Photography Cheat Sheet: Buying Your First Digital Camera

Not settled on a specific model for your digital camera? We have a photography cheat sheet to help you come to a decision.

With all the available choices out there, picking just one camera to learn the ropes of photography with can be pretty confusing. Mirrorless or DSLR? Budget or high-end? What about point-and-shoots? How many megapixels does it need to have? What functions are must-haves? Which lens does my mirrorless or DSLR camera need to be paired with? Here’s a simple photography cheat sheet that features some key considerations to help guide you. And also be sure to shop at Adorama and check out some of their latest deals!

In his quick and simple infographic below, Rob Bennett shares some of the main considerations you have to be on the lookout for when doing research for your first digital camera. There’s a lot more to consider compared to choosing a smartphone with a good camera, but this guide should come in handy.

First, he guide gives a rundown of important questions to narrow down your choices. If you intend to use a camera for a specific type of photography – say, portrait photography – your best choice is an interchangeable lens camera (either DSLR or mirrorless). If you want something for generic photography or street photography, you can grab a point-and-shoot camera for starters. If your goal is to eventually make a living with photography, you’ll need a workhorse of a camera, but that also depends on how much you’re willing to spend. An entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera would be a good one if you’re tight on the budget. Also, it isn’t advisable to invest in a highly advanced model if you’re new to photography, so forget about those for now.

Rob also doesn’t recommend getting a camera that offers the highest megapixel count out there. Instead, figure out how big you want to print your photos. This will allow you to calculate the number of megapixels you need to achieve the best quality print of your photos.

If zoom lenses are among your requirements, it’s recommended to choose a camera that will allow you to use optical zoom instead of digital zoom. The former magnifies the actual zoom, while the latter magnifies the megapixels within the shot. For this reason, most basic point-and-shoot cameras will be out of the question.

Memory card compatibility is another thing to consider, as some of them may not be readily available for you. You can save by using an existing card you may have lying around.

Lastly, the guide suggests a handful of functions you’ll find helpful, especially since you’re starting out. These include image stabilization, auto settings, face detection, panoramic ability, and a low-noise processor. There might be functions specifically useful for the kind of photography you want to do, so include those in your research.

Additional Readings:

Camera Hunting? This Cheat Sheet Will Help You Pick One

Photography Cheat Sheet: How to Select the Right Lens


Looking for more tips and tricks to help you get started or improve with photography? Make sure to browse our growing collection of photography cheat sheets!