Cameras explained: Taking photos is a balancing act between aperture and shutter speed. Change apertures to a higher # –> smaller opening. If smaller –> longer exposure. The more you open it, the more curvature of lens. IE F22 (scenic) F16 (sharp).

Best Value Compact / Fixed Lens Camera

Canon 340 HS
Value Low-Level Compact: Canon 340 HS (aka the IXUS 265 HS elsewhere) $180 [Amazon] review (Alternatives: Samsung WB250F $190 [Amazon] – lower image quality but better 18x zoom lens and longer battery life, Sony WX80 $158 [Amazon] – lower image quality but faster focusing and burst shooting modes and physically smaller and better lower light)
Secondary: Canon PowerShot SX260 “best value compact travel zoom” $270 [Amazon] (Canon S100/110/120 has better low light but horrid 1-2hr battery)

Best Quality Compacts: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV
Best Pictures: Canon G7x $770 [Amazon] Compared to the Sony, has a faster and better focus, better zoom, less issues (more durable in both structure and software), slightly less detail in the pictures but the colors are more vibrant, better UI, screen is a little nicer, slightly cheaper, better low light and gives warmer skin tone, and has a grip already. Con: the battery is not as good as the Sony, just carry more batteries, and little bigger and heavier. Also, Sony can do a little 4k (but overheats in 5min so not so useful), can mess with more cinematic frame rates, and has a nice viewfinder (but most people won’t use it unless you’re more professional). Both have selfie modes, pop up flash, wifi, timelapse.
Best Video: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV $900 (similar to Canon G1X quality) [Amazon] (better than Canon G7X, Panasonic LX100 has better control and low light but $100 more and not pocketable only jacketable). Many say RX100 II $600 is a better value, however, the RX100 III & IV allows for scoping the screen towards the front of the camera (so you can take balling selfies or watch yourself as you vlog – record video of yourself), offers slightly better low light / image quality due to improved lens (although slightly worse zoom), and has the EVF (electronic viewfinder, better for bright/sunny days). The Autofocus of the IV is also better than the III. Accessories: Get a Grip, either the Premium Wood Hand Grip by J.B. Camera Designs $25 [Amazon] or the Sony AGR2 $14 [Amazon]. And also a screen protector such as the nicer LARMOR by GGS Self-Adhesive Optical Glass Screen Protector $15 [Amazon]. Cannot recommend cases at this time, not sure which are still pocketable, however, snug cases include: Canon PSC 3200 Deluxe Leather $15 [Amazon] (grip should be able to fit with it inside), (not sure if the following is good, grip might not fit inside it): MegaGear $25 [Amazon], or possibly just put in a small microfiber bag

For most consumers, recommended compacts are either the Canon 340 HS $180 or for highest quality, the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III $800. For photography enthusiasts and professionals, would recommend the Nikon D7100 below.

Best Enthusiast / Professional / DSLR

Best Fixed Lens: Sony RX10 Cyber-shot $900 [Amazon] (similar image quality as RX100 but 3x the zoom, better flash, weathersealing, regarding video – better and has external audio), would get this over a $500 Sony Alpha A6000 with only $200 kit lens)
(Don’t recommend a more expensive fixed lens, as then it gets into DSLR + high quality lens territory, diminishing returns. In most cases, would get the RX100 over this for better portability.)

For Landscape / Everything Nikon D7100
Nikon D7200 (better than Sony Nex 6) $1200 [Amazon] source – dpreview. The D500 isn’t worth it, unless you’re only shooting sports and/or wildlife shooting in low light (for high fps and better autofocus). The 7200 actually may be better IQ (image quality) during daylight and low ISO.

Lens: Sigma 311306 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Lens $950 (#1 best lens on dpreview) [Amazon] source – dpreview

For Videography/Sports: Pentax K-5 $700 [Amazon] source – dpreview rugged body, great low light performance, and decent at video

Lens: Pentax 70mm f/2.4 DA Limited Lens $700 [Amazon] source – photozone, (for Landscape / Sports) Pentax DA 300mm F/4 ED (IF) SDM Lens $950 [Amazon] source – photozone

Absolute Best Camera for Video (mirrorless, not DSLR): Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 $1600 [Amazon] source – dpreview (people say it’s worth it over the older model)
Old Model: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 $800 [Amazon] source – dpreview

Best Camera for eBay Selling

Any cheap digital point-and-shoot, so as recommended above: Canon 340 HS (aka the IXUS 265 HS elsewhere) $180 [Amazon]
Light Box with Lights and Tripod
Note: You can get away with even the lowliest digital camera, because you don’t need pixel perfect images for gallery photos. But you do need to light your items well. For small items, you can buy lighting kits on eBay specifically for the purpose. Or you could make a light box, or even just use a white sheet as a backdrop. Either some flashes or just continuous lights. The exact lighting depends on the type of stuff but very often you want a white box around the subject. If you light it well, any camera (preferably on a tripod) will produce pictures good enough for online display. Most P&S (point and shoot) digitals can do macro shots if you are selling jewelry or something small.
The light box bundles on Amazon or eBay have crappy lights, so I’d recommend buying separately: 24-Inch Photography Tent Studio Light Box/Tent [Amazon], Table top studio lighting kit 5000K daylight bulb [Amazon]
The cheaper Alternatives with crappy lights: Square Perfect SP500 Platinum Photo Studio In A Box [Amazon], SP200 Photo Studio In a Box [Amazon], Idirectmart Photo Tent Table Top Studio Light Photography Soft Box Kit [Amazon]

Removed: Fujifilm X100S (I would get a DSLR over this)

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Hey,

    I had a quick question you guys may be able to help me with. Im a recent college grad looking to do some part time photography and build my portfolio. I have been looking for a good camera with my graduation money, well part of it anyway. I was looking around the 1,000 to 1,500$ range. Anyway, I have read lots of reviews ect about different cameras and have taken a liking to the Canon EOS 5D Mark III It’s a lot more then my price range new but used i could possibly buy one. Or this Sony a7R II which i saw on this list Do any of you have any experience with either of these or could recommend something that meet the above criteria?

    Thanks for the help!

    1. The Nikon D7200 I recommended certainly will have better image quality than the Sony mirrorless. In addition, Nikon tends to be better value (image quality for the money) than Canon, ie d7200 vs the Canon 5D / 7D. If you are shooting mostly wildlife and sports (look at the d7200 section above), it might be worth it to spend the extra money ($2k) on the d500, but otherwise the d7200 is the best value. Best regards.

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