Cameras can be divided into 3 basic groups:
- "Point and Shoots"
- DSLRs, and SLRs
- Bridge Cameras, Mirrorless cameras, Micro 4/3, Super Zooms
Point and Shoots
A Point and Shoot camera is one where you just aim the camera at the subject and click the shutter button. The camera figures out what it believes to be the best setting for your shot based on the data it receives. Most of these are consumer grade cameras, designed to fit in your pocket. Many of these cameras have settings such as "macro," "landscape," "portrait," etc. and are getting more sophisticated every year. These cameras typically have a small sensor, the part that records the image, which means image quality can be affected. The main advantage of a Point and Shoot is the convenience and potability. Price: $
DSLRs are digital cameras that have manual settings so that the photographer chooses the best setting for each image. DSLR stands for "Digital Single-Lens Reflex" which is just the method used by the camera to reflect the image into the viewfinder. The main draw of these cameras are the manual controls and bigger sensors. Most professionals use DSLRs. DSLRs are must haves if you will be wanting to print your photos large with high resolution or shoot in low light situations, like a dark restaurant.
DSLRs typically give better image quality due to their large sensors, manual controls and better lenses and accessories that can be used with them. For some people extra lenses and accessories can be too much of a hassle and too costly. If you want to shoot sports, you might will need a different lens than if you want to shoot portraits. Price: $$$$
Bridge cameras are a new group created in recent years. These cameras fall in between Point and Shoots and DSLRs. These are a good choice for bloggers who want better photos but can't spend upwards of $1,500 on a low end, consumer DSLR. Many bridge cameras have a sensor bigger than a Point and Shoot but smaller than a DSLR so quality is usually good enough for web purposes. Price: $$-$$$
Mirrorless cameras and Micro 4/3 cameras works similarly to DSLRs, they just lack the viewfinder system. You still need to buy separate lenses and accessories for these. If you are only doing one type of photography, like food photography, you probably can get away with just using one lens so these don't have to be too costly.
Superzooms have all of the lenses you might need in one. They are very advanced point and shoots with some manual controls. If you are only using your camera to shoot food a superzoom may be overkill in lens reach, but if you are also using it for trips to the zoo and photos of your family, this one is probably the best type to get. Image quality is not typically as good as a Mirrorless camera but it is good enough for web content.
Other things to look for:
Megapixels don't always matter. To photographers this is known as the Megapixel Myth. So don't feel pressured to buy the latest and greatest based on the megapixel count.
Make sure the camera will be able to do everything you need it to do. Make a list of everything you will be taking photos and see how each individual camera model can accommodate your list. Remember, you should go a camera store and test out the models to see what you like best. Don't feel pressured by the salesperson. They will likely try to sell you "more camera" than you need.
Here are some good camera review sites to help you get started:
Hope this was helpful to the beginner. If you have any questions, please comment them in the box below. Also, if you are someone who already shoots food, please comment what you shoot with below.