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Buying a Digital Camera

What Does "Body Only" Mean?

SUMMARY: When viewing digital camera listings for sale, why are some cameras listed as body only?

When comparing digital cameras and looking through sales ads, you may notice some cameras are listed with the phrase "body only".

A "body only" camera means that the camera is most likely not a compact or prosumer camera but a higher-end digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera. Unlike other digital cameras, digital SLRs allow you to replace the lens, allowing for different degrees of wide-angle and telephoto shots (think skyline photos versus close-ups of birds high in trees). Plus, some lenses are 'faster' than others (ones with a larger aperture), allowing you to shoot even clearer photos in low-light conditions without necessarily using a stabilizing device such as a tripod (although these are always recommended when they can be used).

Why would you purchase a dSLR camera without a lens, as it is unusable without one attached?

* By skipping the lens package, you can precisely pick and choose the lens or lenses to purchase based on your photography needs and budget. Do you plan on doing wide-angle or telephoto photography? Is speed important? Or can you completely blow your budget and purchase professional lenses at thousands of dollars each for the most demanding of photo opportunities such as sports or wildlife?

* Many people start with a digital camera manufacturer and continue to buy upgrade cameras from the same company. In many cases one can use the same lenses from an older camera with a newer model, saving money and allowing one to use the same technology that one is comfortable with.

* When dSLRs are sold as kits, the "starter" lens may not prove useful enough for some photographers' needs. Perhaps it has a narrow zoom range, requires more time to take usable photos in low-light situations, lacks a usable macro feature for close-up shots, etc.

So if some kits come with lenses that many feel are inadequate, why purchase one?

* Convenience, especially for a first-time photographer. Many people want to start shooting "out-of-the-box" and having a starter lens allows one to quickly practice their photography skills.

* Potential cost-savings. Many stores and retail outlets provide discounts when purchasing a camera and lens together. Although the lens may not be perfect for all photo opportunities, for some it may be good enough.

Photo of a Canon EOS Rebel T4i Camera - body only - http://canon.com

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The MalekTips website was created in 1998 by Andrew Malek of Envision Programming. The page's goal is to freely disperse computer-related tips, hints, and informative articles. Tips are organized to be easy to find, and are presented clearly, in easy-to-understand language. MalekTips also provides information and links to public-domain, open source, freeware, shareware, and commercial software available for download.