Picking a Beginner Camera

Nikon D7000
Nikon D7000 - by Nikon

The question I get most often is, “What kind of camera should I buy?” That’s a big question and a lot depends on your budget and what kind of photography you’ll be pursuing and at what level.  The word beginner comes in many contexts: are you a beginner to shooting for money or using a camera period. Different options apply.

Professional and Semi-Professional

You’re planning on making money with your camera or plan to do a lot of shooting as a semi-pro or amateur. You have $1,800 to $2,500 in your budget.

Cameras: Nikon D300s , Nikon D7000Nikon D700, Canon 5D MKII, and Canon 7D.

If you’re shooting stills, go with Nikon. If you think you’ll be doing a lot of video go with Canon. Nikons have video recording capability, but most of the video accessories are made for Canons.

Advanced Hobbyist

You are really serious about taking pictures, but you have a day job in another field. Photography is a serious hobby. There’s an outside chance you’ll be taking a paying job, or filling in for friends who can’t afford a professional photographer. You have a budget from $800 to $1,500.

Cameras: Canon 60D, Canon T3i, Nikon D3100, Nikon D5100

It’s pretty much just which ever camera you like in this range.

You Just Want To Take Good Pictures

You want to take great pictures, but mainly of your family and friends. You want something better than a pocket camera and you might want to experiment with manual controls once in a while.

Your budget is $400 to $800.

Cameras: Sony NEX-5N, Canon S100, Nikon P7000, Samsung NX100

Remember you can always use Snapsort to get the latest and best camera recommendations, including beginner DSLRs, semi pro DSLRs and small high quality cameras.  Our system will produce slightly different results from our editorial coverage as it allows you to define your exact personal criteria.

Snapsort Community Feedback Contest Winners

We couldn’t be happier about the great feedback we have received during the Snapsort community feedback contest.  Before we announce the winners we wanted to share a few of the most popular suggestions submitted to us:

  • The ability to compare more that 2 cameras at once
  • Linking the camera pages to other reviews, camera manuals and other information about the cameras
  • Examples of photos taken by each camera
  • Review video cameras like we review digital cameras
  • Move the score to the top of the comparison pages
  • Include LensHero lens suggestions in the camera pages

Thanks for all the great suggestions. We are working hard to make Snapsort better and we can not do it without you.
There were two categories in the Snapsort community feedback contest, one for bloggers who wrote about Snapsort and gave us feedback and another for our community. We had just over 1,000 people enter the contest, so we determined winners by using Random.org.

The winners of Contest A (bloggers):
Grand prize a Nikon D3100 body

Photojojo Coffee Mug

The winners of Contest B (users):
Grand prize a Canon Powershot SD1400 IS

  • Stu

Photo Jojo mug

  • Dennis
  • Lindsey

A one of a kind Snapsort T-Shirts

We wanted to highlight some blogs that really stood out:
Clean Cut Well Kept

Congratulations to all our winners, and thanks again for all your support.

Nikon D3100 autofocus movie sample (HD)

The rumored Nikon D3100 was announced last month, but has not yet been released. Slowly however, sample images, and videos, and hands on reviews are starting to trickle in. Here’s the first video I’ve seen recorded by the D3100, demonstrating use of the continuous autofocus.

I think the quiet ticking noise you’re hearing is the camera focusing the lens. The author comments that he has the camera in spot focus mode, so presumably its trying to focus on whatever is in the center of the frame, and you can see it have some trouble once in a while trying to find focus, or shifting focus from one subject to another. The autofocus looks similar to camcorders to me. Continuous autofocus is probably what you want if you just shooting casual video and don’t want to worry about focus. The video is shot using the new Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5 – f/5.6 lens. The video has a nice fairly shallow depth of field, which is probably created by shooting at a long focal length such as 200mm.

Nikon is now the first DSLR manufacturer to support continuous autofocus while shooting video, and I expect we’ll see others follow shortly. However, Panasonic’s mirrorless micro four-thirds cameras (such as the Lumix GF1) already support continuous autofocus while filming, as do the newly announced Sony translucent mirror cameras, the SLT-A33 and SLT-A55. In fact, you can explore all the interchangeable lens cameras that support continuous autofocus while filming at Snapsort. Sony’s SLT cameras are rather unique though. Unlike the rest of the competition that use slow contrast detection for focusing while recording movies the Sony SLT-A33 and A55 use phase detection focusing even while recording movies, which is the fast high quality focusing normally used by DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The reason most camera’s don’t or can’t use phase detection during movies is that they have lifted their mirror up to let light into the sensor, which means the phase detection focusing system doesn’t receive any light. Sony gets around this with their translucent mirror, which lets both the sensor and the focusing system receive light at the same time. This means the Sony SLT cameras have the potential to have the best focusing systems for recording movies of any interchangeable lens camera.

Bye-Bye from Rory Jacobs on Vimeo.