Buying Gear

So you want to upgrade?

What should you buy? Lens or Body? DSLR or Superzoom?

Good questions, I'm sorry I don't have the answers for you.

First thing to keep in mind is photography equipment is expensive. What do you really want from your camera? There are times I slap a 28-300mm on my D4 effectively turning it into just a superzoom.
There are times I'll use my Canon G10 instead of a DSLR.

I suggest that you don't buy more than you need. If you just want a capable camera to take a wide variety of pictures, then an advanced point and shoot or superzoom camera is probably your best bet. If you are into photography big time, then buy the best you can afford.

Most photographers and serious enthusiasts have more than one camera. They may even have one from each category; I do. Even if you buy a point and shoot now and upgrade to a DSLR later that P&S will still have it's uses.

When you get into photography seriously it's probably best not to try to "do everything". Trying to "do everything" is going to cost a whole lot of money or require serious compromises. Not sure what you want to specialize in? Then start with a basic kit with a medium zoom lens, or maybe an advanced point and shoot. 

Here's a general idea what I would "expect" a professional to have; grouped from least expensive to most expensive.


Full frame DSLR with better high ISO performance

Fast zoom lenses

Wedding/Portrait/Studio Photographer:

Full Frame DSLR body with higher MP's for larger prints

Lighting kit (and not just one on-camera flash to bounce around)

Portrait lenses/ Prime lenses, and I don't mean a $200 50mm

Fast zoom lenses- f/2.8 fixed aperture for variable situations


FF body with better high ISO performance

Probably a crop body or high MP Full Frame body as well (for "cropping")

FAST and LONG lenses, sveral thousand dollars each (up to tens of thousands each)

*You could/should add some lighting to all of them, but it's critical for the second category.

Can you do "professional work" with less? Sure, if the conditions are right. I can do "professionl quality work" with my G10, but not always.

The point is, start out easy and figure where you want to go with it, THEN start investing money. 

When you start buying, buy the best equipment you can afford to do a specific job. If you don't know "why you need it", then you don't need it. Don't get caught having GAS (Gear aquisition Syndrome); it stinks.

Spend more on lenses than on bodies. Camera bodies get upgraded every two years. My $1000 D7000 will do almost everything my $2000 D300 could do five years ago (some things it does even better). But a first generation 80-200mm f/2.8 AF (about $800 used) will still work very well on either body, and the third generation 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII (about $2500 new/ $2000 used) won't do much better. 

I'm cheap, I buy used/refurbished a lot. I like Amazon for buying used/refurbished because it's one-stop-shopping. Adorama, KEH, J&R etc. all sell thru Amazon, just make sure you're buying from a reputable dealer. Sometimes even better deals can be had, but it's riskier. For buying from relative "unknowns" I like E-bay; thier buyer protection is pretty good. I bought my 300-800mm for about 50% street value. I've been stuck for a couple thousand and E-bay followed thru no problem. But I've also gotten stuck and lost money.

Sometimes it really is better to just buy new. Saving a couple hundred buying used on e-bay, or from some other unknown, on a $1000 item isn't usually worth it. You're taking a big risk for little savings and you're giving up warranties etc. Heck, I won't even buy factory refurbished from B&H if I'm giving up a much better warranty and only saving 5-10%.

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