Are you excited? You’re about to make your first big photography purchase. When purchasing a new camera, lens, lights, or anything else photographically related you’ll most likely be spending quite a bit of money. Photography is an expensive hobby and an even more expensive profession, so you’re going to need to hunker down and do quite a bit of research. We’re not just talking about gear purchases–we also mean that you’ll need to do a lot of learning. But before you even get started in doing that, you’ll need to figure out the answer to a lot of questions.
Who will be using the camera/lens/lights?: This is one of the biggest questions because you’ll need to answer it and consider the personalities. If you’re purchasing the gear for just you to use, then you have less to worry about. But if it’s gear for the family to use, then there are more considerations. Will your spouse be as willing to read through the included manual as you are? If yes, then go as advanced as you want. If no, then get something a bit simpler. Will the kids want to play with it? If they do, will they be careful? If yes, then get something that you want and initially planned on. If not, then you’ll need something tougher.
What subject matter are you going to shoot with the equipment?: Not all cameras are designed the same. If you’re using the camera for casual travel photos or capturing moments and selfies, then really anything will do. But if you’re trying to capture your pets, kids, or other things that are moving fast then you’ll need something with a better autofocus system. Taking pictures of your kids’ sports game? Then you’ll need something with a lot of reach that can track subjects well in low lighting situations presented to on-lookers at a stadium, You’ll also need a much longer zoom range.
When do you need it?: If the answer to this question is right now, then you’ll want to go with a purchase as soon as possible. If it isn’t as important, then consider waiting a bit. Depending on the camera or lens, there are refreshes due out all the time. But you may not necessarily need the newer version of the item and it may in fact be out of your price point.
How much do you want to spend?: Before you even give a number, consider the fact that photography is an expensive hobby and an even more expensive profession. So don’t skimp out because those folks usually end up being the ones losing out on something much better. That’s not to say that everyone should go out and buy D4s cameras right now, but get gear that will help you to create the images that you want to create.
How much time do you intend on putting into using it and learning it?: This is one of the biggest questions that you’ll have to answer. The more advanced cameras can baffle even the most hardened of reviewers. But at the same time, lots of folks aren’t technologically savvy at all. My mother for example doesn’t know how to upload images to the computer or scroll through a camera’s images. Why? It’s not intuitive to her. But to be fair, my work in the photo industry has made me find many folks like this.
Why are you making this purchase?: Yes, you should ask yourself this question. It will teach you more about yourself. Do you NEED the new equipment or do you WANT the new equipment? There is a very big difference. The answer will determine urgency, and just how much you spend.
Can I make the money back that I spent in a reasonable amount of time?: If you’re a professional, semi-pro or looking to go pro you’ll be asking yourself this big question. Generally, you’ll want to make the money back in a tax season (usually a quarter) and even profit off of that. So if you don’t think that you can make $1,000 back off of that new DSLR that you bought for $800 in the period of three months, then reconsider what you’re doing or get a better revenue plan that will guarantee your steady income flow.