What camera should you buy: Questions to ask before you spend a dime


In the world of photography, there are pretty much endless choices when it comes to selecting a camera.

This is true for price as well since the cameras can range for a few hundred to a few thousands of dollars for just the body.

What camera should you buy

Based on a $1500 budget, I recommend the Sony a7iii as a smart choice for a beginner full-frame camera. The eye tracking system gives you an advantage when shooting portraits, and the dynamic range will help you in bright or dark situations when shooting in RAW. If you have a smaller budget under $1000 then I recommend considering the Sony a6400 APSC mirrorless camera. 

Sony a7 paired with Sony 28-75mm Kit Lens

Sony a7iii Mirrorless Camera

Sony a6400 APSC Camera

But, before you go out and jump on the mirrorless camera train, let’s think about some questions that every beginner should ask when wondering what camera should you buy.

Starting the buying process of cameras and lenses

Before asking what camera you should buy, maybe you should consider a few other questions first. Especially if you’re just starting out.

Many people invest in equipment, only to fail at pursuing photography seriously, and then let the equipment collect dust or sell it for a major loss. I want to help you avoid this scenario by asking you the questions below.

These are the questions I wished I knew before starting to invest heavily in photography equipment.

What camera should you buy Beginner Cameras

1. What type of photography are you interested in?

If you had a huge budget at your fingertips, what type of photography would you shoot? Would you consider doing landscapes, portraits, or even weddings?

All these photography types are a lot of fun but require cameras and lenses that are unique to each specialty.

Yes, you can find many that overlap when it comes to the camera body, but you will want to do your research on lenses and how they can affect your work.

I wanted to do more portraits and on a tight budget, and I read that prime lenses were great for portraits.

I ended up buying the Sony 55mm f1.8 for my Sony a7 starter camera a few years ago and it was the best choice I could have made for my photography. I made the purchase after reading lots of specs and articles on the lens and other options.

Don’t be lazy and do your research before you jump into spending money. It will save you more in the long run.

What camera should you buy beginner cameras are important
Sony a7iii paired with Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4 Lens

2. Is photography a hobby or a business venture?

This question can mean the difference between a few hundred dollars, and a few thousand dollars.

If you’re looking to keep this a hobby or just be a casual shooter, you can actually find some great starter camera kits at local electronic stores that will meet your needs.

Consider APSC or micro four-thirds cameras. They provide great quality and value for the money.

If your leaning towards making photography more of a business or side hustle, I highly recommend investing in full-frame equipment.

These types of mirrorless or DSLR cameras can come with a higher price tag, but will offer more features and are built to last longer.

3. What’s your photography budget?

Once you have decided on what type of photography you want to shoot, you’ll need to sit down and figure out a budget.

I personally believe that photography can be an expensive hobby, but don’t let that distract you from jumping into the industry.

My biggest recommendation would be to visit a local camera shop with some ideas in mind on how much you would like to spend.

Ask questions and get recommendations from the professionals and see what they have to say.

I think a person interested in starting portrait photography should have a budget of around $800-$1500.

If you know you will never make money from photography and just want to be a casual shooter I think you could get away with a budget around $400-$600.

You just have to keep in mind there is camera accessories like batteries, tripods, reflectors and even editing software to consider.

What camera should you buy Things to consider before you purchase
Online Camera Rentals – Lensrentals.com

5. Have you tried renting first?

Yes, it’s possible to rent cameras and lenses online before you buy. Renting allows you to try different camera kits and see what works best for you.

The equipment is delivered to your door, and you simply return on the designated date in a prepaid package.

You can rent from companies like Lensrentals.com, Borrowlenses.com and more.

You just need to start an account and look for a camera combination that will suit your needs. If you don’t know where to start, then just reach out and ask the professionals at each company.

They will be happy to recommend certain camera and lens combinations for you. Rent gear for a weekend and take come pics of family and friends if you’re interested in doing portraits.

These online rental companies will also give you a deal on rented equipment if you’re interested in keeping the gear.

6. What other equipment will you need?

Cameras and lenses are usually the first major purchases when diving into photography but they are certainly not the last.

Sometimes people are gifted cameras and you start your hobby from there.

Think about camera protection with camera straps and camera covers. Also, you’re going to need memory cards, extra batteries and maybe even off-camera flash units with triggers.

Eventually you will invest in tripods, backpacks and even more batteries. This doesn’t include editing software that you will need to read the RAW files from your camera.

Don’t let this get you down if you don’t have the upfront budget for all these accessories. Start simple and build as you go.

Here is a list of what I started with when I bought my first camera for portrait photography.

  • Sony a7 mirrorless camera with 28-75mm kit lens
  • Camera backpack
  • 1 extra battery
  • Shoulder strap for camera

Also consider some uncommon photography gear that you might need to have for your shoots. Check out this list here for more. 

This setup cost me about $1500 when I purchased it brand new years ago. Now I could get all this for under $800 used. and that leads to my next question that you should ask yourself before buying gear.

Investing in Camera Gear

7. Have you considered used camera gear?

Many photographers will use camera gear for 1-2 years and then upgrade bodies or lenses.

This brings an opportunity to buy used cameras or lenses that are a few years old and save hundreds of dollars  versus buying new.

Lenses rarely loose value so they are great investments. Camera bodies will loose value faster than lenses in my opinion but it also depends on your camera brand of choice.

Save money and do your research on used camera gear. Check out websites like mpb.com, adorama.com or even bhphotovideo.com

8. How will you edit your photos?

Shooting photos are fun, especially when you’re in a cool location and you’re having a great time. What many new photographers don’t think about is post-production work.

Taking your photos from your camera and loading them on your computer for post-processing and editing.

If you’re planning on just editing on your phone, then you don’t have to worry much. But if you’re planning on learning programs like Photoshop, Ligthroom, or CaptureOne then you’ll need to invest time in learning.

Many new computers can handle the job of working with RAW or JPG files, but you will need to consider pricing for photography software and extra storage for backing up your work.

9. How will you learn photography?

If you know nothing about cameras and the principles of photography, how much time are you willing to commit to learning and how much are you willing to spend?

Keeping your camera in automatic mode will get you only so far. You’ll need to dive deeper into learning photography and learning to use manual mode to dial in your results if you want to grow as a photographer.

You’ll be learning about exposure, aperture, shutter speeds and so much more. If you’re not willing to learn the basics of photography then you might want to consider this when selecting your first camera.

There are tons of resources online for learning starting out in photography but some are not cheap. Keep this in mind when factoring in your budget.

What I wish people knew before they started

10. Have you done all your research?

Research is the key to starting your journey into photography. Before you jump into making a purchase or investment in a camera and equipment, do your research online for ideas and recommendations.

You can also check out blog posts from 2 of my favorite Photography blogs: fstoppers.com and petapixel.com.

There is so much more than just taking photos when it comes to photography. Learn more about all aspects and see if you’re ready to learn.

The more you learn, the more you will grow as a creative artists in this field.

Why The Sony Platform

I started with Canon when I started my photography journey, but I quickly switched to the Sony e-mount mirrorless system.

This is a personal choice and one that I do not regret. I like the variety of cameras in the Sony line-up and the vast choices of lenses they have to offer.

The goal is to inspire

Photography can be rather expensive but it’s not impossible. Shooting film can also be costly but people start all the time.

Even with these questions, I still want you to find a way to fall in love with photography as I did.

It’s a beautiful art form that is loved and cherished by amateurs and professionals all over the world.

Final Thoughts

If you take away anything from this article, it’s that just like all creative fields, photography has more to consider than people think. Keep your eye on the ball and keep learning.

Many people give up on taking photos because they get overwhelmed in the world of equipment and accessories.

Keep your kit simple and camera bag available, even for those quick spontaneous shoots. You will grow to love your camera even thought it is just a tool. The real talent comes from your creativity and growing your passion for creative compositions.

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