Lots of people ask me what camera to buy. My advice is this,
• Avoid the so called ‘prosumer’ cameras, the ones that sort of look like a big fancy camera but aren’t. The sensor and lens quality are no better than a good compact camera, so you may as well get something easier to carry around.
• If you want pro quality and you can’t afford new, my advice is to look for a second hand dslr, a Canon or a Nikon. You’ll get far more quality for your money. Five years ago, I bought a Canon 1ds MII for £5k, now it’s worth about £600 on ebay. It’s a magnificent camera, far better than anything you’d get new today for that money. It’s my spare camera now and the one I use in wet weather for it’s ruggedness.
• Shutter lag – THE most important thing. Shutter lag is the delay between you pressing the button and the camera taking the photo. If your camera’s got a long shutter lag, you’ll always miss the moment. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE to be a decent photographer if you suffer from shutter lag. Auto focus, electronic viewfinders, unecessary social media-ing, fancy filters etc etc, all these things add to shutter lag. For compact cameras, the simpler the better so you and the camera can just get on with getting a good photo. I operate on a manual setting all the time.
• Viewfinders – I struggle to take a good photo with a camera that doesn’t have a proper viewfinder, a place for your eye to look and frame. There aren’t many compact cameras out there nowadays with a viewfinder but Canon do a few, in their £100 range and their £800 range, I bought one for my daughter last year. (the former ! her first proper camera and she loves it for the simplicity).
• I’d recommend these manufacturers for compacts – Panasonic Lumix, the lower and higher end Canons. They have good optics and controls and options. I wouldn’t recommend the ones that look very stylish or fancy but aren’t user friendly. Most of them have too many buttons and options.
For high end – the market in-between compacts and professional is a bit of a minefield. Manufacturers make a fortune out of this prosumer market, they turnover a lot of kit, constantly looking for the quality utopia. So my adivce that most cameras between £300 and £800 aren’t worth it. THe optics and sensors aren’t much better than compact. So, either stick with the bottom end, be happy with it or go pro. Where it’s a world like before digital. Pro cameras are like the Nikon F1 or the OM10 you used to have and love. Almost. Normal camera controls, high end lenses and quality photos. That you don’t have to wait a few days to see. That’s another subject, everyone’s need to look at the photo they just took.
Software – I’m not a Lightroom fan because it needs it’s own archive, photos from hard drives need to be imported into it. That for me spells unnecessary risk and complication. I read enough photo forums to know that it’s an issue I’m glad I don’t have. I run Adobe Bridge and Photoshop on a virtually empty hard drive with 12gb of ram, most of it dedicated to Photoshop with four interchangeable 2Tb drives as my archive. With an Eizo monitor. Now I’m just showing off.
Back up – I back up onto mirror hard drives which I replace every 3 or so years