Don't be fooled by marketing, learn how to pick the right camera system !

- well sir I have this Samsonysonic 7800 EX with triple varilux stabilizator !!!
- oh? and how many mega pixels does it have?

Buuuuuz ! (imagine the buz sound from the X-Factor)

Bob here is about to get pwned. In fact, Bob is a victim of a capitalistic society where product value is mostly perceived value created by marketing efforts. I even suspect that Bob bought an $650 Ipad, i.e. a screen that does nothing, not even reading flash sites, but Bob somehow got convinced it was revolutionary when really, it's a 10 years step back.

What Bob should buy himself his a great lens to start with, and those next lines will explain you why.

One could say that a civilization where the mass market is so brainwashed by misguiding information is on the edge of autodestruction, but there is worse : it is detrimental to the photographic consumer, and to photography in general !!! Bad kitty...baaad kitty.

So why is Bob about to get ripped off? Well in the past 10 years, camera manufacturers are competing for the fast growing, fast product renewing market of digital photography. And as usual, similar to the beta-collagen that make your skin "visibly younger in 3 weeks", those manufacturers use your ignorance to sell you features that are beyond useless.

So back to the megapixel question: in order to make you buy and buy again new cameras, they launch every year a new range that has 1 or 2 mega pixel extra. Now that they reach some sort of a limit, this is about full HD video recording, or super high ISO numbers, or zooms X5, X10, X20. Lately we even have the most retarded thing ever: the hybrid camera.
The hybrid has the price tag of a DSLR or a medium format camera, with the inconvenience of having to change lenses, but with crap lenses and useless features all over.

This is not a camera. Sorry

None of the thing mentioned above are in anyway related to what makes a good camera system. None, really. Explanations:
  • The number of pixels are just the size of the file. No more than that. A 5MP camera allows your to print easily A4 or A3. Who among casual shooters has ever printed even in A4? On a computer screen...well who has a screen with a resolution higher that 1200x1900 (less than 3MP). Image quality, sharpness, has nothing to do with megapixels whatsoever.
  • ISO: when they tell you the camera can go up to 12000 ISO, you should ask the following. "OK sure, show me a 12000 iso picture with that". Normally the vendor will tell you they have no batteries for demos, because he knows image would look soooo bad! Once again, appart from top of the range Nikon, most 2010 cameras start sucking beyond ISO 800 / 1000. You would be better off if they spend the money making the lenses great, but then you wouldn't need to buy an other camera...
  • Full HD video recording: ok, fair enough, for a touristic approach it's kinda cool. I admit.
  • X20 zooms ! Ok once again, what makes the quality of an image is, from an equipment point of view, the lens, the lens, the lens. Now knowing that a quality fix lens cost about $500, and a quality X3 zoom lens costs $1000 and above, what do you think will be the quality of your X20 zoom on a $400 compact camera?
  • Compare an image taken with a compact from 2002 to one from 2010: do you see a difference? no seriously do you? Once again, we knew 30 years ago how to make optics, no real progress made since then.

Now if you are beginner, not owning a DSLR or 35mm camera, and you are reading this to be informed but remain sceptical, answer a few other questions:

  • have you ever set up the way your camera meters to adapt it to what your shooting?
  • have you ever used a prime lens? ever? (a less with one focal length, no zoom)
  • do you even know what is the maximum aperture on the compact cameras you are looking at? and what that means?
  • have you ever seen an add or a salesman promoting any of those absolutely fundamental elements to you?

I bet not. Well Christmas is coming, you really want to invest in a good camera system, that will last, and you are trying to find your way among all those aggressive messages. Follow these advices:
  • Buy yourself a nice lens, Canon or Nikon, or Leica if you can, but a nice one. Put most of your budget there. If you really want to start proper photography, trust me: you will spend a lot of money in the next few years, improving your gear, trying to sell the first crap gear you got. Don't waste your money, it's hard enough to earn, put a little extra in the lens. This is the one part of the system that makes the image. It will never age, in 20 years the same lens will still work on your Canon on Nikon from 2030. People still buy 35 yo lenses for up to 1500 dollars ! And get over it, photography is an expensive hobby.
  • Then buy a camera body, from the same brand obviously, all do good cameras. If you have spend it all in the lens, don't worry: buy a used camera body, you'll change it in 2 years anyway for one that is way better. But you'll have amazing image quality from the day you got that lens. Better ergonomics, faster bodies will keep coming, but your images will look good from day one :)

Everything else is bullshit.

This is the kind of thing you need to start with.

This is the kind of image it gets you on a 1978 $100 camera that has 1 feature: metering.

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