So you want to buy a new camera…

‘Which is my favourite photograph? The one I’m going to take tomorrow’

I Cunningham

Several of my friends have asked for advice about buying a new camera and so I decided to write a blog post with some pointers and advice. However, the disclaimer is – if you are a professional photographer please don’t read this and criticise my choice of lay man’s terms rather than photographic ones as I’m trying to help newbies not scare them off with jargon!

Firstly you need to ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. What do I want my camera to do?
  2. How much do I want to spend?
  3. Is this a one off purchase or am I going to continue to add to my ‘gear’?


This will affect what you buy. If you just want an everyday camera to keep in your pocket you will want a small compact. I have THIS as a back up camera – you can still use manual settings and have control over your shot. It has a good zoom and is very sturdy as my grandson has proved!


If you want to spend time learning your craft and then ‘specialise’ you will need to look at buying into a system – e .g Canon, Nikon etc and buying a camera body with a range of lenses. There are different lenses for different ‘types’ of photography.

For instance if you want to take close up shots of flowers, insects etc then you will need a specialist Macro Lens These were shot with THIS BUT before you panic at the cost there are cheaper options (I have been doing this for around 10 years and have built up my kit gradually)


PicMonkey Collage

If you want to shoot wildlife or birds then you will need a zoom lens – anything over 300mm I did buy a 100 – 400mm lens as my ‘retirement present ‘ and love it as I can also use it for portraits. See the two images here.



I tend to have what I call a ‘workhorse’ lens which is 24mm – 100mm HERE – again this is expensive but there are cheaper alternatives – look at the range of the lens as your guide. This will cover most eventualities and is the one I use when shooting weddings as I don’t need to constantly change my lens I can shoot portraits and reasonably close up as well as group shots, landscape etc. Examples below from a wonderful Wedding of friends in December.

PicMonkey Collage

You can have specialist wide angle, fish eye, prime lenses (these don’t zoom in and out) but these would come later I would suggest.

A good place to start is to buy a ‘body’ in a deal which has a couple of lenses such as this deal HERE


Warehouse Express is a reliable and reasonable supplier if you are interested in looking at a whole range.

I’ve based this on Canon as that’s what I use. I do have tutorials etc as I taught GCSE photography – am happy to share these if they would be of use. Get in touch if I can help.

@janeh271 on twitter and my BOOK has a whole section around the basics and getting started as well as ideas for projects


Supplementary resources

  • TRIPOD – if you just buy one extra item I would recommend a tripod. This will allow you to work on creative images using the shutter speed setting and will also allow you to take photographs in situations where you do not have a great deal of light. It does not have to be a really expensive one and if you are working on compact cameras you can pick up mini tripods for a few pounds.
  • Card readers or extra camera leads. A card reader will allow you to download photographs from the card in any camera – prices for these start at £2.99 so they are worth having.
  • Memory cards – it is helpful to have a couple of spares, prices vary according to the type of card.
  • A camera bag – this will obviously protect your camera whilst out and about

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