As a professional photographer, I am often asked, “What kind of camera do you recommend?” This is not a simple question to answer, but after months (years?) of promising to address this, I am finally going to try. After all, I put “click” in the title of my blog because I originally planned to share a bit of photographic knowledge with my readers each week. Before I begin with specific camera choices, I would like to cover two topics.
#1 — It makes absolutely no difference if you have Nikon or Canon equipment. I prefer Canon because I had a Canon film camera “back in the day” & that is what I am most comfortable with. My dad, also a professional photographer, shoots both Canon AND Nikon. You cannot tell a difference in print quality. Rather than share more on this opinion since I don’t think it matters, you can go here to read more. Ken Rockwell is well-respected in our industry & gives an excellent history of both brands. (I realize there are many other brands but those are the two leaders in reputation & quality.)
#2 — A specific camera will not make you a good photographer. A motivated person with a willingness to learn, study the instruction manual & develop a basic understanding of light, can take award-worthy prints with a point & shoot camera. Conversely, a fancy digital SLR* with 5 different lenses will not make you a good photographer unless you’re willing to invest the time to master the equipment.
So…..now that we have that out of the way, I would ask, “What do you intend to primarily photograph with your camera?” If you would like a camera for good vacation photos & snapshots, you don’t want to spend a fortune, yet you would still like to have some creative control, I would recommend a high-end point & shoot camera. If you intend to photograph sports, sell your prints online or think you will pursue a serious hobby or career in the field of photography, I recommend you purchase a digital SLR with interchangeable lenses. This is a significant investment & cannot be done cheaply, though there is a trick that can save you some $$$ if you want to go that route. (I’ll cover that tomorrow.) Today, let’s cover the point & shoot.
Drum roll…my pick for the best point & shoot camera on the market is the Canon Powershot G15. Before you freak out over the price, listen to me. I am generally asked what camera I recommend for the best pictures. I have owned several cheaper cameras & I am convinced that for the many features, quality of prints & ease of use, it is WELL worth the money to spend roughly $500 on this camera. It should last you for many, many years. I took mine to Florida in 2012 and barely picked up my Canon 5D SLR. Not only was it much, much lighter and more convenient to take from place to place, the picture quality was astounding. It is a 12.1 megapixel camera, which basically means it takes very high quality photos/files and has the added bonus of 1080p full HD video capabilities. The camera is very easy to learn to use and can be fully automatic or completely manual. The zoom lens is 28-140mm & is very “fast” in low-light situations. It has an attached flash but I rarely need to use it since you have full control over the ISO (what we used to call film speed–the camera’s sensitivity to light) in both manual and program modes. I really can’t say enough good things about this camera. It is also wonderful for professionals like me, who take a lot of pictures but do not want to risk wear & tear on their SLRs taking lots of personal snapshots & are tired of lugging their big cameras everywhere. If you search the internet, you will find this camera ranging anywhere from $425-$499. It is definitely worth it & locally (Little Rock) available at Best Buy.
If you would like to save even more and don’t mind buying a lightly used G15 or purchasing on Ebay, you can find some great deals. You can also look for models from previous years, like the G12 (which I also own) or the G10, which fashion designer Tory Burch claims to carry with her. If Tory likes it, it has to be good, right? Canon typically adds features each time that the model # changes so those cameras may not have as many megapixels or a lens as fast as the G15, but are still fine cameras if you can’t swing $499. I can, however, only speak for the Sureshot cameras that have a “G” model number. I have not used the other Sureshot cameras. If you’re looking for a great source for used camera equipment, I buy almost everything from www.keh.com. If you don’t find what you are looking for on their website, call them because they often have equipment that is just not yet listed. They are a reputable company that refurbishes what they sell so stick to EX or LN (excellent and like new, + or – after the rating is also ok) and you’ll be fine!
I don’t like to recommend cameras without showing examples, so here are a few examples of photos that I have taken with my G12 & G15. The Colorado photos were all taken with the G15. Almost all of these picture were taken on the program or full auto settings for convenience since I was on vacation.
It takes great portraits!
The G-series Sureshot cameras capture action well!
This was converted to black & white in Photoshop.
Excellent sunset photos – handheld!
Great color saturation!
It takes excellent photos in that tiny window between dusk & dark.
It captures goofy kids well!
Intense color saturation, even at night.
And finally, it allows you to override auto settings by shooting in manual mode (& in this case, manual focus) for creative control.
I hope this has been helpful in your search for a camera. You really do get what you pay for & I hope if you are in the market you will consider going the extra mile and purchasing Canon’s G-series point and shoot cameras. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
* SLR stands for single-lens reflex & these cameras are the ones with interchangeable lenses like the pros use.