New Year wish, New Year gift – guide on buying your next camera

Happy new year 2012! Have you set your new year resolution? I’m setting mine, of course, it’s going to be another year of photographing the world for me! 🙂 For those of you who are setting your photography plan this year, you should also start acquiring your new equipment for your upcoming photo projects. What could be better than getting yourself a new camera to capture the exciting world out there?

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“Which camera should I buy for this new year?” “Which type of camera is the best for everything?” “Which camera brand is better, Canon or Nikon?” These are the questions I have been asked too often recently. With tens of new models coming out each year, consumers nowadays are spoilt for choices. Furthermore, some manufacturers are actually confusing us with too many models but too little differences between them. So how could we decide?

I always answer them with these 3 questions, “How much is your budget?” “How compact the camera you would love to travel with?” “Which brand you prefer?” Why? Here are guides on how you can buy yourself a great camera for your travel this year.

  1. Which camera should I buy for this new year?” – Which camera to buy depends on how much you are willing to pay for. The more is your budget, the better you would get, logically. You can’t beat the image quality of a USD1,200 Fuji X100 with the much affordable USD400 Canon S100 compact camera, eventhough they are both 12MP. As simple as that. Of course, if you are shooting photos for fun, it is pointless, or even a burden to buy a heavy and bulky pro-DSLR camera such as the latest Nikon D4, eventhough it is by far the best and the latest camera ever being produced by Nikon.
  2. Which type of camera is the best for everything?” – Which type of camera is best suited for everything depends on what type of photos you are going to shoot most of the time. That’s no camera is the best for everything. You can choose between a compact, advanced compact, ultra-zoom prosumer, mirrorless, EVIL or DSLR. For example, in order to produce great travel photos, the least you should get is a Mirrorless camera such as the Lumix GX1, Olympus PL3 or Nikon V1. Mirrorless or EVIL cameras are smaller and lighter to suit traveling light better, while retaining much of the image quality of the bigger and bulkier DSLR. If you can, or like to carry a much larger and heavier machine around your neck all days, DSLR such as a Nikon D7000 is of course a much capable choice (that’s why I’m using one 🙂 ).
  3. Which camera brand is better, Canon or Nikon?” – This is probably the toughest question to answer, since neither of them could be an outright winner in any aspect. Eventually it falls back to your personal preference. Both Canon and Nikon are great in the hands of their fans. They are little difference between them in terms of quality and capability. Choosing either of them merely depends on which brand name you like most, and which your friends around you are carrying. If you are still unsure, just get the latest model from either brand. The latest is always the better. This is how they compete all this while. The latest model in the market now is Nikon D4, so it should be the best.

If you can answer all these 3 questions, you are now ready to choose any of my few recommendations below:

1) Canon S100 compact camera – Priced at USD429, Canon S100 is the best compact camera for travel with small sized sensor. If you just like to snap travel photos for fun and memory, it is the lightest camera among all my recommendations here to carry all day round on travel. However, if you have more budget and prefer more decent image quality, pick the Fujifilm X100, which has the DSLR sized image sensor. If you have lesser budget, buy the older model Canon S95 at USD339, which is equally good with 2 lesser MP only.

2) Panasonic Lumix GX1 Mirrorless system lens interchangeable camera – If you love the small size and light weight of compact cameras, but prefer the great image quality of the DSLR, then EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) camera is your choice of camera for travel. Lumix GX1 is the latest model from Panasonic retail at USD799 and it is the best looking EVIL camera in the market now. If you don’t need the extra 4MP of the GX1, grab the outgoing model Panasonic Lumix GF2 at a stealing price of USD345 only, which is even cheaper than the Canon S100 compact camera with tiny image sensor if compared with the Micro 4/3 cropped 2 sized sensor of GX or GF!

3) Nikon D7000 – The next step up, for travelers who wish to capture the astonishing scenery on their travel with unbeatable quality, DSLR is their ultimate choice. To remain traveling light, full framed DSLRs should be avoided since they are too heavy to carry on your whole trip. Cropped size image sensor DSLR is the next best. Since I’m a fan of Nikon and am using one, I would recommend travel photography hobbyists to buy the Nikon D7000. Though it has been launched for 1 year, Nikon D7000 is still the best DX-format model from Nikon. If you careless about the extra features and buttons of the D7000, and with lower budget, just get the Nikon D3100 at only USD599. Nikon D3100 is bigger and slightly heavier than the Lumix GX1, but it is cheaper and more capable in producing great images on travel.

With your new camera just bought, you can now plan for your holidays this year and start building up your travel photo album! If you want to take better travel photos, check out my travel photography tips. 🙂 – Cecil Lee Photography

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