- Nikon D800
- Sony RX100
- "Just use your iPhone"
Not very helpful, yes? It just got weirder from there with people posting the inevitable Ken Rockwell links, Amazon specials... you name it. Suddenly, everybody was a camera enthusiast, and we're talking Facebook, not DPReview. I think out of 20 posts, only three actually came close offering advice for what the original posters were asking for. Don't be like this when people are asking for your advice....
When I was in professional school, the old timers passed on to use that "You have two ears and one mouth, so you better do twice as much listening as you do talking." Folksy, I know, but unfailingly true. You see, people love to talk about what cameras they like, but for some reason it's much harder to put yourself into somebody else's shoes and image what would be right for them.You see this all the time on camera forums, with different takes on the "it's not right for me therefore it's not a good camera" logic.The RX1 is a peculiar case. I lot of people recommend it and praise it, but nobody in my personal circle as bought one. I think it's wish fulfillment; we all have financial obligations to meet and the RX1 is not a cheap camera, but if we can't have it, then we'll help out somebody who can afford it.
I'll bust one myth right here. Don't assume that because my friends were using a D40 we are talking about uninspired mom and pop snaps. Every week I see something amazing go up from them, proving once again that it's not the camera, it's the photographer.
What did I recommend? A Nikon D5200, if they wanted to keep using their current lenses, the Sony SLT-A77 if they wanted better video at the expense of some image quality, or the Panasonic DMC-GH3 if they wanted really great video. That's what would have fit their needs. I did not recommend the D7000 or D7100, which would be cameras that I would prefer to use, and recommending the D800 because it has clean HDMI video is just plain silly. I wouldn't personally give the Sony or the Panasonic a second thought because I value lens selection as a high priority in a camera system, but I wholeheartedly think that they might be good choices for this particular couple.
In fact, I tend to recommend m4/3 and mirrorless cameras quite frequently, and higher end dSLR's not so much. Anybody who is looking for a DSLR knows what they want, but folks looking for "better pictures" sometimes need some help navigating all of the information that is out there. Big hint: it's not about how good the camera is, but how often the person will want to use it. I don't find the D7000 big, but it's going to be huge for somebody who wouldn't carry around a D3200 because it would be too bulky for their pack. And as for couples, studies show that when the man picks the camera, he will use it almost all of the time, but when the woman picks the camera, they will both use it. You've been warned...
If you are reading this blog, chances are that it's far down the list of camera sites that you are visiting. However, hopefully that makes you, the reader, one of the best qualified people in your own personal circle to offer camera advice to your friends. Too often you run across people on the internet who devour information to validate what they want, but if you've read a half dozen camera reviews, then you should also be versed enough to help others with their own personal choices.
Postscript: My friend's ended up choosing the Canon EOS SL1. They stayed true to what they set out to find, and considering that they were upgrading from a D40, not a surprising choice.