What To Do When You Outgrow Your Camera

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So, you’ve reached the point where your handy point-and-shoot just isn’t giving you the flexibility and control that you’d really like to take your photography to the next level. Or, you have a beginner’s D-SLR and you’d like to progress to something that has more capabilities and features. Perhaps you’re ready to explore the vast array of lenses, or remote shooting, or remote flash triggers.

Whatever your ultimate goal is, consider the following five tips when you think you’ve outgrown your current camera:

One – Consider your circumstances. Has your skill changed, or has your life changed? Do you find yourself in more circumstances that require a specific kind of photography? Some examples might be coaching and/or attending your kids’ sporting events, an extended travel vacation to once-in-a-lifetime destinations, the creation of a new website, and whatnot. Or, if your skill has changed (or if you would like it to change), are you looking for versatility in depth of field? Increased megapixels for better prints? Does macro photography interest you? How about wildlife photography? Or do you enjoy taking portraits? All of these goals would use different camera/lens combinations.

Two – Stick with a brand. You’re going to start buying accessories and lenses. You may already have a collection of lenses from your old film camera that will work with a new D-SLR. That’s one of the main reasons why I, myself, chose a Canon D-SLR when I was ready to buy my first one. I had a film Canon, and the lenses were compatible with the D-SLR line. So, unless you can afford to completely accessorize, say, a Nikon AND a Canon, or a Sony AND an Olympus, I would recommend researching the brands and planning on extending your loyalty to just one.

Three – Consider your motivations. A new camera won’t necessarily mean you’ll take better pictures. So if you have a specific complaint about the pictures that you’re getting with your current camera, consider – is it really the camera, or can you better learn photographic technique? Are your pictures consistently blurry or ill-framed? Do they end up just looking like a bunch of “snapshots”, not capturing the feeling behind the shot? Perhaps you may want to consider brushing up on your photography basics. Barring mechanical issues, that is. Of course, if your camera only has automatic settings and no way to manually control aperture, shutter speed, white balance, and the like… well, maybe it IS the camera!

Four – Give yourself room to grow. If you’re really passionate about photography, and find yourself constantly pouring over pictures and trying to figure out “how they did that”, you will need a camera that gives you plenty of room to learn and grow. Don’t start out with your very first D-SLR being so darned complex and with so many buttons that it intimidates you and makes you want to give up in disgust. On the opposite end, don’t start with something so simplistic that it does all of your thinking for you. Entry level D-SLR’s like the Canon Rebel XS, the Nikon D40, the Olympus Evolt E520 and the Sony Alpha A380L are all great choices. Of course, you will need to consider your individual budget when purchasing your camera. Prices can range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands upon thousands! Here is a great article from Digital Photography School on how to choose a D-SLR camera.

Five – Talk to other camera owners, and test-drive some cameras. You can read all of the literature you want, study all of the Amazon customer reviews, and drive yourself crazy with all of the opinions out there. Bottom line, your best resource is other camera owners. Talk to your friends, talk to your family, see if you can borrow a camera for an afternoon to get the feel of things. Your absolute best bet is to rent several different kinds of cameras from your local camera shop (or our friends at Pro Photo Rental). “Try before you buy” is a fantastic way to determine the right camera for you.

I hope you’ve found these tips to be helpful. If you have any other advice or experiences to share, please let us know in the comments!

Photo Credit: Steve Keys on Flickr Creative Commons.

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