Your first DSLR - the advice that everyone asks me for

People often ask me advice on getting a new camera, so I thought I'd write it down to save me having to email people over and over again. Here's some foolproof advice for you.

If you're likely to always use a DSLR on automatic then there's not much point in having one. Get one of the micro four-thirds cameras. They're smaller, you can use them as a point and click, but you'll get decent image quality plus manual controls if you want them. Have a look at the Olympus Pen, the Nikon 1 or the Canon EOS M.

If you want to learn a bit about photography, how to learn the manual controls, then definitely get a DSLR.

Here's the key bit.

Once you learn anything about photography, you'll soon realise that the standard kit lenses that come with beginner DSLRs are pretty average. Expensive cameras will give you better image quality but not if you have a rubbish lens on it. The lens is the key piece of kit you need to create better images.

My advice is simple.

Get a Canon or a Nikon DSLR. There are others, like Sony, but for the pros there are only two main players.

Decide on your budget.

Buy a 50mm f1.8 first party lens (i.e. made by the same manufacturer as your camera).

It's one set focal length, so you have to zoom with your feet. i.e. you have to walk closer to zoom in, and walk away to zoom out. This is known as a prime lens.

Prime lenses are much better quality.

The 50mm f1.8 is incredibly cheap in comparison to similar quality zoom lenses. About £100.

You will notice an immediate difference.

Spend the rest of your budget on the best DSLR body that you can get.

You might be able to get a cheap deal on a camera bundled with lenses, but as soon as you learn anything about lenses you'll want the 50mm. And once you get used to that quality of image you'll ditch the ones that came with your bundle. They'll sit in a drawer somewhere as they're not really worth selling. Then if you want greater focal ranges you'll buy another zoom lens that's decent quality. You'll then have 3-4 lenses, only 2 of which you use.

It's just annoying.

Go for quality when buying your DSLR. You'll be much more satisfied in the long run.

John WilliamsComment