Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's a good camera that's reasonably priced?

Additional info on choosing a camera (video)
Every time I post a YouTube video that pertains to Photography, someone is sure to ask me this question. I’ve attempted to create videos that would answer this question, however, given the short amount of time that YT allows, I always felt like I was leaving something out.

The question is a difficult one for me simply because of the word “reasonably”. What’s reasonable for you might not be reasonable for another person and the truth of the matter is, photography is expensive! You will notice that this guide does not prefer one camera type over another. I’m a firm believer in RTFM & GIYF. Don’t take any offense to the... well… offensive language. These are common terms in the tech world, so you will have to suck it up, if you want to navigate your way through it all.

Whenever one of my friends asks me this question, I follow up with, “Why are you purchasing this camera?” Are you a photo enthusiast? Is it for vacation? What is your budget?

I’m going to assume that we are speaking about purchasing a digital camera. If you are in the market for a film camera, you probably already know tons about photography and this basic guide is going to be of very little to no value to you.

Photography 101 series

How to focus? (video)

What's a grey card? (video)

What is ISO? (video)

F-Stop & Shutter Speed (video)

How much money you have at your disposal in this case matters. If your price point is on the low scale, you’ll probably be working with a Point & Shoot unless you are able to find a used SLR.

There is no denying that a SLR offers the most flexibility in terms of camera options, however, keep in mind that they are quite bulky. Some excursions do not permit anything dangling from your body, in these cases, SLRs have to stay behind. Additionally, if your vacations are mostly spent on the beach, are you willing to risk getting sand in your expensive SLR? I could go on, but you get the point. Different cameras are good for different situations.

Resolution (Mega pixels)
Everyone is caught up in how many mega pixels the camera has. Nowadays, almost all digital cameras will shoot with enough mega pixels for you to do anything you want. Once you have 8 - 10 mega pixels, please do not waste your money getting more. You can use the extra money to get other useful features.

SLR (Single Lens Reflector)
If you are a photo enthusiast, think about saving up and purchasing a SLR. When you make a decision to buy a camera, you are committing to a lens system, not the body. Manufacturers are always coming out with new camera bodies, but the quality of the lens is where the magic really happens. Good glass is expensive. My recommendation is to start off with a fixed 50mm f/1.8 lens and work the hell out of it. Don’t worry about zoom yet, you want that f/1.8 or f/2.8 aperture to get creative.

P&S (Point & Shoot)
P&S cameras are great. You do not get the option of switching lenses, but these small cameras can fit into your pocket, a huge advantage when traveling on foot. The sad thing about P&S cameras is that people do not RTFM. Learn how to use the camera's functions and you can get some great photos.

Optical Zoom vs Digital Zoom
Digital zoom is completely useless. Don’t fall for it, it’s a marketing scheme. Optical Zoom is what you need to pay attention to if you are in the market for a P&S. Try to get at least 3x on a P&S. The more you can afford the better. If you're opting for a SLR, zoom is not applicable because you have the ability to change your lens.

Rechargeable Proprietary Batteries vs AA's
Some P&S cameras operate with standard AA batteries, others come with their own battery. The pro to using AA's is that they are standard around the world. The con with AA's are that they typically don't last very long. Proprietary batteries will last for a longer charge, but God forbid you lose your battery or it didn't charge, you're out of luck and you can't replace them as easily. My preference is to have 2 - 3 proprietary batteries.

Handy Camera Features:
Image Stabilization: If you are thinking about purchasing a camera with a zoom lens, seriously consider getting image stabilization. Some companies call it vibration reduction, but it's all the same thing. This is important because the further you zoom in on a subject, the vibration in your hand becomes more apparent, thereby contributing to blurry images. Image stabilization helps to stabilize the lens within your camera, minimizing the blurry effects of your unsteady hand.

Video Capabilities: More manufacturers are adding this option to cameras, but take note! Educate yourself about the video file type the camera generates. If you have access to a video editing program, then don't worry about it. Should you have no desire for video editing, make sure the camera creates a file type that your computer / YouTube / DVD player is able to recognize.

Red-eye Reduction: This is another great feature to have. Professional photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop, will allow you to correct red eyes. I'm an advocate of getting it right Straight Out Of the Camera (SOOC) so if you can afford it, get it.

Macro: Think about small objects like bugs and flowers. Get creative with this function and you will start to look at objects differently. Imagine a baby's foot, an eyeball, or the texture of an orange. There's so much you can do.

So what do I recommend?
For a P&S camera: 8 mega pixels, 4x zoom, and image stabilization.
For a SLR camera: save up as much as you can and get glass with a f-stop of 2.8

Try the camera out and if you don't like it, take it back! Use the return policy until you find one that fits your needs and your budget. If you know a specific camera that you want, think about getting is from eBay. I have bought and sold camera on eBay with no problem at all.

I didn't provide a specific camera on purpose. The information provided above will always be relevant. If I provided a link to a specific camera, it will eventually get swapped out for something else, so I'm going to leave that part up to you to decide for yourself.

Nuff Love & Happy Shooting!


  1. Ann, This is so helpful! And I don't read too many blogs! I'm more of a visual type person! But this right here is to the point! Especially since I'm looking into getting a better camera! Thanks, sis! I'm about to share this on my FB page!

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback. I'm very appreciative that you stopped by and gave my blog a chance. I should warn you that all of my posts will not be in standard English, LOL. I like to go back and forth between West Indian & Urban vernaculars, Standard English, and foul lanugage o_O

  2. Thank you so much for this. I really appreciate your time in doing this post. Love your blog.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing, very detailed and easy to understand. This is very helpful.

  4. I still have my old SLR canon, but I want to go digital. I would prefer a SLR with a nice lens, and maybe a separate macro lens, but I think I'll try a point and shoot, to start. I wasn't sure how I should go about selecting one, so thanks so much for the tips.

  5. im late but this was good its looking like I did good research on the camera i did go with. I did a P n S camera this go round. but i've been doing some good cool stuff with this so far. I'm still a beginner I love photography This was a great article.

    1. It's never late when you get the information that you need when you need it. Thanks for shopping by and I'm glad this guide helped.

  6. Awesome read! I recently received a Fuji S4250 series. It is a fancy shamancy P/S. As a novice freelancer (BTW, I do parties, trees, sunsets, and random objects along the road. Hire me! O_o), I can appreciate this post. I am not DSLR certified but I'm working it! Thanks for the tips!

    1. I'm kidding about the hire me part. LOL

    2. That's a great camera. If you are able to put it in manual mode, check out my Photography series 101. It will help you understand your camera setting but I don't guarantee you'll become "DSLR certified" ;-)

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Do you still recommend an 8-10 mega pixel slr. I hope you see this. Thank you for the information.

    1. Most cameras nowadays have much more pixels than this so it should be fairly easy to find. ;-)

  9. Admiring the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer!.. professional camera lens

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