The White Tower at the Tower of London, England. The Norman keep was built in the 11th century, under William the Conqueror.

As a photographer I’m often asked, “what camera should I buy?” Answering that is incredibly difficult because, ultimately, the camera has to be right for you.

I like to use a high-end Digital-Single Lens Reflex (D-SLR) camera with an interchangeable system of lenses. Using something similar would possibly be over-engineered for the needs of a total beginner to photography. You could say it would be a bit like a learner driver getting behind the wheel of a supercar rather than a vehicle with more moderate power.

The Byward Tower at the Tower of London in London, England. The medieval fortification functions as a defensive tower and gate.

When buying a camera you should consider:

  • The kind of photography you most enjoy and are most likely to undertake.
  • The budget you have available.
  • How much equipment you want to carry when you are out with your photography gear.

Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Sony count among the brands producing quality cameras.

Red Lanterns hung in London’s Chinatown during Chinese New Year celebrations. 2014 marks the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Horse.

In the age of internet shopping, heading to a high street photography store, such as Jessops or a locally based business, might not be as common as it once was. But while you are there you can talk to salespeople, ask questions and get advice. Importantly, you can pick up the camera, feel its weight and size, and decide if it’s kit you could use.

Mirrorless cameras are coming into vogue because they are significantly lighter than D-SLRs. Bridge cameras, which are significantly more compact than D-SLRs ,are also worth looking at if you want equipment that is relatively easy to carry.

A red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Richmond Park near London, United Kingdom. More than 300 of the deer live in the park.

Compact cameras tend to be small and inexpensive, so can tuck into a bag or pocket. If you just want something to be sure you can capture scenes when you’re out and about, it might be worth acquiring one of those.

Several smartphones now have good inbuilt cameras. They provide ready access to photo editing apps. Using a smartphone means you can share images quickly too. Obviously they’re easy to carry and mean you are always ready to capture day-to-day scenes.

If you’re not so bothered about understanding or applying the technical aspects of photography then a compact cameras or smartphone is likely to be ideal for you.

St Martin in the Fields church, a Neoclassical Georgian building designed by James Gibbs, and the National Gallery, Trafallgar Square, London, England, UK

Should you decide to buy a D-SLR you can build up a collection of lenses over time. That frequently means you’ll find photographers stay with a particular brand, because lenses can often be used with other cameras produced by the same manufacturer. Proprietary lenses, such as Canon lenses for Canon cameras, tend to be more expensive that many other lens manufacturers but they often prove a good long-term investment.

Is there a best lens? Ultimately, that really depends what you want to do. For everyday use, a zoom with broad range might be worth considering. But if you enjoy wildlife and bird photography you’ll want to get hold of something like a 300mm or 400mm lens — arguable bigger if you can afford it. For portraiture something around 800mm to 105mm is likely to be useful.

Tower Bridge in London, England. The Victorian bascule and suspension bridge was designed by John Wolfe Barry and Horace Jones and opened in 1894.

The important thing is to get out, experiment and to photograph regularly. Once you start doing that you begin to understand what lenses you need and use.

Photography has never been as popular. Whatever kit you use, get out and enjoy taking pictures.

About the author

Stuart Forster is a director of Why Eye Photography Limited and his work has been published in all of the UK’s national newspapers. He undertakes assignments in the UK and abroad.

He posts regularly at Go Eat Do, his personal travel and food blog.