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Step 2Camera Buying

General Points - For All Digital Cameras

Fuji Finepix F80 EXR RedBuying a digital camera is the final and easiest step. The key to buying the right digital camera is to choose before buying. Settling on one or a few models before buying is critical as there is little chance of finding out accurate information at the last minute. With that in mind, here are six points to consider when buying a digital camera:

  • Choose first: Find out before hand which model or models have the right features, performance and image quality for your needs. That is what the General Digital Camera Buying Guide and DSLR Buying Guide are about.
  • Don't rush yourself: Make sure that you have time to learn the new camera before using it for something important. This is very important when going an vacations where you may not have access to information and service for your new digital camera.
  • Don't be rushed by others: Getting the wrong camera can cause a lot of frustrations. Never buy a camera because that model is in stock instead of a model you really wanted. Same thing for specials, you can choose where to buy depending on price and specials but not what to buy.
  • Sales people are there to help... themselves: They have different strategies for doing that but do not expect to find out which one. Your best defense is knowledge and to stand your ground. The best sales people will sell you a camera that suits your needs to increase your satisfaction with the store for future business. Even so, it is difficult for someone to understand your needs well enough in a few minutes. There is a conflict of interest when they cannot obtain the ideal camera for you.
  • Complete the camera: You need more than just the camera itself. Cameras which use AA batteries rarely come with rechargeables or a charger. Not all AA batteries are the same, so be careful what you buy. If you do not have already the right type of memory card, get a reputable brand in a reasonable size. Here is a hint: Good cards are backed by a lifetime warranty. Fast cards are recommended for video recording and long continuous shooting.
  • Accessorize slowly: It's a good idea to get familiar with a camera before adding to it. Also, if for some reason the camera is not right, then there are fewer things to return. Some things such as cleaning-fluids, brushes and adhesive protection can't be returned.

Lens Considerations - For DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras

Pentax FA 77mm F1.8 LensBuying any ILC requires thinking about lenses. To get started, you only need one. Buyers may already have compaitble lenses, either from a previous camera or from a compatible film one. Remember that the field-of-view may change and that some bodies do not support autofocus on all lenses, even if the mount is the same. Lenses are an integral part of a DSLR system, here are 4 important points to know:

  • Choose first: Yes, again. Read the Lens Selection feature article for detailed information. Most importantly, consider your needs in terms of focal-length, aperture, number of lenses and weight. Then, buy the most important of those lenses. Buy more only if you are quite certain it is the right thing.
  • Avoid the kit lens: Most entry level to mid-range DSLR are available as body-only or with a kit-lens. There are reasons why kit lenses are practically given away. Some stores may offer a bundle instead where they sell a body-only DSLR with a lens at a discounted price. These are usually worth the money only if the lens sold matches your needs.
  • Strategize: There multiple ways to get all the lenses you need. The most cost effective is to decide on a set of lenses and buy them in order of importance, as budget permits. Another way is to buy a lens with the intention of replacing it with one or more better lenses. With optics it is quite feasible because lenses often keep their value rather well.
  • Do you want a filter with that? Maybe, but not always. It is common to sell a cheap UV-Filter for protection, but be aware that these degrade image quality to a certain degree. The best is to use one for emminent danger like salt-water, sand and perhaps a case of chronic clumsiness. Higher quality filters exist for more frequent use. As for other filter types, consider the thread-size of all lenses you want. It can be extremely costly to get certain filters for all sizes so cost-savings can be made by buying filters in a large size (77m or 86mm) and using step-up rings to adapt them. The catch is that step-up rings usually prevent using a lens-hood.

Where To Buy

Online stores for digital cameras are extremely common. Prices vary and so does their honesty and reliability. There are many reputable places as well.

Amazon is a sure bet. They have great prices, speedy delivery and an extensive collection of models available.

US, Canadian and International visitors can get their digital cameras from B&H Photo, either online or at their physical store in New York City.

Adorama, located in NY city, offers a huge variety of digital cameras, lenses and accessories. The accept orders from the US, Canada and several other countries.

Where Not To Buy

Shady places with ridiculously low prices. Their sales department usually contacts you to confirm your order telling you that everything is an extra, including items that come in the original box. Getting customer service or reimbusment is usually a long and painful process. When in doubt, check several merchant ratings such as Reseller Ratings before ordering anything.

See Camera Confidential for a fun read.

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