I receive a fair amount of questions. Questions about hikes, beer, how to throw tomahawks...why I'm called Moose(you know you want to know). Mostly though, as a recent result of my new found semi-professionalism in the photography world I find myself answering more and more questions concerning lenses, techniques, and most often...cameras. And I'll tell you a secret right off the bat; I genuinely enjoy answering the questions. More often than not I am perpetually humbled by the evidently massive reach that my writing has travelled around the world. Thailand, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, India...everywhere the fingers of the internet tend to fondle. I take all the queries seriously and try to help as best as I'm able. So, when I receive the most common question of all, I feel somewhat at a loss. No it's not the Moose thing....
Without a doubt, the most prolific question I hear is "Which camera should I get?" This is something that is altogether impossible and fairly frustrating to answer. It's like trying to tell someone who they are and that's not the business I'm in. Maybe frustrating shouldn't be the word to use. Frustrated implies I'm not willing to help and that's not the case. Self absorbed assholes aren't willing to help and hopefully I am not one of those...hopefully...hopefully. Helpless would fit better. I feel helpless to express any words that would make the wayward camera seeker understand that the camera is not the weak link that makes or breaks their photographic chain.
While it's true that the majority of professional photogs who make money from their work do have to use higher end tools it's most certainly not a maxim to live by. We have the brave new world of digital imaging to thank for that. Camera phones today have high-grade glass and image sensors that would beat some of the best dslr's from ten years ago. People now manage to make their living using nothing but their iPhone and Instagram. Photographs are made and played with faster than a hipster can woof down a vegan taco...but I digress. I'll digress again to point out I used the word "hipster", "taco", "photographs" , and "vegan" in one beautifully constructed sentence; a sentence meant to ease you onto the ice cold toilet seat of my main point and one simple yet undigestable truth: there simply are no bad cameras anymore.
Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Fuji, Sigma, Hasselblad, Leica, Mamiya, Pentax. Those are ten camera manufacturers I plucked from my partly handsome head just now. From those ten you can choose from: point and shoot, rangefinder, dslr, mirrorless, micro four-thirds, medium format digital, full-frame digital, and APs-c flavors.
Much more important to the shooter, in my opinion, is not what kind of camera they should use but rather the knowledge they should have about their cameras. Finding the camera that is right for you comes down to knowing yourself and your goals. Do you really need a 36.4 full frame sensor? If you're a general landscape shooter like me, then yes, you might have a need for that much resolution which is why my camera brandishes such a sensor. If I were a street photographer or sports photographer I probably would have went with another camera because mine has less than speedy autofocus. The same goes for wedding shooters and portraiteers. The biggest problem in my eyes is that the tool gets a much too exaggerated piece of the quality pie. It is in fact the maker how wields the tool that is the deciding factor. No piece of gear will carry you into photographic ledgendaryism just as no amount of skill will compensate for lacking the correct gear for a job. Your camera should be a vessel to convey what you see and not something to compensate for haste of learning.
So, "a good camera" is not hard to find. Identifying your own needs as a photographer is the damnable hard part about buying a camera. Know yourself, know your needs, know your expectations.