Buying a new camera can be a daunting. With so many features and dozens of options within a single product range, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed – and that’s before you even look at the price! You don’t know what you want, what you need, or if you even should be getting yourself a camera in the first place.

Let’s make it simple… Finding the right camera is a matter of personal choice. All other factors aside, choose a camera that feels good and stable in your hand. And trust me, the less buttons and controls, the better! Think about what you want from your photography before rushing out to buy a complete kit – your equipment should open up your possibilities, not define them. That’s why we always recommend completing a course before buying your own camera – to discover what you want to do with your photography.

READ MORE: Cape Town’s Best Photography Courses

1. Keep it simple.

It’s true, you get what you pay for – but you also pay a premium for what is brand new and out the store. Get a good all-purpose camera, one that’s strong and robust and meets industry standards, but don’t get caught in the upsell. Investigate second-hand options. My advice is to spend your money on the right lens before getting an expensive camera body. A quality lens will make a huge difference in your photography. The body is just a tool, the lens is the key: defining what is possible in your photography.

The lenses you pick will be with you for life

2. Really, it’s all about the lens.

Lenses also last pretty much forever, if you take care of them – on the other hand, even the best DSLR bodies only have a lifespan of about five years. Another thing to remember is that lenses from one manufacturer are generally not compatible with bodies from another. Whether you’re interested or not, brand loyalty will come to shape you as a photographer. Any past equipment you may have, any future equipment you might get – all need to be considered. The lenses you pick will be with you for life, so avoid cheaper generic brands and stick to industry leaders like Canon. It will all be worth it in the long run.

READ MORE: Choosing the Right Lens for Your Photography

3. Do your research.

When it comes time to buy, do some research at larger retailers to know what prices to expect and scour secondhand sources like Gumtree and OLX for the deals. Orms Cape Town has a great variety of new stock, and – here’s the pro tip – are always willing and able to check camera and lenses free of charge to help give you peace of mind. Secondhand is a real option, but a  word to the wise…

4. A ‘serviced’ camera is not a good thing!

A note on secondhand cameras: while they can be great value for money, especially if you’re lucky enough to find something still in the box, avoid cameras that’ve been serviced. This is a big red flag! SLR cameras have only one moving part, the shutter, and if it’s needed a service it’s probably compromised or just plain old. Most DSLRs have only 100-200 thousand shutter actuations in them before they bite the dust, so make sure to check the shutter count – and if it’s over 30k, give it a pass.

5. Wrapping it up…

So, our advice: get an industry-level Canon DSLR at a price you can afford. This is all you need to get started, and will allow you to begin building a collection of pro lenses that will serve you throughout your life. Try and save money by going secondhand – photography is already expensive enough as it is, and there are always photographers looking to offload high-quality gear. Buying quality equipment in good condition – and keeping it that way – will always be money well-spent.

  • Get a solid camera that doesn’t break the bank – you’ll need another one down the line anyway.
  • It’s really all about the lenses. Lenses can last forever, camera bodies don’t, so make sure your camera is compatible with the lenses you want as you start to build your collection.
  • Our opinion: stick with Canon.
  • Buy secondhand to save money where you can. You can take your prospective purchases to certified dealers like Orms for a free checkup.
  • Don’t buy a camera that’s over three years old or has more than a 30 000 shutter count. Never buy a camera that has been serviced, unless it’s by a certified dealer and you can find out why. If it’s been taken care of, it wouldn’t have needed one.

Don’t own a camera yet but want to get into photography? DLPHOTO’s photography courses include all gear supplied, so you can get to know the equipment before you invest. Get started today.