There are plenty of cameras in the sea, and not all are made equally. Maybe you’re looking to build up your professional portfolio, you want to stick to an OG film camera for that classic look, or maybe you’re just looking for something to up your Instagram game. The first step to finding out which camera is right for you is asking yourself what you’ll use it for most often and how much money you want to spend.
For the amateur photographers
If your latest iPhone or Pixel cameras aren’t cutting it for your ‘grams and you want to take it that extra step, my personal favorite is the Sony RX100 Mark IV. For around $1,000, it can take photos in RAW, quickly pair with your phone, and shoot really nice 4K videos. One of my favorite features is the electronic viewfinder, which is important because it will show you the final result and not just the framing. It’s a great camera for taking your photography up a notch, and it’s small enough to travel with. Other alternatives include Canon’s G7X II or Lumix’s LX100 II.
For professional photos
If you want to take amazing portraits and know what an F-stop is, these professional-grade cameras run for around $2,000 — and that’s just for the body. Expect to drop another $500 to $1,000 for a lens.
For daytime shoots, I like the Canon 5D Mark III, and at night, I like the Sony Alpha A7S MKII with Canon lens. I’d use the 5D all the time if I could, but it’s not the best in darker environments since pushing the ISO often leads to lots of noise. The A7S handles this noise so much better, and it has an electronic viewfinder that shows me what the shot is going to look like.
While both of these are great cameras, the 5D is a bit bulkier. That’s both a good and a bad thing: while it’s not the most convenient to travel with, the build quality is impressive and really holds up. The A7S, on the other hand, is small, and the video quality is crisp. Go to a store and hold these in your hands to really find out which model you prefer.
If I’m using an RX100 for that quick photo out with my friends, I use Instagram’s built-in editing tools. If you want something that’s a little more in-depth, Lightroom’s mobile app is actually great. It’s free and easy to use on mobile, and the results are incredible.
If I’m on a desktop, then it’s because I shot in RAW via the Canon or A7S. For that, Lightroom is by far my favorite. Yes, Adobe is expensive, but I’m really used to all the controls, and it’s worth it for me since I also use it for work. If you don’t really have the money for that, a program called RawTherapee is also a good alternative that can open RAW, TIFF, and JPG files with new updates to the program to make it a decent contender against Lightroom.