Now that we’ve covered some of the things that you should look for in a camera, here are the basic options that you’ll have.
1. Point and Shoot
The point-and-shoot will be lowest in price (in most cases) but also may lack some important features, like the ability to work with RAW files and/or the ability to shoot in manual mode. Point-and-shoot cameras will be small and lightweight, and generally they have controls that are simple and easy to use.
2. Bridge Cameras
Bridge cameras “bridge” the gap between point-and-shoot and DSLRs. They are generally larger and bulkier than smaller point-and-shoot cameras, but typically they do not have interchangeable lenses like a DSLR. Appropriately, bridge cameras are also typically priced in the middle.
Most bridge cameras will allow you to shoot in manual, shutter priority, and aperture priority in addition to auto. Some, but not all, bridge cameras will also give you the option to work with RAW files. For these reasons I recommend starting with a bridge camera if the budget allows. You can still learn a lot about photography with a point-and-shoot, but with most of them you will quickly reach some limitations. Bridge cameras are not all that much more money than above average point-and-shoot cameras, but the added options can be a big difference.
If you are willing and able to spend a little more money, another option is to go with a DSLRs. Unlike point-and-shoot and bridge cameras, the DSLR will use interchangeable lenses. This gives you more options and possibilities, but lenses can also be quite expensive. DSLRs will give you all the creative freedom that you need. The only reason I recommend starting with a bridge camera is because I think it is helpful to gain some experience before going to the expense of buying a DSLR and some lenses.
When it comes to DSLRs there are a few major brands that dominate the market. The brand of your camera may not seem like a big factor in the buying decision, but it can actually be quite important. The brand will impact what lenses you are able to buy, and in some cases the other accessories as well. If you do a lot of photography you may upgrade to a new camera body every few years, but ideally your lenses will last a long time. So you’ll want to be sure that you are buying a brand that you’ll want to stick with, otherwise you may need to replace lenses and other gear down the road when you switch to a new brand for the camera body.
The major players are Nikon and Canon, with Sony and Pentax also being good options. DSLRs can get quite expensive, but if you are just getting started the entry level models with be more than capable of doing what you need.
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