Camera Recommendations

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Welcome to my camera recommendations page, which I hope to keep updated over the years as new models are released.

I’m separating my recommendations into 4 categories: Point-and-shoot, entry-level, mid-range, and top-of-the-line.  I admit I have certain biases but I’ll be as honest as I can about each option.  These are major purchases and should be researched as such.  There are plenty of great resources and I intend for this to be just one of them, so please take your time before making investments in camera equipment based on what’s written below.

Point-and-Shoot ($448-$998)

You’ll notice that the price points on these point and shoot cameras is pretty high.  As smartphone cameras have improved the bottom end of the point and shoot market has been really hurt, leaving few options.  If the below recommendations are outside of your price range I encourage you to use your smartphone until you’re ready to make the investment.

Sony RX100 Series

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The RX100 series feature 1″ sensors and a host of great features across 5 editions of the RX100.  At price and feature points from $448 all the way up to $998, you’ll likely find a few good options here.

  • The original RX100 is a 20 megapixel camera with manual controls and RAW capability, it’s a very good option for still photos even though it’s a few years old.
  • The RX100 III introduced a better lens and an articulating screen which can flip 180 degrees and face you for selfies and for any vlogging-type videos you’d want to do.  If you like taking videos this is a very well-rounded option without some of the higher-end features like 4K video.
  • The RX100 V is brand new and features some amazing technology.  It shoots still images at up to 24 frames per second and can record video at up to 960 frames per second (suuuper slow motion).  It also shoots 4K video, which is pretty incredible for such a small camera.  It’s very pricey though.

Canon G7X II

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Canon’s G7X was an awesome camera for both still photos and video (its screen flips 180 degrees for selfies and vlogging-type video).  They recently announced the G7X II.  There was nothing revolutionary about the updates, just a good solid evolution of a proven design.  It remains an all-around great camera for stills and video.  Differences between the Canon and the higher-end Sonys would be the ability to shoot 4K video, but overall it’s a pretty even compromise.

Recommendation

It really depends on how you’ll be using a point-and-shoot camera.  If you want something cutting edge from a technology standpoint the Sony RX100 IV or V are great options with 4K capability, but on the other hand the G7X II (or even the original G7X) are a little more durable and reliable in my opinion.  While Sony’s technology is impressive, I sometimes wonder if they try to cram too much into each edition of their camera.  For that reason, I recommend the Canon G7X II.

Entry-level Interchangeable Lens Cameras ($500-$750)

These cameras are your introduction to the expensive exciting world of interchangeable lens cameras.  There’s a term you need to pay attention to when looking at entry-level cameras: “Body Only”.  This means that the camera will ship without a lens, or in other words Christmas morning will be a bit of a downer when you realize you still need to buy a lens in order to take pictures!  For this category I’ve tried to link to cameras which come with a lens, but in case you end up buying somewhere else just keep that in mind.

These cameras have what are called APS-C, or “crop”, sensors.  24 megapixels is still 24 megapixels, but a full-frame sensor camera spreads those megapixels over a larger surface area compared to a crop sensor.  In the old days there may have been a difference between crop sensors and full frame sensors (it’s said that full frame cameras do better in low light and have better “bokeh”) but the difference is almost immaterial with today’s technology.

Sony a6000 w/18-50mm lens

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The Sony a6000 is one of the best cameras on the market at an entry-level price point even though it’s a couple of years old.  The a6000 is a mirrorless camera, which means it can have a smaller form-factor because extra space isn’t needed to accommodate a DSLR’s mirror and reflex controls.  Additionally, it has an electronic viewfinder with features like Focus Peaking to help you focus manually, should you choose.  For under $1000 you get a 24MP camera with Sony’s wifi connectivity, fast image capture (up to 11 frames per second), and access to a decent assortment of lenses which are reasonably priced.  The lens this camera comes with isn’t the best but it is definitely sufficient for someone getting their start in photography.  Sony has since released the a6300 and a6500 at significantly higher price points, although the a6300 can shoot 4K video and the a6500 can shoot 4K video and comes with IBIS (in-body image stabilization).  The a6000 is plenty of camera and will be technically relevant for years to come.

Since this is a mirrorless camera with a smaller body, the battery life isn’t very good compared to others in this class.  My solution is to turn the camera off when I’m not using it and my batteries last for most of the day of fairly intense shooting, but if you’re coming from a DSLR background you might be surprised at the consumption rate.  Easy solution is to pick up a few extra batteries, the OEM batteries run $40-50 and third-party batteries $20-30.

Canon Rebel T6i w/ 18-55mm lens

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Countless photography hobbies (heck, even professional photography careers) have begun with the Canon Rebel series of crop sensor cameras.  Coming in a little more expensive than the a6000 above but cheaper than the a6300, the T6i is an excellent 24-megapixel starting camera.  Battery life is great, it has wi-fi support for instantly sharing images to your smartphone (the a6000 has this as well), there’s not much that’s bad about it for the price.

Recommendation

As far as whether you should get the Sony or the Canon, I’m biased toward the Sony, but I still think it’s the right choice.  Canon and Nikon are the stalwarts of the camera industry and many feel like they got complacent when it came to introducing new technology.  Sony, on the other hand, is seemingly unafraid to put the best technology in their cameras.  Not only is the a6000 excellent on its own but Sony also has a variety of apps you can download for it through an App Store.  I use the Time Lapse app all the time on my Sony cameras and it’s just one of many interesting apps for sale (usually for $10 or less).  The a6000 is an older camera model and can usually be found on Black Friday for around $500-550 with a lens, so I give the nod to the Sony a6000 here.

Mid-Range Interchangeable Lens Cameras ($1000-$1800)

If you’ve started to take more of an interest in photography and have figured out a thing or two then it might be time for an upgrade to a little nicer camera.  Generally I’d say spend your money on lighting and lenses first, but I know I know, it’s hard to resist the urge to get a nice shiny new camera body from time to time.  These mid-range cameras are phenomenal and each are powerhouses in their own right.  There’s never been a better time to get a mid-range camera, the technology is just amazing these days.

(a note: I’m only linking to the body-only prices for these but finding a kit which comes with a lens is relatively easy)

Fuji X-T2

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This is the brand new top-of-the-line camera from Fuji and to be honest the price pushes the boundaries of what could be considered “mid-range”.  Fuji has a bit of a cult following and has long produced absolutely amazing cameras which were a little quirky.  The X-T2 is no different.  With the onset of the digital age of photography many photographers hearken back to the old days when everything was analog.  The X-T2 gives you the best of both worlds.  There are all manner of dials on top of the camera which allow for easy adjustments in fast-changing light.  The 24 megapixel sensor is comparable with the other cameras in this category but the image quality is just superb.  Most who shoot with a Fuji will tell you that there’s just something different about the way the Fuji renders colors that’s just sublime.  Combine that, a revised autofocus engine, and the ability to shoot 4K video and all of the bells and whistles you’d want and it’s easy to see why this camera was so eagerly anticipated.  If this is in your price range you might have a harder time finding one in stock than you will making the finances work!

Sony a6500

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The a6500 is the newly-announced update to the previously-newly-announced a6300 which was released only this March (which was also the update to the a6000 mentioned above).  While I am very annoyed that I got exactly 8 months of use out of my new $1000 camera before its successor was announced, my annoyment (that’s a word I think, or at least it should be) is your gain!  The a6500 packs a big punch for such a small body.  Like the Fuji it has a 24 megapixel sensor and electronic viewfinder.  It shoots 4K video, has blazing fast autofocus, and has a high-speed shooting mode (11 frames per second) in case you need to shoot any sports or fast-moving objects.  Similar to the a6000, it has wifi sharing capabilities and access to the Sony app store, which I’ve loved with my a6300.  What sets the a6500 apart is it marks the first time in-body image stabilization has been put into a Sony crop sensor camera.  This gives you more latitude when shooting in darker conditions and is a big reason to consider this camera.

Canon 80D

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Canon’s 70D was an affordable crop sensor camera which recently received an update.  Oh, and IT’S THE CAMERA CASEY NEISTAT USES OMGz.  The 80D is an absolutely wonderful camera which shoots great video, has fast autofocus, and a 24 megapixel sensor like the other two cameras mentioned.  Similar to the T6i the 80D doesn’t really have many weaknesses, it’s an all-around great camera.  Just like the T6i it has wifi capability but it also has a built-in timelapse mode, which is something you normally don’t see on Canon cameras (heck even seeing wifi on Canon cameras is pretty rare).  Even though this camera is relatively new (released in 2016) it’s the cheapest of my mid-range recommendations as well.

Recommendation

Making a mid-range recommendation is a bit tough simply because there’s a bit of a spread between the Fuji and the other two, so I’ll say that if you can afford the Fuji, do it.  It’s a mind-blowing camera that will take amazing images for a long long time and Fuji makes some wonderful lenses too.  Picking between the a6500 and the 80D is very difficult because they have many of the same features.  The Sony has a few more features though for a relatively minor difference in cost.  Even though the battery life doesn’t hold a candle to the Canon, which could be a problem depending on how far you are from an outlet/spare battery, the features really do set it apart.  4K video, 11 frames per second shooting capability, and especially in-body image stabilization make me go with the Sony a6500 over the 80D but pick the Fuji X-T2 if you have the money.

Top-of-the-line Cameras ($2500-$3500)

This category is hard for me to write about generally.  By the time you’re investing in cameras at this price range you most likely are invested in a camera system like Canon, Nikon, etc.  If you shoot with Canon gear, for example, it’s going to be hard to switch to Nikon simply due to the amount of Canon lenses you probably already own.  Not to mention there are quite a few options available at the high end.  What I’m going to do is tell you about the best all-around cameras in this category from each manufacturer even though it means I’ll be leaving out even higher-end cameras like the Canon 5DS.  When you get to this level you really shouldn’t need me to tell you which camera to buy, so trust yourself first here.

Canon 5D IV

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The Canon 5D III is one of the all-time great cameras.  It is (even today) versatile, durable, and takes absolutely wonderful images.  Used in everything from wedding photography to architecture photography Canon had to know it would be hard to top.  The release of the 5D IV was met with polite applause but there didn’t seem to be anything revolutionary about the camera.  I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, as the 5D IV adds 4K video recording, a 30 megapixel sensor, and a revised autofocus system which is almost scarily good.  But I get what people are saying, the 5D IV didn’t blow anyone’s doors down.  But Canon is smart, they didn’t want to do anything drastic with the follow-up to their most famous camera, so think of the 5D IV as an evolution, not a revolution.  When it boils down to it, the 5D IV is better than one of the best cameras in history, so it’s worth a look for that reason if nothing else.  Then again, though, why not just get a 5D III?  You can still get a brand new one for $2500 and used ones for far less.  Begs the question…

Nikon D810

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To put it simply, this is probably the best landscape photography camera ever.  It boasts a massive 36 megapixel sensor (I know I know, megapixels don’t matter but sometimes they do) and the highest dynamic range of a full frame camera.  It’s been out for a few years and is surprisingly overdue for a replacement.  I think Nikon will be hard-pressed to follow the D810, but we do know they use Sony sensors in their cameras, so where the D810 used the same sensor as the Sony a7r, the next edition of this camera may just use the 42.4 megapixel sensor of the camera we’ll discuss next.  The only reason I bring up the age of the camera body is because the price is relatively low now!  As of the publish time of this post the D810 can be had for $2499, which isn’t a small amount of money but is drastically cheaper than it was when it was first released.  If you shoot Nikon and want the best they have to offer, this is it.  If 36 megapixels is just too much for you then definitely take a look at the incredibly versatile D750 for, haha, $750 less.

Sony a7rII

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Surprise surprise, another Sony!  I know the a7rII well, as I’ve owned one since the day it was released.  It has a massive 42.4 megapixel sensor with comparable dynamic range to the D810 above, shoots 4K video, and is a mirrorless camera, so it does all of that in a very small form factor.  Oh, I forgot to mention that it also has in-body stabilization.  The Sony mirrorless cameras are the exception to the caveat at the beginning of this category where I said it would probably be hard to switch from one system to another because most lenses only work properly on the brand they were made for.  Since the a7rII is mirrorless it can actually accept lenses from any manufacturer via adapters (the adapters simply are spacers to move the back of the lens to the distance away from the sensor it would’ve been on a Canon, Nikon, Leica, etc.) and you can even use autofocus with some lenses!  It is an intriguing option for sure…but.  It has some cons.  The battery life is a factor with the a7rII, like has been mentioned previously with other Sony cameras.  I work around it but wish the battery life was better.  Another thing is the lenses.  The FE-mount ecosystem is steadily growing but the lenses tend to be very expensive, although the quality of the Sony lenses is superb.  Over time the lenses will come down in price and already third-party manufacturers are releasing lenses for the FE-mount.  At the same time, though, if you find a cheap Canon lens and have a $99 Canon-to-Sony adapter, you can always just get the Canon.  Something that also frustrates me about the Sony is there is only one SD card slot.  I’ve been lucky and have never run into any data issues but both the Canon and the Nikon have dual memory card slots, which is nice and redundant in case one of your memory cards goes out.

Recommendation

So which one would I recommend?  Again, you probably don’t want to be taking my advice here because at this level you should know which one best meets your needs.  I bet all of you are thinking I’m going to recommend the Sony.  It’s a phenomenal camera.  If you shoot Nikon or Canon at least rent one for a few days sometime just to see what it’s like, since the switch is relatively low risk and can be done gradually.  At the end of the day, though, I’m going to recommend two cameras in this category, simply because of the price point they’re at right now (November 2016): the Canon 5D III (not IV) and the Nikon D810.  The value is just too good to pass up for both of these cameras.

If you have too much money and it’s burning a hole in your pocket

There are plenty of ways of separating you from that money of yours in the super high-end camera market (also at the Andy’s Travel Blog photography store…just saying).  From Leica to Pentax to Phase One, it gets pretty nuts.  So here’s a recommendation if you just have too much cheddar and need to offload some of it.

Hasselblad H5D-60

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This monstrosity is…well…I’ll let you click the link and see the price for yourself.  Yes it has 60 megapixels and comes with a nice lens.  But the price, wow.  If you’re buying this camera please be a professional photographer who uses it in a studio environment or else the photography gods will cry.  This isn’t a selfie camera, in other words.  There is nothing I can tell you about this camera personally because I doubt I’d even be allowed to be in the same room as one of these monstrosities.  I’d stick with a D810 if I were you and we can split the rest of the money 50-50, how’s that 😉

Wrapping Up

I hope you enjoy these recommendations.  It’s hard to recommend a camera to someone I haven’t met and assessed their camera needs but I’ve done the best I could on a general basis.  I look forward to updating this list as new high-quality cameras are released and answering any questions you have about your specific situation.

What do you think of the recommendations?  Are there any cameras I missed?

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