Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What Camera Should I Buy?

What camera should I buy?


Over the past few years I have had about 10 different people ask me this question. Yesterday evening, I got another eMail from someone asking the same question. I thought I would post my answer on my blog, so that the next time I am asked this question, I can just post the link to the blog.

Of course this is not an easy question to answer.

When I purchased my latest camera, I spent countless hours researching and learning before I finally made my decision. That being said, I don’t regret my decision one bit.

Therefore I would highly recommend the Canon EOS Rebel XSi. For about $600 you can get this camera with a basic “Kit” Lens

My only regret is that I should not have bothered with the "kit" lens.  For about $100 less, you can get just the body, and then you can put that $100 towards your first lens purchase.

Obviously there are other brands out there like Nikon, Olympus, and Sony that all make excellent cameras. However, to simplify the answer to this complex question, I am going to just look at the Canon Camera options.

So let’s start with my camera, The Canon EOS Rebel XSi:

You can read all the features and specs on the link above. Basically, this is an entry level SLR. If you want full control of your photography, an SLR system is the only way to go!



SLR Pros:
• Full control of all camera settings.    Note: It also has fully automatic modes so you don’t always have to think about what you are doing.  However, once you start using the manual controls, most people hardly ever go back to full auto!
• Ability to change out Lens depending on specific situations and needs
• Instant Shutter Action. (SLRs do not have that typical point and shoot camera delay when you hit the shutter button)
• Rapid Fire Ability (hold down the shutter and it takes up to 3.5 shots/second). This is great for action shots.

SLR Cons:
• Big, Bulky, Heavy (especially once you start adding Lens to your arsenal)
• $$$$$$ The $600 for the camera is just a drop in the bucket. One good lens can easily cost more than the camera itself.

The (2) Cons I have listed were the primary reason why I waited so long before finally buying an SLR. Since I do a lot of hiking, carrying the extra bulk and weight is definitely something to consider. Plus wading through creeks and rivers with all that money worth of gear gets a little scary.

However, now that I have an SLR, I will never go back!

I would highly recommend The Canon EOS Rebel XSi


If you decided to go this route, here are a few other slightly more expensive options to consider.

The Canon EOS Rebel T1i
This model gives you the ability to shoot HD video (the XSi doesn’t have video mode). It also has 15.1 Mega Pixels vs. the XSi 12.2MP

The Canon EOS Rebel T2i
This is the latest model in the Rebel line-up. It also has the ability to shoot video and it jumps up to 18.0 Mega Pixels

Above and beyond the Rebel line-up there are Canons “professional” cameras which run $2500 - $7000 just for the camera body. One of the key advantages to these is the larger sensor size. I am sure there are other advantages to the “professional” models, but if you are to the point that you would consider one of these, I am not the right person to ask!


Of course, an SLR is not for everyone.
They are big and heavy compared to the typical point and shoot camera, and if you have no desire to learn the different features and controls you get with an SLR, there is no point in having one.

There is nothing wrong with just wanting a camera that fits in you pocket and takes decent photos. One that you can pull out, and snap away without thinking. If that is the kind of thing you want, Canon offers a wide range of “PowerShot” options:

Somewhere between the very basic $100 Powershot and the $600 Rebel SLR is another range of options like this one:

PowerShot SX20 IS

This is very similar my previous Camera. It is not an SLR, so you won’t be getting into the whole world of Lens, but it does offer much of the same control as an SLR.

I would recommend something like this if you want to start learning about the various controls, but are not yet ready to get into the whole world of Lens options. I used mine for about 5 years, before I finally decided to make the jump into the world of SLR



Conclusion and Recomendations:

PowerShot SD1300 IS
If you are looking for a simple point and shoot and have no desire to really learn about photography, something like this would work fine. This would also be great if your the type of person who still struggles to program your VCR.

PowerShot SX200 IS
If a simple point and shoot is what you want, but would also like a more powerful zoom:

PowerShot SX1 IS
If you are thinking about getting into photography, but are not quite ready for an SLR, this gives you much of the control of an SLR, but also allows you to switch to simple point and shoot mode. I used a similar camera for years and it was a great way to learn without quite making the leap into the SLR world.

Canon Rebel XSi
If you are serious about getting into photography and what the really learn how to take great photos,
my final recommendation is go ahead, take the leap now! Go ahead and buy yourself a Rebel SLR. If you don’t care about having video capability, I would recommend my faithful Canon Rebel XSi.  Or better yet, why don't you one up me and get the Canon Rebel T2i, especially if you want to have the video capability and higher MegaPixel Count.

Now, just don’t ask me what lens to buy! That is even harder than choosing the camera!

1 comment:

HemlockMan said...

Great article, Jack!

We had come pretty much to conclusion of buying the Canon SX1 IS but are going to hold out and try to get the new generation SLR for our trip to Yellowstone.