There comes a point where every aspiring photographer realizes that it’s time to put down their smartphones and pick up a professional camera.
Making that transition, though, can be a fairly daunting prospect. The line between a good camera and a great one is very thin, but being able to identify the features that make up that line makes all the difference when you are trying to acquire the best camera.
So before you invest in a camera and just hope that it will be able to meet your needs, consider these four features that every great camera—and photographer—must have.
1. A Proper Sensor
A sensor is essentially the film of a digital camera. Though it is not the sole factor that determines whether or not your photo is going to come out well, you'll find that it's impossible to consistently get a great photo out of a sensor that isn't up to par.
As such, you'll want to research both the size and quality of your desired camera's sensor as well as the type of sensor. The rule of thumb is that larger sensors tend to be higher quality, but it's important to consider the type of photos that you will be taking most in order to ensure that a specific sensor meets those needs.
2. A Sharp Lens
The truth is that there is no definitive camera lens that you must buy above all. The quality of a lens varies greatly on what you are using it for and you are likely going to need to a stable of lenses if you are doing a variety of shots.
That being said, the weight and durability of a lens can often be a good indication as to its potential sharpness and clarity. If you're going to invest in a primary lens, make sure that it feels like it’s up to the task.
3. Substantial Battery Life
In general, the battery life of major camera models tends to be pretty good. However, just because there is an overall high standard of quality among modern cameras doesn't mean that you can overlook the feature. Given that replacement batteries are not always readily available – and can be quite expensive – the better battery life your camera has, the more potential misery you will avoid later on.
4. A Quality Memory Card
Much like batteries, the last thing you want to focus on when trying to get the perfect shot is whether or not your camera has the memory needed to store your shots. While the sheer storage capacity of your memory card is vital, you will also need to consider whether or not the memory card you are interested in is suited for your particular model of camera and the shots you intend to take. If you are not aiming to take a large amount of special file-type shots, then you may not need to simply buy the largest memory card available.
Above all, remember that upgrading to a better camera should be a joyous experience that directly leads to instantly better photos. Combine that enthusiasm with these tips, and you'll be sure to come out ahead with your purchase.