One question I get asked the most by people is "what kind of camera should I buy?" I usually answer this by asking a million other questions like "how much do you want to spend?", "what kind of subjects are you going to shoot?", "Is size or quality more important to you?". Those are all very valid questions, but today I'm going to kind of generalize and assume that said person wants to just take better snapshots of their family, and is not looking to shoot weddings, or landscapes, or products in any kind of professional fashion. I am also going to veer more toward the Canon camera angle because thats what I use, and to be honest I think that their lower end glass (lenses) are pretty good for the price where as I feel Nikons lower end cameras, and lenses look lower quality. I may get hate mail for saying that but that is what I have noticed. When it comes to their high end stuff I think they are pretty much the same, maybe even better than Canon in some areas, but I digress because this is not a post about which brand is better it's about answering the age old question of "which camera should I buy?"
I will be assuming a few things in writing this post. Do not buy your gear from Best Buy. I cannot stress that enough. They are the biggest rip off when it comes to camera gear. They prey off the fact that you know nothing, and do not know how to shop online. These things are about 3 times more expensive at that store. I will also assume that you can find the same deals that I do on Craigslist. I know the used market pretty well and I see that the price for the Rebel xti (the camera I will recommend to you) is pretty consistent. I will also assume that you are ok with used gear. Camera equipment is expensive and can add up real fast so I highly recommend going the used route if you can.
I will first post the absolute necessities that you will need to get started. Then I will post some things that you should probably consider if you have any money left.
Canon Rebel xti w/ 18-55mm lens (used) This is the price I usually see this camera and lens combination going for on Craigslist. I owned this camera for a while and I thought it was awesome. I really liked how small it was (which is relative because I am used to my larger cameras), and I thought it handled low light pretty well. I really do recommend not spending a ton on the camera body because people are always upgrading and selling their cameras for pretty good prices on Craigslist. The camera shops will show you all the bells and whistles to try and sell you the latest and greatest but to be honest your probably not going to use 90% of what the camera can do. You need a decent camera that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. The rebel Xti is that. Here is a link to Canon's site where it will tell you more about this camera. Canon U.S.A. : Support & Drivers : Digital Rebel XTi
San disk 8gb CF memory card
Extra battery Canon brand
Extra battery 3rd party- I don't usually recommend going this route because they are cheaply made and could possibly explode, but if your strapped for cash here ya go.
Amazon.com: 7.40V,750mAh,Li-ion, Hi-quality Replacement Digital Camera Battery for CANON Digital Rebel XTi, PC1018, CANON EOS, PowerShot Series, Compatible Part Numbers: BP-2L5, BP-2LH, NB-2L, NB-2LH: Electronics
Canon 50mm 1.8 lens- While this lens is not absolutely necessary I know that you moms want those natural light, close up shots of your little one where you have a tiny area in focus and then a nice creamy blurred background. This lens can achieve that if you learn how to use it. Here is an example of what this lens is good for. Take me home please | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
So far we're at $584. That is for a Camera, 2 lenses, bag, memory card, and extra battery. This is an excellent set to get started with!
Tripod and ballhead (you have to buy both separately)
This is something I barely ever use, but I know some photographers swear by them
Canon flash $299 (highly recommend) Amazon.com: Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash for Canon Digital SLR Cameras: Electronics
- I almost put this in the necessities area because I hate the little pop up flash on these cameras, but you don't actually need it. The great thing about this flash is it's ability to swivel it's head so you can bounce it off walls and make your flash made photos much better. Instead of having someone with that really flat flashy look you make the room look like it was well lit, and it looks much more natural.
If you have any questions at all please feel free to ask in the comments area.