Friday, August 15, 2014

Best Budget Digital Camera Options

The Cross At The Corner - Tehachapi, California
Captured with a Nokia Lumia 1020.
I get asked sometimes to comment on different cameras. People ask me for advice about what camera to buy. This time around someone wanted to know what a good first digital camera is for someone that is interested in photography and on a tight budget.

Thistle Bloom - Stallion Springs, California
Captured using a Nikon D3200.
My first suggestion may seem unorthodox, but the best value digital camera is a cell phone. I paid $100 for my Nokia Lumia 1020 and it produces very good image quality. Plus, it doubles as a smart phone. Even my old Samsung Galaxy S, which was a "free" phone, was perfectly capable. Cell phone service isn't even required. Chances are someone you know has an old cell phone in a drawer somewhere collecting dust that they'd be more than happy to give away.

Ansel Adams said, "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it." That is because photographic vision matters far more to the outcome of an image than the camera.

If you want something a little more versatile than a cell phone camera, I suggest the Nikon D3200. This "entry level" DSLR has a high ceiling. It produces pretty much identical image quality to some of Nikon's more expensive models, it just doesn't quite have all the bells-and-whistles. Replace the kit lens with a prime lens and nobody would ever know that you are using an inexpensive camera.

Because Nikon has replaced the D3200 with the almost-exactly-the-same D3300, the D3200 is "last year's model" and can be had for really cheap. If you shop around, you can find it with the kit lens for under $400. That's a bargain!

Buying a digital camera doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, it doesn't have to cost anything.

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