A GREAT post, sir ! I was just thinking the same thing ! When I read all of the "requirements" people have, (and they want it ALL in one lens, (and preferably one which is "dirt cheap" ! My thoughts are, (after messing around with photography for about 60 years now)......if you don't "know about" photography, it's almost impossible to figure out which camera to buy to start out with, (let alone which 4 or 5 lenses to buy to go with this "starter" camera ! (And I just noticed someone up above mention that "don't pay any attention to Ken Rockwell, as he's a "schmuck", (whatever)......WoW ! I don't necessarily agree with Ken on every little thing, but if he's a "schmuck", he's certainly the single smartest "schmuck" I've ever run across !
Here's what I fail to comprehend; my fiancee's son and his wife, (with a total combined income of around 150 K, take more pictures than anybody I have EVER known.........he with his "Blackberry", and she, with her iPhone ! (and no children, no house payment, and yet another BIG promotion (that's imminent), Yet other people still in college, struggling to even survive, are "torn between" whether to "start out" with a D 7000, or a D 300 ? All while people "with means" are satisfied with cell phone photos ! (The world is a strange place, as are the people in it !
This is a TRUE STORY........I live in a dinky little village in western Indiana; our big "claim to fame" is.........we happen to have more wooden covered bridges than any other county in the U.S. So seeing people taking pictures of the covered bridge we have in OUR village, is a very common thing........people come from "all over" just to take pictures of OUR particular bridge, as it's the one most people "know" about. Anyway.......to illustrate how very different, different people are........one evening, just before dark I see this fellow with a fancy looking camera (on a tripod yet), about to take a picture THROUGH the bridge; (and it's almost dark)
The curiosity got the better of me.......so I just HAD to "get nosey".....and and "casually" ask him.......whacha kinda camera yu got there , son ? The guy's got about a 3 day beard, but he ISN"T any "hillbilly", (even though he clearly assumes that I am "one" !
So he casually remarks, "Oh, it's a Sony A 900 (if I remember correctly) ( I'm not at all familiar with ANY of Sony's new D-SLR's (even though I AM a walking "catalog" of just about everything Nikon makes, from the D 40 on up. So we get into this conversation about "the latest and greatest" D-SLRS, and the guy happens to mention the Nikon D 700; and I'm like, "yeah, but for a full frame, FX body, and for only $2,700, it's a great deal.....and he looks at me (like he just saw a ghost), and proceeds to pull out of his bag......a brand new D-700 with a pretty decent lens mounted ! So we talk some more, and one of us mentioned the D3s (my camera to die for at that time, about 2 years ago; so he says, "let's step over here to my motor home, I want to show you something; (the "something" was a brand news D3s ! At this point, I'm thinking, this cat is either a rich millionaire who just buys every expensive camera he sees, and while I'm "pondering that", he's going nuts, wondering, "how the hell does this old hillbilly know so much about all the latest and greatest Nikon D SLR cameras ?
It was undoubtedly one of the most "unlikely" (while at the same time, very pleasurable conversations I've ever "blundered " into ) ! This fellow must have had easily 50 k worth of very expensive cameras in his bag, and in his motor home; (and we were just standing outside , by the door, but I could see inside )........and as I'm looking at this "strange looking contraption" on the floor.......trying to remember where I had seems something that looked like that.... I said.....Uh...is THAT by any chance... a Segway ?
And he goes.....good lord....don't TELL me you've ridden a Segway ! " No, never rode one, but I've seen a few, (mostly at Midway Airport in downtown Chicago) so he drags the Segway out, proceeds to un-fold the "steering "thingie".....and while I'm asking him "how long does it take to learn to ride those things", he's already telling me, any where from 30 seconds to about 6 months, just depending on the "prospective operator" ! ( It took me all of about a minute and a half to "master" the Segway ! By this time he's convinced I'm a camera salesman in some big shop someplace bigger than Terre Haute, and I'm realizing that this fellow is actually some kind of a pro photographer, who obviously isn't "broke", (what with 50 K in expensive new cameras, two Segways, and a pretty classy small motor home to haul it all around in. Turns out this guy's contemplating writing a book about our county's covered bridges, and I finally had to admit, after "several years of relative inactivity in photography, I was starting to get the "urge" to get back into it, and buy a decent new D SLR, and as is my nature, anything I get interested in, I tend to read everything in print about it, the better to determine how much to spend, and which camera to buy.
And my new "acquaintance" is thinking of photographing ALL of our 34 covered bridges for his "prospective new book........and I mentioned........it's been tried before, never been commercially successful, and HE says, Yeah, but I have something DIFFERENT......my pictures are ALL going to be taken from THE AIR ! Me........"good grief, don't tell me you have a helicopter ?" He..."Nope, no helicopter, but even BETTER ! I have a BLIMP ! (after the 50 K of hi-end cameras, 2 segways and a motor home, now this guy's got a damned BLIMP ? NO WAY ! ( Turns out the "blimp" is a huge "blimp-shaped" ballon, that takes TWO 200 lb cylinders of helium to fill it up, to lift the camera to the necessary height, (which is actually MUCH lower than any helicopter can safely go, and it's made specifically for doing ariel photography from very low altitudes; I forget what he said there blimp cost, but when I asked him what two cylinders of helium costs, and "isn't that pretty darned wasteful, having to "deflate" the blimp after every bridge, he explains, I only have to let one cylinder of helium out, THEN the blimp will fit into my cargo trailer ! Me......."looks to me like you need a bigger trailer ! " He........."yeah, you're right again, and I'm working on getting a bigger trailer !" ( And I'm thinking....."is there ANYTHING that this guy DOESN"T have" ? " A VERY wealthy girl friend, possibly ? "
And that's really what everyone should do; learn as much as possible about the "subject"; in this case, it's such a humongous subject, that one must first determine MANY "things" about one's self, before you have any hope of making an intelligent decision, regarding "which camera to buy"? Some people have more interest than others; some have more money than others; some have more "enthusiasm", and so on; It's really a daunting task to make objective suggestions about cameras, unless you first know a lot about the person needing the advice ! Some people may be ecstatic about photography one day, and almost equally as "enthused" about buying a boat the next day… (I'd hate to recommend someone buy what I like one day, only to find the next day that they really wanted to buy a boat ! Even though I know a bit about photography, (over many, many years), about all I can do, hell, all anyone can do, is to tell people what I like, and WHY I like it, and if you see any relation to our "likes and dislikes"....maybe you'll like what I like, and then again, maybe you won't ! I can only suggest to prople what I like, based on facts, as opposed to merely what my "taste" dictates that I like.