What Camera Should I Buy?

By Andrew Hudson

“What camera would you recommend?”

I’d recommend one that you understand. Most any camera will take a good picture — it’s controlling the camera that is the problem.

There are so many features these days that the controls can be overwhelming and put you off taking photos. So visit a camera store, play with different models, and see which ones feel right and easy to understand.

Here are some ideas to look for.

Introduction | Types | Cameras


Fundamentally, all cameras are the same and, given the same settings, a cheap camera will take the same photograph as an expensive camera. The extra money gets you improved image quality and more control over how the picture will look.

A camera is a box with a hole in it. You can make one — called a “pinhole camera” — using a shoe box with a window of transparent paper on one side and a small hole in the opposite side. Adding more controls, mainly to do with the lens, produces different types of cameras.


Disposable Camera. These one-time use cameras are easy to carry and take surprisingly good shots. They are great for people shots at parties. You can even get “underwater” cameras, for scuba diving or at a sandy beach.

Compact “Point-and-Shoot” Camera. Perfect for snapshots. I use one for most of my personal shots and a few professional shots. I like a small, pocket-sized camera with a flash (for people’s faces), a self-timer (to include myself in the shot), a wide-angle lens (28mm-equivalent for impact), and a panoramic mode (looks cool!).

Most people seem to like a big, zoom lens, but I don’t as I prefer “wide” shots over “tight” shots, and a bigger lens increases the size and weight of the camera.

SLR. This is the choice of semi-pro and professional travel photographers. The Single Lens Reflex feature — which allows the viewfinder to look through the main lens instead of its own fixed lens — allows you to remove and replace the lens. Interchangeable lenses give you more creative control of your shot. You can make a super-wide shot with a ’short’ lens, or enlarge a very distant object with a ‘long’ lens. My favorite lens sizes are 28, 35, 50, 135, and 300mm. You can also control the aperture (the size of the hole) which allows you to decide what is, and what is not, in focus. The downside to the SLR is that you now have more equipment to buy and carry.

Medium- and Large-Format. These are big film cameras — their size allows you to use larger film, producing a higher quality/resolution image.

The equipment is large and heavy and, therefore, inconvenient for basic travel purposes.

Look for a camera with the simplest layout of the features you need and, as with the stock market, only invest in what you understand.


Below are my two favorites for each category of camera:


Approx U.S. dollars


35mm equiv



Point-and-Shoot (Basic):Good cameras to start with
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5K$230637-2222.5Amazing value
Canon PowerShot SD30$270538-901.8Cute!
Point-and-Shoot (Intermediate):Nice cameras with advanced features
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1K$310535-3502.5Image stabilizationis great for shaky hands
Canon PowerShot SD630$400635-1053Nice all-rounder
Wide-Angle Point-and-Shoot:I love a wide-angle lens, the shots have great impact
Kodak V570$310523-1172.5The widest lenson a P/S
Canon S80$500828-1002.5I use this for allmy family shots.I love the 28mm lens.
SLR (Starter):Real photography, with interchangeable lenses
Nikon D50$660627-822Add the 55-200mm (82-300) lens for $200.
Canon Rebel XT$770818-551.8A great, low-cost wayto learn “professional” photography
SLR (Semi-Pro):Get carried away with photography
Canon EOS 30D$1,400818-552.5A good semi-pro. The 10-22mm lens is terrific.
Nikon D200$1,70010lens extra2.5This is what I use,It’s fabulous.Lenses: 18-70, 18-200 VR, 12-24
SLR (Professional):Dream cameras, the top-of-the-line, for those with money to burn!
Nikon D2xs$4,30012lens extra2.5Nikon’s top of the line
Canon EOS 1Ds MkII$7,00016lens extra2The professional’s choice

Copyright 2006 Andrew Hudson for PhotoSecrets / Photo Tour Books, Inc. You may reproduce this article for personal, educational, non-commercial and non-Internet use, such as in a local photo club newsletter or school project. No Internet publishing is permitted. For commercial use, please email me for permission.


Reply by James Luttrell

January 26, 2013

What is the best lens to get for my rebel t3 eos 1100

Reply by Andrew Hudson, PhotoSecrets

January 27, 2013


Hi James,

The best lens is the one you would use the most. I like the wide-angle look of a 28mm lens (on a full-frame 35mm camera; I think the equivalent is 18mm on a Rebel T3). So I would recommend a zoom lens which covers 18mm. Start with a low-cost Canon lens, such as a the EF-S 18-55mm ($190 on Amazon) and see where your photography takes you. To save some money, try Craigslist and Ebay for a used Canon lens.

Best wishes,


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