"What camera should I buy?” is a question I get asked quite often. My answer often starts with “It depends…”. But what does it depend on?
As the saying goes: The best camera is the one that you have with you. Portability is the most important factor when buying a new camera. Multiple times people have asked me which of two DSLRs to buy – my answer is usually “Do you really need that?”. A DSLR is probably the most annoying piece of equipment to lug around. It doesn’t fit in your pocket, you must have a specialized bag to carry it in, and it’s heavy.
And then there’s the price. The price of a DSLR often make people look for the entry-level DSLRs which are fine cameras indeed. But I would rather buy a high-level pocket-camera like the Sony RX100 series or Canon G7 series. Both series of cameras are more than enough for the everyday shooter. Another option is to throw the "camera-cash" after a high-end smartphone. The cameras nowadays are great! The only thing is the fixed focal length (zoom) but that might just push your creativity. At the end most can't see a difference in image quality when Instagram compresses the hell out of those files.
There is one factor though that is non-quantifiable. That is the factor of how the camera makes you feel. Simply put: Will the camera make you go out and shoot? Like having a cool bike will make your ride more just because you just love riding it. I love the feel of my DSLR in my hand, the sound of the shutter and looking through the viewfinder.
High-end DSLRs certainly have their place. They have the best image quality - so if you intend to make prints that are larger than A3 it might be the right tool. When you buy a DSLR you also buy into a system of possibilities – lenses. Lenses are like tools and every tool has it place - so you’re basically buying into a potential toolbox (an expensive toolbox).
A DSLR gives you a lot of “firepower” but it comes at the cost of mobility. I often leave my DSLR at home due to it’s too cumbersome to lug around. But the mobility of my smartphone makes me have it in my pocket every day. Thankfully. Smartphone cameras has come a long way and I can’t wait to see what engineering marvels the future will show. More mobility to the people!
So, before you buy your next camera look at what situations you would like to use the camera in and then ask yourself if you would bring it. On a 35km hike in the Alps you’ll be hating the weight of a DSLR, extra lenses and a tripod – trust me. Sitting at a restaurant a DSLR takes up half the table and you don’t want it on the floor. Would you bring it? Ask yourself. Answer honestly and if you’re in doubt then you probably won’t. But sometimes you need a tool for a specific job and then you have to bring the entire toolbox even though it is heavy.
In the end it depends on if you will bring it and if it will do the job at hand - remember the best camera is the one that you have with you!
All the photos in this article was shot on my phone - an old banged up iPhone 5s.