Need a new camera or looking to upgrade. Here are a few recommendations. Remember cameras are just tools, you need to choose the right one for the job.
Point & Shoot Cameras
Ricoh WG-30W is a great family camera. Waterproof, shockproof, and virtually kid proof (don’t open the battery compartment while underwater) it is perfect for when your DSLR is too big, too heavy, or too delicate. I’ve had several generations of these, I use mine when going to the beach, snorkelling, hiking in the woods and snowboarding. The sensor is small and image quality is not comparable to a DSLR, but it allows you to get shots you’d otherwise miss. The macro feature works really well also.
APS-Sensor Cameras and Lenses
These DSLR cameras will allow you to take creative control of your photography. The sensors are much bigger than most point and shoot cameras enabling you to isolate your subject on a blurry background. All the major camera manufacturers produce great APS sensor cameras, and most entry level models will come as a kit with one or two zoom lenses.
Buying a first camera? Choose one that feels good in your hand. Talk to your friends, having the same brand as them will allow you to trade lenses or help when you can’t find a particular function in the menu.
Here are a selection of great APS sensor cameras. The all have around 24MP and the price is around 1000 dollars (body only). I’ve listed them in alphabetical order, and as to which one to get, that’s personal preference. The Pentax and Sony have the advantage of built-in stabilization. The Sony has an electronic viewfinder which means that you can see what you’re going to get in terms of exposure, but it’s a very different photographic experience. Personally I think Pentax gives you the most bang for your buck, but then again I’m biased 🙂
Canon EOS 80D US$1200 24MP CMOS Sensor wifi
Nikon 7200 US$1000 24MP CMOS Sensor Wifi dual SD slots
Pentax K3II US$850 24MP, In-body stabilization, great weather sealing. Dual card slots.
Sony A77II US$1200 24MP Electronic Viewfinder, In-body stabilization
One of the best choices for a first lens or an additional lens to your kit package is the “nifty fifty” a 50mm lens with a wide maximum aperture. All these are lightweight, reasonably priced, and work on both APS and “full frame” cameras. The wide maximum aperture will allow you to take portraits with a shallow depth of field.
Canon EF 50mm 1.8 $125
Nikon 50mm 1.8G $220
Pentax 50mm 1.4 $340
Sony FE 50mm F1.8 $250
Another great option is a fast zoom lens. Full-Frame f2.8 zooms are expensive, but the Sigma 17-50mm 2.8 lens is cheaper as it’s designed exclusively for APS cameras. At US$420 it’s a bargain. I keep one attached to my Pentax K3 pretty much permanently.
Another option would be to get the event faster Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art lens. This would work well when paired with a similarly fast nifty fifty.
Full Frame 35mm Cameras and Lenses
“Full frame” cameras have a sensor about 1.5x larger than those found in APS sensor cameras. This means you can have more megapixels at the same pixel density, or the same number of megapixels at a lower pixel density. The result is more detailed or images, or lower noise at high ISOs. A larger sensor also means it is easier to create a shallow depth of field when shooting portraits. There is a big jump in price moving up to Full Frame cameras, and it also means you now have to use Full Frame lenses to cover the entire sensor. Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony all make their own full frame cameras that have sensors around 40MP. The Sony A7RII is odd one out with its electronic viewfinder, and ability to shoot 4K. Once again the Pentax is the bargain of the group.
Canon EOS 5DS R US$3700 50MP
Nikon 810 US$2800 36.3MP
Pentax K1 US$1800 36.4MP In-body stabilization, great weather sealing. Sensor shift technology.
Sony A7RII US$3200 42.4MP In-body stabilization, 4k Video, Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
The choice of lenses is of course dependent on what you’re shooting and your style. The 24-70 f2.8, and the 70-200mm f2.8 are the workhorses of many professional photographers. An ultra wide zoom such as the Pentax 15-30mm, Canon 16-35 or 11-24, Nikon 14-24 or the Sony 16-35 may be useful when you need a really expansive field of view.
Portrait photographers often have a favored focal length and fast prime lenses. For many years 85mm lenses were the go to portrait lenses for 35mm, but the 135mm (or simply using the 70-200) are very popular now.
Sports and wildlife photographers often use the super telephoto lenses that enable you to get in on the action from far away. The big glass is expensive and heavy, but you can save money by purchasing the slightly slower lenses (f4 rather than 2.8) and increasing your ISO by a stop.