A day won’t go by on the forums without somebody posing a “What camera should I buy” question.
People easily get caught up with different models when choosing a camera. By and large, cameras at similar price points have equally similar specifications, with little to differentiate them. So think about the system as a whole.
The system includes the lenses, flashguns and other accessories available for the camera. It should offer all the photographic tools you are likely to need. It should be well supported by the manufacturer, with third party support a nice additional benefit. A decision to change from one system to another isn’t taken lightly. As it can be very expensive and bring with it a steep learning curve, this is understandable. This makes system choice even more important.
There is good news! There are lots of systems, and any one of them picked at random could probably satisfy all your needs. With further careful consideration you may find one system to be more suitable for your requirements than another.
There are two factors that should influence your system choice. They are you, and your photography. That’s why it’s no good asking me, or anybody else for that matter, which system to get. My system is personal to me and my style of photography. Yours will be to you and yours also. Aim to build a system that reflects your needs as a photographer, today and in the future. Your system can grow with your experience. Nobody produces the perfect system for everybody, but somebody might produce the perfect system for you. Match your requirements with the strengths of each system.
With a digital system the camera body takes greater significance. They all have impressive specifications, but some of the features may not be of benefit to your style of photography. Don’t discard how a particular body feels to you ergonomically. Try various brands and models in a shop.
Lens quality affects the final image. Consider a selection of lenses that match your photographic requirements. Do you want to use zoom or prime, wide angle or telephoto lenses? Are fast apertures important to you? How do lenses compare against those from other system manufacturers?
Flash photography may be important to you. Is there a feature of a manufacturer’s flash system that you particularly appreciate? Is it only available with particular cameras?
Hardware aside, there are two important considerations that should always be kept in mind.
Your budget dictates the equipment you can purchase. Value-for-money is subjective. Don’t be afraid to consider good second-hand examples either, with older models often representing a very significant saving.
Don't lose sight of the purpose of building up a system. Use it to take photographs, not to impress friends and family with expensive gadgets. It is the pictures you create that prove your worth as a photographer, not the equipment you own, or the brand you use.
Choosing a system is easy! Knowing what you want to do is the hard part!