It’s difficult enough to hunt for the right digital imaging equipment, but have you ever stopped and asked yourself “Who am I, Anyway?” I’m not inciting an existential match of Pong or launching into a Chorus Line number, but I think it’s imperative to figure out what type of shooter you are before you start making it rain over at the B&H counter. That’s why I’ve broken it down here for you.
The Rocky Mountains, Grand Canyon, and Niagara Falls are your playgrounds. You worship Ansel Adams and could find yourself lost in a field of wildflowers until the sun begins to tuck behind the horizon. But that’s just an opportunity to catch a mean sunset, and while you’re at it, some long-exposure night shooting. A DSLR with a nice telephoto lens is right up your alley. The Pentax K-5 or Olympus E-5 come to mind. You’ll need a good tripod and adequate camera bag in order to schlep all of that equipment around, including an extra battery pack and neutral density filter.
The Concert Addict
Tears for Fears on Monday, Foo Fighters on Wednesday, Red Hot Chili Peppers on Friday, and Lollapalooza on Saturday. If that sounds like your life, then you are a concert addict. That means you need a camera that’s portable, yet top-notch in low light. A long optical zoom helps when you get shafted with balcony seats, and optimal audio pickup is key. The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS or Nikon Coolpix S9100 will definitely get the job done here, dude.
You want it all. Big optical zoom, oodles of Scene modes, and a decent Night mode for that shot of the Brooklyn Bridge all lit up. The tourist will have plenty of room in the fanny pack for a Super Zoom camera, which is ideal for trips to foreign lands. Super Zooms are more compact than a DSLR, yet a bit bulkier than a traditional compact. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 or Canon PowerShot SX30 IS are your best bets in this department.
The Party Animal
In the club, on the dancefloor, getting’ hot up in hurr. If you find yourself drunkenly staggering from red carpet to red carpet, only to finish the night up in a NY pizza joint with your friends, then you need the ultimate in compact size and low light sensitivity. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 is about the size of a stack of credit cards and has a back-side illuminated sensor for shooting through the smoke machine. There’s also the most excellent Canon PowerShot Elph 300 HS. Hot.
The Bull in the China Shop
Are you constantly breaking things? Losing electronic devices in bodies of water? Dropping them off balconies? Setting them on fire? Well, then you are the rugged type. The waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and dustproof Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS10 is about the best you can get for a rugged compact, followed by the Casio Exilim EX-G1. I’ve flogged these cams till the cows came home and they kept on snapping.
The Abstract Shooter
You are a very particular individual. You play with different mediums, but tend to find solace in what’s not in the frame vs. what’s in the frame. Sporadic portraits, detail-encrusted Macros, and long exposure light trails are what you live by. Now, we’re in Micro Four Thirds land with stellar cams like the Olympus E-P2 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2. They’re compact, let allow you to swap out that standard 18-55mm lens for a 9mm pancake. Tasty. For the budget artiste, look to the fixed-lens Canon PowerShot G10 or Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Ooh, and Olympus’s new XZ-1 with its delicious f/1.8 aperture!
Pictures, shmictures. Your prime concern is extracting the highest quality 1080p once could ask for. Top notch auto focus, audio recording, and low light sensitivity are clutch here, and DSLRs will give you the best of the best. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is unbeatable in this category, but the Sony a55 is a stellar choice for the budget-conscious. Runners up are the Canon EOS 60D and Nikon D7000.
Once you’ve located yourself and have any questions on any particular camera models, ask away in the comments!