Monday, May 16, 2011

What kind of camera should I get? That's easy..

With summer rolling around, I suspect that there are a lot of people buying new cameras in preparation for such an event. Why do I suspect this? Is it just a hunch? A feeling in my bones? Or is it a consistent stream of people texting and leaving messages for their photographer buddy Dan, that usually go like this: "Hey man, I've been thinking of getting a camera. What should I get?" So instead of having this conversation, over and over...and over, I will from now on refer you to this blog post. 
To a me as a photographer, the broad question "What camera should I get?" has one simple answer:

A 40 Megapixel Hasselblad that's only $29,999. And it's a limited edition "Ferrari" edition, 1 of 499. It's freaking awesome. This is the camera you should get.

Now that I got that off my chest, we can move on. 
I always tell people, that the best camera is the one you have with you. The smallest, slimmest camera that you can fit in your shirt pocket, is better than any sweet DSLR that you left at home because it was too big.

There are so many cameras out there, it's impossible to narrow it down to just one (except the Ferrari Hasselblad) Here are some simple guidelines that can make it feel a little less daunting. For a point-and-shoot camera, don't worry about megapixels. Just about everything now is over 10 megapixels, and anything greater than that, is much more than a small camera can handle. Do not base your choice on whether one camera is 10MP or another is 14MP. If it is a point and shoot camera, you will not notice the difference.
Do you go to the beach, or like to drop things?
Try this: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 It has a Leica lens, it's small, waterproof, shockproof, and costs $375. There are cheaper versions of the similar camera as well. Avoid the Olympus all-weather, I've heard multiple complaints about picture quality.

Are you not concerned about all weather, and want something a little thicker than your shirt pocket, but has more manual controls and shoots RAW?
Try This: Canon PowerShot G12 It also has a hot shoe for an external flash. Nikon has a similar model. I've personally had the rock-solid G9 since 2007. $499

If you like shooting video, and want an interchangeable lenses, but don't want to go with the size and expense of a full blown SLR there are a lot of "mirrorless" cameras like this:

Sony Alpha NEX-5 Interchangeable Lens

These are cool. They have sensors the size of most SLR's= great quality photos, stuffed into a tiny little body. However the protruding lens takes away from the true "compactness" of the body. A friend of mine shot this video with this camera. There are also many brands with similar style cameras. This one is $699

The options are endless. I didn't even get into the traditional looking SLR cameras. Which nowadays can be had starting at $450!!! Like this 

Nikon D3000 

Bottom line is get into a camera store, and put your hands on some cameras. You will know which ones are clumsy, and which ones feel right. Just don't be too pre-occupied with megapixels and how far one zooms. If a camera feels good, good enough that you end up taking it with you places, and it makes sense to you, and it makes you take more pictures-- THAT is the camera for you. I'm going to get back to work so I can save up for my Ferrari. if I know I can never have one in my driveway, maybe I can have one in my camera bag...


  1. you recommended the lumix to me years ago and i, in turn, have recommended it to many, many people. i've even had people at shows ask me what my camera is! sadly, i dropped it last month and broke the screen, and possibly some other things. so, for the time being, i've decided to go with my holgas.

  2. Oh no!! So maybe you should get the compact Lumix so you can drop it all you want ! :) I have yet to buy a Holga, and I want to so badly!