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Monday, 13 July 2015


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Regarding your earlier article, I've quit giving recommendations. They see my photos online, or on my walls and ask what I use, or what I recommend. It might be what I have, it might be better or less-featured gear. I try to tailor it to their needs.

Invariably, they go with what the camera guy says not having seen their work and spending all of 10 minutes talking to them. Apparently there's more authority behind the counter. And more often than not, they spend far more than they needed to. IMHO many (not all) sellers are really just about making the buck, and "educating" only to assert their alleged authority.

I'm not bothered by it anymore, but all I tell people now is: go get what feels best in your and and is easiest to operate. They're all pretty much the same.

What I was reminded of was what I learned from my sporting goods days years ago is this: people want what they want, not always what they need.

Recommending a new camera to somebody that wants "a camera", without any concrete requirement, is the exact same thing as recommending a computer to somebody that needs "a computer" without any requirements.

If there are no requirements that usually means that the person asking is a neophyte, and would be well served by any of the multiple entry level offering. But here's the kick, everybody thinks they're special so you can't tell them "for your intended use ANY camera/computer in the market will suffice until you grow and identify specific needs for your tools" - that's not what they want to hear, that their use case is the most basic one. So now I resort to tell them that

1) it's 2015, technology has advanced so much and the competition is so fierce that short of spending $x0,000 in a medium format camera, the rest of the bunch is more or less on par, and

2) the most important part of the process is for them to _really_ like their camera, how it looks, how it handles, how it sounds, that there is a connection between him/her and the camera.

Next stop is a trip to a camera/computer store to do some physical handling and that's it.

People are usually happy with the recommendations that I've made, the main problem is not technical; it's people and ego management.

The single most important factor when picking a camera is size and weight. As tempting as that 5D-R might be in combination with the Zeiss Otus, you will continue taking more photos with your iPhone if you aren't committed to lugging around the "beast" all the time.

Are we talking film camera or digital camera? (Just kidding.)

Many of the best countermen I've known were older wedding photographers—people who began their career shooting film. Counterman was their day job.

BTW why would an "ordinary normal regular non-enthusiast" want to purchase a camera? Hasn't the iPhone replaced the camera for the great unwashed 8-)

A friend recently asked what DSLR he should buy and I pointed him at a Nikon D3300 two lens kit.
He pulled the trigger and is very pleased.
That's the first time I've been asked what camera to buy in about five years.
I suspect the next time it will be "which phone takes the best pictures?".

I agree completely about the value of a knowledgeable local camera store clerk. Though for me now it's more for their expertise with printers. I've gotten excellent advice about correcting malfunctions, competent repair techs and new products from chatting with the lads behind the counters. In exchange, the store's gotten a large chunk of my income for ink and paper – what we used to call "consumables" back when people printed their digital photos.

I thought you had resolved not to recommend cameras any more.

Olympus E-P5, if you can still find one ;-)

I have to say, starting your post with "I'd never have time to finish something like this..." and ending with "Have to go... I'll finish this afternoon" and then never coming back is pure genius.

[I'm back, but thank you...? --Mike]

Giving three choices sound ideal.

"...if someone has a budget of $2,000, well, then they want an expensive, nice, new camera, and if you tell them a $750 camera will be just as good you won't actually be doing them any favors. "

In the digital era, this is the only reason the high end exists.

I very strongly recommend shopping only at camera shops that do not pay salespeople on commission. Even if a commissioned salesperson keeps within your budget, they may steer you to the deal with the best spiff, or -- even more likely -- get impatient with giving you lots of guidance rather than racking up a lot of sales in the same amount of time.

I've shopped for cameras and lenses quite a bit in both kinds of shops, and when you're in a shop that doesn't pay on commission, it's almost shocking. At my favorite shop (which I won't name just because I don't want to turn this into a plug) I'm almost embarrassed at how much of a salesperson's time I'll occupy.

Three: that's probably how many lenses you should pack for a shoot, even for an extended travel itinerary. I'm sure you can justify more, but then you run the risk of losing images through paralysis of choice.

Here is Barry Schwartz's excellent 2005 TED talk on this subject:

I buy everything I can at the local camera counter. My community doesn't have a dedicated camera shop. But one box store [no commissioned sales peeps] offers good service and matches prices. I like to support local economy. For this reason, I no longer use the latest/greatest versions of PS.

"... he argues that people prefer choice over no choice, but that too much choice leads to paralysis and dissatisfaction—and the optimal number of choices is three"

Depends on the circumstances. Probably works for cameras, cars, most tech gear, etc.

I'll have the exact numbers wrong, but the story is true: The merchandisers of a major supermarket operation were trying to maximize shelf space use and profits. The major line of hair coloring products had 12 shades, but three accounted for almost 90% of sales and four for almost 95%.

So they cut back to four colors. Sales crashed. The buyers had to see a full range of colors in order to determine which one they liked, perhaps through its relationship to the full range.

I believe much the same is true of a lot of fashion items. Here's a display at a Target, shot 'cause I thought it was an appealing image.

I'll bet those merchandisers too would like to cut back to the 3-4 colors that account for most sales. Can't be done.

The best solution is to recomend the camera he/she already wants. Usually the person has got a preselected camera and wants you to aprove the choose. So why argue?

Consumerism encourages us to acquire expertise, style and status, rather than earn it.

We are encouraged to believe that we can exchange currency for any fantasy we want. We can buy a Porsche and become a racing driver, buy an Armani suit and become a businessman, or buy a D800 and become a professional photographer.

The easiest people to advise are the ones on a tight budget. They don't expect to be impressed by the IQ of a fire-sale end-of-line Panasonic, and are therefore delighted when they find out that it's actually pretty darned impressive.

Someone above wrote what's probably a common sentiment:

"BTW why would an "ordinary normal regular non-enthusiast" want to purchase a camera? Hasn't the iPhone replaced the camera for the great unwashed 8-)"

I know a lot of my friends have had smartphones for years - my wife has had an iPhone 5 for 2+ years (I only got my first smartphone earlier this year). I don't have a good sense of how long the majority of people (in the US, anyway) have been using a smart phone as their primary camera. But I'm seeing anecdotal evidence of "phone fatigue". People who gave up the "big camera" are finding that the phone just doesn't cut it all the time. Two of my friends have recently said they're planning to buy a camera soon. No idea if they'll actually go through with it. My daughter (age 12) loves her camera and vastly prefers it to her ipod touch, even if it means waiting a day or two for dad to download the pictures to her computer, and she has at least one friend who has a camera (and a tripod !) who is dabbling in photography and video as a small hobby.

Recommendations are tough ... the RX100 line (never mind RX10 !) is expensive; cheaper digicams suffer from a combination of small sensor and slow lens (the exceptions are the ones to look for) and anything with a big sensor is only reasonably affordable and compact when used with slow kit zooms that carry compromises that might not be ideal for a lot of people.

I've recommended the LX100 to at least three different people looking for exactly what the Panasonic promises to provide. None of them have bought it, and I suspect it's due to a lack of budget on their part. They simply thought "I want/ need a camera better than my phone..." (which is how all three started) but never added "and this is how much money I will spend to get it." Would three choices have made a difference?

I've had the LX100 for quite some time. I categorize it as generally "OK" as, say, a travel camera. But it doesn't qualify as a general recommendation, at least from me. It's too big to be a pocket carry-everywhere camera. When powered-up the lens protrusion makes it a much larger camera. (All the beauty photos of the LX100 you see, including the one above, are of the power-off state.) The image quality is OK but nothing extraordinary. The EVF is OK but the LCD does not tilt. And the comments about "being the closest thing to a Leica" are, well, perhaps not from Leica owners? For the size and price the Panasonic GX7 might be the better choice. It's a little bulkier and offers about the same M43-typical image quality. But it's much more versatile.

Rule #1 for recommending any camera: Never recommend anything you have not personally owned and used. You're asking for pie in the face.

(I now return to not recommending cameras.)

Gotta wade into this discussion.

I have an LX100 (great camera) but I'm thinking a little too many controls (so a bit overwhelming) for a beginner. Although one can always set it to iA mode and experiment later.

I've always thought the Sony RX100/RX10 is a good recommendation. I personally didn't get on with the first RX100 but maybe that's just me.

Any ILC Fuji.

How about a Nikon D750 (or Canon equiv) at the top end.

At the very bottom end a phone is just fine.

This all comes back to budget though.

Cheers, Andy

Almost bought the LX100 instead of the Olympus 12mm lens, a few weeks ago, still rethinking my decision, and am thinking I should have bought the LX100. It's pretty agreed on in my sub-set of pro photographers, that this thing is "it". I have people who own this thing telling me they could easily shoot jobs on it, as long as the needs fit inside the focal length range. We may be looking at the digital version of the one camera, one lens, Rolleiflex reality!

Since I moved back into image management, and doubt that I'd ever, ever, take another picture for money (and least market myself to do so), if I get my hands on one of these to test, I might find out it's great, and sell every digital thing I own and just use this.

I can see it now, Panasonic LX100, and 8X10 Deardorff, and that's it! Still wouldn't need to own an enlarger!

The first two questions should be:
- What kind of pictures do you want to take?
- Do you have a camera? If yes, what kind?
The answer to the first may require some follow up, but the best camera for landscapes may not be the same as for flower photography, or for taking pictures of sailing dinghy races from a race boat.
Note that I say "taking" not "making", as if they are at the making level they probably already have a good idea what they want and need.

An old film dog, but I still get asked occasionally for camera buying advice. I now just say I haven't kept up on digital and wouldn't know how to help. But now, just in the last couple of years, a few folks have been asking about film cameras. Then giving recommendations is easy.

I like the LX100 as an all around choice. I agree the knobs and buttons make it attractive to advanced users, but I think it could be accessible to new users as well.

I would try to talk someone down, zoomwise, from the Panasonic FZ200 to the (only 300mm) Olympus Stylus 1s, because the Olympus has a larger sensor. I have looked at quite a few images from the earlier Stylus !. They are about as good as I’ve seen from that sensor size.

I like the idea of three cameras to recommend. My third camera would smaller, something like be the Panasonic LF1, but that is out of production now. I’ve owned one of the Canon S series (S100), which is the standard for these small sized cameras, but I was not all that happy with it. I found myself working around it more than working with it.

For a small camera, I think I’d recommend the Fuji XF2, for the larger sensor and the film modes. Someone stepping up from an iPhone would likely enjoy both of those features.

When someone who isn't really a "photographer" asks for advice and just wants to get something a step up from their cell phone, I always recommend one of the cheap Canon point and shoots, like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Canon-PowerShot-ELPH-160-Silver/dp/B00RKNMORM/ref=cm_wl_huc_item

There are a bunch of similar models. I can't really tell them apart, but they are cheap as dirt and Canon seems to have done the best job, in my view, of solving the "cheap little point and shoot" problem. Those who have followed my advice (yes, it does happen) have been happy.

I tried a friend's FZ200 on a week-long trip. He wanted to sell it because he wasn't happy with weird artifacts that were showing up in his photos. I had the same experience and returned it to him. It's hard to describe what was happening. One example is that there were things in the same plane of focus, but one would be sharp and the other weirdly unsharp. Not sure what was happening, but didn't want it going on in my photos.

I tried to find a "super zoom" to use as a travel camera, but gave up and went with a M4/3 system. I'm using a Panasonic G5 with the kit zoom and the 100-300. I'm very pleased with the results. I've been recommending M4/3 to most who ask and are moderately serious about photography. There are incredible deals out there for both Panasonic and Olympus cameras and lenses.

I actually own and use the LX100 and love it as my carry around camera. It is pretty enthusiast oriented. I'd only even consider recommending it to an older person since they'd use the viewfinder and the young won't. The EVF is great but no use paying for something you aren't going to use. I'd think it's pretty intimidating to someone who doesn't know what an f stop is, etc.

I've taken to, when asked to recommend a camera, ask them if they've got something in mind. They almost always do. I look it up and would tell them if there was something awful about it but I can't remember that happening in the past few year.

Somehow, I'd completely forgotten about the LX100. But if a non-photographer acquaintance asked me for advice, I would not recommend it. Their first objection would be, "It doesn't zoom out far enough", and from that it would never recover.

Both Sony and Panasonic seem to have better than the run-of-the-mill all-in-one "superzooms" these days. In fact, if I were starting from scratch, I could make the case that the Sony RX-10 II is all I need (not that that would stop me from buying more).

When people have asked me for advice, I tell them to buy last year's model second-hand (any brand) and use it, figure out for themselves what more they need, if anything, and go from there. No one has listened to me yet. But it doesn't matter, unless they're photo geeks, the camera will sit in a drawer anyway. It would be interesting to do a census of all of the generations of cameras sitting in people's drawers at home that never get used.

The LX100 is a nice camera and a lot of people could be happy with it. It's $800 for a fixed lens camera, so if/when it breaks, the whole thing needs to be replaced/repaired. The zoom range is modest and a lot of average people like more magnification. It's compact. Should be easy to use and generate great results. I have to think someone should be able to put a 1" sensor in a more "mainstream" body for $500-600. The RX10 is probably on the big side for a lot of people, but I'd tend to recommend it over the LX100 thinking that the zoom range makes it more appealing to more people. But I don't think there is a single easy-to-recommend camera any more than there's a single easy-to-recommend car.

I think the Panny LX100 is a reasonable choice, though you might have a bit of a time convincing someone in the States that they don't need a DSLR.

I don't think one recommendation would work; different customer needs are best served by different market offerings. I sold my Sony RX100 to a coworker earlier this year. I never bonded with the RX100 at all, but it's perfect for them and they absolutely love it. Sold my Fuji X-A1 to another friend who wanted to get in the Fuji X system, but had a modest budget and feature requirements (didn't need a viewfinder); he loves that camera as well (the X-A1 has always been under-rated, image quality surpasses my OM-D cameras). I presently have a friend who is an experienced photographer asking for a recommendation as to what's presently best in mirrorless, and I am going to recommend the Fuji X-T1.

Personally, if I had to have only one camera, it would be my Fuji X100T; this camera has proven to be much more versatile than I ever thought it would be when I bought it in January, but limiting oneself to one focal length might be too constraining for "normal, regular friends".

One advice often overlooked: Don't buy the kit! Not referring to the kit lens, but to the "kit" - memory card, lens cleaning fluid, cloth, brush, tripod, filters, and whatever else the store is trying to get rid of. And extended warranty.

Things change quickly, don't they? I'm way behind the loop, with a d7000 and a s95 (not even to mention film cameras!). Wow.

I just went through this exercise with my artist sister-in-law. She indicated she wanted to get a 'real' camera that was smaller than her Rebel with lenses, but offered better images than her iPhone 5.

I recommended the RX100iii and LX100 if she wanted small, or the RX10 and FZ1000 if she wanted some tele reach. Once she learned that all the options were within rock-throwing distance of $1,000, her enthusiasm waned. And, none appeared simple to use. She said that she didn't want to "get all into the settings."

We settled on a new iPhone once her contract is up with Moment Lenses as the best compromise solution. http://momentlens.co/

Apple does simple well. Sure wish a camera manufacturer would too. And I'll have to agree with Thom Hogan, modern cameras have a workflow issue. Camera phones get pictures out of the device so effortlessly, it is tough for 'real' cameras to compete for anyone other than enthusiasts or pros.

Had I known that the LX100 was coming out, I may never have bought the GX7. It has been on my wish list ever since, waiting for the price to drop. And what camera do I take with me almost all the time, my GX7 or my LX7? The LX wins it almost all the time, (and never my GH2). So, I sez t' meself, "Self ... why do you have all these lenses for cameras you don't use"

Fuji X30!

I've got several friends/family using earlier versions of this camera, and they've always got it with them when I see them, which I take to be a good sign. Very similar camera to the Panasonic you posted. I think the sensor is a little smaller, but most people don't know or care about such a thing.

The only thing I ask people is if they're going to shoot sports and/or wildlife. If so I tell them to go the DSLR route. Otherwise I recommend something small with a relatively fast lens. (i.e. Mirrorless)

Pretty soon we'll just be able to tell them to stick with their phones.

I like the LX100. I've recommended it to a few casual photographers when they've asked for recommendations – not a single taker so far.

They end up with other micro four-thirds cameras with interchangeable lenses (or small DSLRs) but end up never changing lenses, even if they buy a few primes in addition to good walkabout zooms. Understandable - it feels better knowing you could change lenses if you had to than knowing you're stuck with what you have.

Your point about not nudging the well-heeled towards cheaper cameras is a good one, too, and can be hard to grasp at first when you have relatively little money but rich customers. If I were better off, I'd definitely be buying items that felt special and used better materials, even if I knew I were paying a little over the odds for them.

Mike. I recently bought the LX100 when my daughter was born (end of May). The ergonomics, operation, and field of view are a revelation.

Between the handling, IQ, and zoom range, I've actually been meaning to write you a message for a while to say that you should get one in to review and that it would make a great camera for most of your readers.

I've since sold my m43 kit (which in turn was the reason I sold my stellar Zuiko 12-60 and 50-200 kit).

I can barely decide what camera I should buy next, never mind recommending to someone else what they should buy. The only thing that keeps me sane is being secure in the knowledge that the vast majority of cameras and lenses these days are much better than the people using them--and yes, that includes me too.

My brother still happily uses the Canon S90 I recommended years ago. I've found it far more dangerous to give constructive feedback on a creative work like a short story than to recommend a camera. One is a purchase, the other is your friend's sense of self-worth. Recently I advised a friend on a laptop purchase for her son and gave her general advice, things like ram, ssd, and three brands to look at when at the store. She was happy with that. Still her choice, but she's a little more knowledgeable going in.

I own the LX100 and think it is a bit too much for someone just getting into things. For friends who tell me they are really getting into photography but they want something better than their smart phone I now recommend a used Sony Rx100 mk_. The Mark 2 sells used in good condition now for around $350. This is a good intro camera for them because it produces excellent images, has manual controls, shoots video (many casual shooters like that on vacations), has RAW file capability, and is small, light and pocketable. You can add an after market filter adapter from Lensmate to it, and a grip. With this camera they can learn the basics of real photography such as manipulation of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. If they master all of those things and need more then they can sell it for around what they paid for it and step up to a camera with separate lenses.

My issue with the LX100 and the like, is that it has nowhere near the maximum focal length that most people would want. A general purpose camera surely has to be able to catch the birds in the back yard or in the trees near the holiday lodge; the surfers at the beach; the cars, horses or motorbikes at the races. It's ubiquitous.

That's why the twin lens kit Canikonax (or budget mirrorless equivalent) is so generic as my go-to recommendation. Things like LX100, RX100 are far too specialised and restrictive.

Random comments:
Some people want a camera to take pictures, others want it because they want to own "stuff."
The oft-mentioned iPhone takes damned fine photos and simplifies the online sharing of same. (I have mostly followed the 1C1L1Y discipline in my travels and have not often been disappointed. There is a movie in theaters - Tangerine- shot with an iPhone.)
Free advice is worth what it costs.
The risks of making reccommendations to friends exceed the potential rewards.
This applies to cameras, cars, computere, smartphones, TVs, travel, potential mates, etc.
All generalizations, with the possible exception of this one, are false.

I really wasn't going to comment but...

Panasonic LX100 - $800

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR with 18-55mm STM Lens - $500

Tiny, light, quick - love mine (it's a 100D in Europe). Even better with the 40mm pancake lens, and it's not a dead-end.

I, too, cringe at the idea of spending $800 on a fixed-lens camera, but for those who don't, the obvious option vs the LX100 is the RX100 III -- a different approach to the same end, with different trade-offs.

A good third option at similar size and quality might be the Nikon 1 system, which starts at $400 for a zoom kit.

If they want it to fit in a pocket then the Canon PowerShot S110. If they want more zoom and don't need it to fit in a pocket then the Olympus Stylus 1s.

Small sensor cameras are good enough for most people. More portable, lower price, and simple controls are most important. The S110 and the Stylus are a step above the pack and would make the average user quite happy. They are both far better than a phone.

For general purpose shooting, which is what most people buy cameras for, nothing beats an entry level DSLR and kit zoom, period.

The camera that gave me a lot of images that still please me today was the Rollei 35: easy to carry, totally simple to use, capable of producing excellent images. So far I've seen nothing like it in digital and so I'll keep my S95 which is a decent little icon maker. Or maybe the X100T when the price drops somewhere under $1000.

I wrote a comparison of cameras in early 2012 for my brother when he wanted to get a DSLR. I listed various cameras including, for comparison, my out of production Pentax K20D, and the even more out of production Minolta X700, which we both still have. It covered five pages, but I said in it:

"Firstly, a really good camera will not make you into a really good photographer, but a really good camera will work with you, not against you. The best camera is one that is as transparent as possible; it doesn’t get in the way when you take a photo.

When deciding on a camera, choose the one that feels best in the hand, that has it’s controls where you’d expect. That way, you can concentrate on the picture and you are more likely to take the camera out in the first place. You will learn more about photography.

All the cameras listed here have more than enough pixels" All had at least 12Mp.

My brother planned to do astrophotography, so I included a table of chrominance noise; he might have chosen another camera if he had different plans.

I did admit that I was biased in favour of the Pentax K5, but he still bought one. A couple of years later I sent the same, now out of date comparison to a friend, who bought a K5ii.

I also said:

"I have just found this quote: “It's really hard to buy a truly **bad** lens or body these days.” "

I forgot to say, both my brother and my friend are happy with their choice. Success!

The LX100 is so good that you wouldn't believe it. These two galleries are pano (from 7 to 30 shots for each picture, average 12) entirely taken with a LX at 70 f/4, raw, converted in LR6. Quality is amazing, post processing creates no issues and ease of use with a pano head in the field is unbeatable. I used the full electronic shutter for these, bracketing 7 exposure (it's so fast that sometimes you don't even realize that the bracketing has completed). Then I simply choose the best exposed frame (so no HDR here) and processed. Online you can't see the details but the lens is so sharp that you could easily print 4 meters or even longer.

When I started in photography in highschool in the 1940s, my experience was mostly using a Speed Graphic. When I decided to get a smaller hand camera the choice was between a Rollei or a Super Ikonta B. I chose the Ikonta B and never regretted it.

I've bought a few cameras this year that might have been good suggestions for someone wanting a setp up from a phone camera. In order I bought them:
Fuji XF-1. New Old Stock, bought for $125. Probably not worth the $500 original asking price, but quite a good P/S, with 2/3" sensor, shoots RAW.

Nikon 1 J1. Possibly refurb, maybe NOS, $135. Fast autofocus, ILC.

Ricoh GR1 w/ big flash, New, $575. Fixed 28e prime lens. I honestly wonder how it would compare shooting next to the Leica Q. I would wager the handling of the Ricoh might be as good or better, but IQ would probably give a bit to the Leica, and for the price premium it should. But whether the Leica's better quality would show in prints? This isn't Leica bashing, just pointing out an excellent alternative 28mm equiv. option.

So in short, get an un-loved older camera that excels at what you're lacking with the phone. Speed of focus, better post-processing, better low light/DR, whatever you need.


I've been selling cameras for 40 years now...started when A/F was unheard of and built in meters in SLRs were only on the upper end models.
Agree with a lot here...never put more than 3 items on the counter, otherwise you just confuse your customer with too much choice.
One thing earned me many long time loyal customers...don't sell them stuff!!
I often had first time buyers who had no idea what they really liked to photograph ask me what accessory lenses, filters, etc they should buy with their camera.
I'd tell them to purchase the basic camera and lens...and then take a basic photo course at the local community college and when they had decided what they liked to photograph to come back and purchase the applicable accessories.
I didn't sell as much on the initial sale...but I've had customers who've stuck with me for 20 years now because I didn't try and load them up with a bunch of needless gear on our first meeting.

There are more candidates for the title Most Recommendable Camera. Not everyone has the same needs. The most important thing when you get started is that you should have fun, otherwise things won’t last. And you first need to learn the basics. The Fujifilm X30 is a better camera for that than the Panasonic LX100, but that doesn’t mean that the Fuji is a better camera. Some other high-end compacts or mirrorless system cameras are fine too.

I wouldn’t recommend one of those all-in-one-hybrid-ultrazooms to start with. Not even a budget DSLR. Keep it simple. Enjoying your life is most important, which means that for many of us the Most Recommendable Camera is no camera.

I agree with those who say check out exactly what they want, get them to define whether big zoom or ( often forgotten) wide angle is most useful. How important is an OVF /EVF ... ( for me critical not for others). If they are older then a flippy screen enables you to take low photos without bending down. I think a lot of photographers were very sniffy about these.
Then how important are looks. I have a Panasonic G6 which was almost free with a very useful 14-140 lens. It looks very uninspiring but it is easy to use one handed. Has a good touch screen that some people love etc. It may not look much but it is a VERY practical carry around walking camera. On the other hand the Olympus OMD5 is a thing of beauty ... it is waterproof but has a less malleable screen and has a series of menus that drive you to drink ....which is better is definitely a thing you can only find out by using them!!!-
I too have used the LX100. Was impressed but none of the people i have mentioned it to are prepared to pay that money for a fixed lens. Maybe the journey to ~DSLR and then back to the simplicity of an LX100 or a X100 is one that has to be taken step by step ... Less is more etc.
So guidance is mainly about listening. As a family doctor my old tutor told me 'listen .. they are telling you 90% of all you need to make a diagnosis' ... its much the same with cameras IMHO.

Dear Mike (and Ken),

My experience has been pretty different from yours. I don't get asked for camera recommendations too often, maybe a couple of times a year, but when I do the people follow my advice more often than I would have expected (which would've been somewhere near zero). None of them have ever approached me with the attitude that getting a camera that I recommend or like mine will let them make photographs as good as mine. (Discussions among peers are another matter–– then we're talking shop.) Rather, they admire the work I do and they know that I am particular about what I'm doing, so they trust my judgment to be particular for them.

First question, of course, is what their budget is-- their total budget. And there, I would disagree with you, Mike. If someone has $2000 to spend, and their objective is a camera with several additional lenses besides the kit lens, $750 is a very reasonable target for the camera itself. (In fact, I went through almost exactly this exercise with someone three weeks ago.)

Second question is what kind of photographs they are interested in making. That can lead to counterintuitive results. For example, if someone with a under-grand budget was interested in bird or wildlife photography, I WOULD recommend to them one of the better “bridge” or “superzoom” cameras, because otherwise getting the same kind of reach without spending many thousands of dollars is going to be hard. And those are GOOD cameras. They aren't as good as a nice interchangeable lens digital camera, but the Fuji S100fs that I owned and reviewed seven years (that is, three generations) ago had better image quality than most people would be able to extract from a 35mm film camera.

On the other hand, if they were into low light photography, I'd be trying to think of which systems have cheap, fast optics, which might or might not lead to an interchangeable lens camera, depending on the focal length range they really need.

And so on.

Third question is do they have a local camera store that they can go try cameras out at. Because these days, really, it's less about image quality and more about ergonomics for most photographers. They all make pretty damn good pictures. But some of them will sit well with you and some of them will drive you crazy, and it's gonna be different for everybody. If they don't have a good local camera store, I recommend they buy from B&H and make liberal use of its return policy if need be.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

I find that the biggest barrier for most people to photography is that the camera is too big to be bothered with.

For people who want a better camera than their smartphone, I recommend an RX100 and the Sony accessory grip, usually the original model which is available used for under $300.

I get asked the 'which camera' question all the time. Apart from recommending a Phase One I give them the answer that you really can't go wrong with any Canon or Nikon DSLR.

I do make a lot of assumptions by saying this but my assumptions are usually valid because:
1- The people asking me are not enthusiast photographers. If they were good at photography they wouldn't be asking this question. They would ask "do you think x would be better than y at doing z?"
2- People don't want compacts anymore, phones are the carry everywhere camera, most people who ask about camera are looking for something that will take higher quality images.
3- If I recommended something from left field (mirrorless) they wouldn't go for it anyway.

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