I’ve had a few people ask me what camera I would recommend, and it rolls nicely into a blog post.
Questions to ask yourself when buying a camera:
How much weight do I want to carry?
How much do I know about photography?
What type of photos will I be taking?
What will I do with the photos I take?
Do I want a built-in flash?
What does my budget look like?
I recommend the Canon Digital Rebel (I don’t care which one) 99% of the time. It’s a smaller, lightweight, consumer camera with great picture quality. The frame rate (how many shots per second) makes it great for sports/action, it’s excellent for someone learning the craft of photography and at around $700 its not expensive (comparatively). If you’ve been using an entry level SLR for a while and you’re ready to upgrade, check out the Canon 60D (the 70D is also on pre-order), or the 7D. The 7D is the oldest camera in the Canon line up and while I think it’s an AWESOME camera, it is a little outdated now. Either upgrade will at least double your cost. The 60D is about $2000 and the 7D is around $1500. The only reason to upgrade to the $3500 5D Mark III is if you’re a professional. As a consumer you’re not going to use the benefits it gives you and you’re paying almost $3000 more. And that’s without a lens.
Okay, I’ve convinced you that the Canon Digital Rebel is the camera for you. The rebel comes with a nice lens, but you’ll want to add at least one more lens to your lineup. Buy the Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. It’s about $300, but WORTH IT! The dude at the camera store might try to talk you into the 50mm 1.8 at $150, but say, “No thank you, I want the good one.” The 1.4 is sturdier and gives sharper image quality, and if you’re paying $800 for your camera, you want a great lens. Now for zooms. If you photograph many sporting events, as many parents do, you may find the need for a telephoto zoom lens. I would HIGHLY recommend that before you purchase another lens you learn how to use your camera on Manual. You need to understand how to get the shots your want and WHAT YOUR CAMERA IS DOING to get those shots. Many lower end zooms have a floating aperture* and this can really mess up a manual shooter. Once you understand your camera and what it’s doing, you’ll be more open to the possibility of paying close to $1000 for a telephoto zoom. I can not stress enough the importance of learning to use your camera; it will broaden your world.
So, you’re going to leave the camera store with your Canon Digital Rebel camera and kit lens ($800), your Canon 50mm 1.4 ($300), two UV filters to protect your lenses ($40), and a decent camera bag to put it all in ($80). You are going to be smart and invest in a class to learn how to use your camera ($25-$50) and use the two lenses you have extensively before you make your next lens purchase. A wonderful investment for documenting your family.
Questions? Please leave comments!
*Lower end lenses (and even some pro-level) have a floating aperture. This means the fastest “speed” or f/number of the lens (how wide the opening) changes depending upon whether or not the lens is zoomed. For example the lens that comes with most entry level cameras is labeled EF-S 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6. This tells us that the lens when not zoomed can open to an aperture of f/3.5, however when it is zoomed out fully the aperture can only open to f/5.6. I know this is technical, but another way of looking at it is it cuts the amount of light coming in by more than half just by zooming the lens. This could really mess you up if you’re in a lower light situation and aren’t paying attention.