So I hear you've been thinking about buying a new camera.
I've not only heard. You've told me. The #1 email zipping its way to my inbox these days is usually asking for my recommendations and advice when a mom is is ready to make that leap from compact point and shoot camera to hefty and powerful DSLR.
Usually their question begins a little something like this:
I'm thinking about buying a DSLR camera but I have no idea where to start. What's better, Nikon or Canon?
My answer almost always steers moms away from looking solely at brand first, because really the difference between Nikon and Canon is like asking the difference between Apple and PC.
For a Momtographer, choosing a camera brand is truly a matter of personal taste and personal preference. Both of these brands (and others) get the job done, it's just the small differences in buttons and menu settings that make each brand unique.
Today, instead of focusing on camera brand or model first, I'm here to help you ask the REAL questions you should be asking before making the investment in a new camera.
These questions are here to serve both the Momtographer looking to make the leap to DSLR owner for the first time OR the mom who is thinking it might be time for a DSLR upgrade.
Question #1: What is your motivation to buy?
If your internal dialogue is primarily looking for a 'quick fix' for taking better photos, you might want to re-think your purchase.
Are you simply looking for a new camera because all of your friends are rocking awesome photos using their DSLR camera too? Did you hear Nikon released the brand new D7100 and you've decided you 'just have to have it'? Are you seeing all those beautiful images on Pinterest and figuring if you buy a DSLR your photos will immediately look like that right away?
A DSLR camera will improve the quality of your photos a little bit all on its own, but the real power lies in doing a bit of research into the right camera for you first, and then taking the initiative to learn about all the button and settings so you can truly gain the control and confidence required to use a DSLR well.
Question 2: How long has it been since I bought my last camera?
Just like computers and phones rapidly go out of date, our cameras can as well. DSLR cameras have a bit longer of a 'shelf life', but if you've been using the same camera for four-plus years and have been wondering if it's time for something new, it might be a good time do some research on what's currently out there and make an upgrade!
Question 3: How much am I willing to spend?
Buying a DSLR is most certainly an investment. And the bigger and better the camera the more expensive it's going to be. It's easy to say 'your memories are worth the price' but keep in mind that you probably don't need the top of the line professional DSLR camera body to beautifully capture your life.
Question 4: Have I maximized my potential with the camera I already own?
If you have a full understanding of the technical ins and outs of your current camera and still aren't able to adjust your settings to achieve the desired result, then you may have 'grown out' of your camera and could possibly benefit from an upgrade. When I was just starting out on my self-taught photography journey, I knew it was time to leave my point and shoot behind when I had a clear understanding of ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed but found that I could hardly adapt, change, or manipulate those settings at all. A few years later I knew it was time to upgrade my DSLR camera when I was seeking high ISO values with minimal noise, but didn't have those values available to me in my entry level DSLR.
Question 5: Is a new camera REALLY going to fix my frustrations?
This is quite possibly the most important question of the five. Right now take a moment, grab a piece of paper, and write down what it is exactly that is frustrating you with your photos. Sometimes a new camera isn't always the answer. A lot of times a new lens (for current DSLR owners) can do the trick and is a lot less pricey. Sometimes a simple tweak in the time of day you take your photos is all you need to make a big impact in the quality of your images (i.e.: taking photos during the day instead of at night so you have ample light available).
Have you been considering a camera upgrade? Do you have one in particular you've got your eye on? Which of these questions will help you the most when you finally do make the leap? Tell me about it in the comments below.
Most importantly, be sure you're making the most of the camera you currently own. Sometimes the most valuable investment isn't in a fancy new piece of equipment, but by investing in your education instead.