Choosing your first or even 51st camera can be difficult. There are so many options now days that making up your mind between a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and a superzoom can send you screaming out the door before you ever decide. Here are a few ideas to help you whittle down your choices so that the decision doesn't have to be so hard on you (not to mention your family).
If you look at it realistically, the major driving force in a camera purchase is usually the cost. For some people price doesn't matter, but for 99% of us it does. Obviously, the higher the price the more you'll be able to get out of the camera, but all of us have a limit to how much we need from our camera to balance with the price tag to pay. Let this choice usher in the final decision once you have your features and uses sorted out.
What are you needing to get out of your camera is usually the next thing to have your mind made up about. Do you need something compact to carry everywhere with anything, as well as a camera quick enough to catch the kids in action? Or something more versatile and that allows more control over your artistic pursuits? Is it going to be a vacation camera or an everyday camera? There are a whole lot of factors as to what camera's fit your needs best, but the simplest way to tone down your choices is to be practical about your applications. A big professional DSLR (which stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex, a description of the camera's function) might look cool and take some incredible pictures in the right hands, but so can a pocket point & shoot (P&S) or even your iPhone.
If your main use is going to be out and about on ladies night or even just chronicling everyday events in your kid's lives, a compact Point & Shoot (hereafter referred to as a "P&S") is probably going to cover everything you'll need a camera for. Nowadays they even have the big DSLR sensors in those tiny cameras, so you can still get the amazing resolution with nearly none of the bulk.
If making it fit in your purse is not an issue or you have the willpower to lug around hefty equipment and you are really thirsting for that next step beyond P&S, maybe you could really utilize a DSLR to the max. One other option for the latter group is now what is called a Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera (or MILC for short). These amazing little cameras have a nice cross between portability and power, not to mention you can interchange high-quality lenses for every kind of necessity out there.
If you have never used a camera before, more than likely it's ok to keep your choices in the P&S field. The cameras in that realm of photography are so capable and high powered now that there are not terribly many reasons to step away from that for most people. Even if you are starting to get the hang of the Shutter Speed - ISO - Aperture relationship of photography, there are a few of the higher end P&S cameras that will give you full manual control matched with impressive resolution and performance. If you want manual control and the ability to interchange lenses for different tasks, you might looks at MILCs or DSLRs to start in that realm.
If you are mostly shooting for personal fun but like the versatility, check out the MILCs to see if they might serve your needs and keep the cost down (not to mention the weight). Additionally, if you really want more control over your options and desire to step into some big photographer shoes, maybe you are ripe and ready for a DSLR. All the capability of a MILC with even more versatility and choices on lenses, it just does cost you a bit more on average and tend to weigh the most out of all the camera choices.
Ok, I know this shouldn't be a real decision maker when you are looking at a tool to create photographs, but we would all be lying to ourselves if we don't choose cameras according to how their design aesthetically pleases us into the purchase. Some people want a pink camera, some want it as black as possible. Trim and sleek, or full-sized and ergonomic? We all make these choices subconsciously (sometimes not so subconsciously), so we really should pay attention to how we allow this to affect our choice.
Obviously, in the DSLR line it's not such a big deal, as they are all bulky and utilitarian, so if that is your avenue of choice, this option may not really apply to you. If you are choosing a P&S or MILC camera, very often they come in at least silver & black options with an array of colors for other models. I can't really point you in the right direction on this choice influence, as it is more of a personal taste thing for everyone, but I did want you to be more aware as to how this can influence your final decision.
Lastly, be sure about your decision when you walk up to pay. Buyer's remorse is an awful affliction, so do not let that ruin your learning time with your camera! It's supposed to be a fun and engaging activity, not torture. Give yourself to get acclimated to your new camera, and for heaven's sake don't forget to read your manual - even if it's just the quick guide! For tips on how to use your new camera to it's fullest capabilities, check out this post on tricks of the trade.
Still have questions? Feel free to give us a call and talk with one of our experts.