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Lousy photos can be created with great cameras and great photos can be created with lousy cameras. The trick is good composition, finding or creating good light and then, in a photo editing program like Adobe Lightroom, processing and editing your photos for sale.

The best camera to buy is ALWAYS the camera you think you’ll carry with you.

If you buy something too big and bulky, you’ll find yourself leaving it at home. And if you buy something that can’t compete with the photos you can get on your iPhone, you’ll find it never makes it out of your wallet.

Buying a new camera is a little like buying a new car. I’ve got kids to tote around, so you’ll see me in the minivan section of the car lot looking for vans with doors that slide instead of pull open (so I can get the kiddos in and out in tight spaces – and so they don’t hit the car next to us when they swing open the doors). You, however, might be in the sports car section or looking for hybrid SUVs. The choices are vast, and when we’re shopping, our paths may never cross.

Still, cars, vans, and SUVs have a top 10 list. Here’s ours for photo gear…

The best SLR camera you’ll take with you

If you can swing the Olympus EM1 body ($1,300 without a lens) and the Olympus M. 40-150mm F4.0-5.6 lens ($199), this is my choice for you.

It’s fun.  It’s lightweight.  It shoots great video in addition to great photos.  And because it’s a mirrorless camera, it’s half the size and weight of other cameras that shoot the same quality. I also like this camera with the Leica 25mm f/1.4 Micro 4/3 Lens by Panasonic.  It’ll set you back $597.99 but it’s worth it.  You can’t go wrong with this kit.

And if $1,300 is too much, look for used cameras on B&H Photo Video or try the Olympus EM5 (at $799).

Others might like The Fuji X-T1 ($1,598.95). Fuji, like Olympus, makes great lenses.   And the viewfinder on this camera is amazing.  I also like that the controls for ISO, exposure compensation, and shutter speed are dials on the top of the camera rather than buttons you have to click through in the menu to find.  Both of these things are big benefits for buyers with not-so-great eyesight. The best starter lens that comes in the kit is actually pretty good too. It’s an 18-55mm image stabilized lens.

The best tripod

Here at Great Escape Publishing we’re always talking about selling photographs AND videos. So it’s important to have a tripod that supports both still photos and fluid movement for video.

Tripods can be expensive, though. Some are almost as much as you’d spend on a camera.

The benefits of splurging are: Sturdy and level photos, lighter weight materials that make them easier to pack and carry, metals and fibers that don’t freeze and break in cold temperatures, durability, effortless panning.

If you can swing it, the Benro A373FBS8 Video Tripod Kit with aluminum legs is great at nearly $450.

Otherwise, this Velbon Tripod ($89.95) can hold you over until you see how much you’re going to use a tripod and whether or not you think it’s worth the extra money to pay for an upgrade.

The best memory card

Memory cards typically come in different shapes and sizes depending on your camera type. But they’re all sold the same way – by size of the card and by the speed at which it will record images (or video).

If you’ve ever clicked the shutter button on your camera to take a picture of something and you missed the shot because your camera took its sweet time to fire, you’re likely suffering from either shutter lag or a slow memory card.

Higher-end cameras tend to have less shutter lag than lower-end point-and-shoots.  So, in some cases, you get what you pay for.  But if your first few photos snap just fine, and it’s the photos after that you’re trying to rapid fire, it might be your memory card.

The faster the card, the faster you can record images on it. And, of course, when you’re shooting video, you’ll be storing a heck of a lot more data at a much faster rate than rapidly snapped still photos so the size and speed of your card are really important if you have video plans.

The biggest and best cards are for those who want to shoot lots of still images in RAW and/or video. They are:

SanDisk 64 GB class 10 SD card for $32.95

SanDisk 64 GB class 10 micro SD card for $29.99

SanDisk 64 GB class 10 compact flash for $149.00

Otherwise, if you’re just experimenting with video, you can get by with any of these (depending on your camera type):

SanDisk 32 GB class 10 SD card for $22.95…

SanDisk 32 GB class 10 micro SD for $15.99…

SanDisk 32 GB class 10 compact flash for $91.95.

Other things you might need include:

  • An extra battery – these will be camera-specific and are easiest to buy when you’re buying your camera, so that you don’t make a mistake and buy the wrong battery. Knock-off name brands tend to work and are a third of the price. But they don’t tend to last long and aren’t always reliable. Some claim they’ve even ruined their cameras with these batteries. I’ve bought them in a pinch (like when I arrive at my travel destination and find I left my battery at home and had no choice), but otherwise I vote to buy the name brand or nothing at all.
  • An extra memory card – keep one in your camera and one in your bag and pocket. They go quick when you’re shooting video and/or you choose not to buy a 32G or 64G card and opt for something smaller.
  • If you want to shoot selfies or make high-quality landscape images in low-light situations, you might want shutter release that sets off your camera without you having to touch it. This will prevent the camera shake that comes from pressing the shutter button when you’re making longer exposures. And, of course, it makes it possible to take pictures of yourself without someone else clicking the shutter for you. Today, most shutter releases are a camera accessory made by the camera’s manufacturer, so you have to buy them at a camera store or by mail order.

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