I am often asked the question, “what camera should I buy?” This is a loaded question because there are so many good cameras available and every person has different uses and needs. In this post, I am setting out to describe the different types of cameras that are available and what their pros and cons are.
While I don’t think that everyone should buy the same camera, I will give a final recommendation based on what I think the average needs of a parent are. In future posts, I will also cover various other camera accessories that will compliment my recommendation. Hopefully, you will read this and be able to decipher what camera is best for you.
If you have a more recent smartphone the camera is actually pretty powerful. This camera is great because you probably always have it with you. It will do a great job at capturing all the spontaneous moments of your children’s lives.
It will become frustrating tho because there is not a good zoom (pinch and zoom doesn’t count) and there is not a fast shutter. You can get some pretty awesome results tho, read more about how to do that here.
PROS: Always with you. Decent quality in adequate light.
CONS: No zoom. Slow shutter. Awful in low light.
These are the small digital cameras that have a skinny lens that pops out of the body when you power it on. These cameras are small and easy to carry with you all the time. They will take great pictures and have a nice zoom but as with the phone camera, there isn’t a real shutter so any motion will most likely be blurred.
PROS: Ability to zoom. Lightweight and easy to transport.
CONS: Slow shutter. Limited manual controls.
Options: Canon PowerShot SX520, Nikon Coolpix L830, or this smaller option Canon Elf 110 HS
This style of camera seems like a dSLR because you can switch out the lenses, but there is a major difference that forces it into its own category. It doesn’t have a mirror (bet you didn’t see that coming). The mirror on a dSLR allows you to look through the viewfinder and see out the lens. On a mirrorless camera, the preview is seen on the screen so a mirror is unnecessary.
These cameras are actually really amazing in their quality and manual controls. There will be some minor shutter lag but not nearly as bad as the point-and-shoot. What I do love these cameras for is their low-light capabilities. Christmas morning will never be the same, with the right lens you can shoot without flash even in your dark living room.
PROS: Awesome in low light. Interchangeable lenses. Good video. Manual controls.
CONS: Slower shutter.
Options: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3KK or Nikon 1 J4
This is by far the most desired camera by everyone I talk to, but it is also the largest and least convenient. Fortunately over the last 10 years these have dropped in price to the point where they are now accessible to more people. The dSLR is the digital version of the SLR camera that every avid photography hobbyist had growing up.
These cameras have manual controls, fast shutters, interchangeable lenses and a solid construction. What they lack in portability they more than make up for in versatility. This is the only type of camera on the list that will last you a long time. It will only become obsolete when it runs out of life.
PROS: Fast shutter. Manual controls. Will last a long time.
CONS: Bulky. Most expensive option.
Go with the dSLR. It will save you money in the long run and you’ll be prepared for whatever activities your children choose to get involved in.
In this category, I prefer Nikon cameras and would recommend the Nikon D3300. This is just a step above the base model at the time of writing and will serve you very well for a long time. However, I do know that some people love the Canon brand so if you need to go that route choose the comparable Canon Rebel T5.
I hope this was a helpful summary of what cameras are available. I’d love to see what you shoot with your new cameras, post them over on our Facebook page.
Rachel @ Simple SeasonalAugust 12, 2015
Thanks for sharing Mike! The camera advice you’ve given me in the past for my dSLR has been solid. I went for the D7100 with the much bigger price take, but I’m using it professionally, so it made sense. I’ve shot with Nikons and Cannons and I agree that Nikons are better. I have a 4 year old and I wish I had invested in the dSLR before he was born instead of when he was 3. So many amazing shots missed!