I’ve been asked twice this week about recommendations for ‘Cameras for Christmas’. One was intended as a gift for a keen young photographer and the second was for a replacement ‘family camera’.
In the run up to Christmas we tend to look to the big online retailers for electrical purchases, and a quick click on the mouse can save a long journey. No-one wants to be sold the wrong thing by a salesman in the high street and we’ve ALL nodded as they explain a feature we have absolutely no understanding of.
Dedicated Camera shops are probably a little friendlier than that however and if you can find the time (not Christmas Eve) the assistants will work very hard at trying to explain things using normal words.
1: The first thing to do is to think about the features that you want in a camera.
If you’d like to begin to have more control in your hands then I would recommend looking for a camera that has four exposure modes. P (Program), A (Aperture Priority), S (Shutter Priority) and M (Manual).
However, if you think you might want to improve your photography skills and even go on a training course, it’s likely that the instructor would suggest you bring a camera along which allowed you to switch between these 4 modes.
You should be able to see quickly as most manufacturers will have these modes on a dial on the top of the camera and it would look similar to the dial here.
2: The second thing to do is consider your budget:
It would be pretty hard these days to purchase a ‘bad’ camera. The build quality and performance means that there isn’t much between any of the well known brands. Obviously they all have different buttons in different places, but they’ll produce good images and won’t be afraid of a bit of rain. That said, the more you pay the more you will get. I’ve created a ceiling of €500 for my list of sturdy and reliable below , but you could easily pay much much more.
3. Now ask the shop assistant.
Primed with your basic requirements and your budget the shop assistant will be able to grab 3 or 4 models and then you’ve got an opportunity to hold it and see what you think . Everyone is happy!
It’s not for me to suggest a brand or tell you what camera to buy, but I would imagine that a budget of at least €250 is a starting point. You can obviously pay much more and can even come away with a camera 10 times that price that doesn’t have a lens yet.
The models below are all available in the high street stores and are priced between €200 – €500. I would suggest thinking about dedicated camera stores for your camera purchases, you’ll usually get really good advice and excellent customer service.
Fuji Fine Pix F600 EXR €219
Canon Powershot S120 €379
Nikon Coolpix P600 €399
Nikon J1 €499
Canon EOS-M €499
Panasonic Lumix GF6 €469
NIKON 3200 €479
The camera list above includes different ‘types’ of cameras but I would feel happy recommending any of them to both of my enquirers this week. Personally I wouldn’t be impressed by the length of zoom on a CAMERA. Zoom really is about lens quality, and there is a reason sports photographers spend €8000+ on their zoom lenses. The best zoom on any camera is your own feet which allow you to get nearer your subject. A few steps forward will always mean you have better detail.
After Christmas I will be running two separate courses for people wishing to improve their photography skills. The first will be about the basics of image making, the second would be about getting the most from your camera. All of these cameras would be fine for course participants.
If you have specific questions about camera selection I’m happy to help, please be advised that I’ve no ‘everyday’ experience of any of them and an independent review website may be a good idea first!
Thanks for reading.