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Cameras on our phones keep improving, but they’re still a long way from taking some of the beautiful pictures we see on Instagram and other social media sites. If you want your images to look anywhere near professional, you gotta pick yourself up an actual camera. Before I get into the best cameras, there are a few things you should know.
First, it’s all about skill. You won’t tell a professional chef, “You must have great pots and pans!” No, girl. It’s about technique. With that being said, some cameras are just better than others and that may require you to spend more than $500. I like to think of it as an investment.
Second, knowing the lingo is hella important to figure out what settings you need for your picture. ISO describes the camera’s sensitivity to light. Raising the ISO can produce brighter light for low-light settings, but inferior cameras may produce unattractive distortion and discoloration. Aperture describes how wide the opening of a lens is, which controls how much light is let in. Shutter speed is the length of time your shutter is open to collect light. Lower shutter speeds produce better pictures for low-light situations, while higher speeds are great for capturing motion.
I just threw a lot of stuff your way, and I know it can be a lot at once. But knowing the proper terminology can be the difference between wasting your money and finding a perfect camera. These are some of the best cameras I found while shopping around for mine.
1. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS100 Camera
Panasonic is one of the leaders in zoom technology, making this one of the best cameras for capturing pictures from a distance. I’m talking about that shot at the zoo or the mountainous scenic pic that you can already see in your head.
What you’ll like: It’s compact, so it’s small enough to carry around and fit in your pocket – as long as your pants don’t have that women’s pocket injustice. You can also customize the ISO for a variety of uses.
What you might not: This isn’t the best camera for low-light situations, especially in places where flash can’t be used like at a museum.
2. Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera
The Olympus TG-5 is waterproof so you can get those shots underwater of coral or fish. The glove-friendly screen also makes it ideal for snowy weather, so you can get that awesome snowboarding shot to show off to your friends.
What you’ll like: It comes with action tracking and fast shooting speeds of up to 20 frames per second. It also comes with an incredible zoom that can take photos as close as one centimeter to your subject.
What you might not: The zoom is pretty loud when you’re recording video, and some of the reviews say the video is so-so.
3. Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000
The Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 is a bridge camera that covers everything from wide-angle shots to super-telephoto photography. This camera gives you a lot for the money, especially if you need a great zoom with impeccable quality.
What you’ll like: The one-inch sensor delivers a considerable boost to image quality that is instantly noticeable, even in low-light situations. It also records in 4k ultra-HD video.
What you might not: It’s bulky, and you can’t change out the lens like most bridge cameras.
4. Canon EOS Rebel T7i DSLR Camera
DLSR cameras aren’t cheap but are a step up in image quality compared to typical point-and-shoot cameras. This DLSR camera lets you change out the lens and comes with plenty of accessories for a beginner.
What you’ll like: The flip-around screen is great for selfies, and the strong sensor takes shots from nearly any angle. Not to mention, this kit comes with a tripod, various lenses, memory card, and more.
What you might not: No doubt – this thing is expensive.
5. Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Digital Camera
Mirrorless cameras are one of the best options on the market. Unlike traditional cameras, you don’t have to look through a viewfinder to get the perfect shot. Instead, you can look at a screen. The Fujifilm X-T20 is inexpensive (compared to most mirrorless cameras) and is perfect for a beginner.
What you’ll like: The rich, detailed pictures and excellent design.
What you might not: Pictures only safe as a jpeg rather than raw files.
6. YI 4K Sports and Action Video Camera
So far, the cameras on the list do a pretty good job capture action shots, but there are better options. If still motion shots aren’t your thing and you want to capture movement, this camera is for you. It’s inexpensive, so it’s a win in my book, but also takes great action shots and video.
What you’ll like: The price – nothing beats it. It also uses a touchscreen that resists scratches.
What you might not: It can’t take great close-up pictures like the others on the list.
7. Nikon D850 FX-format Digital SLR Camera
If you’re looking for the best camera that money can buy, you’re looking at it. The Nikon D850 is expensive but checks every box. Great image quality? Check – 45.7MP. High video quality? You know it – 4k Ultra HD at up to 120 frames per second. Tilting screen? Focus Shift? Long-lasting battery? Yes, yes, and definitely yes.
What you’ll like: Nearly everything. It’s sensitive to every detail, so your pictures will be absolutely perfect. Not to mention it can get up-close and personal while also taking action shots.
What you might not: Dear gawd, that price isn’t friendly to the bank account.