camera. Some of the smallest full frame cameras and lenses you'll see on the market, but it is a limited system. It's not good with telephoto, it's not good with macro. They don't have fisheye lenses so it is a limited system in what it's good for. And the products are definitely premium and so are the prices and so hold on to your hats, we're not even gonna go into it. They're very special things. Alright Fuji which is one of my pet favorite companies here I think is just doing a great job and what they're doing that I think is so great is they developed a brand new system around the smaller crop sensor and they weren't trying to cobble it together from something they had before. With Nikon and Canon and even Fuji, they had a previous system and they're like well we want the old system to work with the new system and we're gonna have to make things work and we're gonna have to make it bigger and do all these funky things to make it work right and Fuji just said we've been kinda out of the photography game a little bit in this realm. We're gonna start fresh with a brand new system designed great right from the beginning and so if you want a smaller size camera, this is one of the few companies that makes this size sensor and a full line of fully dedicated lenses for this sensor system and so they're very focused on this. Now they recently introduced a medium format camera that's much higher end than this, but they are very focused on these cameras and these lenses and they're kinda going after the mid to higher end market here and so they have some good intermediate level lenses and they're introducing more and more higher end lenses that a lot of professionals and people who are kinda serious about photography really like. They're not doing real good on the real cheap stuff. They just... They've been more successful because of their traditional designs with people who are really enthusiastic about photography and are at kind of an intermediate level and so they have a very traditional system. They have shutter speed dials and aperture dials and they're kind of fun which is why I'm excited about talking about on this. It reminded me of the cameras that I started photography with and it's a very fast growing system. They just keep on bringing out new cameras and new lenses and so they're, they're not the biggest company, but they're coming at it with a lot of strong dedication and as I mentioned a lot of pro glass. They're also the best company when it comes to updating the firmware on your camera. When they figure out that there's some complaints and they don't like people, way something works on a camera or some improvements they make, they issue firmware updates. And frankly it's a pain in the butt for me. I should hate them because in my Fuji classes, I gotta go back to the XT2 class and I gotta do a firmware update in the class to let everyone know what the new features are in the camera. I just did the update on the X Pro and now I got a new on the XT2 because they just added more features into it a year after it came out. I don't wanna talk about this. Canon does make mirrorless and Canon, if you're listening, you can do better. You really can do better. Canon is doing mirrorless and their cameras are fine. They take decent quality photos. They kinda have the Canon DNA, but they just haven't brought out a lens system. They haven't brought out any serious cameras. They really haven't taken the mirrorless thing seriously yet and these are fine cameras, but they just have limited them by the system that is around them and so we want more Canon mirrorless, Canon, everybody is begging for it and these cameras, one of them doesn't have a viewfinder. Two of them don't have viewfinders, only one of them does. It's fine little camera, but we need more accessories and more lenses to go along with it so please, please, make us more stuff here cause people want it. People like your cameras and they want your mirrorless cameras. Alright into the four thirds system. We're gonna have Olympus and Panasonic. Olympus has always been a company that has been very good at making small but high quality well-featured cameras and so they're gonna focus on a lot of cameras that are very small that are very feature rich and if you're a traditional photographer who just wants a smaller camera, Olympus has a lot of great stuff for you to look at here. And as I say they really put a importance on small size and so you have to be weary a little bit of small cameras, but I think they've done as good a job as you can do with a really small camera. It's part of the four thirds system so you get to share lenses with Panasonic. You can purchase Panasonic lenses and they're gonna work perfectly, evenly on your camera in most every regard. There are a few couple of exceptions. There are some, a few high end features in some of the higher end Olympus cameras you do have to have an Olympus lens for, but not for general photography. It's only for a few specialized things. And they do have a growing line of these professional F1.2 lenses and some other lenses and so if you really like a good well-built weather-sealed lens, Olympus has a lot to offer for you in that category. Panasonic is another company that doesn't have a lot of history in photography. It's not a name that goes very far back, but they are highly skilled in the realms of shooting video and so for anyone who wants to shoot photos and video really well, one of the first things you wanna look at is the Panasonic lineup of cameras. And so they have a variety of cameras that are very small to more intermediate in size at various different stylings depending on what you wanna do in your photography. But they typically have some of the best video features out there. Part of the four thirds system so you're free to use the Olympus lenses as well as the aftermarket ones and they do have a pretty good importance on small size here and so some of these are quite small. Some of them are more medium in size for people who want something more comfortable in the hand and so good choice for general picture taking, but fantastic choice for shooting video. I hate to end on a whimper here and I do have to mention these are still out on the market. I imagine in a few months these could be taken off. Nikon has made a mirrorless system. The technology in these cameras is frankly phenomenal. They have done some things that nobody else has done in a mirrorless camera and they are really, really good at focusing. Unfortunately they've chosen a very small sensor, smaller than we've been talking about in most of this class and they have brought out a few cameras and then they've discontinued them and they only have two cameras left and a handful of lenses and I just can't recommend this for most people getting into photography. It's nice that you can adapt Nikon lenses onto this which is kind of cool and it's got kind of that Nikon DNA so for anybody who uses Nikon, they're kind of easy to use because it's a similar setup in the menu system, but it's just a very highly limited system and I don't see this as a great place to go in the future. I think Nikon is gonna have a mirrorless camera in the future. I think it'll be fantastic, but it's not gonna be a part of the system. It's gonna be a part of a whole new system that uses a whole new set of lenses.

Class Description

Buyer's guide will be your guide to figuring out the best digital camera for your needs.

Gear expert John Greengo dives into the major brands and lenses that are currently on the market.

John breaks down some of the more confusing aspects of mirrorless and DSLR's from focusing systems to sensor size; you'll get a better understanding of what the gear does so you can make an informed decision.

At the end of the class, John gives his recommendations for different types of photographers from the aspiring student to the filmmaker and everyone in between.


Samantha Locadia

John is a great teacher, and I've learned allot in this lesson. I already had an idea what camera I want to buy next but happy to know it was also what he recommended (for my field). Really love his free classes by the way where he talks with other photographers and discusses photos of viewers. Awesome!

Michael And Dawn

John has a very good way of explaining things to make them both simple and complete. His makes great use of visual graphics in his explanations. I highly recommend any of his courses, the material presented is well thought out and flows very well.

Kevin Li

Amazing course. So much education provided in these free classes. I will definately be taking more. I am so glad I watched these before jumping in and buying a camera. This is a much watch for all people who are new to photography and are looking to buy a camera.