I’ve compiled a list, for a coworker, of professional-level cameras I recommend at this point in time, at various budgets.
Things these cameras all have in common, and why I recommend them:
- Image quality vs. compact-ability. A large camera never gets taken anywhere. The only useful camera is the one you have with you.
- Fantastic user experience, simplistic designs, direct control, no unnecessary buttons/dials (the Sony gets a few points knocked off for it’s deep menu system — but once it’s configured, it’s point-and-shoot).
- Fuji X100F (https://amzn.to/2xhpS4r) — overall my favorite camera on earth. Optical/electronic viewfinder. Great lens. Simplicity. Pure photography.
- Sony RX100V (https://amzn.to/2KZgowF) — extremely compact, in my bag at all times, has a great pop-up electronic viewfinder.
- Leica Q (https://amzn.to/2scKVjs) — fixed lens, absolutely stellar image quality. If you’re looking to make art, but keep it simple, this is the camera to get.
- Leica CL (https://amzn.to/2IOaSjF) — interchangeable lenses, APS-C sensor. Fantastic image quality. Very compact.
- Leica M10 (https://amzn.to/2KZThC8) — this is the ultimate in manual photography experience. You purchase it with your heart, not your mind.
I’ve owned all of these cameras. If you want to see any sample images from any of these systems, ask away :)
As for cameras that are lowest budget, I don’t really have recommendations, other than going with older models of the X100 series, or picking up used copies of any of the above bodies (recommended). Your iPhone will take better photos than most cameras that cost less than the ones on this list.
Also, of note — all of the lenses attached to these cameras are prime lenses, meaning they are of a fixed focal length, as opposed to zooms. You “zoom with your feet”. This is both a superior photography experience, and is an optically superior design decision.
The Sony camera does zoom, which is useful, but you end up using it zoomed out at 100% about 98% of the time.