{Buying a DSLR Camera: What You Need To Know FIRST}

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So you’re finally ready to get your feet wet and get that ‘big’ camera, ay?

Whatever your reason for taking the plunge, there are a few things you must know first. Buying a DSLR is not about just walking into a store (or hopping online) and getting the camera that looks the cutest or that carries a certain brand name.

My friend...

There is so much more than that to consider and trust me - the brand name does NOT say it all. I've got a few things to talk to you about before you head off to spend your dough!

Things to know before you go:

>>What's your goal ?<<

The best way to begin your digital camera search is to ask yourself what your goals are. Are you wanting to become a professional photographer or do you just want to be able to take great pictures that are frame-worthy of people or things that you enjoy?

If you feel on the fence and are unsure of what you plan to do, then I would advise going with the latter. It’s much better (and easier) to upgrade when you're ready rather than to have lots of expensive equipment laying around collecting dust.

And if you just need something for the occasional picture here and there - DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY - a point and shoot will work just fine.

Setting a goal from the beginning doesn't mean you can't change your mind, but it's a great jumping off place for ya. 

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.
— Lewis Carroll

>>What do you want to do?<<

Some camera bodies as well as camera lenses are best known for a specific style of photography more than another and some are just so boss that you can do lots with them. For example, I currently have a camera body that is pretty amazing at recording video and has some pretty cool features that support my film sessions that I couldn't live without. 

Alternatively, understanding what you want to do with your camera will help you filter out the cameras that just will not fit the direction you are headed in. Using the example I just gave about the video features, imagine knowing you want to learn to record video but the camera you ended up purchasing had very low quality specs but was awesome at taking pictures in low light situations. You will have to replace it...

That would not be cool!

Everything that applies to cameras also applies to lenses. Some are made to support a wider field of view that captures more of a scene than those that make the subject or scene appear closer to you than normal.

>>What type of Camera Body will work?<<

When I started out, I had no idea that there was a difference in camera bodies and man, was this something I wish I had known!

There are two sensor types: Crop Sensor (DX) and Full Frame (FX).

A crop sensor camera will cut out the edges of you image once you take it. And with a full frame, you don't lose a THANG!

Check out this image here and you will get what I mean. 

Crop Sensor Vs Full Frame.jpg

You see that?! It's a bit of a difference.

The area within the red line is what you would be able to see on a crop sensor camera with the full image being the result of a full frame shot. There's nothing wrong with either one, honestly. You just have to know what you are working with up front for 2 BIG reasons:

A crop sensor cameras will accept both a cropped lens AND a full frame lens; BUT A full frame camera will ONLY accept a full frame lens. 

On a crop sensor camera, the focal length (the numbers on the lens) of a full frame lens will not be it's true length when placed on the camera.


Using the image above - if I used my crop sensor camera body with a 24mm lens, the image will be cropped into something like what a 35mm lens would create (the area within the red line). 

Each camera manufacturer crops at slightly different amounts, but the take home here is that it's going to happen! 

Now, I know that was a ton of info in this small section and you might feel a little overwhelmed at this point. But it is super important for you to know out the gate.

Full frame equipment also tends to be quite a bit heavier in weight and pricier than it's crop sensor buddy, which is another thing to take note of...

>>what can your budget getcha?<<

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Just kidding!

Now it goes without saying - but I will say it - you don’t have to break the bank to get a great camera and lens. It’s very tempting to want to buy everything you see if you are truly excited about getting started with photography but do not fall for the shiny things! 

Outside of the obvious camera and lens duo I've got a checklist here for you to grab that will help you figure out what else you need to get started. 


There are some pretty darn good cameras out there that will get the job done for about $500-$700. As a matter of fact, there are many photographers who began their journey on a beginner level camera. You just need to be familiar with how much money you are wiling to spend according to your goals. 

If you know your goal is to head into photography as a profession, then you should be very careful in your budgeting skills across time and remain thoughtful about your purchases. Photography in any form is EXPENSIVE!

Now unless you're a thousandaire, a millionarie, or money isn't an issue, there is no shame in starting low and going slow.

Have you ever heard someone say “Wow, that camera takes great pictures!” Well, they are only partially right. There is a lot that goes into a great image and having a great camera does make a difference. But, learning and understanding your camera body can upgrade your experience dramatically, even if you have a less expensive one.

It's not just the camera but the operator who creates the image! So don't believe the hype that you need to have the most expensive camera on the shelf to really make some amazing pictures. 

In keeping with our conversation about budget, know this -  if you have to choose between an expensive camera and a low cost lens, put your money into a great lens.

Here’s why -

Camera lenses are interchangeable and much more versatile! They can hook up to many camera bodies AND can sometimes be used across brands and sensor types (remember the previous section?!) A really good lens can travel with you as you grow in your photography and can sometimes outlast your progress with a certain camera body.

I started out with a crop sensor camera body and a full frame lens and have since upgraded to a full frame camera. I didn't have to purchase a new lens, which was nice!!

But hey - your money, your decision!

>>What are your options?<<

Not all cameras come with a lens! Shocking, right?

You have the option of buying a kit which is a camera body that comes with a lens. These are great places to start when making your first purchase since they tend to be less costly than buying separately and work just as well. 

Although most kits are made up of your crop sensor cameras and lenses, there are some full frame kits out there. 

You can either go the kit route or purchase your camera and lens separately. The choice is yours! Though the price might be appealing, the lens that comes with the kit may not be what you were looking for OR suitable for the type of pictures you would like to take. So - really think about your investment.

Cameras are like cars...

You can buy the nice car (camera only) and then get the special vanity license plates you've always wanted (lens) for extra $$ OR you can get that same car and drive off with the plates that come with it (kit) for no extra fees!

>>Test drive<<

Just like cars, did you know that you could rent cameras and lenses?!

I'm absolutely telling you the truth right now...I do NOT kid! 😁

Renting is a really cheap and effective way to figure out what you want before spending loads of money, giving you zero excuse to make a good decision before buying.

In many cases, you should be able to find a local store that can help you out. The one I use here in Houston is called Photo Rental Source* and I really LOVE them. They're really laid back, cool folks and are always up for answering questions. 

But anyway, let's say you don't have a place to rent cameras and/or lenses locally - Dr. Google to the rescue!!! Hop online and you will find TONS of places that will ship lenses right to you at a ridiculously low price. 

So rent yourself a camera body and/or a lens OR get test drive those bad boys until you know what you want. There are usually a few rental time length options so get crazy with it (as much as your budget will allow), but be sure to ALWAYS select the insurance option and CYA (cover your a**)! You don't want to have an accident with a camera you don't own. 

Don't forget your budget here, too. You can get so busy testing that you have spent your budget for buying. So be reasonable and get your camera game on!


Consider your goals for getting a camera.

Decide on a budget and don’t get too crazy unless you can afford it.

Not all cameras and lenses are created equal- BEWARE.

Rent and play around before you buy!

Now whip out those Benjamins and get ‘er done. And while you’re at it make sure to grab this checklist on what gear you will need to get you started.



What are you hoping to take pictures of with your new camera? I really want to know😬