I get a lot of e-mails from people asking questions like
"Do I need to spend a lot of money?"
"What kind of camera should I buy?"
"What should I look for?"
"What do you use?"
I'm going to try to make this easy and guide you in the right direction. This is just a guide, and I don't know it all but I do know from my own experience.
The first thing I recommend is to get a camera that you can operate manually.You will want to have control over shutter speed and aperture, film speed setting and focus. Having a fully automatic camera that you can change to manual is fine.
The next thing I recommend is that you buy an SLR. SLR stands for "single lens reflex". This just means that when you look through the viewfinder, you are seeing the image through the lens.
You don't need to spend a fortune on a camera to get high quality results. I have found many excellent cameras at garage sales and flea markets ranging from 10 to 50 bucks. One of my favourite photos came from one of my least expensive cameras. The main thing is to get yourself a camera and start shooting and learning.
Who is better? Nikon? Canon? Minolta? Pentax? and so on and so on? This is an impossible question to answer. When I was ready to get real serious about photography, I asked around the same as others are asking me now. If I asked a Nikon owner he would say Nikon, a Canon owner would say Canon...etc..etc. I tell people this...remember that when you are buying a camera, you are buying the entire system. Look at what is available for each company as far as lenses, accessories, features and anything else that is important to you. But even after all of this you might even change your mind. Here is a little story on my first serious camera purchase.
After reading every article and review, and looking at what pictures were taken with what camera in photo magazines. After all the advice given to me by other photographers, I had my mind set on a camera. This was "the camera" for me. I went to the photography store with my money and asked the clerk to see the camera. Keep in mind, I had been saving for quite some time and was very excited to be able to finally get my dream camera. I picked it up, looked through it, played with some buttons and all that stuff and I was ready to buy. But before I paid I just decided to look at some other cameras to assure myself that I had made the right decision and to show myself that the others couldn't compare.
After about 15 minutes and a few cameras I picked up one more. Uh oh, something was wrong. This camera fit perfectly in my hands, felt a little heavier and sturdier. When I looked through it, it just felt natural. I don't know how to explain it but this camera felt much better in my hands than all the rest. I didn't know what to do. All that studying and research down the drain. I asked how much it was, and it was about 200 bucks more. I thought it out and realised that if I came home with the one I planned on getting instead of this other one I would end up regretting it so...I put the money down on the camera and went home empty handed due to the fact that I didn't have enough to buy it. It was a bummer considering I had already bought film and was ready to shoot that day. But it paid off, when the waiting was over I had a camera that I was completely happy with.
I'm not going to mention the brands involved because it doesn't matter. Go out and pick up some cameras, look through them, point them at stuff and focus and snap the shutters. You will know what camera is right for you when you pick it up.
Remember this also. You don't even have to spend 100 dollars to get a great camera to learn on. If you aren't sure, take someone with you to garage sales, look at the classified ads, go to a flea market. You will find plenty of inexpensive choices to get you going. Don't ever think that you cant get good results from a cheaper camera. Hope this has helped.