Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thought Of The Day: Which Camera To Buy?

I've been asked more than once what digital cameras I recommend. The truth is, it doesn't matter what camera you purchase, because your camera doesn't matter. You should be more concerned about how to make better photographs and less concerned about what cameras you do or do not own.

With that said, those in the market are looking for some direction, so here are my recommendations:

If your budget is $4,000 or more, the Nikon D800 is the camera to get. According to DxOMark, the D800 is the best digital camera ever made, besting even all digital medium format! It has an MSRP of $3,000, and you will have no problem finding a good lens or two for one grand.

If your budget is $3,000 and you already own a Nikon DSLR, the D800 is your hands-down camera of choice.

If your budget is $2,500, the Fuji X-Pro1 offers full-frame quality in a compact and lightweight package. The camera has an MSRP of $1,800 and a lens will run you around $600.

If your budget is $2,000, the Sony NEX-7 (also compact and lightweight) will give you similar quality to the X-Pro1 (and full-frame digital cameras) at low ISO. The drawback is performance at high ISO, which isn't great.

If your budget is $1,500, wait a few months, and the price of the Sony NEX-7 with a lens should fall as supply catches up to demand.

If your budget is $1,000, the Samsung NX200 (again, compact and lightweight) will give you similar quality as the Fuji X-Pro1 and the Sony NEX-7 (and full-frame digital cameras). Like the NEX-7, the drawback is performance at high ISO. If you shop around, you can find this camera with a kit lens for as low as $750.

If your budget is $500, shop around and you can find the Pentax K-x DSLR or the (ever-so-slightly better) Pentax K-r DSLR (both with a kit lens) on sale for $500. These 12.4 megapixel cameras were a good deal when they were brand new two years ago. Today, you won't want to pay full price, but if you can find them discounted, you still get a good value.

If your budget is less than $500, find a great 35mm film SLR or rangefinder (heck, probably both, plus a Holga...) on eBay plus lenses and filters and tripod, etc.--all within your small budget. Because almost everyone has gone digital, used film cameras can be had for very little. Get the film developed and scanned, and the results will beat almost any digital camera.

If your budget is zero, use the camera on your cell phone. It is very capable of capturing great images.

This is not a list of best to worst. It is more of a general guide depending on how much money you want to spend.

It's not always best to spend the most. The Sony NEX-7 is not even close to being three times better than the Pentax K-r, but it will cost you three times as much right now. The Fuji X-Pro1 is not even close to being twice as good as the Samsung NX200, but it will cost you twice as much and then some. The Nikon D800 is not twice as good as the Sony NEX-7, but it will cost you more than double (and it will cost you about five times as much as the Samsung NX200 while only being about twice as good).

I won't tell you which camera to buy, but hopefully this will give you some food for thought that might help you in some way.

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