The number one question I receive from readers is, “Which camera should I buy?” Cameras are all about compromise. For most applications, a Digital SLR (DSLR) will provide the best image quality, ease of use, and flexibility. DSLRs are generally fast, responsive, and your best bet for photographing sports, children, pets, and anything that moves. However, they’re also larger and heavier than more compact options.
The evolving category of mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses offer DSLR quality in a smaller package, but more skill is required on the part of the photographer. They are ideal for travel photography and for more serious photographers who find a DSLR too bulky for frequent carry.
A range of compact digital cameras are available to suit various budgets and styles. They vary greatly in capabilities, including optical zoom and size. Most are attractive to those seeking a basic point-and-shoot, although a few higher-end models offer full manual controls making them attractive to more advanced users. Many DSLR owners also purchase a compact for those times when they’d prefer to leave the DSLR at home.
This page lists cameras that I recommend, but please remember that the best camera for you is one that fits your budget and shooting style. In many cases the best camera is the one you’re carrying with you when you wish to take photo.
- Nikon D7000 – Best performance/price in the DSLR market.
- Nikon D3100 – Best entry-level DSLR on the market. Will outperform any compact.
Mirrorless (This section pending update)
- Olympus E-P3 – Earlier model tested. Great colour reproduction, classic handling.
- Panasonic DMC-GF3 – Earlier model tested. Great option for lightweight travel.
- Canon Powershot G12 or G15 – Top-end compact camera with manual controls
- Nikon P7000 – Top-end compact camera
- Canon S100 – Pocket camera with 24-120mm f/2 lens
- Canon S95 – Last year’s best pocket camera (replaced by the S100)
- Kodak Playsport – The waterproof video/still camera I still take to the beach.
- Olympus Tough Series – I haven’t tested any of the currently models, but I’ve taken previous models into lakes, pools, and let my kids play with it in the bath. They survived!