I often get asked the question, which is the best camera to buy?
Of course my response is something like “What do you shoot? and, what do you want to do with the pictures when you are done?”. I basically look for answers that are going to categorize their type of photography as this:
If you are looking for something small lightweight and always available as you often post pictures on Facbook, Google +, etc. You want a camera that you can quickly upload photos to their favourite site, and while you want good quality, you focus more on sharing their pictures and experiences. For you sticking with your camera phones is usually sufficient. Some want a dedicated camera instead of their camera phone (or don’t own a phone with a built in camera) that is small and lightweight. Look at a simple point & shoot and you’ll be off to the races.
This includes most people who want photos of their family & friends, vacations, events, etc. and may or may not ever print their photos. They want a camera of good quality but don’t want to break the bank and they like something small and portable. For this group I recommend a good quality point & shoot camera. They range in megapixels, zoom range, ability to shoot RAW, viewfinder or rear LCD only, size and weight. I quick walk around your local Best Buy, Future Shop, or favorite local camera shop will usually find something suitable.
Amateur & Enthusiast (Budget)
This group of photographers gets tricky. They have the desire and creative eye to be great photographers, however budget holds them back. So what do they do? In the digital age of photography where upgrading your camera body occurs every 3 years or so (at least it does for me) purchasing new gear in this group can be challenging. My recommendation is to start off with a good quality DSLR body and lens. Starting out with a kit under $1,000.00. The Canon EOS Rebel with a kit 18-55mm will get you started. From here consider upgrading and adding to your lens collection as the glass portion of your investment is perhaps the most critical investment AND it will retain its value over a long period of time. On the Nikon side starting out with a D5000 certainly fits the bill.
If you can afford and want to start out with a little higher end body, then I’d lean towards the Canon D80 or 5D Mark IV; or Nikon D700.
Keep in mind the glass portion of your investment is what the light travels through to get to the image sensor, so the higher the quality of glass you put in front of the sensor the better quality images the sensor is able to capture. When you can afford it later the first investment I would make is to purchase a lens that best fits the majority of your needs. If you like taking close ups perhaps you want a macro lens; a moderate zoom lens for general use; or perhaps a long zoom lens if you like shooting wildlife or sports.
Of course you’ll also want to think about purchasing a solid tripod and an off camera flash at some time.
Amateur & Enthusiast (Rich)
This one is a little easier to recommend; buy whatever you want. But seriously these are people who have the money and want to buy quality gear. I lean them towards the “GM” series of Sony lenses and these represent Sony’s highest quality lens (in most cases). Most of these lenses will start at the $1,200 range and go up quickly from there depending on the lens.
You will likely buy the high end body perhaps even the pro quality body just because you can.
Usually when talking camera gear among professionals we often will chat about the new gear and share opinions but rarely make recommendations. We are all experienced enough to form our own opinion based on years of photography experience and what best fits our needs.