What Camera Should I Buy?

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I get this question a lot

Throughout the year, and particularly before vacations and holidays I get asked "What camera should I buy?". There is no one right answer, but I have standard advice I like to share. This page summarizes that advice, so now I just refer inquiring minds here.


Before diving into the technical details think about these ideas. They have helped me enormously in my own camera purchases:

  • "The best camera is the one you have with you"
  • "If you can't afford to break it, you can't afford to buy it" - Mr. MM
    • This is one area I really agree with Mr. Money Mustache. Buying a camera at the very top of your price range might leave you terrified to take it out of its foam padded protective case. Buy something you will be comfortable using. 
  • "Treat your possessions as consumable commodities" - M. Ingmanson
    • You are presumably buying your camera to enrich and bring happiness into your life. Take risks with your camera! Dangle it over cliffs, swim with it in the ocean, bring it with you when you probably shouldn't. It's true that you might wreck it, but think about the benefit you gain from the other 99% of the time when you get a great shot. The upside greatly outweighs the downside.

Picking A brand

This is a loaded topic. Camera-nerds will talk your ear off and insist that their brand is the best. They are all lying to you. 

Here's the truth - For me, you, and almost all consumers it does not matter. Yes, Canon might have 1% more mega-this and Nikon may offer 184 focus points instead of the competitors "pathetic" 183. The point is, these differences really only matter to people operating at the highest levels of photography.

If you are reading this guide and looking to buy your first or second "real camera" all the big brands are effectively the same. 

The one caveat I would offer is your circle of friends and family. If your entire family owns Brand X, buy Brand X. This makes it super easy when you have questions or want to borrow gear - everything is compatable. 

Taking Great Photos

Taking great photos is about a lot more than just buying expensive gear.

You don't need to do all of this from day one, but each piece you add in will help you to get better results. 

  • Some kind of editing software. I like Lightroom.
  • Get out and take pictures. Search for a photowalk near you.

Super Simple Suggestions

  • Super small & portable ==> Buy the Sony RX 100M III
    • You can't add new lenses
  • Medium size with interchangeable lenses ==> Buy the Sony A 5000 or Sony A 6300 [More $$$]
    • Uses smaller lenses, so they cost a little less and are lighter
  • I want a big DSLR to look like a pro ==> Buy whatever Canon or Nikon is top rated and in your price range
    • Better for night and action photography
  • Check out The WireCutter, they have some great suggestions.