When I was just getting started in the photography business I could not afford the newest or best camera equipment. Often times I would purchase used equipment or fabricate photography equipment from items that I had around the house. I still produced great images and made a comfortable living.
A few miles away, a respected photographer I knew used exclusively the newest, most expensive Hassleblad cameras and lenses and was struggling to pay the bills. This photographer had been in business for several years and had a reasonable amount of sales, but was always in financial trouble because she was constantly buying a new, expensive camera each time one was introduced.
With this being said, you only need the equipment that will do the job at hand- nothing more, nothing less. A claw hammer is a claw hammer, whether it is new or used it will still do the job that it is intended to do- hammer and pull nails. A camera and lens are merely tools and you only need to use what will produce the best image for each situation.
Photographing Individuals & Small Groups
Photographing individuals does not require the same type of camera equipment as larger groups of people. If you are photographing individuals or small groups of 30 or less, such as school portraits, graduates, or athletes, we suggest using a 10 mega pixel camera such as the Nikon D3000 or Canon XS. Anything more is just overkill. Below is a chart that compares a few features of these two cameras.
After comparing many cameras, the refurbished Nikon D3000 camera and the Nikon 18-70 lens are the best options because of the built in distance scale. Candid Color Photography has successfully used, and abused, these for almost two years with no major camera malfunctions.
Photographing Large Groups
For those of you photographing large groups of 100 or more, such as senior classes or bid day groups, a camera with more mega pixels is required in order to have enough detail in each face. We suggest using a 12 or more mega pixel camera such as the Nikon D300, Nikon D300S, Canon 5D or Canon 7D. Below is a chart of a few important features of these cameras.
After comparing many cameras, we recommend the Nikon D300. Candid Color Photography has used these for more than two years with no major camera malfunctions. For many years I have personally used Canon cameras and must admit the Nikon D300 is more ergonomic. I have also recently used the Canon 7D and Canon 5D on some very large senior class groups and found that the focus is not as sharp in the corners of the frame as the Nikon D300.
As you can see, the newest and most expensive cameras are not always better. If the lower priced cameras will do the job, go for it! They may not have all the bells and whistles, but you will probably never use those anyway. The next time you are looking at that shiny, new exotic camera in the store display (I know you will be looking!) just remember: no one really cares what camera you use. Customers will only remember the images you produce.