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Camera Buyer's Guide

Lesson 3 of 16

Top 10 Camera Purchasing Mistakes

John Greengo

Camera Buyer's Guide

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

3. Top 10 Camera Purchasing Mistakes

Lesson Info

Top 10 Camera Purchasing Mistakes

All right, next I wanna talk about my top 10 list of camera purchasing mistakes, and I used to work in a camera store at one time, I have dealt a lot with giving people recommendations and leading photo tours for people that come on these tours with brand new cameras, and talking about them, how they came to their decision, and what they bought. And so, before you go out and buy a new camera, here are some mistakes that I have seen made over and over by other people. All right, number 10 on the list is bad advice, and it's not so much totally bad advice, it's just kind of misplaced advice. Somebody who knew what they wanted decided that you should buy exactly what they bought, and so you're just not listening to advice that's appropriate for what you are needing. Underestimating the money needed. Sometimes people just get in the mind something that they wanna do. Maybe they wanna, I wanna do great bird photography, and they just come up and the pick a number and they're like, I'm gonna...

spend $500, and I should be able to do this fantastically with the best of the pros out there, and they really didn't do their research to figure out, can you actually do great bird photography with $500? Well, you might be able to do something, but I don't know that I would call it great photography. You might need a little bit more budget. So, a little bit more research will help you figure out how much money you will need to spend to do what you wanna do. Reality didn't match ambitions. And so, sometimes you'll get people who think they wanna do something. Maybe they wanna do street photography, and so they buy a camera, and a lens, and this whole setup for doing street photography, and they've never actually done it, and when they go out there, they find that they're not really interested in that, they're more interested in still life photography, or landscape photography, and then they need to start changing their setup, and their lenses, and what type of camera they wanna use. And so, think very clearly about what sort of things you're gonna wanna do with the camera, and if you don't know, that's fine too. Just say, I don't know, I want something that is good with a variety of subjects. Well, right now, we are especially getting distracted by a lot of special deals. This is the time of year that we get a lot of these deals, but they happen all year round, to be honest with you, and camera companies, and manufacturers, and stores often put packages together, and they're like, well, this is the camera I want, it wasn't the lens I wanted, but it's a good deal, and that's usually not a good deal for you if it's not really the package you want, so I encourage you to take a really good look at everything that you're getting to see if that's what you wanna get. Next up is overthought the unimportant items. Here in Seattle, we have Microsoft, and we have Amazon, and we have Boeing, and there's a lot of engineers, and technical-minded people, and sometimes they get a little bit too much into the weeds and they start digging into the technical specs on a camera, and they start pulling apart differences between one camera and the next, and they aren't really thinking clearly as to how that affects their photography. They know that one camera does something a little bit better, and it's hard to choose the camera that doesn't do better when it does something else for you. And so, you have to be realistic about what you are gonna be using a camera for, and what features it has. Thought more money would solve the problem. Sometimes people have a lot of money, and they will just walk into a store and they'll say, what's the best camera? And kind of out of default, some people just, well, this one's more expensive, so it must be a better camera, and that's not always the best case. In many cases, even though you may have unlimited amounts of money, it might be better to start off with a more modest camera that you feel comfortable using, and you can learn, and then maybe after a year or two, then you can step up to a higher end model that is higher performance that might require more exacting skillset, and that's the problem with some of the higher end cameras is that they require very exacting skills that you need to build up over time. Didn't budget for all the accessories. It's easy to put all our minds into this is how much I can afford for the camera. Oh yeah, well, I'll get a lens, and sometimes people really short case themselves on the lens, and the lens can be as important if not more important than the camera in many cases. Talk to any photographer that's been around a while and you'll hear them talking more about lenses than cameras in those cases, and that's where their investment is. Then there's a lot of other things, accessories, memory cards, and tripods, and flashes, and bags, and everything else, and so, depending on what level you're getting at, the camera is probably half or less of what the entire package is that you're gonna be spending. Overly concerned about online reviews. Obviously, going and doing online reviews, you're gonna be checking up to see what other people think about things, and this is, of course, what they think about things. This is their opinions, and it's okay. Some of my favorite cameras are cameras that have been absolutely trashed by online reviewers because it doesn't fit their needs, or they didn't like something about it that is completely unimportant to me. And so, read those with a grain of salt. Didn't do the proper research. And so, there is a proper amount of research that should be done, and I would think for most people, it's gonna be watching this class and maybe going to check out a few more sites and reviews beyond that. So, you wanna get in enough research. Don't just say, well, he said all cameras are good, so I'll just buy any camera. No, you wanna get something that fits you, so it's worth spending a few hours, a few days, a few weeks thinking about before you dive in. Number one purchasing mistake is the belief that a great camera takes great photos, and it's a great photographer that'll take great photos, and they can use any camera to go out there and create great photos, and so this whole course, this whole guide is about finding the right camera that fits your needs. Spending more money, spending money on a camera that got a great review that doesn't fit your needs is not gonna help you out. It's all about matching your needs with the right camera. All right, I apologize, but I have another top 10 list for you here, and this is just because of my unique position is I don't do camera reviews, but I know these cameras inside and out, and I do read reviews because I wanna stay up on the industry, and every time I watch an online review, or I read a review, I do a lot of heavy sighing because there's things that I have issues with, and I wanna share with you because I know you're gonna be looking at reviews, and I want you to be aware of some of the behind-the-scenes things that are going on and influencing people who put out all of these reviews out here. First one is kind of obvious, these opinions are not facts. If somebody says, I don't like the way the button feels on it, okay, just kind of notch that up as something to check. It may or may not have anything to do with how you use the camera. A lot of times, they will do comparisons that are totally unfair comparisons. Well, this camera isn't nearly as fast as this other camera, but that other camera is at a different price level, it's designed for something different. It's kinda like when you hear cars compared and you hear somebody say, well, my car carries more luggage than a Ferrari and it's faster than a mini-van. It's like, well, these are not fair comparisons, so be aware of what is actually being compared. The cameras are disliked if they're not cutting edge. Now, if you are into reviewing cameras, you like cameras that do something new because that's exciting to talk about, and if a camera doesn't do anything new, let's just say it's a really good value, well, that's kinda boring, and that's not interesting, and so, if there's nothing cutting-edge about it, the reviewers really don't care about the camera. Check box comparing. And so, this is where people are going through the spec list and they're going, okay, this one's got nine step focus bracketing and this one has seven step focus bracketing, clearly nine steps is much better. Well, okay, yeah, it is better, but does it matter to you? Are you even gonna use that feature? And so, they just go through and highlight, well, this doesn't have this and this doesn't have that, and you know, if you wanna review video cameras, if you wanna review still cameras for video feature, this is my joke on how you review a camera for video, the first thing you do, the title of your review is you mention the one thing that this camera cannot do. It shoots 4K, but not at 60 frames a second. Well, it shoots 8K, but only 30 frames a second. It shoots 8K, but only 60 frames a second. It shoots 8K 240 frames a second, but it's only a 30 bit processor on it, so it's not really that good. So, they're always lamenting the one thing that it doesn't have. Overly concerned with image quality. Now, this seems strange because in photography, image quality is a huge deal, and going to an interchangeable lens camera, one of the reasons you do it is for image quality. But the fact of the matter is most of these cameras, virtually all the cameras, are going to meet most all of our image quality needs, and then some by a long shot. And so, the fact that one camera might be just a tad bit better quality than the other one oftentimes throws the review over in one favor, even though controls and the ecosystem of different lenses might be much better in another category. And so, image quality, yeah, it's important, it's not always the most important thing. There's a lot of other things that go into it. It is one of many different factors to consider. Overly impressed with new features. No matter how useless a feature is, if it's new, well, for a reviewer, that's something exciting to talk about, and I can understand that from perspective, but does it actually do anything that's practical? And I can think of a number of cases where cameras have come out with new things, and it's something to talk about in the review, but it really doesn't help you out in photography. So, really try to filter those out. Number four, under-impressed with value. I mentioned this before. There was a camera that came out, and it did nothing new. It was not the best in any single category, it brought nothing new to the table. But it did bring value. For the feature set that it had, it was a really good value. It got trashed in reviews because it didn't do anything new and exciting. It was just your standard, you know, go back to a car analogy, it's your standard Honda Accord. It's a very basic car, you see 'em all over the place, they're not exciting, they're not gonna win any races, but boy, you know, that's a good, standard, basic, reliable car, and that's what a lot of people want in cameras, and you're not gonna see a reviewer talking about a camera's value. Oh, the value on this camera is so good. That's not what they talk about. They exaggerate the small differences. So, I've seen a case where one camera shot, I think it was like 10 frames a second, and another camera shot, eight frames a second. Now, I've shot a fair bit of sports, and I would rather have 10 than eight frames a second. It's not a huge difference, but the way that these reviewers talked about the difference, well, this one's suited for professional sports photography and the other one is completely unacceptable because it's two frames per second slower, and that is just absolutely not true. So, they will take any small difference, and in order to make as clear of choice as possible, they'll exaggerate every small difference that they can possibly find. They overemphasize video. It took me a while to figure out this one, and let me admit, I like video in my cameras. I shoot video from time to time, and I think it's a great feature to have. I'm not buying these cameras to shoot video, I would buy a video camera if I wanted to do that, but I've found that most of these reviewers are posting their reviews using video on the internet. So, video is extremely important to them, and all the video features are very important, and I know there's a lot of people who are interested in video, but there is a huge section of people that it's either not interested at all in it, or they only use it a little bit and it's not that big a deal. But you will find that video has become very, very large, and it is, you know, an important aspect of our society for sure, but it does get overemphasized in a lot of these reviews. And the number one thing is they are too quick to recommend upgrading. The problem here is that when you are recommending upgrading, you need to have an understanding of how much money a person has in order to upgrade, and so when a new camera comes out, is it worth the upgrade? Well, how much does it cost, what do you get for it, and how much disposable income do you have to spend on cameras? And that's gonna vary tremendously. You could have a camera that doubles the number of megapixels but is not worth upgrading, either A, 'cause you don't have the money to do it, or it's better spent on a lens, or travel, or paying the rent. Or you just don't need that upgrade at all for what you do. And so, you'll find that, in almost every case, when a new camera supersedes an old camera, they almost always recommend upgrading. Not all the time, but it's about 80 to 90% of the time, when I think it should be more like 30 to 40% of the time. I think a lot of people would be fine skipping generations as they go through, depending on the model and what they are doing. So, that's kinda what I'm thinking behind the scenes when I'm reading all these camera reviews.

Class Description

Our Camera 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. If you're looking to purchase a camera or gift one to a budding photographer in your life- this free course will be your guide in making the best purchase.

Class Materials

Free Bonus Material

Camera Buyer's Guide Download

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Denise Watson

Another outstanding class by John Greengo, my favorite Creative Live instructor. John's delivery is entertaining and his info clear and very easy to understand. If you need more explanation, well, don't worry - he's got a slide or PDF for that! I'm a working photographer and I learn something new with each of John's classes. Don't hesitate to buy any of his classes - you won't regret it.

David Reichel

Yes - there is such a thing as a free lunch - this class is it! I enjoy landscape, seascape, architecture, portrait and travel photography. I've been a Canon user for decades (film and then digital full frame with the 5D Mark II then 5D Mark IV). Recently I got a Fujifilm mirrorless medium format GFX 50R and discovered some Fujifilm features (e.g., film simulation, menu system) that resonate with me. I now have over-kill on full frame format and because I like the Fujifilm so much, I've been thinking about moving from my Canon 5D Mark IV to a Fujifilm X-T3 as my walk-around camera. This class helped me better understand the trade-offs and alleviated my concerns about a crop format sensor in the X-T3. On top of that, this is a great refresher course on camera fundamentals.

Sherry Throughmyeyes Prater

There a thousands of reviews/guides/ floating around the internet, but this one is by far the best by far. I usually watch a portion and then move on because I simply lose interest, but I watched every single lesson. John gives a very unbiased explanation of cameras, functions for every type of shooter. Not only would I recommend it, but I am going to recommend. I am a member of multiple photography groups on FB and one of the most asked questions is camera buying advice. This is excellent!