When you buy a serious camera, you’re actually buying into a system. Serious cameras have bodies and lenses, and they use flash units. Each camera has a specific lens mount, and usually, any lens that you attach to a camera must be designed to work with that camera brand. Lenses have a longer life span than cameras, so if your camera wears out, but you still have good lenses, you just have to buy another body. If you stick with your current camera brand, all your lenses should work with the new camera. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, that’s true.
If, on the other hand, you decide to change to a different brand, you not only have to buy a new camera, you have to buy new lenses. If you use a flash unit, you’ll probably have to get one of those, also.
If you stick with entry level cameras and lenses, the cost of changeover may not be a factor at all. Most entry level cameras come with a kit lens or two. So, if change systems, you get a camera that has a kit lens and you’ve bought a whole new system. If, on the other hand, you’ve accumulated some additional equipment, cost can become an issue.
The advice here is for people who are wanting to stay within a reasonable budget, but who also want to make decisions that allow them to upgrade without having to purchase upgraded versions of the same equipment over and over.
What do you want in a system?
Getting a system together is a decision based on two things, your budget and your photographic desires. There are a few rules of thumb.
- Camera bodies are evolving faster than lenses
- A good lens will last through three or four camera bodies
- If you decide to shoot professionally, you need a backup for any essential piece of equipment
- There’s a floor that you will have to spend to get a functioning system. Beyond that, cameras are like cars and computers. You’ll never get everything, but you can always get more.
- Avoid spending 1/2 to 2/3rds of the money you need to spend to get equipment that is less than what you need
- There’s a sweet spot of cost/performance. Below a certain price point, you aren’t getting what you need. Beyond a certain price point, you increase in value, but you’re spending a lot more money for a little more performance
- That performance difference MAY be worth it if it means the difference between making a sale and missing one.
You’ll build your system based on the types of photographs you want to take.