Do you want to know what cameras I recommend? Well, first you have to hear about something that irks me: hobbyists who call their camera purchases an "investment", like they're running a business or something. Unless you're just taking photos for a quick buck, spending money on cameras is throwing that money away, not investing it.
I've bought a lot of camera shit over the years, probably more than I should have, certainly way more than I've needed, and none of it has been an "investment". Even on the rare occasions I was trading cash for photos, my camera purchase decisions weren't made with business profits in mind.Two many cameras. Get it? Ha ha. I am great joker.
If you want to know how much money I've dumped into this hobby over the years, believe me, the amount is embarrassing. But the upshot is that I've used a lot of different cameras and camera accessories, and have some opinions. I normally keep my opinions to myself, but you're on my website, so now you get to hear them.
There are no good cameras. There are no bad cameras, either. Each has its purpose. Know what you're trying to do, and then find the best camera for that. Or spend bazillions of dollars trying every camera in existence, just to see if maybe this other way of shooting is how you shoot best. Point is, each camera has its strengths and its weaknesses, even if sometimes its strength is simply that it's inexpensive. But once you know what you're looking for, you can find the right tool, and then that's the best camera ever made (for you).
There are, however, a few universal truths:
Cameras that try to do everything (I'm looking at you, dSLRs) have such a huge and overwhelming array of options that it's easy to get mired down in constantly changing preferences and settings. When a camera has almost no settings (like a this weird Minolta SLR my father gave me) your entire attention is devoted to observation and composition. Sure, you cannot do as much with the Minolta as you can with, say, a Canon Digital Rebel, but this leads to my second point:
Imagine you're in school and are assigned an essay. That's the entire assignment. "Write an essay." Now, imagine you're in another, less moronic class and are assigned to "write an essay explaining the creation of the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (note: I hit the 'random' button on Wikipedia to find this), without using any NATO-specific terminology that isn't explained". Which assignment do you think would yield better work? The one where you can write about anything? Or the one where the prompt has guided your initial search, giving you direction for your thoughts? The openness of the first may seem appealing, after all, you could write about something you already know. But this is the photographic equivalent of taking photos of your own bedroom. The second prompt, whether it's an essay or a photograph, forces you to learn something new, solve a problem, and ultimately, be creative.
The final truth, is that photography is Machiavellian. When I'm looking at your photo being presented, I neither know nor care what equipment you used to create it, how far you had to hike to take it, who you had to bribe to get the access, or least of all, what was running through your head when you pushed the button. Writing a good description of your photo is a difficult art to master – I haven't done so – but I do know that silence is better than a bad description. Your photo is your story; it must get my attention on its own. The description can only add to the image, not be the reason I'm looking at the image.
The intrepid reader will note that this camera advice article has barely even mentioned a model name, let alone given you any suggestions. This is because I cannot. In fact, no one can. There are hundreds of models of cameras currently in production. No one person has used all of these cameras. It is not possible. By "used", I don't mean "turned on and pushed the button a few times." I mean "lived with this camera as their creative bread and butter." After all, what good is a "review" from some idiot who's knowledge of the camera is the same you could get from 15 minutes at Best Buy?
So yes, I'm not going to review cameras. I did write a lens review, so that may help you, but for cameras, I can tell you what my experiences have been. But I cannot tell you what camera to get anymore than I can tell you what hairstyle to get.
Here are some of the cameras which I've used. I've used one of each of these cameras (with a few exceptions), so if there's any variation in their production, I won't know about it.
My review is, they're all excellent! Shoot more photos!
First published on 19 Nov 2014; last updated on 27 Jan 2017.
Everything here copyright Branden Frederick unless otherwise stated. For information on re-publishing any of this content, please email me.