Choose a camera body

Imagine it is 2:00pm and you didn't have lunch yet when you enter a buffet restaurant but you are given only one plate. You are so hungry! and everything looks good (even though it probably won't taste as good) you start grabbing food quickly filling up the plate and then you realize there's no space for the protein. 

Something similar is prone to happen is you do not educate yourself first on what you really want/need for your photography. 

Coming back to the buffet analogy. There are stations for salads, protein, sides, and deserts and ideally you choose something from each station to say you had a balanced meal.

When building your rig, you have to choose one or two things from each category: Camera body, lenses, accessories.

The most meaningful distinguisher between the different camera bodies is the sensor

Full-Frame

Frame here refers to the whole image captured, not just the actual frame. This type is the n

Cropped Sensor

The sensor is smaller by a factor that varies by model. It basically means the scene captured is smaller, as if you had zoomed in.

The size of the resulting image is not "smaller", just narrower by the same factor on all four sides.

Also, because the sensor is smaller, the camera captures less light and that has a direct impact on the quality of the photo most noticeable in low-light scenes but fear not, the resulting image is still great quality for your social media, family albums, and even a poster print for your office.

Mirrorless

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Step one: Choose a camera body

 

You get to choose from three types of bodies: full frame, cropped sensor, mirrorless. The most significant difference is the sensor.

1. DSLR full frame: This has been the traditional choice by the pros thus will be our benchmark. The sensor is based on a mirror system.

2. DSLR cropped sensor:

See image for an illustration of the crop. (for technical details, check this article).

3. Mirrorless: First launched in 2008, this camera is based on a system that requires no mirror (thus taking a significant amount of weight off your hands, literally). In the last few years this camera type has gained significant market share with amateurs and professionals alike. Because there is no mirror, this camera doesn't offer a viewfinder. While I haven't use one on the field yet, I have seen the work of others that use it and more than once I've felt tempted to get one myself.

 

The table below provides a summary of pros and cons for each camera type.

Camera Body

Pro (+)

Cons (-)

DSLR Full-frame

 

Image Quality: Excellent

Low-light: Excellent

Heavy

Cost: On the higher-end, prices range is wide ($1,000 to $6,000)

DSLR cropped sensor

 

 

 

Cost: starting at $600

Heavy

Poor low-light performance

Cropped image

Mirrorless

 

Image Quality: Excellent

Light weight

Cost: starting at $600

No Viewfinder

Fewer accessories available

Unless your intention is to go pro or need great low-light performance, any of the above will make a great starter camera. Keep in mind though, the lens has more influence in the quality of the image than the camera itself so make sure you allocate sufficient budget for one or two lenses.

 

Do not underestimate weight, when you have to carry the camera/lenses (and potentially other accessories) for hours of walking around, every ounce counts.

 

I personally LOVE my LCD display! It can swivel around and at an angle saving me back pain. That was one big reason I decided to stay with DSLR, that and having the viewfinder as well to help me visualize the scene without wasting battery.

 

If you want to read more technical details, I suggest these links (not sponsored):

Mirrorless vs DSLR Cameras

Cropped sensor vs Full frame

 

Once you settle on the camera body, you will start looking at more specific features that vary model to model even within the same brand:

- Video capabilities

- Resolution

- you will be looking at include resolution, focus, weather resistant,

 

Often times, you will be presented with bundles that include the camera body, one or two lenses, and basic accessories. My first purchase was a 70D (cropped sensor) canon camera bundle. After using the lenses for a couple of months, I got tired of running into limitations and ended up buying a new pair of lenses. The other accessories were mostly useless as well. Reconsider whether you want to pay the incremental for that bundle or just get the camera body and choose lenses separately. Good sideway into step two,

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