What Brand Digital Camera Should I Buy?

If you ask the question “What brand of digital camera should I buy?” to a group of photographers you will may start a very heated conversation

There is a tendency for any person to feel that their choice on any matter is the best. There also seems to be a need in most people to convince others of the correctness of that choice. This is true on almost any subject and choosing a digital camera is no exception. So, read the following knowing that some is my personal opinion and some is based on my experience and some from watching the experiences of others. Also, you may or may not get the same advice if you ask another photographer. Whatever advice you take, make sure it is backed up with some fact and relevant experience.

To make it short, I would suggest you buy a digital camera made by Nikon or Canon

These two companies have dominated the photography industry for decades. Both Nikon and Canon are known for their quality. Both Nikon and Canon have a long history and knowledge of photography. Both Nikon and Canon are known for making excellent lenses. I am most familiar with Canon cameras, so most examples I give here are Canon digital cameras, but I would readily recommend a Nikon digital camera if you are already familiar with Nikon. No one would ever find fault or say purchasing either a Nikon or Canon digital camera was a mistake. This is not true of some other brands.

There are a few other digital camera manufacturers that you could look at

Olympus, Pentax, Konica Minolta, and Fuji are some digital camera manufacturers that have a photographic background. Fuji and Olympus would probably be at the top of this list. Both made good film cameras and have had some interesting digital advances. I have not listed Kodak. This is because I have not seen very many quality Kodak film cameras with quality lenses for the past 20 years. While, perhaps Kodak suddenly started making great cameras and lenses overnight when they started making digital cameras, I find it hard to get past the history of ultra cheap point-and-shoot and disposable cameras.

I do not recommend digital camera made by consumer electronics companies

I have two reasons I do not recommend digital cameras made my consumer electronics companies. One, they usually do not have a history of making great lenses or a history in photography. Many try to get around this by using Zeiss lenses (a very good lens and optics company). Still, I think it is better to stick with a company that has decades of experience and lots of research and history in photography.

My second reason for not choosing a camera by an electronics company is the more important one

It is also a bit closer to personal opinion. It is also based on personal experience, which I think you will be able to relate to. I have bought lots of consumer electronic products. I have bought TV’s, stereo equipment, clocks, watches, radios, phones, cell phones, microwaves, and countless other devices made by consumer electronics companies. I even have consumer electronics companies that I would consider favorites in these areas (I would choose them over a Canon or Nikon TV, stereo….). However, these products tend to be disposable. By that, I mean, when they do break down, it does not pay to repair them. You buy a CD player, it breaks down (maybe even 2 years after the warrantee) and you find that the cost of repair is so close to a new one it really does not pay to repair it.

Products from consumer electronics companies seem to have a planned life span before obsolescence

On the other hand, I have film cameras that are 20 years old and still worth fixing if the break down. In some cases, it may take finding a repair service that can fix older cameras, but it not only can be done but is worth doing. I realize we are talking about digital cameras. I realize that next year (more likely next month) a new model of my Canon DSLR will be introduced with features mine does not have. Would you feel better with company with a history of cameras lasting 20 years or would you feel better with a company that you have replaced your CD player with 6 times in the same time period? Which do you think is going to make a better camera?

Do not forget, one point of this guide is choosing a digital camera that you will be able to use for years not just two or three

There are people out there using digital cameras they have had for 4-5 years. Those cameras do not take as good photos as their film cameras did. If you follow this guide, you will choose a digital camera every bit as good as a film camera. Because we are trying to keep that film level of quality, there should not be a need to replace that camera in 1 or 2 years because it is outdated.

So, I suggest you stick with a digital camera manufacturer with a history in photography

I would really recommend Nikon or Canon for their history of great cameras. They have both made the transition to making great digital cameras also. My personal preference is Canon. I have been using Canon cameras for all my professional career. As I write this, Canon also has a 75% market share of DSLR’s. This gives them a lot of room for research in making even better digital cameras and that is where they have put a lot of effort. While I am certainly an advocate of Canon digital cameras I would feel comfortable investing in a Nikon digital camera. I cannot say that about any other brands, only Nikon and Canon

Make sure you do not fall for some typical sales stories

You will be told that one company makes the camera body for another. You will be told that another company makes the image sensor for another. You will also be told another company makes the lens for whatever off brand or even well known brand digital camera the salesman wants to sell. It is all true. It is all false. Kodak makes image chips for many different manufacturers. Nikon makes the body for some Fuji DSLR’s and other manufacturers. There are more examples.

While true, these can be taken out of context and should not be used to justify buying any brand instead of another

Judge each brand on its own reputation and standard of quality. Being compatible with another brand does not mean the quality is as good. There are many companies making digital cameras, some use names that have been around for a long time. Some companies, with names that sound familiar, make some of the worst cameras. I really would avoid any company I have not listed above (even though I admit there are some good digital camera companies I have missed). A Zeiss lens on a disposable camera equals a disposable Zeiss lens.

Ok, now you know what brands to look for and what style of photography you want to use it for, lets start narrowing down the choices. Let’s look at one of the most important factors to decide on with a digital camera.

What resolution should I choose for my digital camera?


About James Thoenes

James has spent most of his life involved in photography. He is now dedicated to producing portraits that his clients will treasure for the rest of their lives.