Right up there with “Why are we here?” and “Who am I?” are “What computer should I buy?” and “What camera should I get?”
There is no right answer, but the typical answer is: “The one that is right for what you want to use it for that fits in your budget.” Here are some pointers to help you make that decision.
The initial question is Point and Shoot (P&S) or Single Reflective Lens (SLR). Both camera types can give you fantastic images, and both are capable of producing absolutely trash worthy images. The SLR camera just gives you more rope to hang yourself with. So the range of the good and bad is even greater. The first question you have to ask yourself is: “If I buy a SLR, will I use the Manual mode?” If the answer is “Yes”, than an SLR is probably the right choice. If the answer is “No, I rather use the automatic or pre-programmed modes” — than the P&S is the right camera for you. An SLR on automatic mode is really just a fancy, expensive P&S – for the most part. The second question is, “If I buy an SLR, will I spend more money on different lenses? If the answer is: “Yes, I want better and different type lenses,” than SLR is probably a good choice. Otherwise, P&S have gotten very good with the variety of lenses and modes that can go from 17mm to 300mm — both Landscape and Macro modes.
What SLR should I buy?
Ok so assuming you have made the choice to buy an SLR, which camera is the right one for what you want to do? The first question is which manufacturer. Canon, Nikon, Pantex and SONY are all good manufacturers. Nobody can say that SONY does not make a good camera. They’re all good and have a great line up. The tricky part about the SLR world is lenses and accessories. Canon and Nikon easily become the front runners because of their lens and accessory line of equipment. They both have 20-50 lenses available for any specific type of photography you want to do. For me the choice was an easy one. The Canon lenses, in my opinion, are superior to the Nikon ones so far. Nikon has taken the lead in the “body” category, but as anyone in photography will tell you, it’s all about the “glass”. If you already have an investment with a company, go with that one, it’s far too costly to switch and the lead will switch back and forth. DO NOT get caught up in the media wars. If you have friends with good lenses go with whatever manufacturer they use, so you can “borrow” or “trade” lenses.
For me the choice was rather easy, my father was a Canon user, I had a Canon myself and the canon lenses have always impressed me. Here are my recommendations of bodies + primary lenses for Canon. These are not restrictive, almost any body and any lens can do anything, and these are my personal recommendations on what I would do if I were in that situation. These are the minimums that I would start with. A second body never hurts.
|Walk around, general photography||50D (or 7D) + 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM|
|Wedding Photography||5D Mark II + 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM and 1Ds Mark III + 70-200mm f/2.8 IS USM + 580EX II Flash w/External Battery|
|Portrait/Studio type Photography||50D + 70-200mm f/4L USM + Tripod|
|Portrait/Studio type Photography (for fine print media)||1Ds Mark III + 70-200mm f/4L USM + Tripod|
|Product/Commercial Photography||7D or 1Ds Mark II + 100mm f/2.8 Macro or the new 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS + Tripod|
|Landscape Photography||5D Mark II + 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM + Tripod|
|Wildlife Photography (birds/large animals)||7D or 1D Mark III + 500mm f/4 L IS USM + 580EX II Flash + Carbon Fiber Tripod|
|Wildlife/Nature Photography (small)||7D + 100mm f2.8L IS Macro + Tripod|
|Anything up to High School Sports Photography||7D + 300mm f/4 L IS USM + 430EX II Flash + Monopod|
|College Sports Photography||1D Mark IIN or 1D Mark III + 300mm f/2.8 IS or 400mm f/2.8 L IS USM + Monopod|
|Division I/Pro Sports Photography||1D Mark III + 400mm f/2.8 L IS USM + Monopod|