Buying a Camera This Year?

Today’s Post by Mark Toal

I work a lot of sales events for Panasonic and talk to a lot of potential camera buyers. Most of the questions I get are about sensor size, megapixels and why shouldn’t I just use my cell phone?

Sensor size: Size does matter, but not as much as most people think. If you are a serious landscape photographer, need to make large prints and don’t mind the weight and size of the lenses go with a camera that has a full frame sensor. Most photographers I talk to don’t fit in this category. They are serious about photography but don’t print at all or don’t make prints larger than 13×19-inches. The sensor size of a cell phone or point and shoot camera is fine for what a lot of people shoot. If you don’t need a zoom lens and mostly shoot for social media a cell phone will probably work just fine for you.

Street Singer bw 2

Megapixels: Again this doesn’t matter as much as people think it does. I used to shoot weddings and portraits with a six megapixel Nikon D200. The images still look great and make great prints up to about 16×20. Some of my best photos are with a 10-megapixel Panasonic LX7 and I’ve made prints up to 20×30 inches.

Cell phones: A lot of photographers sneer at using a cell phone as a camera. (Joe just raised his hand.) I think that it’s just as much of a camera as your SLR or mirrorless camera, it just lacks a features like a optical zoom lens and viewfinder.

Lens quality: Now this matters if you want sharp images with good contrast. If you’re looking for a camera make sure it has a good lens. I don’t think most cell phone have very good lenses but they are improving with new every generation.

This photo of a street singer in Seattle is a good example of why you don’t need a large sensor or one with a high megapixel count. I shot it using a Panasonic Lumix FZ300 camera with a (6.17 x 4.55 mm) point-and-shoot size sensor and allowed me to zoom in for a tighter shot.. This image is a single frame taken from 4K video, which is eight megapixels.

My advice it to buy the camera that’s best match for what you want to photograph, not the one with the highest megapixels or largest sensor.