I recently received a call from my niece asking for some help buying a camera for her husband’s birthday. Then that was followed up with a call from a friend requesting the same advice and didn’t know where to start. Both wanted due diligence but both had different needs, their similarities, they wanted to step up from their iPhones. Camera manufacturers do not make the buying experience fun with terms that are not always easy to understand, specifications that appear to be written in a foreign language, and there is another important factor, budget.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Richard Terpolilli – All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted without prior written permission by the author, except for brief quotations in review.

Budget and Goals

So let me try to uncomplicate this experience without getting too technical and present to you a simple easy method to buying a digital camera. Lets start with a two part question one should ask, what do I want to do with my new investment? What am I willing to spend? Do I want to shoot photos of my kids or grandkids with better results than my iPhone and still fit it into my pocket or purse? Then consider a point and shoot camera. They come available with a fixed zoom lens and are also good for fast moving kids and sports. Their cost are within the $250.00 range.

Level Entry Point and Shoot

Second Level Entry

Should you want to investigate the next step up to a more sophisticated camera there is the compact zooms and high performance compact cameras for around $350.00. These cameras utilize more manual controls like exposure, white balance, and iso. They provide better image quality than point and shoot cameras. Then you have another step up to the megazooms offered by Nikon, Canon, Sony and Panasonic. Say goodby to putting this camera into your pocket or purse, however they are small enough so a camera bag is not required. They come equipped with a good fixed zoom lens giving you image quality below the DSLR’s. They offer a wide range of settings from auto, program, aperture, shutter speed, and manual. They work well from the nose bleed section during a sporting event, and are great for traveling. The cost for these cameras range from $400.00 to $600.00

Upgrading from the Point and Shoot Camera

For the More Serious Minded Enthusiasts

The next big step up is for the photography enthusiast looking for professional quality images. Let me say right here and now the best and most expensive camera will not give you professional quality pictures. Achieving professional quality images will take a lot of work, time and patience on your part. Take advantage of tutorials, you tube, workshops, social media, friends in your area willing to give tips and advice, plus there is a plethora of texts available on any photographic subject. Still to come is the learning curve to developing or processing your digital images, as I like to call it the digital darkroom on your computer. Yes you can shoot right out of the box but remember there is a learning curve. For the enthusiast, there are the DSLR’s. They utilize interchangeable lenses of higher quality, sensors for tack sharp images with great resolution. They offer greater flexibility for any genre of photography with more manual settings and in camera menus. These cameras start over $1000.00 and go up….up…..and up. There are a wide variety of lenses from portrait 50 to 100mm, wide angle lenses 11 to 24mm, medium zooms 75 to 250mm, then the long zooms.

The Camera for Those Wanting to Advance your Skills

Basic Accessaries For The Above Advanced Camera

If this is the entry level camera your interested in then accessories are a must. These include a camera bag, two memory cards (one as a back up}, two batteries also one as a back up, battery charger, filters, such as a uv or skylight filter and a polarizer, cleaning gear, perhaps a tripod, and cable release. Once you get over being a photographer of everything then your interests may become more specialized requiring additional gear, camera, lenses, and of course higher costs.


Next go to any camera store or box store and ask questions, touch and feel the camera you may be interested in. Check out reviews over the internet. If you have friends who are photographers ask them questions, we all started the same way, a beginning. Now where to buy? Due diligence, that includes the above camera and box stores, mail order exclusive camera outlets  Such as B&H Photography or Adaroma and also check out camera specials with kit lenses. I purposely avoided specifications at this time as there is something to be said for overload. On a simpler note specs become of interest when one is considering a DSLR camera. All other cameras have good specifications that manufacturers provide which will give you quality pictures.