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Which camera should I buy?

This is a question I am frequently asked by people wanting to buy their first camera; the answer depends on many factors such as what sort of photos you want to take and how much you have to spend. This article will assume you want to photograph birds/wildlife and that you don't want to spend more than a thousand pounds.

Assuming you wanted the best quality in your images and you are at all serious about photography, then you should be looking at a digital SLR camera. I don't have much experience with the range of compact cameras on today's market. I am sure they are getting better and better, but I doubt they can compete with the quality of an image from a DSLR.

There are many manufactures out there competing for your money and producing good quality cameras. Canon and Nikon are as always at the top of the pile, and you are unlikely to go wrong with a purchase of a new DSLR body from either manufacturer, not least because of the range of lenses and accessories available to you. My own preference is Canon.

Since wildlife subject are rarely at your feet, it makes sense for most people's purposes to choose a camera for wildlife photography from the range with smaller sensors, and therefore higher crop factors. Look for cameras with 1.6x crop factors. What this means is that a 400mm lens will produce in the final image, the same field of view as a 640mm lens (in 35mm terms).

For wildlife photography it's often advantageous to have a camera that will shoot quickly, to capture action, birds in flight for example. So a camera that will capture as many frames per second (fps) as possible is desirable, 3-6fps is acceptable but the higher the better. Also look for the highest 'maximum burst' number, which is the number of pictures the camera will allow you to take in quick succession.

Pixel count is probably of less importance than it's made out to be. It is nice to have enough pixels to play with to enable creative cropping and maximum detail but 8-10 million pixels (Mega pixels or MP) is likely to be plenty for most purposes.

If you are serious about photography, I would recommend spending as much as you can afford, however new models are coming out all the time, which means there is always a healthy second hand market and that the price 'new' of older models comes down very quickly. It's often worth waiting a few months before purchasing the latest model.

There are Nikon and Canon cameras available today that fit the above criteria, some are a lot less than £1000. Of course for most wildlife photography you will need a good telephoto lens as well which is just as important as the camera.

DSLR Which Lens

Richard Ford