The Best Beginner Cameras

a guide to finding the right camera for the beginner photographer
My first camera was the Konica Minolta dImage Z6. It's an advanced compact camera that cost about ~$200 USD back when I bought it.  My Minolta for me was an excellent beginner camera and if given the option of rechoosing my first camera I would make the same choice. Unfortunately the Konica Minolta dImage Z6 has since been discontinued. However I still strongly recommend advanced compact cameras in general over dSLRs and tiny point and shoots as the best choice for a beginner camera.

Why advanced compact cameras are the best beginner cameras:

Konica Minolta dImage Z6 

1. Advanced features without going overboard - Advanced compact cameras have essentially all the important features dSLRs have including the ability to set the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, exposure, etc. For beginners particularly, I believe it's very very important to master at least these basic settings before venturing onto features such as shooting in RAW, communicating with slave flashes, and other advanced features more typical of dSLRs. Many tiny point and shoots do not have any of these features and would thus greatly limit the degree of control you have over your photos.

2. Amazing lenses - Most advanced compact cameras have great lenses in the sense that they can zoom really really far (many can do >11x zoom) yet also zoom really really close (using macro mode). With a dSLR, to zoom equally far you would need to purchase a separate dedicated telephoto lens and to zoom equally close you would need to purchase a seperate dedicated macro lens. Plus you'd have to learn how to change lenses, deal with sensor-cleaning procedures if you get dust into your camera, and other maintanence procedures less relevant when you're starting out in photography.

some examples of advanced compact cameras

3. Price - Advanced compact cameras are generally a bit more costly than tiny point and shoots but they are still generally much cheaper than dSLRs. So if you do later decide that maybe photography just isn't for you, your wallet won't be so heavily dented. They're simply less of a financial commitment. 

4. Similar look and feel without the complications - The way advanced compact camera look and feel are fairly similar to that of dSLRs. For example, the way an advanced compact camera's pop-up flash is operated is very similar to that of a dSLR. Little similarities like this goes a long way and will make adapting to a dSLR, if you choose to do so in the future, much easier.


Some of my favorite photos taken with my advanced compact camera:
Of course there are always exceptions where circumstances would strongly influence my recommendation. If you know you want to pursue photography as a career or serious hobby right off the bat, maybe it's worth investing in a dSLR in the very beginning since you'll eventually get one anyway. If advanced compacts are really out of your price range, maybe it's better to sacrifice some of the advanced features of an advanced compact and just settle for a tiny point and shoot. Do your research. Read reviews. Judge for yourself.

Ultimately, every camera has the ability to take good photos. Some cameras just make it easier to take good photos than others. Whatever camera you decide to go with, if you think it's a great camera then it will be for you.  

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