How to Pick the Best Camera

Do you know how to pick the best camera? What features do you consider? How expensive should it be?

Here's the answer: the best camera out there on the market today is...
...the one you have with you.
...the one you're actually going to use.

For most amateur photographers, any camera is the best camera

Ok, you probably didn't want to hear that. But it's true. No camera will automatically give you great photos if you don't have great composition and exposure. Cameras don't take pictures, photographers do.

Ansel Adams said, "The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it."

Fine, we hear you. So what camera should I buy??

For people who are starting out with photography as a hobby, get a camera set that you can comfortably afford.  Then learn as much as you can about exposure, composition, and other techniques that make great photographs.

Once you decide that you really enjoy photography as a hobby and you want some advanced features, then you can sell your old equipment and upgrade to higher-end models.

If you discover that you have a hidden talent in taking great pictures and you're thinking that you may actually want to make some money from your talent, then you can spend more money on fancy equipment. 

But your money will go furthest if you buy quality lenses. This makes a bigger difference than buying an expensive camera body.

What features should I look for?

The biggest myth when choosing a camera is that the megapixels make a big difference in the quality of your pictures. 

Says Ken Rockwell,
Even when megapixels mattered, there was little visible difference between cameras with seemingly different ratings. For instance, a 3 MP camera pretty much looks the same as a 6 MP camera, even when blown up to 12 x 18" (30x50cm)!
So unless your picture is going to be on a billboard, every camera currently on the market should be perfectly sufficient to meet your MP needs.

Instead, consider these differences between high-end DSLR vs. low-end DSLR vs. point-and- shoots.
  • Price (the difference between the top and bottom can be a few thousand dollars)
  • Response time (the time it takes the camera to take the picture when you press the shutter)
  • Auto-focus
  • Performance in low-light situations
  • Video capabilities
  • Weather-proof builds

Back to the main point: the best camera is the one you always carry

And what do you never leave home without? That's right: your phone!

An iPhone (or any smartphone) is the one camera that people always have with them.

So here's how to tell if you're a true photography buff: if you're constantly snapping pictures with your iPhone, especially of things that most people wouldn't consider photogenic, then you can consider yourself a real enthusiast.  In that case, you're probably someone who would take advantage of the extra features of a DSLR. Especially if you find using your iPhone as a camera annoying due to its lack of features (can't adjust ISO, shutter speed, or aperture), slow response time, and inability to change lenses.

So before you spend the extra cash to upgrade your seemingly boring run-of-the-mill camera to a fancy high-end model, figure out honestly how much you intend to use it. If your expensive DSLR sits at home most of the time, then that is probably not the best camera for you.

But if you really have money burning in your pocket, here is your shopping list (I am a Nikon shooter, sorry Canon fans):

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