Which first camera for photography for a newbie?

Over on Geekzone.co.nz a poster asked about what camera to get, and as my reply was fairly lengthy I thought I’d make it a blog post for my site too.

Two big choices you need to make:

Point and shoot (or bridge cam) vs interchangeable lens camera.

Personally, I’m all for interchangeable lens cameras! But they’re not for everybody, you have to be willing to spend a lot more (the cost of my camera bodies are rather minor compared to what I’ve spent on lenses) and carry the extra weight for the extra lenses. So if you’re only going to use kit lenses, I wouldn’t bother. I’d get a P&S/bridge camera instead.

Most (nearly all!) P&S or bridge cameras are pieces of sh*t IMHO rather rubbish! (just stick to your cellphone instead)

However… in recent years, a few of them are quite decent and really nice!

The key ones to check out (because they all have a 1″ sensor, or even a bit bigger in the case of the LX100) are:

  1. Sony RX100 series (mk1/mk2/mk3)
  2. Sony RX10
  3. Panasonic FZ1000
  4. Panasonic LX100

Personally, my P&S is a Fujifilm XF1, which has a bit smaller sensor than 1″ (but still bigger than most others), but has some other nifty features and I picked it up for next to nothing (much cheaper than even the cheapest one of those I just listed). Only US$150, perfect for taking with me when I might risk damaging/losing the camera with me (such as on nights out….).

Then, if instead you decide to get an interchangeable lens camera, you have to make the choice of:

Mirrorless vs DSLR.

From my perspective, mirrorless is very clearly the future. DSLR is only holding on barely in a few upper ends of various niches, and because of inertia (which is a BIG factor! But not so much for you, as you’re starting from scratch).

Thus as a person starting out, I highly recommend mirrorless be at the top of the list.

So then to determine, what system?

Micro Four Thirds is the oldest mirrorless system and thus the most well established mirrorless system BY FAR, others are not even close (Micro Four Thirds is the only system with multiple manufacturers backing it. Most people don’t realise, it is even more than just Panasonic and Olympus!).

Sony E mount is the next most well rounded system.

So I’d highly recommend just picking from one of those two, m4/3 or E mount.

Though Fujifilm is worthwhile considering too if you’re a hipster and like that retro styling. Personally though, I find them lagging behind in areas vs Sony/Panasonic/Olympus. As for the others, don’t even waste your time giving a second look at Canon/Nikon/Pentax’s mirrorless offerings!

Currently, I reckon the specific models which are offering the most amazing bang for the buck are: Sony A5100 (or A6000 if you want the EVF) and Panasonic GX7 (or Olympus OM-D E-M5). Personally I am using the Sony A5100 as one of my main cameras, I picked it up for just US$320. Also, I used to have the Panasonic GX1 (picked that up for just US$199! Back in mid 2013, an amazing bargain for then).

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