Dr. Strangelens, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying About the Camera and Learned to Love the Composition

Both video professionals and consumers alike have come to embrace the functionality, form and dynamics that DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras offer. Yet when it comes to finding a camera that suits their creative needs, new buyers are often confused as to which camera is the best, and current DSLR owners may feel the need to buy the latest addition.

At any given time, there are a multitude of models boasting superior image quality, advanced focus systems, and sophisticated movie modes, leaving buyers with a few questions: Which camera should I choose? Does my camera measure up? And do I need an upgrade?

In my honest opinion, I don’t think we should be asking, “Which camera is best”, but rather, “Which camera is right for me.”

So, which one is right for you?

Well, how would you define yourself?

* The family videographer?

* A student in need of a camera?

* Weekend hobbyist?

* Amateur filmmaker?

* Professional?

Based on your personal requirements and comfort level, you can always find a camera relative to your needs. Be mindful of price, size, weight, functions and features — there’s no need to be wasteful or excessive; make a decision based on what you think you’ll need. Don’t spend too much time comparing and contrasting brands, it’s really Pepsi vs. Coke. Always stay within your price range. Consider if there are any extra purchases you need to make (perhaps the essentials: lenses, accessories, tripods, sound or lighting equipment).

If your only desire is to shoot videos of family outings, perhaps you won’t need extra purchases—a standard camera system will do. On the other hand, those going into documentary filmmaking, for example, will definitely need the essentials to achieve the quality they’re looking for.

Once you have the camera that’s right for you, educate yourself on your camera’s unique functions. Read the manual. Experiment with test shoots, go out and take photos and videos, shoot landscapes, architecture—your baby niece. Get out and get familiar!

Does your camera measure up?

DSLR cameras shouldn’t be treated like the latest iPhones. Just because the newest Nikon or Canon comes out, doesn’t mean you need to ‘Add to Cart’.

Sometimes you’ve got to stick with the ’89 Ford Tempo your whole family has driven at some point.

Note: If your camera really is that old, please update!

If you currently own a DSLR camera, you should get as much use from it as possible. Invest in new lenses, rigs and accessories. Master your technique Michelangelo, and once you’re ready for an upgrade, you’ll have a functional need for a higher end model. A perfect time to upgrade, for example, would be when you’re ready to make the transition from weekend hobbyist to full-time professional. The decision to update should always be based upon personal necessity.

Like all forms of art, DSLR photography and filmmaking is what you make of it, not how much you spend on it. A lower end camera (when you expose and light correctly) will always shoot better than a poorly manned professional model. Pick the camera that is right for you, learn it well, and exercise your gift of creativity.