Monday, January 5, 2009

What Kind Of Camera Do You Recommend?

Recently I have discovered just how useless I am at answering the question, "What camera do you recommend for me"? I am most often speechless as to exactly where to start and what to say because there are so many important things when investing in a camera. I am asked about this subject many times so I decided that I better spend some time thinking this through and putting this into words so that I am not willy-nilly with varied answers for different people.

Ask yourself these questions.

1. What is photography to me?
Are you a potential deep sea diver or do you just want to water ski? Do you want to dive into photography or just kinda skim along the surface. I am not being critical of either choice. Both choices can yield great shots. I wouldn't recommend buying a Point and Shoot camera to someone who wants to spend their whole weekend taking photos. I also wouldn't recommend an expensive DSLR camera to someone who is only going to set the camera on the Auto Mode and let the camera make all the decisions. This would be a waste of money.
Simply said, ... If you want to Point and Shoot in Auto Mode, then buy a Point and Shoot camera and educate yourself by spending some time reading the manual. Most people don't and if you actually do this you would be surprised how much more fun you will have with your camera. If you are willing to buy an expensive DSLR camera, then I believe you should also think about taking a few short classes (minimum) to get some help getting started and familiar with your camera. It's a great way to meet people and learn together.
If you are a seasoned veteren photographer, you wouldn't ask me my oppinion in the first place so none of this really applies to you. If you have spent a lifetime in photography there are far better sources of information out there than me. I recommend Ken Rockwell because he evaluates equipment all the time and writes reviews that I can understand ... and I used to gargle with turpentine!

2. Am I already deeply invested in a camera and lenses?
Have you already invested in Canon cameras and lenses? If you have 4 decent lenses and a canon DSLR camera ... I would never recommend that you jump ship and buy Nikon. You likely need to consider more education about your camera and reading the manual is the first place to begin. Find out what is offered at a local community college. It could also be that you got into deep sea diving photography on a whim and really would rather enjoy a more simple approach with a Point and Shoot camera.

3. Do I like using my current camera?
If not, why not? If you are going places and you don't take your camera, why not? Too heavy? Never get the settings right? What is it? Make sure you get this resolved in your mind before you shop. A newer camera does not always yield better results. It's true that people seem to do well for a while (typically only in Auto Mode) but then they become bored and stop progressing because they don't have to think in Auto Mode. Folks, please again understand that there is NOTHING WRONG with shooting in Auto Mode if that's what you want. It's OK and the most important thing is that you enjoy shooting and your results. If you enjoy your camera, you will use it more and great grandkids will appreciate that someday.

I am really not qualified to recommend much to people in the way of cameras. I know the mid-range Nikon cameras. It would be impossible for me to be objective about other suppliers except to say that I am not a camera-brand SNOB. I know Canon and they make incredible cameras ... and I LOVE THEM. Why? Because Canon and others force Nikon to keep getting better. That's where I benefit. You may hate Nikon but they are pushing your favorite manufacturer to improve as well and so you will benefit by photographic feature and quality progress. So, my recommendations are bias toward Nikon. If you are thinking about a DSLR in Nikon and they do cost money so this means I recommend taking a class for these cameras.

There are professional DSLR cameras by Nikon and Canon that cannot be beaten. They are very expensive. If this is the class of camera you wish to purchase, I really can offer no wisdom because I have no experience with these cameras ... except to say ... uh, they are better than anything I have been able to hold.

Consider these mid-range more affordable (though still expensive for most of us) DSLR cameras:
Option 1 - Nikon D7000 - Nikon D7000 Specifications
Option 2 - Canon 60D - Canon 60D Specifications
Option 3 - Nikon D90 Nikon D90 Specifications (may have to get these used)
Option 4 - Canon EOS T3i - Canon EOS T3i Specifications
Option 5 - Nikon D5000 Nikon D5000 Specifications

Consider these great even more affordable Point & Shoot cameras:

Option 6 - Canon SX260 Canon SX260 Specifications
Option 7 - Canon PowerShot Canon PS ELPH 510 HS

No matter what kind of camera you have ... the technology today is great. Please don't feel bad that I didn't mention your camera. I am sorry and my head is in the sand about all that is out there. I currently have three brands and they are all very good. And you if you didn't like my oppinion regarding camera, that's OK too ... just know that one day when I was gargling with turpentine I accidently swallowed. This may explain many things! All the best to everyone who shoots.

NikonSniper Steve


Kat said...

This is great advice. My family bought me a neat little Nikon point and shoot a couple of years ago. As I started taking more pics, they got me a Canon Rebel this year for Christmas. I'm still learning, but it's so much fun! And the main reason for the Canon is that I can use my husband's lenses, thus saving a ton of money lol. Kathy

Carol said...

Our son has big cameras, lenses galore, and shoots some beautiful moments. He worked in a camera store and is thus aware of many digital models and types, too, so it's surprising that he is fairly impressed with my old pocket-sized Nikon CoolPix 2100 with 3x zoom and 2.0 megapixels. So am I! I have played with decent cameras, but setting up a shot is too hard/long for me --my photographing was/is for memory reasons and mostly of kids and grandkids who move rapidly. Thus, not only was/is a point-and-shoot my drug of choice-- but I find that despite trying all this little Nikon's settings, its Automatic mode seems to produce amazing results. I have missed some nice shots of the moon over water at dark, but otherwise, I am delighted with this little third eye!

FAT Girl said...

Really appreciate your generous sharing of experience and advice. So happens I want a "capable" point and shoot to supplement my DSLR. The Canon S90 sounds like it! Thanks so much. said...

Thanks for the advice!! It made me introspect on the things which I do with my current camera. I use a Sony H50 and I am amazed by the results. Still learning the aperture settings and trying to do it manually. Learning photography is fun, the changes which happens to the same object by changing the settings is really amazing. Another most important thing is to have a basic talent on identifying a frame. Otherwise anyone with a high end camera will be Stephen Baird :)

pixi said...

hi, thanks for following my new daily photo blog :)
this article is good advice.
like you i believe that ANY camera today allows you to get some great shots.. if you have an eye for it and put a bit of effort into it.. i am only just starting to take my hobby to a higher level, that is, beyond family photography, and although i am happy and proud of the results i get from my loyal 'handbag cam' a canon ixus 75 (i am also editing to enhance or to play), i am also experiencing its limits, so before i go and buy the latest DSLR 'on the block', i am always happy to read other peoples advice and experiences. Ken Rockwell's site is good help too, thanks for making me discover it.
some eyecatching, and very inspiring photos on this blog !
cheers from australia