What's Your Deal Breaker When It Comes to Buying a New Camera?

What's Your Deal Breaker When It Comes to Buying a New Camera?

You’ve done your research and looked at all the different options available and finally made a decision on which camera to buy. Then at the last minute you learn about something that’s an absolute deal breaker and you pull the plug. What is one thing that would stop you from buying a particular camera?

On a recent video about the new Sony a7r IV, Tony Northrup talked about five things he hates with the new camera. It was interesting to watch for me because I recently wrote an article about that very camera and why, in my current circumstances, I wouldn’t be buying it even though it looks like an absolutely outstanding piece of equipment. More importantly, as he ran through his list I asked myself whether any of those particular things that he finds acutely annoying would really be a deal breaker for me. And when I say deal breaker, I mean something that would absolutely stop me from buying that body, no questions asked.

Let me give you an example using cars as an analogy. I’m currently in the process of buying a new car here in Japan. Unfortunately, it seems that almost all of the new models being released these days have something they refer to here as “idling stop”, which is a feature where the engine cuts out as soon as the car goes below 9 km/h. So every time you stop, or start idling at traffic lights, for instance, the engine is dead. And then when you put your foot on the accelerator again the engine automatically starts up.

To me, that’s an absolute deal breaker. Not in this world do I ever want my car stopping and starting every time it goes below 9 km/h. Of course, many models have the option to turn this feature off as soon as you get in the car but there are still some models that don’t. Therefore, whenever I walk into a dealers and ask about their cars the first thing I query is the idling stop feature and whether you can turn it on or off yourself. If they say you can’t, then I do a quick pirouette and walk out the door. I am unequivocal that I do not want the idling stop feature in my new car, no matter how many other wonderful bells and whistles it may have.

So coming back to Tony Northrup's video and the five things he hates about the new Sony a7r IV, I thought about whether any of them were actually deal breakers for me. Incidentally, if you haven’t seen the video and you want a quick overview of those five specific things here they are:

  • slow buffering

  • lack of connectivity

  • control dials (exposure compensation dial, particularly)

  • sensor dust

  • convoluted menu system

Looking at that list there are a couple of things that are certainly concerning. For me, the sensor dust issue was extremely surprising to hear, especially because he said it happens pretty much after every shoot. Now that would be a real pain to pay towards $3,500 for a new camera body and have sensor dust to deal with every single time you go shooting. I’ve never had to deal with that to any extent with cameras I’ve owned thus far so it certainly makes me think twice.

Especially because it affects you before you go shooting and after get you go shooting: before because you have to spend time cleaning your sensor and after because you have to spend time cleaning up all the spots on your images if you didn’t do a good enough job in the cleaning stage. I’m not sure I want to deal with that process for years to come, but I’m also not sure it would be an absolute deal breaker. I’ll have to look into it more and talk to some friends about it as I get closer to the time I buy my next body.

What about you? Are any of those in Tony Northrup’s list deal breakers for you? If not, is there anything that is an absolute no for you when you’re looking at upgrading to a new camera body? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

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Deleted Account's picture

AF system ranks pretty high for me.

Iain Stanley's picture

Do you mean the AF accuracy or more the coverage of the frame?

Jason Lorette's picture

No viewfinder...won't even look at a camera without. AF is pretty high.

Iain Stanley's picture


Pierre Dasnoy's picture

Either optical or electric. Shooting on lcd screen is almost exclusive for landscape in my opinion.

Jeremy Lusk's picture

I just assumed sensor dust was an inherent flaw in mirror less systems. I almost never had to clean my sensor with a DSLR, and now I need to worry about shooting in dusty conditions and clean the sensor every time I have an important shoot, just to be safe.

Honestly, if it had occurred to me before I switched from Canon to Sony I may have reconsidered. But now I just deal, and sometimes in life it’s good to know that you can just deal with things you thought would be dealbreakers.

Christian Fiore's picture

Ive had just as much dust switching from Nikon to Sony. Only difference is, cleaning a mirrorless sensor is a piece of cake compared to cleaning a DSLR's, so its a non-issue for me

J Barber's picture

As a person who takes photos for fun, the dust issue pretty much has turned me away from ILCs in general. Swapping lenses in the field on a breezy day is not fun. Superzooms have become pretty good, now that's my sweet spot.

Iain Stanley's picture

As mentioned above, do you find cleaning the mirrorless sensor much easier?

Gonzague GB's picture

Same here, the XXX price. Lately, camera manufacturers have been hammering us like crazy to compensate for the decline in sales of their cash cows point and shoots.

Jamieson Dean's picture

I feel like camera prices have been going down. My old Canon 1 series bodies used to cost me almost $10,000 (cdn). Lenses though... They've been climbing in price. Thankfully there's Sigma to offset that

Michael Dougherty's picture

A lot of people complained that they would never buy a Z7 because it only had one card slot. Doesn't bother me in the least. I sometimes get confused on what images are on what card in my D850 when using both slots simultaneously, especially on trips where I'm shooting a lot and at different times.

Reginald Walton's picture

For me, it would be a slow buffer, since I like to shoot sports and air shows where speed is paramount.

Ken Yee's picture

Uncomfortable grip or bad control placement... You're going to hold it all the time...

rodney simba masarirambi's picture

When getting my first camera, that for me was the difference between Nikon & Canon for me.

Christian Fiore's picture

AF is #1 for me. If you cant get the shot in focus neatly every time, especially under easy conditions, any other issue or benefit becomes irrelevant. I can live with most other shortcomings, though the lack of adapted lens exposure preview, and focus peaking, on my old Nikon 1 J5 (the final Nikon 1 camera, and it still lacked those) irked me almost as much as the poor AF. Mainly because all of its competitors had those long before the J5.

Iain Stanley's picture

By “easy conditions” I assume you mean good light, rather than a static subject?

greg heil's picture


Deleted Account's picture

No flip screen. No deal.
I’m too old to be laying on the deck in puddles to get that low shot.

stuartcarver's picture


Jordan McChesney's picture

The only thing I miss from my old camera is the 360 articulating screen. My current one only pops out and tilts up and down. My initial thought was “why did you make the professional grade screen worse!?”

Iain Stanley's picture

Funnily enough I started out with a Rebel, then progressed up to a 5DMk4 and with each “progression” came less swivelly, tilty, flippy screen.....

Ken James's picture

First, how it feels in my hands.

Motti Bembaron's picture

AF speed and accuracy are very important to me. Kids photography demands it.

Deleted Account's picture

Weather sealing

John Martin's picture

Free floormata and oil changes.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Eye-AF. Sony has spoiled me.

Iain Stanley's picture

At a very narrow depth of field, when your model/person has their eyes on an uneven plane, does the Eye AF detect and keep both eyes in focus or....?

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Eye-AF focuses on the nearest eye. That would look weird if both eyes were in focus in such scenario.

Iain Stanley's picture

Yes definitely. Was just curious :)

zave smith's picture

I'm a pro. Lifestyle and Portraits. Besides the usual like a great sensor, lots of top glass, great autofocus, the deal-breaker is one card slot. The peace of mind I have from having an automatic in-camera back up is huge and I would not buy a camera without it.


Jamieson Dean's picture


stuartcarver's picture

When you press the shutter it takes a photo is my main priority, pretty useless without that.

Deleted Account's picture

Regarding cars -- that idling stop that you mention annoys the heck out of me in rental cars. I hope to avoid it when purchasing.

David Pavlich's picture

How it feels in hand. It's kept me from switching to Sony or any other small camera for that matter.

Deleted Account's picture

It's made by Sony and therefore will be so hideous that the only way to take it out in public would be to place a bag over it and ring a bell whilst screaming "unclean".

Alik Griffin's picture

I would have to say, for landscapes, LCD size / resolution. For street, weight. And then in general I would say a system has to have good lenses that are priced well.

Gordon Cahill's picture

Controls, handling, balance, menus and usability. As spectacular as the technology is in the Sony's I can't stand using them and if at all possible use another camera. The S1R is bigger and heavier and CDAF but it's so much more usable. The X1D is sublime. The Leica SL is great to use although I fear they've ruined the usability in the SL2 if the leaks are to be believed.

AF needs to be accurate but I don't use or care about continuous AF. I don't tend to need burst shots of my dog running in a park.


Iain Stanley's picture

Out of curiosity, why would you not use continuous AF if you were shooting your dog running in the park?

Wolfgang Post's picture

1) Weight - Once you have done hiking with camera you will know that 100g more will quickly feel like 5kg.
2) Flip screen / articulated screen..
3) Different battery types (and chargers) for each new model.
4) Top plate LCD is a must.
5) Price.

Teemu Paukamainen's picture

Swivel screen instead of the much preferred tilt screen. That's a big no go for me. But I think Fuji has done it right with their X-T3 which brings us the best of both worlds.

Mehdi R's picture

1) Viewfinder size and resolution
2) AF
3) Grip

vik .'s picture

Good AF, low noise, dual cards. That's all i need. I can live with the rest.


Deal breaker: Nikon logo. (Oh, snap!)

Mehdi R's picture

Nikon is the only brand has every thing I need and want, I was Canon shooter since 2014 and I switched to Nikon D750 and never looked back again, then D500 and D850. Now I have plenty of bodies and lenses. I've tested and used almost every single CaNikon DSLR cameras, the only camera I prefer from Canon is 1DX Mark II over D5 but for the rest I prefer Nikon. Both FF and APS-C.

chris bryant's picture

Any camera with the letters S. O. N. Y. on it :-)

Jamieson Dean's picture

Dual cards slots. Will never take a chance with a single card on someone's wedding.

Mihnea Stoian's picture

Buffer size.
Ian Stanley, why a gas car in the first place?

Iain Stanley's picture

It’s the only option available for that type of car. No hybrids etc

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