Which camera should I buy?

If you’re interested in photography and have been frequenting online community sites/pages related to photography, you probably know the patterns and trends that the discussions and newbie questions there follow.

The most common and frequent question I guess would be “which camera should I buy?”. There’s nothing wrong per se with the question. It is quite valid a question. But of course photography is a unique skill, which (much like graphic design or sound editing or even the poor keyboard player in the band), has this nagging and insurmountable issue that for many outsiders, the photographer’s skill is non-existent or not as important as the tools (read hardware/software) they use. In light of this, insiders tend to get irritated with this question assuming that by just buying “the best” camera the person asking the question intends to become a master. Moreover the way this question is often asked and discussed by the person asking the question reminds one quite often of the frame of mind of a car buyer – he’s probably looking at mileage, comfort, style etc. rather than seeing the purchase as a means of expression.

Enough of serious talk. In fact it is much more serious than the nature of what follows. With the context set firmly in place, I’d like to present the most typical answers that this question gets. Enjoy 🙂

typical answer 1
I own XXX, and I’m happy with it, therefore XXX has to be the best choice ever. Go for XXX. I’ll accompany you to the market if you do. And I’ll hug you for it.

typical answer 2
Buy the cheapest available camera, and save for good lenses. Lenses make the photograph, not the camera body.

typical answer 3
Don’t bother with brands and models. Buy any one. It’s the 12 inches behind the camera that counts.

typical answer 3a
Don’t bother with brands and models. Buy any one. People can take amazing shots even with a P&S, even with a Cybershot/Powershot/Coolpix, even with a Motorola L6 camera!

typical answer 4 (generally a response to typical answer 2)
But the cheapest available camera has serious compatibility issues with most lenses. What’s the use of buying the camera and saving for the lenses if all you can use then are exorbitantly expensive lenses?

typical answer 5
<Link to an older thread asking the same question the 1000346th time>

typical answer 5a
Why don’t people go through older threads before asking???

typical answer 6
This community is a treasure trove of information, and is an indispensible tool for so many of… (copy-paste the same copy for the community from a previous thread)…. I appreciate your question, but did you know that (shock of shocks!!!) you can search for the information you want here, and all you wanted to know about what you want to know is just one click away? <Link to search query in that forum that says “best new camera”>

typical answer 7
Nikon rules.

typical answer 8
No. Canon rocks.

typical answer 9
Haha! All NGC/sports/fashion photographers use Nikon.

typical answer 9b
Haha! All NGC/sports/fashion photographers use Canon.

typical answer 9p
Have you checked out my one camera per brand shootout where Pentax’s base model (only model actually) kicks Nikon & Canon’s sorry a$$?

typical answer 9o
But I thought Olympus was good so I bought a E420!

typical answer 9o[ii]
I liked the photographs I clicked using my Olympus mju (especially the one of my dog chasing a shoeflower), so I bought a E410!

typical answer 10
Olympus/Pentax/Canon/Nikon fanboy!!

typical answer 11
Don’t listen to these idiots. Buy a H3D-II. 50 megapixels baby! (droools)

typical answer 12a
My daddy, the rich man that he is, gifted me a pro-level camera belonging to XYZ brand, so though XYZ brand rocks, the cheaper cameras of XYZ brand are crap and those using such cameras are morons. Don’t ask me why. I just know. Remember I’m using the expensive camera here?

typical answer 12b
I am a pro photographer (read, I get paid to click photographs) and I have the most expensive camera XYZ produces, so though XYZ brand rocks, the cheaper cameras of XYZ brand are crap and those using such cameras are morons. Don’t ask me why. I just know. Remember I’m using the expensive camera here?

typical answer 12c
I work for a Dubai seth where I get paid in millions of dollars every month and with all that overflowing cash I bought myself the most expensive XYZ camera in the market, so though XYZ brand rocks, the cheaper cameras of XYZ brand are crap and those using such cameras are morons. Don’t ask me why. I just know. Remember I’m using the expensive camera here?

This piece was written for one of those online photography forums, so a couple of these might not make sense to everyone at first, because they might be specific to certain people I have interacted with on that forum.