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Friday, November 28, 2014

Camera Recommendation for 2014: A Review Of My Top Pick

Summarizing today's post: My recommendation for a starter DSLR camera, Christmas gift ideas, & enhancing your photography skills.

With Thanksgiving behind us, we are officially into the Christmas season. Indeed! Hard to believe it's here already. We now have a little more than three weeks to prepare our gifts for our loved ones. Have you decided what YOU want for Christmas this year?

With that in mind, I wanted to give you my camera recommendation for 2014. My top-pick for a starter DSLR camera. If by reading my blog over the past year you have been inspired to start picking up your camera a bit more, and you are ready to make the jump from a point-and-shoot camera, this review will interest you. You might even forward it to Santa. Or, you might know someone who wants to take their photography to the next level.

I have decided to limit my pick to the Nikon family, mainly because I feel they have the best camera system in general. I have been shooting with a Nikon camera for almost 7 years now (see more here), and have been very pleased.

camera, photography
Nikon D3100 (Image courtesy of
My recommendation for the first-time DSLR user, is the Nikon D3100 camera system. Released in 2010, it is a tried and true model with excellent reviews. It can be purchased from Amazon or from many other online retailers for under $400 with the 18-55mm Nikkor lens (which is truly remarkable).

camera, photograpy
Nikon D3100 top view (Image courtesy of

I use Amazon for a lot of my purchases, but also I use it to read reviews about items, gadgets, name it. You can get all the info on the D3100 that you would ever need (including 3rd party reviews) by clicking here. This link will carry you straight to the Amazon page detailing out the features and benefits. 

I will list the highlights that I think are important here:
  • Modest 14.2 megapixel DX format CMOS sensor
  • 3 inch LCD display on the back with liveview
  • Ability to shoot at 12800 ISO (good in low-light situations)
  • 11 point autofocus shooting system
  • Built in pop-up flash
  • EXPEED 2 image processing system
  • Active D-lighting for in-camera image touch up
  • Can shoot up to 3 frames per second for great action shots
  • HD video capability (in my opinion this is a novelty, but still nice to have)
A DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera is much different your point-and-shoot compact. The main difference is the ability to expand. The most noticeable feature is that you can use multiple lens...a priceless option. Also, the fact that there is almost zero shutter lag (when you press the shutter button, the picture is taken right then) is wonderful. You can only get this with a true DSLR camera.

The most important 2 features (while not exclusive to this model) are this: 
  • The ability to put the camera in manual mode, and
  • With the camera's hotshoe, you can start to dive into the world of off-camera lighting
There are plenty of other very good cameras out there...hundreds of good choices in fact. I selected this one for it's ease of use and low cost for first-time DSLR camera enthusiasts. It is a powerful machine for the price. (You can even find refurbished models on Amazon or eBay in the $200-300 range...just incredible.) 

One thing to note about a DSLR. It is NOT a pocket camera. This the only disadvantage I can think of. So keep your old point-and-shoot for casual snapshot usage if you step up to this type of camera system. The reliable compact camera is great for birthday parties and hiking trips (and whenever space is a priority).

The whole purpose of moving up to a camera system such as the Nikon D3100, is to take your photography skills up a notch and to let your creativity explode. As with any hobby, you have to put the time into it to enhance your skills. It's not all about the toys and gear. 

If you find a camera this Christmas that you are considering buying for someone else (or one you are considering asking Santa for yourself!), feel free to contact me and I will give you my honest opinion about it. Find my contact form here:

I hope this has been a helpful review to you guys. Let me know if you all have any questions.

Wish everyone has a wonderful Christmas season!

Thanks for reading,


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