What Really Influences Your Choice Of Camera?

The reason you use the camera you do today might be because it’s the original Leica your German maternal grandfather bought in the 1930s and made, amongst other photographs, a comprehensive portrait gallery of your extended family that is still viewed and reminisced about to this day.

Handing it down to you when his eyesight no longer allowed any photography, you’ve treasured it – and tried to emulate his legacy – ever since.

Or perhaps the camera you choose to use today is the consumer Kodak your aunty used to make the last photographs of your mother before she succumbed to a long and cruel battle with illness.

The images capture her last days where she never showed less than a quiet yet fiercely courageous dignity, something you’ll never forget.

Maybe the camera you use currently is the mint and good as new Minolta X-700 with an equally pristine Rokkor 50mm f/1.4 lens that your wife’s uncle gave you as a wedding present.

It wasn’t new, but he treated his gear with such care and respect it felt like it was, and you’ve continued to look after it with similar reverence, roll after roll after roll of film ever since.


Or is the camera you use today the fifteen year old digital Canon compact you bought five years ago for a few pounds in a car boot sale, when as a single parent you barely had enough money to cloth and feed yourself and your family, and a camera – even this cheap – felt like a guilty indulgence.

It’s served you loyally ever since, making thousands of images and documenting dozens of adventures, so why change it?

It even might be that the camera you use today is that amazing little Ricoh that when you first closed your hands around its grip, felt as comfortable and as right for you as the moment you first embraced your partner of 25 years.

And, as with your partner all those years ago, you knew in that instant you met, you’d never need to look any further.

When there are so many cameras to choose from these days, the spec sheet means increasingly little in our decision.

Far more important is how the camera feels – and how it makes you feel.

The reason you use the camera you do is very unlikely due to its 42MP sensor, high speed wi-fi and 724 Auto Focus points…

What really influences YOUR choice of camera? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

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13 thoughts on “What Really Influences Your Choice Of Camera?”

  1. I wish I had been one of those people who received a camera from a relative… no one in my family is artistic!

    I remember picking up my Nikon D40 because I liked how it felt in the hand, and I preferred its menus to the Canon ones I’d looked at. My FM and GX7 are my go-to cameras for very similar reasons 🙂 They’re both light, intuitive to use, and just do everything I need.

    So many people get dazzled by specs when that’s really not the most important thing! I used to be a bit like that, I have tried out so many cameras thinking the next one would be better because it had that one other feature that I “needed”, and now I seem to have gone the opposite way (although don’t ever try to take away my GX7’s focus peaking!).

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mel.

      There are shreds of my own truth in the stories above, but like you I didn’t really have anyone photographic in the family. Certainly no-one that handed me down any camera at all, let alone one with a colourful history.

      Also like you, the cameras I keep coming back to are small, light, intuitive to use and handle well. Makes any other cameras seem unnecessarily awkward and laboured in use.

      Yeh the magnifier for manual focus is handy on my Lumix GF1, but only with old lenses. I wouldn’t every need/use it with AF lenses.

  2. I started with Minalta — the SRT 201 – back in Jr. High and High School because I was on the school newspaper and yearbook staff. In college I switched to the Nikon FM because I was learning photojournalism, and Chicago is (or was) a Nikon town. It paid off because the other students, and then later my co-workers, would share lenses. Once I worked for a paper I also use the F3HP. Both of these I still have.

    When I switched to Digital I went Pentax because not only do you get more bang for your buck, but the K10D images looks much like film from the CCD sensor. I also have a Kr and Optio Z10.

    I really don’t get into equipment much, as long is it help with composition is quick. The thing I thrive on is to know my equipment and how it feels and sees the light. I don’t use the screen on the back of a digital camera, for instance, while I am shooting. I want to concentrate on documenting the subject and story in front of the camera, and not fiddle with it … it’s a tool.

    I remember when I started with Apple products, the first one was the iPad Mini with the 4MP camera I believe. I got some great stuff out of that thing, and put it through Apple Aperture, many of my photographer friends would not believe me when I told them what camera made those pictures.

    Many of them are really into lighting or editing software, and I don’t get into that tech stuff. I’m more substance when it comes to my photography and my choice of camera.

    I’m happy with my K10D.

    1. Hi Frank, thanks for your thoughts.

      I had a Minolta SRT a while back, very well built! Beautiful Rokkor lenses too…

      I had a K10D for some time and loved most aspects of it. Not least of all the lovely colours and output from that 10MP CCD sensor.

      I agree about having a camera you know well enough to almost ignore and focus on, well focusing, and composition. You’re right, you don’t want to be fiddling about every shot…

  3. My digital camera choice is a practical one – the best full frame Nikon I could afford that offered Live view capability. For film cameras – there is a much more instinctive feel that counts for me. Nikon FE had that feel, and I just loved the analog needle metering, and yet advanced aperture priority exposure mode. There was just something about that camera that felt right, and comfortable, and brought out the best in my photography. Alas, a dead meter has put it on the shelf…

    1. Thanks Martin. So are you happy with the digital Nikon?

      Yeh, some cameras just feel right, they have that chemistry don’t they?

      Was the FE not good enough that it’s worth seeking out another example with a working meter?

      1. The Nikon D750 has been a good choice, enjoy Liveview shooting. Yes, the FE and FM both are a joy to use, and Jim Grey suggested a great repair option, Garry’s camera repair. Both cameras have sentimental value to me, given to me by one of my patients (I’m a doc), and so I am very happy to get them repaired. Sent them off today, should be back in 2-3 weeks! I’ll let you know of my repair experience.

      2. Oh that’s exciting. With classic cameras like these I expect a repair and service will then make the camera last years before it needs any kind of attention again.

      3. Garry’s camera was as good as Jim Grey suggested. Fixed the stuck shutter and did CLA on Nikon FM for $65. Unfortunately the FE has a dead meter and couldn’t be fixed, but I wasn’t charged for the attempt to fix! Very fair and prompt service. I’ll use them again.

  4. For a digital camera, having it with me absolutely all the time overrides everything else. My iPhone is the only choice.

    For a film camera, my deteriorating eyesight makes focusing the controlling factor. The best MF camera _for me_ is a Leica IIIg with its 1.5x magnified variable focus RF and a big separate window rather than a screen for the VF. I have also started using an AF Nikon N80 with excellent results.

    1. Hi Doug. I relate strongly about having a digital camera with you, and because of this the choice has to be compact and fairly easy to use. I do use my phone for family shots etc, but for more deliberate photography I’d favour a digital compact, possibly as small or smaller than a phone anyway, just with infinitely better handling!

      What led you to try out the AF Nikon?

      1. At this point the AF Nikon is more of an existence proof than anything else. I needed to reassure myself that I will be able to continue taking the pictures that really matter to me with B&W 35mm film, with autofocus and image stabilization.

      2. Interesting, because I went through a similar thing when I realised SLRs (film and digital) were causing my eyes to ache after increasingly shorter spells. Switching to cameras with screens, I rarely notice/feel any of this kind of vision fatigue. I needed to evolve to be able to keep pursuing photography.

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