Wisdom Wednesday | Making The Leap

This week’s Wisdom Wednesday was inspired by a recent question asked by one of my lovely Facebook followers. Shannon asks:

Do you provide assistance with selecting cameras? I’m looking to make the leap and purchase my first SLR.

As my photography classes has grown over the past few months, I have been asked this question more and more. At class last week one of the moms in attendance had actually purchased her camera only weeks before attending, after some consultation with myself and the internet. I definitely have a few thoughts on selecting an entry level dslr and I think this question is perfect to springboard into today’s blog post.

First of all I must admit, I am a little biased and will be talking mostly about Nikon cameras in this post. I have been a Nikon shooter since starting my photography journey and absolutely love the way both of my Nikons have performed. I do not have anything negative to say about Canons or any of the other major brands, in fact my point and shoot camera is a Canon, but I simply don’t have the experience or expertise in their dslr capabilities.

Now, first things first. I want you to answer two important questions before we begin talking more about the camera of your dreams:

1) What are your photography goals?
As a “momtographer” what will you need the camera to do? Portraits of lazy days at home or vacations with the family? Sporting events and lots of action? Crisp tack sharp focus? Video functionality? Extra durability when those kiddos accidentally knock the camera off the table and on the floor?

2) What is your budget?
The range of camera available to consumers these days is impressive. Entry level dslr cameras are at a price point accessible to most families, but keep in mind that more functionality and more bells and whistles usually comes with a higher price tag. Also, buyer beware the too good to be true sale or wheeling and dealing that often happens online. One of my recent class attendees bought her shiny new SLR on Ebay. She came to find out once it arrived that it was an overseas model and all of the menus were in Japanese and could not be changed to English. I personally found it VERY helpful to go to my local camera shop, try out a few different models, see which felt right, and purchase locally. The prices were comparable to online prices and I felt like I had really purchased the camera that was meant for me.

Now, as a mom I know there are a few top priorities on my list when it comes to having a nice camera. I want it to be able to: be easy and quick to be able to change settings on the fly (kids move a lot!), handle a quick shutter speed (to avoid blurry images), and have low light sensitivity (so I can take good photos indoors with out my flash), and have video built in so I only need one device to tote around.

My current top Nikon performer is the Nikon d7000. Why? It’s recently been released to market so it is new technology.  It gets glowing reviews for its ability to handle low light situations, it has a great video feature that has auto focus built in, it is durable and weather resistant, and it has many many many focus points (great for tracking moving targets!).  However, this is also the top of the line consumer dslr. If you are looking to pinch some pennies than the Nikon d5100, or d3100 would be my next momtographer picks.  My top Canon performers would be the Canon 60D (similar to the higher budget Nikon d7000), T2i or T3i (similar to the lower budget Nikon d5000 or d3100).

However, even more so than the camera are the lenses you will want to use after purchasing your new toy.

Lenses are really the star of the show. A lot of times it is the lens that determines what your camera can handle.  The lens can zoom or not zoom. The lens can tell the camera to be great in low light or not so great in low light.  The lens is what allows the camera to create a tack sharp image or not.  The lenses that come with these entry level SLRs are not always the most ideal for the momtographer.  They have minimal zoom capabilities, they don’t produce the most sharp images, and their capabilities in low light stink.

My #1 must have momtographer purchase to go along with your new shiny camera is the 35mm or 50mm / f 1.8 lens.  It produces GORGEOUS images. It shines in low light. It’s absolutely an amazing lens. And its a rather affordable top performing lens option.  The one downfall is that it isn’t great for sports because it doesn’t zoom. If zoom is what you need then I recommend investing in a 70-300mm zoom lens. That’s the lens for you.

Is your head spinning yet? I know there is a lot to think about when making this big investment. And don’t forget that once you’ve brought that camera home and you’ve started to play I’ll be here ready to teach you what you need to know to really use that baby to it’s fullest potential.

BUT, if you’re looking for a head start in your learning, hop on over HERE and sign up for Christmas in July. I’ll be sending free gifts to your inbox all month long with photo tips and tricks to get you snapping better photos this summer. You don’t need the dslr for this one so come join in on the fun!

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show hide 3 comments

SarahJune 29, 2011 - 8:38 pm

One of my favorite pieces of advice when purchasing a dSLR was to think about what your friends are using… if all your friends and acquaintances are shooting Canon, then you may want to shoot Canon… and likewise, if all your friends are shooting Nikon, you may want to go Nikon. That way, you have a network of help if you need it.

BerylJune 29, 2011 - 8:58 pm

I love that advice Sarah!! When I teach my photography classes I always seat Canon users with other Canon users and likewise with Nikon. That way they already have a network of others to work with during the class and even after its over!

Shannon ZimmermanJune 30, 2011 - 7:35 pm

Thanks for addressing my question! I am a Canon girl so I’ll look into t2i and t3i. And then I’ll look into classes with you to learn how to use my new technology. In the meantime, I did sign up for Christmas in July. Your insight is greatly appreciated!

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