Ask anyone the world over to name the most famous camera company, and chances are they’ll call out Canon. Known for easy interfaces and intuitive features, Canon is your best bet if you’re new to photography. In addition to being user-friendly, Canon products tend to be relatively user-proof, and are apt to outlive their technological significance.
If you’re looking for an undisputed professional powerhouse, Nikon is where it’s at. Models tend to be more ergonomic, and with the introduction of an AF-S lens series, Nikon has begun its foray into Canon’s long-held sports photography monopoly. Lower-end models tend to be less sturdy and less intuitive, but the Nikon Coolpix is a long-held favorite.
Pentax may not have the same household recognition as Canon or Nikon, but its models fill in gaps between low-end point-and-shoots and expensive DSLRs that the big brands have not. All models tend to be relatively easy to use, durable, and include plenty of extras without raising the price point.
When it comes to mirrorless (non SLR) cameras that have an interchangeable lens option, Olympus takes the prize. Compact mirrorless cameras are lighter, simpler, and less intrusive than DSLR models, but with interchangeable lens can often shoot images that rival those shot on more complex professional models.
There some benefits to being electronically diversified: at the end of 2013, Sony became the first company to introduce detachable smartphone lenses. Photography purists say Sony images have a considerable amount of digital noise, but user-friendly features and bodies meant to withstand tough use make their cameras worth the comparably minor investment.