January 14, 2011

Bonus – “How do I buy a camera?”

This is the way it usually goes down.

You’ve been thinking about a camera and you find yourself in your local big box store, agog at the rows of choice. You depend on a commission-based salesperson to give you some magical insight that delivers the perfect decision. You get dinged for “high speed SD cards” and “premium protection cases.” You are most definitely not happy.

I know. I’ve been there too.

The thing is, buying a digital camera doesn’t have to be a chore, a snore or a war. Just follow these four steps to absolute point-and-shoot happiness…

Don’t Impulse Buy             
Digital cams are cheap, everywhere – and on sale right this second. Don’t panic. If you’re only thinking about price, you’re going to get burned. Find a handful of cameras you want to try out, then head to the store. 

Ask Yourself Three Questions
·      What do I want to photograph?
This one’s going to let you know what kind of features you want. For the likes of this blog, I’m recommending a good point-and-shoot. If you’re thinking of stepping up to the DSLR world, drop me an email.

·      How do I want to carry my camera?
For some, size matters. I have a massive rig that I use for my professional career, but it’s a total pain to schlep it down to the zoo for a family day. That’s exactly why I ponied up the dough for a Canon G11 (great shots, slooooow when you press the shutter).

·      How much do I want to spend?
Costs for digital cameras and accessories can get out of hand verrrrry quickly. Give yourself a price range and tailor your search there.

Do Some Easy Research
Because I’ve made so many bad purchasing decisions (anybody want to buy some hot lights?), I do my research – and I start at one of the very best sites on the entire Internet. Digital Photography Review (http://www.dpreview.com/) has exhaustive reviews and message boards where you can ask lots of questions. If you find the choice a little daunting, check in on the reviews at a reputable retailer like B&H Photo, Camera Canada – even Best Buy. Other customers will give you the straight goods.

Ask Someone (Who Isn’t a Fanatic)
Everybody’s got that friend (or in my case, is that friend). The lippy know-it-all who has an informed opinion on what you should buy. Figure out what you want and tap into that resource.

Three Fast Recommendations
I know, I know, you just want to know what camera to buy. While I can’t tell you exactly what you need, I did some digging and recommend these three point-and-shoots:

·      Canon PowerShot S95 ($400ish). This tiny superstar is a monster-good camera. Great controls, great pictures, outstanding low light performance. Expensive and a bit slow on the shutter though.

·      Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 (About $300). Great in low light, shoots lots of frames fast and a super (10x!) zoom. This one hits the sweet spot of price and performance.

·      Casio EX-FH100 (Maaaaybe $350). A solid camera with some really cool extras – like a mega high speed video shooting mode and a high speed burst. Great if your kids are in soccer – or snowboarding.

Psst. Want more advice? Send an email.
Ask a question and I could make it the bonus feature of the week (or shoot you an answer back). Get emailing at frameone@creativemercenary.com.

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