Buying the Best Camera

I'm often approached by folks in search of a new camera -- whether it be an adorable seven-month pregnant gal gearing up to capture every last detail of her soon-to-arrive baby, a thoughtful husband searching for the perfect gift, or simply someone updating their gear, I love offering recommendations. 
It can be quite the overwhelming journey full of technical talk liable to drive you crazy not to mention the opportunity to drop anywhere from $200-$3,500 is intimidating. In hopes to make your search less painful and more exciting, I've included a few things to consider as well as my favorite gear recommendations below.

 Lily Glass Photography | Buying a Camera


1 | Subject Matter
First things first, what will you be shooting the most? Your kiddos' soccer games, baby portraits, landscapes, travel snapshots...? Nailing down what and where you'll be using your camera the most will give us direction when deciding between DSLR (digital single lens reflex) or Point + Shoot and which lenses would best fit your needs.
a. Would you like to have the option of switching lenses for different purposes (i.e. portraits, sports, landscapes, etc.?), or is convenience your top priority?
b. Do you consider yourself a photography hobbyist or have goals of becoming a professional photographer with the option of having full control over camera settings? Or is a user-friendly camera that produces high-quality images what you're looking for?

 shot for  Ginger & Birch 

2 | Price Point
Ask yourself not only how much you're able to spend now, but also if this is a collection that you'd like to grow down the road. I promise it's possible to purchase a great camera without spending a grand.

3a | Avoid DSLR Kits
While the one-click-kit-purchase seems hassle free, I recommend purchasing the body and lens separately -- this is one way we ensure that your final setup meets your needs/subject matter specifically. Find a body with good reviews and that fits your needs then spend time and money investing in a killer lens.
3b | Prime vs. Zoom
Your lens is your workhorse. I recommend choosing your lens with your most common subject matter and light source in mind.
PRIME lenses are fixed millimeters (i.e. 24mm, 50mm, 85mm), and oftentimes a bit faster and produce sharper images. These will give you the option of letting in the most amount of light (wide apertures of F2, F1.8, F1.2), and since they don't zoom, force you to MOVE your feet which in my opinion, can result in better images; largely used for portraiture.
ZOOM lenses offer a greater distance coverage (i.e. 18-55mm, 24-70mm), and are particularly helpful for a moving subject (kiddos), when you don't have the option to move your feet (on a boat), or want to photograph in an unobtrusive manner (wedding ceremony).

 Lily Glass Photography | Buying a Camera

4 | Borrow or Rent
Buying a camera and/or lens is big commitment. Read reviews, poll your friends and even borrow or rent the equipment for a trial run.

5 | Use It
Name-brand, price and tech specs aside, the most important question is which camera can you see yourself using the most? If you're hoping to expand your photography hobby into a business, then go with the DSLR and one or two high quality lenses. If you're backpacking in Europe, it's easy to think that a fancy-pants camera is necessary -- but backpacks get heavy fast, folks. If the convenience of a purse-sized point and shoot means you'll use the camera more often, then that's my vote. 

I shoot and love my Canon gear but know a lot of talented folk that adore their Nikon equipment. Here, my friend and fellow photographer Mallory (Mallory+Justin) shares her top Nikon picks.

Point & Shoot | Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX ($698); Fujifilm X20 ($599)

DSLR Camera Body | Canon's Rebel ($680) line is my favorite intro to DSLR camera body. If you're comfortable shooting with a DSLR and would like more options and a full frame sensor, their new Canon 6D ($1,899) is a beauty. Mallory recommends the Nikon d5200 ($645) for user-friendly beginners and the Nikon d90 ($440) if you want something to grow with.

DSLR Lenses | Prime : Canon's 35mm f2 ($319) or 50mm F1.4 ($399) Nikon's 50mm f1.8 ($125)
Zoom : Canon 24-70mmF2.8 LII ($2299) Nikon Zoom 17-55mm F1.8 ($1399)

Happy Compromise (point & shoot size with inter-changeable lenses) | Fujifilm X-M1 ($599)

Follow my SNAPSHOP board on Pinterest for images of each camera as well as links to  photography tutorials and accessories!