Every year about this time I get asked my opinion on cameras I would recommend, for those doing a little Christmas shopping or who are scouting Black Friday ads, and I make up a little list that I send out when I get those inquiries. So I thought this year I would just write a blog post about it, that way everyone can have access to it! This is not exhaustive, I haven't spent hours and hours researching so forgive me if there are better options out there. But this is a good place to start! :) Canon PowerShot SX610 HS Digital Camera
I am starting here in the mid-$200 range, because most of you have smartphones that have pretty decent cameras on them already, so this camera would give you something you don't already carry in your pocket. The feature I love most about this one is the 18x Optical zoom, which means it is actually zooming in and not just cropping into the picture (which is what "digital zoom" means, and what your iPhone does). This camera also has 20 Megapixels and can shoot up to 7 images per second. And another pretty neat feature about this camera is that it has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, for wireless transferring to mobile devices. So it sounds like getting these images onto Facebook and Instagram would be pretty easy! And I have to say, this is such a pretty camera. :) --This camera will be perfect for parents who want to take better pictures at their kids' ballgames and family gatherings, vacationers who want to be able to zoom in close on wildlife and zoom out for mountain and beach views, and business owners who want to post decent-quality images of their products on social media.
We are moving on up to the $400 range now. This camera kind of brings out the old teenager in me, who loved taking pictures but wasn't quite familiar with what settings like aperture and shutter speed did just yet. I think of this camera as a trainer for a DSLR. It still has interchangeable lenses, but it's smaller than a DSLR and the price tag is great for those who don't want to commit to learning tons about photography yet. This camera boasts 16 Megapixels (I know it feels like a step back from the 20 Megapixel option above, but contrary to popular belief Megapixels aren't everything), up to 8 images per second, and two lenses-- one wide angle and one telephoto. This camera also has a FlashAir memory card, "which enables wirelessly transferring image files to connected mobile devices and computers". So it looks like this one would be able to transfer pictures to your phone easily as well, if you want to post your images on social media. Please note though, this camera does not have a built in flash, so if you need to use flash often this may not be the camera for you. --This camera would be perfect for the photography enthusiast who wants to take their passion for photography to another level. Not quite professional, but a good camera to learn on. Would be perfect for pictures of your kids playing at the park, concert photos (when allowed), and nature photography.
Okay, so you (or someone on your Christmas list) absolutely LOVE photography and are ready to start learning more and investing more into your hobby. Let's move on to the $650 range. This camera is an actual DSLR, has 18 Megapixels, can shoot up to five images per second, and can support more professional lenses and equipment. The link above is for the camera body only, no lens is included. The reason I chose this option, rather than a kit with a body and lenses, is because I always recommend a basic camera body and a 50mm 1.8 lens for those wanting to expand into more of a professional-quality camera. The camera is only half of it now. Every professional knows that lens choice plays a huge role in the look and quality of their images. This lens will enable you to shoot at aperture 1.8, which will be great in low-light and for those of you who love those blurry backgrounds. It is not a zoom lens, but by starting at this mid-range, you can get comfortable with this lens length and decide if you find yourself needing a wider lens or a longer lens, and invest in another lens accordingly. I actually shot my first year of business with this lens alone, and photographed most of my class assignments in college with it, too. Pretty amazing, considering it is only about $125. :) This camera also does not have a built-in flash, and no memory cards are included so you would need to invest in one (I'd recommend a 16 GB or two). --This camera/lens would be great for those who want to take more professional-quality images. I would not recommend this to someone who doesn't want to take the time to learn what the different settings do (such as aperture/shutter speed), because shooting this in auto mode would be wasting most of its capabilities.
I'm going to stop here, because if you are looking into something even more professional than these you really need to do the research yourself and know what features you need in a camera. I hope this helps some of you though! If you purchase one of these I'd love it if you would check in and post a comment below letting me know how you like it. :) Happy shopping!
(For those of you wondering, you can find the camera I shoot with and love here.)