Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I co-host the Your Home Story podcast and believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!
Mom to Otto born April 2018 and Lucy born August 2020!

Help me buy a camera!!

A week or so ago I dropped my 3-year old point-and-shoot low-end camera one too many times.  While it was mid-turn-off.  It now is stuck with the lens halfway out and makes a very obnoxious beep when we try to turn it on.  Oh, well.

I've been wanting a new camera for a while, anyway.  I have had a couple recommendations from friends, particularly for a Cannon Rebel, so I am thinking about getting one of those.  I went to Best Buy with a photographer friend to play with the cameras, and took some pictures with different ones.

I liked the Rebel pretty well, and have since been soooo overwhelmed when I try to buy a used one online.  I don't know what all the package needs to include, I don't know how important all the numbers are, I don't know how much is a good price!  I've only tried eBay and have not had success.  I've heard Adorama is a good place to buy used cameras... any other ideas?

I know there are a lot of photography buffs out there in the blog world, so I'm hoping you can lend some insight! How many megapixels do I really need to take good pictures?  If I don't plan to switch the lenses, will  this kind of camera work for blog pictures, snapshots, and the occasional pic of scenery?  Can I buy a one- or two-year old camera and still get great results for several years?

A friend recommended reviews by Ken Rockwell, which are pretty cool and sound super useful, but he has reviewed soooo many cameras it's a little overwhelming.  Also dpreview is supposed to be good.  Again, a few too many choices...

So you can help me out by telling me what camera you use, what you think of the Rebel, and what I should know about buying a used camera!  And anything else you think I should know!!  Thanks so much!


  1. If you're looking for a point and shoot I highly recommend the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7. I bought it based on the high reviews on Amazon and I love it. Best camera I've ever owned, hands down. It's the perfect size to take with you everywhere you go. Very clear and crisp pictures.

  2. my husband just bought a canon powershot for me from ebay. It just came with the camera- no manual or extra cords or anything but you can download the manuals from the canon website and depending on the port on the camera, you may be able to use any USB cable. This site really helped me to pick out a camera. I know -nothing- about cameras!!

  3. I've just bought a second-hand rebel Ti1 (mine's the uk version which is called an eos 500d )I payed £149 not sure what that is in dollars though. it came with a lens, instruction manuals, charger and cables. it's 6yrs old but i love it. it's easy to use as it has both automatic and manual settings. it's only 8 mega pixels but it does the job and you can see the difference in quality compared to my sony point and shoot which has the same pixel rating.
    hope that helps a little

  4. I got a Canon EOS 400D (which is the European name for a Rebel XTI) from ebay about 4 years ago. I love it! The quality of the photos is pretty good and it's fairly easy to use even if you don't know much about the complicated settings but it does pay to look through the manual and play around with them a lot in the beginning.
    It depends on what you want to do with the camera, but if you really want a DSLR the Canon Rebels are very nice. About the numbers... You don't really need more than 8-10 Mpx (size of the picture you take), that's plenty even if you want to blow the pictures up to poster size and hang them in your living room. The rebels usually come with a pretty decent 18-55mm zoom lens, which gives you a bit of a wide angle (good for enclosed spaces or landscapes) and a bit of tele, so it's fine for most things. If you've got the choice, I recommend buying one with an image stabilizer. It's wonderful for low-light situations (it's built into the lens)! If you've got any more specific questions, you're welcome to contact me. :) Have fun with buying the camera!

  5. I can't give you any technical advice but I can tell you I've got a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS5 (couple of years old now) and I love it, takes brilliant pictures for a point and shoot. I've also just got a Canon 500D DSLR which I'm only just learning to use but am loving it also so far - user friendly to a novice like me!

  6. Dana at MADE has a nice, easy-to-understand discussion about her camera, a Canon Rebel, here:

    Hope this helps!

  7. We have an old Panasonic g1, a new panasonic g2 and a g2hd. If you want an amazing camera I'd recommend the g2. It's what I use most often and all the buttons and stuff are right where you want them to be. It's even amazing on intelligent auto if you don't want to mess with aperture, shutter, etc. The lenses are cheaper than Canon, at least they are here. We were torn between the Canon and the g2 and I'm so glad we got it. Mike did TONS of research and that's what we came up with. It's an amazingly intuitive camera. Plus it takes astonishing pictures. Really. I've taken some that look profesh, and I'm a freakin chucklehead at photography!
    That camera in the pic has a 3.5 to 5.6 aperture which will give you a decent range for blog and life stuff. If you want arty, bokeh pics, like where the item is Sharp and the rest blurred, you will need a lower 'f stop', like 1.4 to about 3.5 so it should be pretty good. I have a hard time doing it with a lens that's lowest is 4.2.
    Try taking pics using the one in BB in all different aperture, esp the lowest setting to see if you're happy. Then take it in the highest and see if u like that. If so, you're all set. Don't know much about megapixels, sorry!

  8. is a great place to buy used cameras! Check out the consumer guides in order to understand all the high tech information about camera features. Best of luck in choosing a new camera, I know you will make a good decision!

  9. If you want another point and shoot, I love the Olympus Stylus! It's waterproof, and shock proof, meaning that if you drop it it won't break! I can't tell you how much I love ours! I'm such a klutz and it's been through some tough loving!

    I also recently purchased a Nikon D 3100. I *love* it! It's easy enough to use right away, but still technical enough that you can play with settings as well! The 3100 also does 1080p video and can do a live view (something the 3000 can't) for a brief amount of time. If you want to see some of the pictures I've taken with my nikon, head over to my blog and check it out, or look at my portfolio!

  10. Hi! I recently bought a Nikon D3100, and absolutely love it! It takes beautiful pictures and is easy to figure out for a beginner but has features that advance up to probably intermediate. I really recommend it!

  11. I have the Rebel XS and I love it. I bought it with the kit lens (18-55mm). I sometimes wish that the lens would zoom in more, as I'm usually trying to get pictures of my boy playing on the playground or something without interrupting. If you're just using it as a point-and-shoot, though, the lens probably won't matter as much to you (though you'll still want one that zooms). How wide the aperture opens (that's the f-stop number - 3.5, 5.6, etc.) depends on the lens you get, not the camera. Lower f-stops (1.4, 1.8, etc.) allow more light in, allowing you to take natural-light photos in lower light conditions than you normally would. I will say, though, that if you plan on getting a DSLR, you should learn how to use it - even an entry level one (like mine) can do all sorts of things. It'd be a shame to miss all its cool features and just use it as a point-and-shoot.

  12. I have the Cannon Powershot SX130 IS. Its the best camera I've ever owned and quite worth the small investment. It has 12x zoom, 12.1 mega pixels and alot of features for a point and shoot.

  13. Doesnt really matter what slr u go for, it's the lens that does the important bit. As the lady above said about the 500d.. I didnt think it was that old but I've been working in the industry for 9 years. I worked for canon and another retailer and I've a degree in photography.

    I recommend the canon g10 or any high end panasonic. It does everything u need with really crisp images and has manual control. Means u don't have to spend the extra £400 on a great lens.

    The lens I use retails at £469 but I got it by fluke for a lot less and I can definitely see an immense difference. If you buy a rebel you can buy any second hand that functions, just invest in a quality lens

  14. I have a photography business on the side and I LOVE my Canon Rebel Xsi.... you can go to this section of my blog to view some of my work ...OR you can visit my photography facebook page that has the majority of my work on it at this site It's a great camera and I love it.

  15. The best advice someone gave me while buying my camera was to go with a cheaper body and splurge on the lense. I have a 18-55 and a 55-250 and feel I can definitely use a few more lenses. It makes a huge difference to have a nice camera however, I didn't want to go too nice in case someone stole it.

  16. b&h has a used section with some decently priced bodies for their canons. also check they have a good sellers section as well. the only mistake i made when i first got my camera was buying the 75-300 lens. waste of money. if you buy it, get IS. makes the lens cost way more money but it's pretty worthless without it unless you're super steady, which you won't be just learning to use the camera. good luck! can't wait to see what you decide :)

  17. I LOVE my Lumix. Takes amazingly clear and sharp pictures, fantastic film... it has tons of options for different lightening situations. It's small and portable. Fantastic. I take it with me everywhere and have gotten some really sophisticated shots w/ it.

  18. I have no advice at all--I just wanted to chime in that I did the exact same thing to my last camera! Stuck lens, beeping, and all.

  19. i love my pentax medium format. lovely greetings

  20. I am hopefully about to get my first DSLR camera for my birthday soon and so I was just going through all this... I think what helped me most was going to 2 different camera stores and talking to the people there that do this everyday. Their advice was a bit more helpful to me than some of the advice from more professional photographers just because I was able to say what I would use the camera for and they were able to talk me through it a bit better... they didn't get distracted by their own thoughts about what I could use it for and the possibilities and that stuff. Maybe I just found really helpful people, but I thought this was a better choice (and somewhat counterintuitive... but it was nice to just give someone a quick run down of what I wanted and get a recommendation rather than someone who knows even more information and could get bogged down by that, despite the BEST intentions).

    I went to 2 stores because one had only Nikon and Sony and the other had only Canon and Nikon. And I was able to get it down to 1 of each brand and then compared warranties because that was really important to me and then go from there... I wanted to do the used camera thing, but I just really need a warranty. I'm too clumsy and too poor and this is too much money for me to want to risk it... anyways, hope some of that helps and good luck! : )

  21. I have a Canon Powershot (a point and shoot) that did something like yours was doing. I contacted the company and they were going to charge me $150 just to LOOK at it. Um, yeah right. So I was going to buy a new one. But first I googled the problem (something like "model xyz lense won't extend"... I probably tried several combos of descriptions) and found a few suggestions to try. One of them worked!! It was something like "thump on the front, left side of the front.. etc etc". That was a year ago and it still works!! Anyway, my point (in this rambling, lol) is to google to try to find a solution to your broken camera. Even if you get the chance to buy a DSLR it would be nice to have a point and shoot on hand. Hope that helps!! :)

  22. I have the Canon T2i and love it! I hardly use the kit lens anymore after getting my 50mm 1.8. I did also take an online class through Maggie Holmes Photography that was amazing and super informative. My husband ordered mine from Amazon (we get most things from Amazon!) and didn't have to pay tax or shipping which can start to add up to.

  23. Just got a Canon Rebel XS, didn't get the kit. These two ladies' reviews helped me decide what to get:

  24. I have a Canon EOS 10D and I love it, but it's my first SLR, so I don't have a lot to compare it to.

    We got it because my husband had an old Canon and we could use the lenses for the new SLR. It also is good with indoor, low-light photos. My husband found it for $300 on our local craigslist - came with cords, 2 batteries, a memory card.

    It's soooo hard to choose a camera! I asked the same question on my blog when we started considering an SLR! Good luck.

  25. I am by no means a pro photographer, but I have been learning since my husband bought me my new camera for christmas. He got me the cannon 60 D and I absolutely love it! I think it is the perfect camera to learn on!

  26. Hi. It looks like you want a super serious camera. I've always gravitated to the point and shoot style. But I always check out reviews online, and this website has come in handy with my last three cameras. Previously I have been proud owner of two Nikons, but last month I purchased the Panasonic Lumix ZS7 (the ZS10 has come out, but I didn't want pay the full $400 for it, so I stuck to the ZS7 now $200). The reason I purchased this one are:
    1. Optical zoom, by far the longest of the point and shoot choices
    2. The HD video recording. I tried out this weekend on my daughter, and what a difference it makes. Grandparents are happier, to be sure.
    3. The scene selection. There are so many choices, which is good. And it recognizes the environment around, and picks the best settings.
    4. GPS, haven't tried it, but it will be great on travels to quickly organize photos.
    As for megapixels, it's not the largest in the category, but in my opinion for a point and shot, I think 12 megapixels is more than enough.
    Anyway, good luck, and I can't wait to see the new pictures.
    Oh yeah, and I agree with HeartHandMade, the lens is KEY!! You can always get an OK camera, and just really buy a fantastic lens!

  27. I recently bought a Nikon D3100, which I can see has already been suggested to you, and I LOVE IT! I bought a package deal with two lenses but given what you say in the post you'd probably only need one, the standard 18mm-55mm lens. If you ever got into photography more seriously and wanted to switch your lenses, a DSLR would always offer you that option.
    I'm just an amateur photographer myself but getting this new camera has made a world of difference.

  28. Marisa3/26/2011

    If you figure out what camera you want you can call B&H in NYC and ask them if they have any refurbs. My dad is a photographer and swears by them (although he would never buy used) and just had another photographer, from NYC, tell me this little trick since i'm in the market for a more serious camera myself. good luck.




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