But in photography, the reality is you get what you pay for. If you want professional quality pictures, you will have to spend a fair amount of money to get proper equipment. The good news is, the electronics have made even professional level cameras affordable.
There is an in-between area however. If you want better pictures than what your phone will do, and want some ability to adjust the pictures, but you don’t care about being a serious photographer, a point and shoot might just fit the bill. These are real cameras, and everything is usually set, so all you have to do is turn it on and take the picture. You can get surprisingly good results in good lighting conditions if you are not too far away.
Good point and shoot cameras go for between $100 and $200. Most of them also shoot video. They are small enough to fit in your pocket. A point and shoot is a great compromise between convenience and quality. The quality isn’t even all that bad really. There is virtually no learning curve. Figure out the few settings available, turn it on and shoot, that’s all there is too it. They use an SD Photo card, which fits into your computer for easy downloading.
If you want to go a step further with your photography, you can go up to a professional level DSLR camera. This are what purists call “real” cameras, and they operate under the same principles that have defined photography for more than a century. They have also adapted to the digital world well, and have become affordable as well.
The “big two” are Nikon an Canon, who are historic camera makers. Nikon is a bit more user friendly for beginners, a little more intuitive in its operation. Canon is a little less expensive and there are more options available as far as lenses go. There are some other good brands, like Pentax, Olympus and Sony, but again, when you are serious about photography you get what you pay for.
A DSLR uses interchangeable lenses, and you will have to buy lenses to go with the camera. Some dealers sell bundles that include lenses, which is often a good deal, but you will get only average lenses. That should be fine for a beginner, but you will eventually want to get better lenses.
The lens is really more important than the camera once you get past the initial stages of photography. If you need to make a choice, buy a little less expensive camera to spend more on the lens.
There are different levels of DSLR cameras. There have been amazing developments in photography over the last 15 years or so.
Camera makers have taken advantage of electronics and wanted to appeal to the casual user, so they have created an entry level DSLR, which is a great way to get started. Some do make a very cheap version that is almost a point and shoot, and these are probably not worth the price. If you are going to get a DSLR, get a real one, even if it is an entry level.
There is that entry level, and then there is an intermediate level and an advanced level. The entry level DSLR will cost around $400 new. A good lens will also cost about that, but there are bundles some dealers sell that include a lens and other accessories for about $500. Intermediate level cameras go up to about $1,500, and the advanced level cameras are $2,000 or more. Some say only the advanced level is professional, but a lot of news organizations use intermediate level ones, and that is pretty subjective anyway.
If you are a beginner, it makes sense to start with an entry level camera. As you go up the levels, you have more control and more fancy things you can do with the camera. As a beginner, you probably wont be using those advanced features anyway. It is better to start with a lower level camera and master that at first. Serious photography takes some work and there is a learning curve. Once you master that, you can trade it in for a higher level camera. Nikon and Canon retain some of their value for trade in purposes, while other brands do not.
Accessories like lenses are not interchangeable, so once you start with either Nikon or Canon, you will most likely be using that brand a long time. It is costly to switch brands later in your development because you have to replace everything.
Do your research and determine which camera best fits your needs. There are a few options in the DSLR world for beginners. Once you are ready to buy, there comes the question of where to buy. It an be wise to start out at your local camera store, one that has been in business awhile and has a solid reputation. They can help you get started and answer your questions. You might get a better price online, so you have decide if you would rather have more personal attention or save some money.
New cameras are the best way to go for beginners. You get the new feel and the full warranty. Used anything in electronics is risky. Another option is to consider a refurbished camera. These are used, but have been sent back to the factory and have been made like new.
They usually come with some warranty, so there is not much risk. You can get some great deals like this, even from the factory. Avoid “gray market” cameras. These are made to be sold in other countries, but they are available online often at very good prices. This is a big gamble, because there is no warranty, and neither Nikon nor Canon will even repair these cameras.