Buying electronics can be super exciting and incredibly depressing all at the same time. It’s exciting because you think you’ll have this new, fun technology that will improve your life in some way. It’s depressing because you quickly learn that the budget you have set – which you consider a big investment – is actually not enough to buy all the awesome features you expected. I went through this experience when I bought my last laptop. I thought laptop technology had changed so drastically that I’d be able to get a pretty decent machine for dirt cheap. I was very, very wrong.
I started looking at digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras before I even considered buying one. I just wanted to know what my favorite bloggers were using and approximately how much they spent on those cameras. I discovered that most of my favorites were using pretty professional-level cameras. Which makes sense considering how much income those blogs bring in.
I knew I wasn’t ready for a camera of that magnitude. More importantly, I couldn’t afford a price tag of that magnitude.
While all my favorite bloggers were using mega expensive cameras, they also recommended entry-level cameras for beginners. Although I wasn’t really looking for a camera at the time, it definitely helped to set a realistic sense of what the numbers would be. It also helped me determine what kinds of cameras and lenses are good for different types of photos. Food bloggers love one lens, travel bloggers love another. (Although I will say that almost everyone recommended a 50mm lens, for one thing or another with their blogs.)
Since most of my photos would be of my outfits, food I’ve made from Pinterest recipes or other small things I could get up close to, I didn’t need to worry about lenses that were great for maximum zooming.
But before I could get too caught up in what lenses to buy, I needed to figure out which brand to buy. All of my favorite bloggers were using Nikons and Canons. I chose to go with Canon, only because I had used two other Canon cameras (an SLR and a digital point and shoot) in the past and really loved both of them.
I found the Canon that most of my fave bloggers had recommended for entry-level photographers, and then looked at the other models that were just above and just below it. I selected four cameras that I thought met my needs and were close to within my price range (some were under, some were over). My top four, in no particular order: Canon T3i, Canon T5, Canon T5i and Canon SL1.
That’s when I started my hardcore research. Google is amazing. I would type “Canon T5 v. Canon T3i” and get tons of articles that either directly compared those two cameras, or at least offered reviews on one or both of those cameras. I did that for all of the cameras to learn each of their pros and cons, and how important certain specs were to me. Some of my favorite websites were Which Camera Should I Buy?, 2 Camera Guys, Imaging Resource and Smashing Camera.
I’m basically a photography novice. Wait, there’s no “basically” about it — I am a full-on photography novice. It was so helpful reading reviews and doing all sorts of Google searches to figure out what things meant.
I also highly recommend going into a store so you can look at the cameras, pick them up and play with them. I had a really good experience at the Best Buy – Mall of America store the two times I went in. One guy spent an absurd amount of time helping me understand as many of the features he could get my tiny brain to comprehend, while another woman asked me lots of questions about my blog to help me think about which specs were mega important and which ones didn’t matter. Through that discussion, I realized that one non-negotiable was an articulating screen. The articulating/tilting screen allows you to bring the screen away from the camera and position it so that if you happen to be in front of the camera (like all of my outfit posts would require), you would be able to see where in the frame you show up. This means I’d know if I was cutting off my head or my feet, and how much of my background was getting in the way of my shot.
Unfortunately the T5 and the SL1 didn’t have the articulating screen, so they were eliminated.
The remaining cameras, the T5i and the T3i, weren’t too different. The T5i is a newer camera, so it had newer technology, which helps. And it had a touch screen. But it was also more expensive.
Since I was planning to purchase really close to the holidays, I checked the Black Friday ads religiously. The T3i was part of a really good bundle on Black Friday at Best Buy, so originally that was the route I was going to take…and then, the week of Black Friday (the Sunday through Wednesday right before Thanksgiving), Best Buy had an even more awesome deal for the T5i…so that’s what I bought!
It was more expensive, but not by much. Both promotions were package deals, meaning I’d get the camera body, two lenses, a camera bag and a memory card for one bundled price. The two lenses that came with the T5i bundle were better quality lenses. The biggest difference was “image stabilization” – which basically means that even though I am shaky and can never hold still when I hold a camera to take a photo, this lens will adjust for that and make me look like I can hold it together.
Also, I’m incredibly impatient, so I was super excited to learn that I could buy the T5i right away instead of waiting for Black Friday and hoping that no one else bought it before I could get to the store. I was so happy to walk out of the store that day (a Sunday — as soon as I saw the ad for that week, I basically went directly to the store and bought the camera immediately), go home and start playing with my new toy.
I’ve had the camera for a couple months now and I LOVE it. It’s been so much fun learning how different settings can totally change the look of a photo. I’ve read SO MANY ARTICLES with awesome tips. I’ll share my favorite articles and websites in another post.
And because half the fun of buying electronics is buying accessories, I’ll share the extra items I’ve purchased to go along with my camera.