What Are Your Camera Needs?


Camera Buyer's Guide


Lesson Info

What Are Your Camera Needs?

Let's take a look at your needs. What do you need in a camera? How will you be using the camera? And so, big question is, is what do you want to shoot? What do you plan on shooting? What do you have to go out shooting? And, so these are some of the common categories that photographers will engage in their work. But I've decided to break it up into a little bit more abstract categories. And so think about things that you want to shoot. And what's really important is the size, proximity, lighting, and movement of the subjects that you are wanting to take a photograph of. These are challenging photographic subjects to shoot. Number one. If you're into small things. They're very small in size and you need to have the right type of lenses to get close to them. Anything that is in a dark environment. If you want to be a concert photographer the lighting on stage is very, very challenging. You need to have the right equipment for that. Big objects are very similar to small objects when they'r...

e distant from you. But you need a slightly different set of tools for solving that problem. And one of the most common problems is anything that moves relatively quickly. And this can be professional athletes. This can be your four year old child. Anything that moves quick is going to be a challenge for photography. So, for small items, we have things like telephoto lenses. We have macro or close-up lenses. And this is one of the great things about interchangeable lenses, is that you can choose between the different tools out there. There are also accessories that will allow you to get close with a standard lens. Dark situations are always tough. They've gotten better with modern equipment. But they are still a challenge. And so there's accessories like tripods that you can use. You can use fast lenses, which allow in a lot of light. It collects light very, very quickly. We'll talk more about this next one, the size of the sensor can help out, because it has larger pixels and it sees better under low light conditions. There is also flash units that you can use to add on and illuminate your subject. And so there's a lot of ways to take pictures in dark situations. Distant subjects. Those of your into wildlife and sports photography. Obviously you're going to be looking closely at telephoto lenses. Sometimes that can be simply solved by legs and effort. Maybe you have to just walk a little bit closer to your subject. Or somehow position yourself closer to that subject. For subjects that are moving very quickly there's a number of features you want to look at. You wanna look at the auto-focusing system of the lens so that it can track your subject very quickly. There are some lenses that let in more light and are able to focus faster than other lenses. And so some lenses are very, very good at sports and action photography. And then here's that good view finder that I told you is very important so that you can track your subject and follow your subject as it's moving around. This is very important for anyone who's shooting action photography. Another important concept to think about is how do you plan on using your images? And we can break this into two basic categories. Screen and print. And so, if you're gonna use it on screen, we can put it on a computer. Facebook, Instagram, phones. Anything like that. That's relatively easy. There's not that much resolution that's necessary for that. You could be doing video or filming that you're gonna end up putting on a tv monitor or larger projection option. You also have projection and slide shows that you can do. And this is all relatively easy. All the cameras on the market will provide enough resolution to do this. However, if you want to print on paper, our printing technology is well ahead of where our screen technology is when it comes to resolution. If you want to print a small print that's pretty easy with everything. But if you want to print something for publication or you want to make a framed or a larger sized print that's where you're gonna need more pixels, more resolution, and better quality. It's not just the pixels. You need a better quality lens that gets you a nice clean image onto those pixels collecting that information. So the whole system needs to be better. Now if you are wanting to have these higher end uses, you're gonna need a little bit of a higher end camera to get you the quality for those situations. The other thing to consider is how do you plan on using your camera? You may start off getting into photography thinking I'll just let the camera do it, it's much smarter than me. But if you take a photography class and you start learning about how much control you have you're gonna wanna jump in and change the shutter speed. Change your depth of field. Change your white balance. Change all sorts of things. And if you want to be able to do that you're gonna want a camera that allows you to do it and is easy to do it. How important is size and weight? There is definitely this balance that we have to get between portability and ease of use. There are small cameras. And there are big cameras. And let me give you an example. Here, let me pull a smaller camera off. Let's pull one of these. And let's pull one of the larger ones off. This is a. So these are very different size cameras right here. So, I'm not saying these are the same size cameras. But when I go traveling this is a nice camera to take along. I could put that in a coat pocket. Throw it in a bag. Super, super easy. Not a big deal. And this one is definitely a much bigger camera. Probably gonna require its own pack or its own casing. But when it comes time to start making changes on the camera what I'm looking at is how big and how easy are these buttons to press. And how big are the dials. Are things fiddly and you gotta like, ah I gotta get in there, and get this little dial turned. It's kinda small and hard to get to. And photographers who are working seriously that wanna make quick changes and not be fussing around with things, you know, having nice big buttons that you can easily press, big dials that make changing shutter speeds and apertures very, very easy. This is what you wanna be using when you're actually shooting. Yes, this is what we wanna carry around. But when we're actually shooting this becomes very valuable. And so, sometimes we kind of tend to back and forth. Sometimes we want something small 'cause we're just taking simple pictures and we don't make many changes on it. And if we're using our camera more and more of the time, then we start liking these cameras and appreciating these dedicated dials and buttons for doing any individual thing that we want. And so, it's a bit of a compromise. I still like the small cameras. I just know that they're not good for certain types of photography where I'm gonna be shooting real heavily with them. If I'm shooting a lot, I like a nice camera with good direct controls. So be aware of that when you're thinking about what size camera is right for you. One of the jokes that I have, that I'm actually pretty serious about, is that if you wanna get a camera system that you are really happy with, is what you should do, is you should go to the camera store where you can see these things in person. And I want you to look over the different camera bags. And I want you to figure out what size camera bag would you like to carry around with you. Now, to start with, yeah, carrying a camera bag of this size would be really nice. It's not too big. It's pretty heavy. And then you get this one. And you start off with your camera in here. And then you think, "Oh, I want a second lens." And so, then you gotta go in, and you gotta get the bag that's bigger that holds the camera, your first lens, and your second lens. Oh, I wanna carry a flash. And I'm gonna go on a long walk. And now I want a water bottle. And so, then, you gotta get your bigger bag out. And this can kind of go on, and on, and on. And so, you kinda wanna think about what size of bag would you want. And, I have a closet full of bags because I have a bunch of different purposes. Sometimes I wanna go very lightweight. Sometimes I just have a little one. Sometimes I'm carrying a few more lenses. And sometimes, I'm all serious about photography and I'm walking around all day. And the easiest way to carry heavy equipment is on a backpack. Now this is not the quickest way to shoot because when I shoot I gotta take the backpack off. And then I gotta get in here, unzip it, and get my camera out of there. But when I'm walking around, you know, I'm going on tour in Cuba and I gotta walk a mile down the streets down here, I'll have my camera over the shoulder and I'll have my backup bag with all of my stuff in it back here. And so, think about what type of bag you feel comfortable carrying and fits with the environment that you're going in. And so whether you're going up hiking on the trails or whether you're going through the city, there's all sort of different bags. And, in some ways as I say, go look at the bags first. Figure out what fits your style and what you're doing. Maybe you ride the subway to work and you gotta take your laptop and you've got just so big a spot where you can put a camera. Well that's gonna kind of dictate to you what size camera you might need. And so, camera bags are great. I love them because they can really be tailored to any specific use that you're doing. And there's all sorts of great, I'm not even gonna go into the whole bag. There's a whole class on choosing the right bag. I like low key bags that don't have a lot of big labels on 'em. Those just by the way, 'cause I have a feeling some of you might ask, those we're think tank bags. They're among many different ones out there that are very, very good. But I like those 'cause they have really small labels and they don't have a lot of flashy stuff on them. And so, another important thing to know about bags, and this was told to me by someone who was mentoring me when I was working at a newspaper in college, and he told me, the bag rule is, is whatever bag you get, you will fill it. Empty spots in bags just do not last. It's, "Oh well, I could put a water bottle in there. I could put an extra lens in there. I could put a flash in there." So get a bag no bigger than you're comfortable carrying around on a regular basis. Now you're gonna have to address how much can you afford? Cameras are a relative expensive item to buy. It's an expensive hobby to have. There's a lot of ways to spend money. The difference between a basic camera and a dream camera can be the difference between $ and, if we're talking just camera price, about $6000. But if you wanna add in lenses it, sky's the limit. Sky's the limit in there. So when you're thinking about where, what do my needs are? What do I want? Look at where the prices are of the cameras. You may also wanna consider new versus used cameras. I will talk a bit about used cameras. I don't have a big problem with used cameras. I have a little problem with used cameras. And I'll talk about my tips on buying those used cameras later on in the class. But there are some very good values out there. Because there is a premium for buying a brand new camera, brand new in a box. You are paying a couple hundred dollars and like buying the car, it loses a lot of money as soon as you drive if off the lot. As soon as you open up, open it up, out of the box, and start shooting photos, it's dropping in value. Then there's the whole idea of budgeting for the camera versus the lenses and all the accessories that you might need. And so, for most people, you should budget enough money to get a camera, probably two lenses to start with, a decent camera bag, and any other important accessories like a spare battery, one or two memory cards, two would be the smart choice in there, and anything else that you might need. So figure out that ahead of time so that you're ready for that. Don't be surprised when you go into the camera store to buy all those other accessories, that they too can be quite expensive. Another consideration, is if you have existing gear. Perhaps one of your parents gave you a camera and a whole set of lenses, and you're gonna go out, and you're gonna buy a new camera that works with all those old lenses. Well, it gets a little complicated because, for instance, Canon and Nikon have two different lens systems designed for different size sensors. Sony, they essentially have four different lines of lenses. One for their SLR style cameras. And one for their mirror-less cameras. One for full frame. And one for their crop frame. Pentax has two different styles. They have one full frame, crop frame. Leica is different than Fuji. And the only ones that I could really say the same is the Panasonic Lumix cameras and the Olympus cameras use the common four thirds mount. And this is one of the great things that I love about these two companies is that they decided to work together. So, let me pull off a Panasonic camera here. And an Olympus camera here. And these two cameras have decided quite a while ago to have one common mount between them. And so, if you want to take a Panasonic lens, like this Panasonic lens, and this Olympus lens, you can mount the Olympus lens on here. It mounts on there perfectly well. It auto-focuses, auto-exposures, and works perfectly well on either one of these. And so, with Olympus and Panasonic, they've got a completely interchangeable lens system because they're part of a consortium that decided, this is the standard that we're gonna make lenses to it. And, it's a beautiful thing. And I love it because I have an Olympus camera but I get to use some of the Panasonic lenses, which are really nice. And I get to use the Olympus lenses as well 'cause they're pretty nice in some different areas. So I now have double the choice in here. And so, I wish more manufacturers would do this. But most of them are very, very proprietary. Do not try to stick a Canon lens on a Nikon, and a Nikon lens on a Canon. Or visa versa. Now I will say that there are some adapters out there that you can do this. I don't really like these adapters because often times it limits the full compatibility with the camera. One of my favorite cameras out on the market, and for those of you trying to figure out, what's my favorite camera, you're never gonna figure it out. The Sony camera, one of my favorite cameras out there, and I use this with Canon lenses but I have to use an adapter. But I kinda don't like it because not all the features of the camera work when I have a Canon lens on here. And so, you really, I think, for most people, you wanna get a system that just works. You don't wanna have to have a bunch of adapters where things work 75 percent of the time, or a bunch of features don't work. It's a bit of a hassle. It's good for some people in some situations. But I think for most people getting into photography you wanna think about what system can I get into where everything works smoothly and cleanly together without any limitations.

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.