People who’re new to photography often ask for advice about which should be their first camera.
The advice pours in: buy Nikon, buy Canon, forget dslr models and go for mirrorless, don’t bother, just use your phone. I was no different. I agonised over which camera to buy when I wanted to explore more about photography than my iPhone would let me.
How I Chose my First Camera
Half way through 2016 I wanted a camera I’d chosen myself. I already had a Sony A330 that I’d been given, but I wanted to buy my own first camera. Someone who’s photography I admired greatly shot with Nikon, so I decided to look for a Nikon of my own.
It was agonising. So many models, so many functions, bells and whistles. How to choose?
Budget, I decided was the way to go. So I set a limit and hunted again, eventually landing on the D5500. Still didn’t buy it. There was a little question mark in my heart that stopped me.
Eventually I went to a photography shop instead of prowling the Internet. Let’s get hands on, I thought. What do these cameras actually feel like?
The shop I chose didn’t stock Nikon. Typical.
Anyway, out came a range of cameras within the budget I’d set, with models from FujiFilm (which actually was a bit over budget), Canon, Panasonic and Pentax. I loved the Fuji, but man, the lenses are expensive. It doesn’t matter how great the quality, if you can’t afford it, it makes no difference.
Eventually I went with Canon: the 750D. I was happy for several months. I wanted to explore lenses, speedlights and stuff.
But again there was a question mark in my heart that stopped me.
I soon realised I wasn’t truly invested in the Canon system. I wasn’t in love with how the camera looked.
My heart yearned after the costly little Fuji.
Buy the Camera Your Heart Yearns For
I should have listened to my heart. Deep down I knew which camera I wanted, but I allowed logic, finance and practicality to sway my decision. I’d also been influenced by the people around me. I’d joined a camera club and they nearly all shot with Canon or Nikon. Surely I needed to belong to one or the other of those tribes?
But my heart wanted the solid, sweet, but serious-looking Fujifilm. I should have listened from the start.
You see, regardless of benchtests, nit-picking reviews that talk about minute changes in noise levels at higher iso settings, slightly better tracking or better bokeh results, all cameras are capable of taking a damn good photo.
It’s not the camera that determines ‘wow’ factor, it’s the skill of the photographer. You can chase stats around all year long and still be no wiser.
It’s far more important to have a camera that sings to you with a siren call you can’t resist. Photography is tactile and emotional. The connection between camera and photographer is closer than mere function could explain.
Yes, I traded in my Canon and bought a Fuji X-T20 just a few weeks ago. Finally, I feel like I found my photo-mate. Whimsical? Maybe. But I just love that little camera.
So, when you’re choosing a camera, choose with your heart. Go for the one with the looks that attract you and the feel that delights. When you spot it lying idle, you should itch to pick it up.
Don’t be persuaded by what others swear by, there are just as many who’ll swear the opposite.
How to choose your first camera? Follow your heart. For me, it’s Fuji.
I don’t regret buying the Canon – it was a learning curve and I took good photos with it. But it didn’t capture my heart and where there’s no heart, there’s not much passion either.