How Do I Choose The Right Camera For Me?

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Let's get to the gist of the problem. There is no camera that is right for everyone or every occasion. Building such a camera is not possible. It's all a trade-off between photographer skill, camera size, cost, post processing needs and final image usage. Let's figure out what type of photographer you are first and then give some clear recommendations of what you should buy.

Professional photographer - or the skill and ambition to take pictures like one

A professional does not have only one tool to perform his trade. He/she will pick the tool (camera and lens) that fits the job. This includes at least one high end DSLR (full format sensor and prime optics) and one or more compact large sensor cameras capable of capturing RAW images.
► If you already fall within this group you are probably just looking for the newest tool to complement your collection.
► If you are aspiring to take pictures like a pro and master the skills necessary to reasonably utilize these DSLR technological marvels or other high end cameras, the cameras shown on the right will get you started. Be prepared to spend $1500-$3500 as a minimum.

Advanced hobby and frequent family photographer

If you fall into this category you will have to make a choice between consumer DSLR cameras and what's generally known as mirrorless cameras.

Consumer DSLR camera ($500+)(Nikon DX or Canon APS-C sensor format)
You should get a consumer DSLR camera ONLY if you have serious aspirations to do creative photography, and by that I mean you are ready to start experimenting with shutter speed, depth of field, bokeh and ISO before moving up to a full format sensor camera. Keep in mind that if you go this route, when you are ready to move up, you are stuck with system lenses that can't be used on full format cameras with good results.

Mirrorless camera camera ($500+)
If you typically leave your camera on Auto, you should get a mirrorless camera to take pictures like a pro, without having to lug around 10 pounds of professional gear. You'll still need to be OK with carrying multiple lenses and you should not expect to be able to put the camera in your pocket.

Fixed Lens large sensor camera (>=1 inch) ($500+)
If you do not want to carry and change lenses for various occasions, you'll want a high end (large sensor) camera with a built in lens. While a mirrorless may give you more options to get the optimal picture, the scene may be gone before you get the right lens mounted. You can typically fit the fixed lens cameras in your pocket as they are compact and awesome for traveling.

Occasional family or travel Photographer

If you sometimes find yourself acting as the photogapher at family activities and just want a camera that is better than your cellphone OR if your pictures typically end up posted to the internet for your friends and family to see, you don't have to invest a lot to get better quality pictures.

Super zoom compact camera ($250+)
If you truly want an all in one camera that fits in your pocket and can zoom out to capture your entire family in the living room OR in close to catch the baby mountain goat way up the side of the hill, then a super zoom is a great option. I personally always have one of these in my car and in my travel bag wherever I go. They are awesome all in one cameras as long as you do not expect DSLR image quality in low light conditions.

Cheap Compact Camera ($100+)

Smartphones have largely replaced the cheap compact, but with tiny sensors and no optical zoom they do not always get the job done. A cheap compact camera is still a good option for occasional family and travel photography or if you need a camera to give to you kid to bring to camp. Avoid all cameras designed for children as they are cheap toys with huge markups and may cost more than a basic compact camera that actually takes great pictures.
Last Updated on 5/11/2019

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