I get asked this question a lot by friends and acquaintances, especially when they see me hauling around my camera suitcase. It’s not a simple answer once you get beyond “Nikon” of course. Canons are really fine as well. It really depends on what you want to shoot. This blog will provide some websites which will also help make your research a little easier. The manufacturers’ sites are useful, but not always helpful in trying to sort out what is what. I rely on http://www.dpreview.com/ for their technically detailed, but quite understandable reviews. They evaluate each camera with the same standards and you can compare by price, features, or manufacturer. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you look at the overwhelming choices.
Do I want to take mostly snapshots or do I want to create photographs. Look, there is nothing wrong with a good point and shoot. Most people will be able to do all that they want to do with a camera with some basic controls, a few menu options and a decent physical zoom. Having a camera that you actually take with you is far more important than having a big one, sitting back home in a closet.
The Nikon Coolpix and the Canon PowerShot series of cameras provide a lot of good choices. The upper end of these like the Canon G11 has built in GPS, shoot RAW and provide a degree of exposure control
One of the main reasons I switched from a point and shoot to a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera was the responsiveness of the shutter. I got tired of pressing the button and waiting for what seemed like a week, before the camera took the picture. Lots of shots of kids running out of the frame, or fast moving blurs, finally convinced me I needed something faster.
I grew up on Nikon cameras and their layout just feels better to me. Everything from the menu system to the range of the lenses they offer. If I had been exposed to Canon’s early, I probably would shoot them instead.
I don’t rush out and buy the latest version, or the most powerful. The models change too fast and some of the top end features, I didn’t have any idea how to use. I started off with the then entry level DSLR the D80. It is no longer even made. Now the entry level camera is the D90 or the D3100. http://www.nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/Product/Digital-SLR/25 or http://www.nikonusa.com/Find-Your-Nikon/Product/Digital-SLR/25472/D3100.html
I keep my cameras until the point when technically there are things that the camera won’t let me do. It takes a while to get there. Most of the new cameras are also capable of shooting High Definition video.
The most exciting new feature is not the megapixels, it is the advances they are making in the light sensitivity-the ISO or what in the old days would have been film speed. My D300 gets really noisy above ISO 800. The new sensors can go up to ISO 12,800. That is almost shooting in a dark room. It unleashes so much more capability. It makes every lens a fast lens. Roger and I are both anxiously awaiting the release date of the next Nikon professional model camera. We think it will be called the D4, we know it will be expen$$$ive but, we both have pushed our current cameras about as far as they will go. We are each saving up. As these new models are introduced there is a good market for used equipment. Buy some from a reputable camera shop like B&H, Adorama or our favorite @MidwestPhotoExchange http://mpex.com.
So the answer to the original question is-they kind you will actually use--oh and make it a Nikon please.