I see a lot of people ask about what camera they should buy, especially when they’re looking to move up to a dSLR. So I’ve put together a recipe for choosing your next camera. This guide is geared toward the dSLR, but you can apply the same thinking for any type of camera. I’m not going to tell you one camera is better than the other — those are just opinions. In fact, I won’t even mention any specific models of cameras. When looking for a new camera, here’s what you should do to get the facts (if not exactly, then something similar).

  1. Go to Outdoor Photographer and read the article on How to Buy an SLR Camera.
  2. Go to Consumer Search and read the Digital SLR Camera Reviews (be sure to read the full story too).
  3. Go to Digital Photography Review and pick up to 5 of your favorites based on what you now know and compare them side by side. Read the reviews and pick out what’s important to you.
  4. Go to a local camera shop and put your top 2 or 3 cameras in your hands. Take some sample shots and experiment.
  5. Go to Amazon, B&H Photo, Adorama and look up lens prices for each of your top 2 or 3 cameras.
  6. Use the same stores to buy your new camera once you’ve picked out the winner. Don’t buy from the places that advertise prices lower than everybody else — they’re a scam. Trust me.

The moral of this post is that there’s no easy way to pick a camera and it’s highly subjective. To each their own; so if you hear somebody ranting about why camera X is better than camera Y, don’t be too trusting of their suggestions. My (personal) biggest factors for buying a new camera would be how it feels in my hands, how easily I can operate it, and if it falls into my price range (don’t sweat $100 or $200 bucks — you’ll spend more than that on most lenses). My least important factors for buying a new camera would be resolution (I have a 6MP and I’m perfectly happy), image processing (I shoot RAW), and sensor size (most are APS-C sized anyways).

Feel free to leave comments to other useful resources if you have any. Happy Hunting!

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You’ve got some really good points here. Thanks for the links. I found this article to be helpful as well.
So if the resolution is the least important factor for buying a new camera, what’s the most important one?

February 19, 2007 9:54 pm

My single most important factor is probably the usability of the camera. It has to feel right and I have to be able to get to all the controls quickly and without trouble.

February 19, 2007 10:17 pm

Pretty good post. The only thing I’d change is step #2. I don’t like Consumer Search because it actually doesn’t have a very comprehensive list of all the reviews for a product. I’d rather use ProductCritic or http://www.viewscore.com

February 27, 2007 2:09 am

Thanks for the info Ryan, but I think those would fit better into step #3. Step #2 is really just to give you an overview of what kinds of features are stonger in various cameras. So for step #3 (research) these are good resources. I found the ProductCritic a good gateway into many many more reviews. Viewscore is also a good gateway, and it’s very easy to navigate and find the cameras. Thanks again for the tips!

February 27, 2007 11:20 am

Excellent article – great links there as well.

May 6, 2007 2:54 pm

Good resource, here is an additional resource that will prove valuable. This is a list of the best DSLR’s chosen by experts: http://www.bestcovery.com/node/8268

You can see all the camera lists here: http://www.bestcovery.com/taxonomy/term/4

February 3, 2009 8:14 pm

Comment now!