The industry has been shifting away from traditional Single Lens Reflex (SLR/DSLR) style cameras with moving mirrors and viewing prisms in favor of electronic viewfinders or no viewfinder at all. This year Canon and Nikon simultaneously introduced high megapixel mirrorless professional cameras, some would say late to the party given Fuji and Sony’s introductions around 2013. In the last five years Fuji, Sony, and others have developed extensive systems around the new mirrorless technology. These cameras can be lighter, smaller, have larger sensors, and in some cases less expensive.
Although not completely gone, the point and shoot camera have diminished in importance, and some cases have morphed into an expensively priced fixed lens racecar of a camera like the DSC-RX1R II priced at just over $3000. There is either inexpensive small point and shoots, specialty point and shoots (i.e., waterproof), or more expensive stylized cameras. The mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and fix lens long zoom cameras have filled the $500 to $1000 range.
So now the consumer has many more choices in a broader price range. Given this range of camera models, features, and costs it is impossible for me to give you one camera model that will work best for everyone. So below is a list of things to consider before you make your final purchase.
1. Know what you want to photograph.
Start with a simple list of the thing you want to photograph. Family, Nature, Bugs, Vacations, Sports; each of these things might alter your choice of camera. For instance, you might want to pay extra for a super light, compact camera for vacations around the world. Have the ability to change lenses to fast long lenses for sports or wide lenses for nature and travel. For family gatherings, you might want to have a pop-up flash or the ability to add an external flash for more power.
2. Have your budget set, be prepared that it might creep up.
The camera manufacturers are experts at adding that great little feature to the next most expensive camera. How willing are you to stretch to that next camera if it comes up? Is it worth it? Also, keep the list of your uses nearby. Adding thing you want to photograph can also mean you need to add functionality to the camera which may mean higher prices.
3. Make sure you get your hands on the camera you’re considering.
Sometimes a well-designed camera means that the buttons are where they are supposed to be. Other times it means its cool looking, and you can’t get the camera to do a darn thing you want. By getting your hands on the model you are considering you will know if you can push the button without hitting the buttons next to it. You will also know if the camera its grip is too small for your hands.
4. Canon, Nikon, Chevy, Ford, Mac, PC…….
Well maybe not PC, I’m a Mac guy through and through
Modern manufacturing and the use of outsourced parts and components have made many cameras more similar than different on the inside. The key is to know how easy it is to get the camera repaired. Certainly, the least expensive cameras might be considered disposable but as the price tag goes up service is essential. As your budget increases and gets closer to professional grade then the brand does become more critical, what accessories are available, how close is the service facility, can I easily rent lenses.
5. Consider Buying Local.
In many cases, the cost for the camera locally is the same as one purchased on the internet. Reputable dealer are required by many manufacturers to sell at a given price. If the price is substantially different than other prices you have found be wary. Some internet sellers carry imported or gray market items. These are items that were not intended for the US market. These cameras will most likely not have a valid warranty and may not come with English instructions or English as an option for the menus. I have also found that by buying local, I now have a knowledgeable person to ask questions or get help with service.
I hope this helps with your decision process. I’m happy to answer any question you may have on this. Feel free to send me an email or call our studio.