You may remember my camera buyers guide that I started at the end of last year. I also recommended a book called I Will Teach You To Be Rich. The good news for you is that that book is on sale for $2.24 (for the Kindle), so go buy it.
In the meanwhile, what are some specific questions / things you’d like me to talk about when it comes to buying a camera?
If I had to guess, I’d say that more than half the questions I get here on Tumblr have to do with my opinions of a variety of cameras that I can recommend.
A good friend of mine has a D3100 and let me borrow it for a week. So, after using it for a day and killing the battery (it wasn’t charged), I recharged it and set out to taking photos on it. I used it side by side with my D7000 and am now ready to absolutely recommend it as an amazing first camera for anyone out there who wants to get into photography.
Let’s start with the facts:
The D3100 sells for around $600 (with a decent kit lens) as of the time of this writing (if you buy it from B&H you’ll be supporting this website). It’s small for a DSLR but feels very good in the hand and because it’s so light, is easy to carry around with you. Since it’s a Nikon, it’ll accept just about any Nikon lens out there, but keep in mind that there is no autofocus built into this camera, so older lenses (anything that doesn’t end in ‘G’) will not autofocus. The D3100 is fast and responsive to all types of shooting and performs extremely well in low light (check out a few shots I posted here using the D3100).
There are some catches to the D3100 (that don’t make it a bad camera), mainly that it doesn’t have an autofocus motor in the camera, so you have to use lenses that autofocus for you (called ‘G’ lenses). There are some other issues that I found that are targeted to more advanced users. I couldn’t figure out how to get the ISO display in the view finder and the screen is definitely lower quality than what I’m used to.
Here’s what it comes down to - if you want to get a good start taking pictures, don’t want to spend too much money, and aren’t concerned with all the very fiddly functions of taking pictures, then the D3100 is an amazing first DSLR for you. If you plan on taking photography seriously, you’re better off saving up and buying something like the D7000 (from B&H).
Like I said in my post about putting UV filters on your lenses, the protection of your photographic gear is incredibly important. Having padding around your camera and whatever other equipment you carry around on a day to day basis (or when you are traveling) is essential for peace of mind and your cameras protection.
When I started taking photos every day, I always carried my camera with me in my plain old messenger bag. I would never carry any extra equipment for the day (that is, just the one camera body and one lens), so I never had any need for any extra compartments. I knew that my bag was small enough to hold my camera and lens without knocking them around too much, so I put off worrying about protecting my camera1. I got lucky insomuch as nothing happened to my camera, but once I realized that I was going to take pictures regularly, I decided to start looking around for a camera bag or some sort of alternative.
I did a bit of searching and bought The Roma bag insert from ONA 6 months ago. My favorite part about this particular bag insert is that it’s both tiny and incredibly functional at the same time. It converts any bag you have into a fully fledged camera bag. I can use my existing bag that I carry with me every day and not look like too much of a tourist (this has been especially helpful while traveling) and I can add protection to other bags I use (namely my gym bag).
Now that I’ve been using it for 6 months, I’m more than happy to recommend it to anyone who wants a small camera case that’s perfect for carrying your camera and another accessory (a lens or a flash) in a bag that isn’t normally suited for carrying a camera.
If it’s not clear, the fact that it converts any bag into a camera bag is the biggest selling point of The Roma.
I’ve been using the bag lately to carry two bodies - my F3 and D7000, and, so long as I have two smaller lenses on both cameras, they fit perfectly. When I have a bigger lens on the D7000, I can take out the divider that separates it and just carry the single camera with plenty of protection. The side pockets are perfect for storing cleaning accessories (I use a lens cleaning pen and have a microfiber cloth you’d use to clean glasses), remote shutter releases, business cards, and a pack of gum (or whatever else you’d like to carry).
I love the bag, and am happy to recommend it to all of you!
Always a great idea, I know ↩
Don’t you worry, I haven’t forgot about this series.
One thing that’s been a bit of a hang up for me is recommending a camera that comes out to be fairly expensive, so I’m going to recommend that people who are looking into buying one take a look at the book I Will Teach You To Be Rich. It takes a common sense approach to making and saving money without doing anything. Think of it as everything your parents ever told you about saving money but written in a voice you understand.
In the meanwhile, I’ve been working through some thoughts that turned out to be harder to write down than I had thought. I’m also borrowing a friend’s Nikon D3100 that I’ll use for a couple days to see if I can give you guys some perspective on it.
So where do you go to buy a camera? While there are a lot of options out there, here are my recommendations:
One more note: someone here asked me about using Best Buy to buy cameras. I’d advise against that - it’d be like buying groceries from a gas station (you don’t buy your groceries from a gas station do you?) - in general they’re probably okay, but they’ll try upselling you on crazy warranties and possible accessories you may not need. Don’t get it from there unless you can find some sort of mind-blowing deal, and even then, be wary about it. I try to take the policy that the people you buy expensive goods from should both know and be passionate about those goods, otherwise they shouldn’t be selling it.
I’ve gotten approximately 3.5 billion questions over the past year asking me a very specific question that I’ve avoided answering for a while now:
What camera should I buy?
There are usually specific camera models in there that people ask about, and those are usually camera models that I don’t know much about. Fortunately though, I have friends who have some of the models you are requesting, and through asking them and playing with the cameras a little, I feel better recommending them to you.
There are some disclaimers before we start:
This isn’t going to be one marathon post, it’ll be way too long and, frankly I don’t think people like reading all that much so I’ll keep these short. Up next: where do I buy a DSLR?