Gaige asked in Consumer ElectronicsCameras · 4 weeks ago

What is a good high quality, bang for your buck digital camera? Any experience with Costco’s selections?

My wife and I go out of town a good amount and while our iPhones take good pictures, especially close shots, a lot of our photos and videos just lack depth. We feel like we have been wasting g precious time when we take pictures of the Rocky Mountains or the beach and the pictures just come out kind of dull. iSo we want to invest in a good digital camera, but we just don’t know where to start. We see our local Costco has a good selection, most in the low $1,000 or upper $100’s, which is what I seem to see across the web. I just don’t trust to ask their opinions, since who knows what their experience is. I just don’t know what would be a good bang for your buck camera. I don’t need a top of the line professional camera, but in also willing to invest some cash to get something nice since we will be using it a lot. Can anyone point me in the right direction?


Edit: the kind of pictures we take are usually nature, skyline, streets, old buildings and murals, flowers etc. Nothing technical or complicated

6 Answers

  • Sumi
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago
    Favorite Answer

    Any digital camera will be a big improvement over any phone at any price.  This is especially true with cameras that have a 1" sensor or larger. The sensors in DSLRs at Costco are significantly larger than the sensors used in phones.  The additional size means that you'll have much less noise, higher sharpness, better contrast and color than what you'd get from a phone.  You'll also be using a much better lens for increased sharpness, color, contrast and less flare.

    The phone does not have the ability to change lenses which is a big drawback.  The wide-angle lenses in smartphones produce a huge amount of distortion making them very bad for people pictures.

    All DSLRs provide a lot of control over the exposure and much better manual focus control if/when needed.

    Question is: do you need or want that control?  If not, then a pocket camera like the Sony RX-100 would be an excellent choice.  It's small, lightweight and has very good image quality.  It's not capable of changing lenses, but unlike a phone it does have a decent zoom allowing for better portraits, and other types of shots that cannot be equaled by a phone.

    The cameras in Costco are usually Canon T series and Nikon's D3xxx series.  If you want to do the occasional video, go with the Canon as the video on the low-end Nikons are is pretty bad.

    You do not mention anything about what types of shots you want to make.  However, considering you're coming from a phone, it's likely that you will be doing the typical consumer type of shots such as people, places, vacation, social events, etc... and not anything technically challenging to a camera like sports, wildlife or other types of fast action.

    I prefer the T series by Canon over Nikon because of the AF system.  Canon has the AF motors in their lenses.  Nikon has some lenses with and some without an AF motor which makes buying compatible lenses for the D3xxx cameras challenging.  Because of this, I'd go with a Canon T series over a Nikon D3xxx series.

    Image quality won't be any better with a Canon or Nikon, or a Pentax for that matter.  The Pentax K-70 is among the best sub $1,000 DSLR on the market today, and I'd take it over any T series or D3xxx series.

    If you want a small and lightweight camera but with great image quality (but not as great as a DSLR), then consider getting a pocket point-and-shoot camera with at least a 1" sensor.  The Canon G9 and the Sony RX-100 gets some of the best reviews.

    Instead of Costco, go to either or and buy there.  You'll have the same prices as Canon/Nikon fix their prices.  Sometimes these two stores will provide kits which allows them to sell a kit at a lower price than what you'd be able to get from Costco.  Go to B&H or adorama and filter their inventory by cameras with at least a 1" sensor.

    You can use this tool to compare image quality of various pocket cameras:  This tool should not be used to judge image quality from a DSLR since the lens has a major influence on IQ.  However, this tool can be used to determine which camera has the lowest amount of noise.

  • P
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    High end phones like the latest iPhones can take some amazing pictures so to get better you really have to spend a decent amount of money.   When a skilled photographer takes a side by side picture using a good smart phone and camera you will be shocked at how good and often better the iPhone pictures come out.  This is largely because smart phones can utilize their comparatively vastly more powerful processors to increase the quality of the pictures where digital cameras have to rely more on their lens and sensor for quality.   As such many cameras out there now are a complete waste of money. Aside from getting a good zoom lens there's little to no benefit for most cameras priced under $500 and will likely end up taking worse pictures on average than your high end smart phone.  You might say, hold on I don't want to spend that kind of money on a camera, surely there must be something in that price range?  Unfortunately there's not and if you buy a camera sub par to a phone you might as well just burn your money in a pit of fire.   Currently cameras are no longer about len's and sensors since you need a better processor for good pictures.   For people on a budget I would recommend the Sony a6100  or a6300.  Otherwise if you have the money Sony's a7 series is worth checking out.  You might say, but I thought Canon and Nikon are the best brands?  Nope, not anymore.  Things have changed the past 5 years in the camera market. 

  • 4 weeks ago

    @qrk is right - if you replace your iPhones with high end cameras you'll probably still end up with images that "lack depth".  Rather than spend your money on new gear, look for courses on how to use your phone's camera.  You may end up still wanting a new camera, but you'll have a better idea of what you need.

     "Nothing technical or complicated"

    Maybe, but they still need care and attention.

  • qrk
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    While the other posters have given solid choices, getting those good shots also requires understanding photography. A good camera without any knowledge of photographic principles (light and composition) will still give mediocre results. With a little bit of study on the Internet, you can up your game significantly.

    BTW, for a pocket camera, you can't go wrong with the Sony RX100. The original model goes for about $400 at B&H Photo.

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  • 4 weeks ago

    If you are willing to spend $1K, look at the Nikon D7500 kit at Costco. It includes two lenses, extra battery, memory card, and a carrying case to keep it all in.

    The two lenses are not the best lenses in the Nikon inventory, but they are still very good lenses that will cover everything you listed quite well. You can't buy the camera and lenses separately for less than the bundle price.

    Video is not Nikon's strong point, no argument there, but for most users that aren't trying to break into Hollywood it is sufficient. The advantage over your phone is that you can shoot video with any lens you want attached to the camera. I have shot plenty of video with a 600mm lens, something no cell phone (and most consumer grade video cameras) cannot do.

    Costco's availability varies widely. Sometimes they have the Canon D80 or 90 in a similar kit to the Nikon, at approximately the same price. If you go Canon, this is the level to get, not the Digital Rebel models (T-series).

    Unless you are avidly opposed to a DSLR, you will get much better results using one than any cell phone, or most of the point and shoot models. With the Sony RX-100 costing about the same amount of money... get the DSLR. Even if you never learn to use all the functions (and there are a LOT of them) available in the camera, you will still get better photos than any cell phone can provide.

  • 4 weeks ago

    A good site to visit for info is The link at the bottom is to to their sub $1,000 buying guide.   Google BHPhotovideo if you are happy to buy online.

    I think for a travel camera you should be considering a compact camera with a 1" sensor and at with at least 24-120mm zoom lens built in.  The Canon G5X MkII should tick most of the boxes there.

    Smartphone camera sensors are really tiny and that's what causes a lot of the problems with poor dynamic range. They try to get around the problem by stacking a bunch of shots together. If you don't mind a camera that hangs around your neck on a strap and takes interchangeable lenses then one of those with the APS-C sensor would work for you like the Sony A6100. Better to use might be a Canon T7i with just an 18-135mm lens added.   Above every other consideration though, is the notion that a camera that gets left home on the shelf because it's too big or expensive to take out in the wilds, is a waste of time and money.

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