So the new year is upon us and with that comes a flurry of resolutions, some serious and some less so. If one of your resolutions was to pick up photography, but have no idea how to start or what to get, we’ve got a list of what cameras I recommend for a beginner, for just about all budgets! Whether you are someone who has fallen in love with portrait photography, enchanted by urban landscape or even just need to learn to use a camera for your vast travels, there is something out there for your budget ! Now a caveat in this article would be that I am a strong believer in the idea that the best camera is the one you have with you as well as “different tools for different jobs”, but in this instance, I’ll be recommending based on usability, longevity (so you don’t have to outgrow it for a while) and price for someone just looking to dip their toes in the wonderful world of photography. I’ve considered cameras with the whole beginner, ease of use thing, but we’ll be focusing on cameras which you can use through your journey of learning photography. I won’t be covering DSLRs as I want to show that there is more to starting photography than starting with entry level DSLR systems. I’ll leave that for a future article! The compact camera is often given a bad rap by photographers who are obsessed with the sizes of their lenses. Seen as “unprofessional” or “noob”, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Some photographers, yours truly included have a compact camera when they don’t want to lug around photogear everywhere. Sometimes a smaller, full functioned camera is way better than a full on interchangeable lens system. Here are some of my favourite compacts to start with. I’ve always been a fan of the Powershot S range of compact cameras and with the latest iteration, there is no difference there. I enjoy the dual ring system where you can rotate the front and rear dials to access your settings like aperture and the like on the go. There is no hotshoe for learning external flashes (which Canon has some solid ones) but for the size and price, you’re hard pressed to find a better camera than this. This camera is one that I personally use when I don’t lug my camera gear around. Granted there is the new model the Mark II around, but for a beginner, the extra cost is not worth the new features that the refreshed model has to offer. The RX100 is possibly one of the best compact I’ve used. The picture quality and wealth of settings and functions will last you quite a while before you put this camera down.
High Megapixel count coupled with a great lens that can resolve it, the downside was the price but now that the Mark II is in town and the price is dropped considerably, this is a great buy for any beginner. The mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras are a genre that made its mark with the m4/3 size sensor and mount in the past couple of years and have shown no sign of stopping. With the fact that you can use just about any lens with the help of adapters and the MFT cameras are all pocket shooters with decent image quality, this is a good step to take if you’re interested in investing a little more into a system which is expandable. The GM1 is one heck of a camera. It’s beautiful, full featured and honestly pretty darn small. Lots of people have issue with a bulky cameras so this is a good balance between size and features. The GM1 has amazing pedigree and with a large stable of lenses, its a good place to start with the mirrorless interchangeable lens system, however it has a downside being the lenses are a little slower than compacts. Beautiful camera, at a pretty decent price. The sexy compact is something that is larger than the usual compact camera but not interchangeable lens like the above cameras. Usually retro styled, they look pretty sweet and deliver a decent punch as well in terms of performance. Bad part unfortunately is that they are usual fixed focal lengths.
Fujifilm is one of the big names in this segment. Granted the X20 doesn’t often appear when talking about beginner cameras because of its inability to zoom, but for photography I learned with a fixed focal length and i believe there is some merit in doing so. The X20 is the younger brother of the X100 and upgrade to the X10. I believe at this price, it is a good entry to the world of the fixed focal length shooting. Danger is, that if you want to go rangefinder-style, its not cheap at all. I initially wrote the above with the idea that I was thinking of the X100, I left the paragraph in so you could all see my silly logic here. The X20 is still a camera I would recommend not because of the megapixel count, but because of the awesome hybrid viewfinder that Fujifilm have put into their X series cameras. For a street photography camera, I’ve used the X100 and it performs really well. I love the retro styling of the camera and at this price, it is quite a steal compared to a lot of its competitors. Decently fast lens, incredible build, not the best menu system but a great body to learn on!