I like to take photos especially when I'm traveling.Also would shoot a lot of scenery and buildings and friends in front of scenery.

Some options I found include the Panasonic Lumix G2, Panasonic GH2 or theNikon D7000.

Do those options fit well with my skill and budget? I would prefer something lightweight and not too expensive.

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    I'm not sure how we can fit a camera to your skill if we do not know your skill. Also what is your budget? Did you have a previous camera that you are trying to upgrade from? – dpollitt Jun 2 '11 at 2:26
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    @dpollitt: I think you must have misread the latest meta topic regarding equipment recommendations. The highest voted answer clearly stated that such topics are ON TOPIC here. Please see meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1037/…. This issue has been debated time and time again, and at the end of each debate, the outcome is that we do allow equipment recommendations. I am not sure who wrote the tag wiki, but it needs to be updated to reflect the goals of the community, not the current author. – jrista Jun 2 '11 at 4:12
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    @melaos: Personally, I don't have any problem with people asking for equipment recommendations here. Equipment is a fundamentally important aspect of photography, and having the equipment that meets your needs is important. However, given the current wording of your question, were lacking some important information. What is your current skill? What is your current budget? Is "expensive" $250, $500, $1500? And how light is "lightweight"? More specificity will get you more useful answers. – jrista Jun 2 '11 at 4:14
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    As it stands, this is the kind of equipment recommendation that really does not work well. The only right answer is: the reason there are so many options on the market is that there's no right answer for everyone. We can throw up some suggestions and maybe one will stick, but that doesn't make a useful QA. It would be better to ask: How do I narrow down the field of options for a for a starter camera? (And we already have a few very useful posts along those lines — I'll dig up and post some links.) Then after that, post more specific follow-up questions, which we are good at handling. – mattdm Jun 2 '11 at 10:05

There important details in the question (mostly the skill level and budget the camera should fit), but I think the questioner is looking for a good inexpensive DSLR (or maybe, interchangeable lens) camera - and if this is the case the answer is easy - all DSLRs from the major companies (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and probably a few more I forgot) made in the last few years are awesome.

My opinion on choosing a camera is that you should spend as little lime as possible on choosing the camera and as much time as possible using it.

Here is my fast-decision method: (that I've already written about here)

  1. Make a list of your must have features (example: if you plan doing bird photography you want a camera with a super-tele lens available, if you plan doing any video you need a camera that can shoot video, if you want really wide availability of lenses and accessories you might want to stick to only Canon and Nikon, etc.).

  2. Take the cheapest camera that meets your criteria, go to a camera store or borrow it from one of your friends, hold it in your hand just to make sure it's comfortable and you can reach all the buttons and dials.

  3. Buy it.

I did it and ended up buying a Canon 550D (T2i in the US) and I'm really enjoying it.

To save some money you can always buy one model back (example: Canon recently released the 600D, but the 550D is still widely available - used and new - and usually for a discounted price).

  • +1. But see photo.stackexchange.com/questions/9355/… on the lenses. Pentax in particular makes some great affordable and powerful entry-level SLRs and it'd be a mistake to discount them simply because of a perception of Canon/Nikon lens availability. And while I like Pentax, I don't mean to be brand-partisan here. Many new users will be very happy picking another smaller brand like Sony or Panasonic/Olympus as well. Or Canon/Nikon, for that matter. :) – mattdm Jun 2 '11 at 11:16
  • @mattdm - My brother has a Pentax and it's an amazing camera and the reason I got a DSLR myself. the point I was trying to make is that 1. Canon and Nikon have more lens and accessories than the other brands and 2. Every 3rd party lens or accessory has Canon and Nikon compatible versions - there's nowhere near that amount of support for Pentax, Sony, Panasonic or anyone else. I didn't list the other brands because I didn't want to forget anyone. – Nir Jun 2 '11 at 21:20
  • I know. I'm just concerned that many beginners will only see the "stick to only Canon and Nikon" part, and not get the qualifier. That's doing people a disservice. Those companies make great cameras, and there is a wider selection of accessories, but the fact is that a huge number of people will never exhaust what's available for Pentax or Sony or whatever. And there are lenses and accessories in those systems which the others don't have. – mattdm Jun 2 '11 at 21:25
  • @mattdm - You are right, I've edited my answer to include the other brands. BTW, "stick to only Canon and Nikon" while it does leave out many great choice - and maybe even leaves out the "best" choice - is not the worst advice you can give someone. I have a tendency to go with smaller players that fit my needs better and I often regret that choice in the long run – Nir Jun 2 '11 at 21:34
  • It's far from the worst advice, in that one won't go wrong if one takes your advice in general — pretty much everything is good these days, and the differences are advanced (or at least intermediate) details. If we're gonna do camera recommendations, though, I'd like to see Photo-SE as an idyllic place free of arbitrary restriction of options, with no brand wars, cats and dogs living together, lions and lambs sharing a drink at the local bar, etc. – mattdm Jun 2 '11 at 21:47

If you know you want a digital camera, I think any starter DSLR in those popular brands is good. Starter cameras from Nikon, Canon and Pentax etc all have about the same CCD/CMOS size, their kit lens are kinda identical, and in my opinion they all have very good performance-price ratio. One thing to note is that digital camera bodies advance rapidly, so you probably don't want to invest too much on you first DSLR body. If you have extra money, I'd suggest to spend it on a good lens.

I bought a refurbished Nikon D40 with kit lens two years ago for $350. When I feel I need a better camera, I just buy a new lens for it. A year ago I settled on a Voigtlander 40mm, which is super sharp and vivid. And I still feel very happy about this combination.

And of course, D40 is no match for new stuff like D7000. So ya, what you listed are all pretty good.


I agree with guys who noticed that the question is too general, but under fear of downvote ;) I'll try to suggest that you acquire a legendary Nikon D40 (Kit, or with Lens 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5) - it's not expensive, lightweight, good ISO sensitivity, beautiful and saturated picture colors. I would say - this camera is a good starting point for all novice.

Don't doubt to take a used camera with low count of shutters (below 10k) from famous stores, such as Amazon/Adorama/B&H - this camera will never be cheaper, since it is an old model.

P.S.: Honestly saying, I started with Nikon D80, but many of my friends started with Nikon D40 and happy with it.

  • FWIW, the D40 was an entry-level camera, but I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone say anything bad about it (for its price). It's widely-considered a great starter camera. – D. Lambert Jun 2 '11 at 12:33
  • The only thing negative would be that it's four and a half years old. Sensor technology has improved significantly since then, and the price gap between a refurbished D40 and a new current low-end model isn't very high. So while you won't go wrong with a D40, you might do better for only a little bit more. – mattdm Jun 2 '11 at 14:22

That's going to be a tough question to answer definitively. There are a number of classes of camera that could conceivably fit your bill, depending on how you weigh factors like size & weight, image quality, and cost.

Given the travel scenarios you described, you might not need a technical powerhouse of a camera. If you're shooting photos of buildings & people (especially during the day), a reasonably wide lens with moderate zoom capabilities is fine, and there are literally dozens of great cameras that can do this. I honestly don't see that your requirements dictate a DSLR at all - especially a prosumer model like a D7000 - especially when you include "lightweight" and "inexpensive" in the criteria.

Consider cameras like the Canon S95 or G12. The sensor isn't as large as a 4/3 camera like the G2, but it's better than a typical compact, and it'll produce very nice images in the types of conditions you're likely to see. They're all-in-one cameras, so you don't have pieces to keep track of when you're traveling, and they're very compact (how long is it going to take before you're tired of your D7000 taking up all of your carry-on luggage space?). You don't need a ton of zoom for buildings & portraits, so the 28-100-something lenses on these cameras should suffice. A larger range (especially on the wide end) could be helpful for some landscapes & architectural photos, but these ranges are right in the sweet spot you're going to be using most often.

If there are other factors that are pushing you toward larger cameras like the ones you listed, they're not clear to me -- perhaps more detailed scenarios would help.

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