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 PowerShot SX620 $230 [Amazon] review
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 Camera for eBay Selling – Get the SX620
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 worse 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]

Best Quality Compacts: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV
Best Pictures: Canon G7x mk II $700 [Amazon] Compared to the Sony RX100 (i.e. IV), 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: If your focus is solely on video – Get the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV $900 (similar to Canon G1X quality) [Amazon] (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].

For most consumers, the Canon SX620 $230 should be good enough or for highest quality, the Canon G7X $700. For photography enthusiasts and professionals, would recommend the Sony A7III below.

Best Enthusiast / Professional / DSLR / Mirrorless

Nikon D7100
A fixed lens isn’t worth it – i.e. the RX10 for $900 and similar image quality as RX100, unless you’d rather trade off the pocketability for 3x the zoom, better flash, weather-sealing, 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.

Absolute Best All-Rounder: Sony A7III
Sony A7III [Amazon] – The image quality is barely behind the DSLRs, but the A7III is a superb value due to its having almost the same top technology as the A7RIII (professional series) that goes for $3k. The only main points that slight lag behind are af (autofocus) tracking and burst speed. Note that while the body seems like a solid value, lenses are expensive for Sony, however.

Best Lenses for the A7III
1) Sony 24-105 F/4 $1300 [Amazon] – Absolute best mid-range zoom, the top travel lens performer. This is the best option to start and learn on. The 24-70 does have the F2.8, but it was way more expensive, and the 24-105 can perform just as well of image quality in most cases. A true value. Great if you do not have the time to set up a shot, and it’s light.
2) Sony 85mm FE F/1.8-22 $600 [Amazon] – Best prime value out right now, buttery bokeh. Best portrait lens currently, but may be hard in close quarters indoors (have to stand a bit away from the subject). We are waiting for a solid 35mm F/1.8 prime to go along with this one, and that would make a solid arsenal.

Prior recommends –
For Landscape / Everything – 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/SportsPentax 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

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

Best Camera Bag (Leather and Non-Leather)

A camera bag needs to be both protective and easy to retrieve the camera from (a backpack i.e. Peak Design, even, is not ideal for this). I also do not believe in camera shoulder straps, as the camera hangs to the side and is free to bang into things. Hanging on the chest also looks very nerdy. I suggest a smaller side bag that is fully covered (yet more accessible than a full size messenger bag i.e. ONA), and a wrist strap.

High-End – Small Regent Street Camera Bag $400 (England) [Hawkesmill] – The only Horween Chromexcel camera bag (very rare in itself) and at a reasonable price

Wrist Strap – Oxford $60 (England) [Hawkesmill – Brown, Hawkesmill – Black]

Medium End – You could get a Hawkesmill or Billinham Hadley non-leather but it’s pricey for non-leather. Instead get something purely functional over fashion – i.e. Lowepro Toploader Holster or Manfrotto Holster or Think Tank Holster or Case Logic $80

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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