Elizabeth Kite posted in Photoshop and Photography — looking for recommendations. She asked.

Can someone recommend a good digital camera that is reasonably priced??? Under $500.”

My reply.

Wait.. has anyone asked Elizabeth what she needs the camera for (other than automatic exposure and the like?) Imagine if she said she needs a reasonably priced car under $1500.00. If it’s a second car for her child, that’s reasonable. But if she said she wants it to be a daily drive or– let’s take this to an extreme–she wants to enter it into a race, now there is an issue!

Elizabeth, if you want a good camera just to make memories, the cameras most suggested here are great. If it’s for professional use and you want to make this a career, save your money until you can purchase a higher end model.

Tips on Giving Advice

Photographers are some of the most helpful and passionate people when it comes to sharing knowledge and giving advice. This is especially true for which gear people might want to buy. If you’re giving advice ask what do they want the gear to do? If it’s for casual use and you’re using the latest and greatest gear, you may not be the best person to ask. On the other end of the camera spectrum, can you imagine someone just starting out, who only uses a cell phone to take photos, giving advice on high-end photographic gear to a pro? If they have never used that gear or haven’t researched it, how can they give sound advice?

Beginners Seeking a Professional’s Advice

Don’t get me wrong, people ask me all the time which camera should I buy. Since I haven’t used a consumer grade camera in years, I really don’t know what cameras are out there at that level. However, I do know –after asking how they plan on using the camera– what to look for. That’s the advice I give.

Ask your Network of Friends

I have access to lots of knowledgeable people – at B&H Photo, Hunt’s Photo, and from Samy’s Camera – that I could ask,  but I rely on the team here at Photofocus.com. Fellow Photofocus author Bryan Esler has written a great article, “Answering the Question Which Camera Should I Buy?” I just copy his link and send it to my friends. Do you have a favorite answer to this question? Add it to the comments.

Photo: ©2009 Kevin Ames