The secret that all photographers know.

I know there is no such thing as perfect gear because you can’t please human needs. But when you are about to master a new skill, you must prepare for the unknown. You want your money well-spent on the suitable gear to begin your photography journey.

In this blog, I want to share my story as a hobbyist in choosing my gear when I started to learn photography. And I hope that you avoid repeating the same mistake that I made.

My wife is bored waiting for her cup of coffee.
My wife is bored waiting for her cup of coffee.

It almost got me.

Choosing a new camera can feel like a big puzzle when you’re new to photography. It’s like picking a new pair of shoes; you want them to fit your style and needs, but you’re unsure where to start.

The challenge lies in finding a camera that suits your beginner’s journey, especially when it involves a lot of money with hundreds of cameras with different sensors and megapixels. 

I almost made a mistake by choosing a cheap camera and lens, considering I was on a budget and didn’t consider myself a professional photographer one day. Since I was used to using my cell phone to take pictures, I also thought that if I wanted to buy a camera, any camera would do.

And then a friend shows up. 

One day, I got a call from an old friend. He lived outside my city and decided to visit me after he visited his parents. I remember he always brought his suitcase full of his camera and lenses everywhere he went. 

After a long chit-chat, I told him my problem. He asked how much I would spend and what I would use the camera for. 

He suggests a simple point-and-shoot might be ideal to capture everyday moments. But if I want to explore photography more seriously, a mirrorless or DSLR camera could be a suitable choice. 

After reading dozens of online articles and watching online video reviews, I finally chose the Fujifilm X-T10 as my first digital camera, and I will tell you why I chose it.

Some basic camera knowledge.

I started my photography journey after the so-called “DSLR Revolution.” I learned that a “full-frame” sensor is the standard size for all digital cameras. Canon and Nikon are well-known for their full-frame DSLR camera.

And then comes the digital mirrorless camera age.

A mirrorless camera works without a reflex mirror, making the body more compact and lightweight than a DSLR camera.

So generally, there are three types of digital mirrorless cameras depending on how large their sensor size is:

  • Full-frame camera
  • APS-C camera
  • Micro Four Thirds camera

The first mirrorless camera to hit the market was in the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system, which features a smaller sensor to complement its compact body. Olympus and Panasonic emerged as the primary manufacturers dominating the MFT system, offering a range of options. As the mirrorless market expanded, the APS-C system gained popularity, with Fujifilm and Sony taking the lead in this category. Sony, in particular, established dominance in the market for mirrorless full-frame cameras, offering a wide selection. Canon and Nikon, traditionally known for DSLRs, have recently entered the mirrorless camera arena, introducing their compelling options across different price ranges.

I’m not going to discuss the technicality of each sensor system, nor do I want to tell you which one to buy. There are plenty of articles out there that discuss that. But I want you to know that the larger the sensor, the higher its price, which correlates to the technology obtained.

Why I chose the X-T10 as my first digital camera.

As a hobbyist, the perfect system for me is the APS-C sensor. The gear fits my budget, and the design is compact and lightweight, ideal for everyday carry. Yes, I take my camera everywhere, even when having lunch with my wife and kid in a roadside stall. Also, the X-T10 has enough features that I need to learn photography.

One of the main features I love is the film simulations inside the camera, with so many options I can play with. It can produce a wonderful SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) image, so I won’t bother to edit it again in post-processing software.

And one more thing that makes me love my camera is how its vintage shape suits my style, which motivates me to grab it and shoot something. It would be pointless if I had a camera with the latest technology, but it is just sitting in my dry box.

Taken with X-T10 and Minolta Rokkor 85mm f/2.0
Taken with X-T10 and Minolta Rokkor 85mm f/2.0
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So I chose my first camera. How about you?

First and foremost, it’s essential to consider your budget. Cameras come in various price ranges, so deciding how much you’re willing to spend helps narrow your options. 

Next, think about what you’ll use the camera for. Will you use it for your hobby or want to profit from it? If you will use it as a hobby, eliminate some of the features; you don’t need to fit your budget. Any zoom lens kit should be more than enough for your first lens.

Reading online reviews, talking to friends who are into photography, or visiting a local camera store can provide valuable insights. Keep an eye out for user-friendly features, like automatic modes, as they can make your early photography experiences more enjoyable. 

Don’t forget about the size and weight of the camera. A smaller, lightweight camera might be more convenient for on-the-go shooting, while larger ones may offer more advanced features but can be less portable.

Also, try to get a brand-new camera from the authorized seller for your first camera. I recommend you buy second-hand gear only if you know a trusted seller. And if you buy a second-hand camera, ensure it has an official guarantee from the authorized seller, even though it has expired. Because when the camera doesn’t have it, the authorized service center won’t accept your gear.

In the end, remember that it’s okay not to know everything about photography when starting. Learning and growing in this hobby takes time, and your choice of camera can evolve as you gain more experience. So, take your time, ask questions, and trust your instincts when choosing the right camera.

And don’t forget that you must ensure your camera stimulates and triggers you to take some images daily.

Because the more you practice, the better you get.

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