Okay, let me break this down for you. There are 2 types of cameras: point and shoot and SLR.
Point and shoot:
Everything is built in and compact. I call these purse cameras. I have my P&S in my purse at all times.
The main difference you'll notice is that the lenses change. I call this my "real" camera.
So the first thing you have to decide is if you want and point and shoot or a SLR (often called DSLR for Digital SLR)
The price of DSLRs have dropped dramatically in the past 5 years, so people are tending to buy them more. Your average person doesn't need an SLR camera. If you're just going to leave it "on the green square" or in automatic mode, I'd recommend a point and shoot.
If you are wanting to get into photography, or you just feel the need to spend extra money on a camera, I recommend Canon SLRs. For the following reasons:
- The lenses haven't changed in years, and their high end lenses are FAST
- They are at the front of the curve as far as new technologies go
- If you look at the sidelines at any sporting event, they all have Canons
I have a Canon 40D (pictured above). I love it. I also recommend Canon Rebels. They are good cameras, light and the low end of the Canon SLR price point.
Some people choose SLRs because they do better in low light situations. Few people realize that Canon makes a camera that has the same insides as their SLR without the changeable lenses.
The G series from Canon is my #1 recommendation for anyone on the market for a camera. This one is the G11. They started with the G9 and have progressed up to 11. The best thing is you can learn how to shoot manual, but you don't have to deal with the lens thing. Additionally, it still does well in low light and is a fast camera. So, this is my choice if you're looking for an excellent point and shoot.
Let's say that you want a good camera, but would like video as well. Canon also has the PowerShot series. It has a video focus - with INCREDIBLE zoom - but still takes nice photos.
The one pictured is the PowerShot SX20IS. (The IS on the end stands for Image Stabilizing. You want that.)
I've also heard good things about the Olympus point and shoot line. They have some really cool cameras at a slightly cheaper price point than the ones I mentioned above.
This is the Stylus 1050. It comes in a lot of colors, and can shoot underwater! Olympus and Kodak have been concentrating on their point and shoot lines, while Canon and Nikon focus on their professional lines, so that is something to keep in mind.
One last thing, I don't recommend Sony digital cameras. They created this thing called the memory stick. It's not compatible with the other memory cards, and is an all around pain. The cameras are fine, but the fact that you have to buy a special memory card, so you can't take advantage of some great card deals turns me away. Just my personal opinion, but thought it was worth mentioning.
There are a lot of other things to take into consideration when shopping such as f stops and megapixels. This is just a quick run down of my recommendations. Maybe I'll do episode 2....
If anyone has recommendations to share, feel free!