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Top 5 Things to Consider before Purchasing your New Camera

Did you know that people who take more pictures actually remember more about an event than they would remember if they had just watched instead? Studies show that when you are behind the camera, you take in more of the details and therefore remember more of a scene. Capturing the photo also provides a tangible memory for you to hold and cherish long after your event has occurred. If you're in the market for a new camera with tax returns this year, here are my top 5 things to consider before purchasing your new camera.

Here's a photo of my girl I captured last year at the beach. I captured this moment with my Canon 70d- an older camera I have that does fine in well lit situations. (I often bring this camera to the beach because I am not as concerned about it getting damaged with sand or water.) This is a prime example of improving your images without having the best quality camera.

1- Discover what you would like to capture.

What subject would you like to photograph? This is always my first question when someone asks me what camera to buy. Would you like to take better pictures of your kids playing at the park or are you wanting to capture the kids jumping on the bed or playing in their room? Do you want to capture images of bugs outside or are you interested in bird watching or sunset images? What types of images you are after will help determine what the best camera for you is and if you will need any additional gear. Additional gear may include lenses, lights, reflectors and more.

2- How much Control do you want over your images?

Are you wanting to just point the camera at your subject and click the button? Would you prefer to be able to customize what your images look like? Some basic controls that you can choose to be able to manage on your own include:


Aperature (how much background blur you have)

Shutter Speed (how sharp your images are)

ISO (how grainy your image is)

Some cameras will only allow some changes to be made while others have all of these options and more you can customize. Determine how much time you are willing to spend in learning a new camera when making your final decision. Also, determine if you would like be able to digitally alter your images using a software such as Lightroom or Photoshop. Post Editing is best done on images taken in a format some cameras don't offer called RAW. This allows for more creativity and image alteration.

A silhouette is a good example of one thing you are able to do with a little more control. On automatic mode my camera would have made all of this perfectly exposed. I was able to tell my camera that I wanted the image darker. Also, I shot this image and then edited the image to change the color and added elements like the birds and the trees in post editing.

3- What is your Budget?

Photography gear ranges in price and can get quite expensive. How much are you willing to spend? A point and shoot camera will be much lower in cost than a camera that will have interchangeable lenses (DSLR). Lenses are a huge part of your camera gear and will sometimes cost as much or more than the body. A camera that is better in low light situations is going to cost more than a camera that can take pictures outside during the day.

4- Do you plan to Print your Images?

Better cameras will have more megapixels and will allow for larger prints and better print quality.

5- Film, Point & Shoot, DSLR or Mirrorless which Camera type is for me and what brand do you recommend?

There are a lot of options on the market and many of these will improve your everyday photos. Now that we've looked into Budget, Customization and Discovering what you would like to shoot we can start narrowing down what type of camera is best for you.

Film and Polaroids-

Film camera's are mostly a thing of the past. These are for old school photographers who want to really dive into the skill of capturing the moment exactly as it is. Usually film will have more grain and a more vintage feel. It is getting harder to find places that will develop the film in these cameras, but there are camera stores that will do it. Polaroids are super fun and will print the images out of the camera right after the image is taken. It can be pricey to buy the paper, but they provide a fun and instant photo.

Point & Shoot-

A point and shoot camera is exactly that. All you do is point the camera and push the button. These have a much lower starting price point. This is a camera I recommend if you're going on a vacation to disney or if you're wanting to capture the kids playing outside. A point and shoot camera is a basic camera that will allow you to capture those everyday moments in well lit areas. I'm a Canon shooter but Nikon, Sony & Lumix also make some pretty good Point & Shoot Cameras.


A DSLR camera has a mirror inside that allows you to change the lenses on it. Being able to change the lenses will change how far zoomed in you are, how fast your lens is, how much light you let into you camera and how compressed an image is. DSLR's are reliable and have been on the market for years. Keep in mind many lenses cost as much (and in some cases more) than your camera body. If you already have a DSLR camera and are looking to improve your image quality but have a low budget I recommend getting a Canon 50mm Lens. They are fairly inexpensive and will improve your images and capabilities quite a bit! If you shoot Nikon you can find a 50 mm lens here.

Nikon and Canon are usually the two top brands that are referred to in the DSLR realm. I prefer Canon for the colors and personally shoot with a Canon Mark 5d iv. I have several photographer friends who swear by Nikon, so many features come down to personal preferences. Usually once you've started investing in photography gear you tend to stick with one brand.

A great lower budget camera might include the Canon Rebel T7I. This camera would be a great starter camera. I recommend a camera like this if you are looking to improve everyday photos in well lit scenarios.

If you have a higher budget or are more serious about improving your work I recommend getting a full frame camera. A full frame camera is going to do better in low light scenarios such as capturing a photo at dusk or taking the photo of the kids indoors.

Canon Mark 5diii The Predecessor to the Mark 5dIV will give you a bit more for your budget while still improving your quality dramatically.

Canon Mark 5dIV- This is the body that I use and love. This Camera is reliable, accurate and creates beautiful sharp images with a larger megapixel range.

Nikon D750- I have several photographer friends who swear by this Nikon Body. Several of them prefer this even to the upgraded version below.

Nikon D850- The newer professional body.


Mirrorless cameras are a relatively new thing in the photography world. Manufacturers have taken out the mirror inside the camera and replaced it with all new digital features to capture your moments. These cameras have interchangeable lenses and are much lighter than a DSLR. Mirrorless camera's also are known for being able to photograph with a higher ISO and maintain minimal grain. Mirrorless is honestly the way that photography is going, but many are hesitant to switch because they are so new. They also have a higher initial price point. I will probably consider the switch to a canon mirorrless when they have improved some of the features that I have come to rely on. Some big cameras that are getting peoples attention in the mirrorless community are the:

I encourage you to do additional research to make sure you are choosing the best camera for your needs and to fit your budget.

If you liked this blog post please like, share and subscribe. :)

xoxox- Mandi


Mandi Riley is a Luxury Wedding and Family Portrait Photographer servicing the Northern Virginia area.

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