"What camera should I buy?" Questions, questions

You can't go wrong with an IXUS. They look great, and they take nice pictures of your mates. But I want to encourage people to track down less popular cameras -- maybe it's the indie snob in me

The first question I'm asked when I tell people what I do: "Which camera should I buy?" To which I always reply, "What do you want to do with it?"

It was a question I considered this week when I set out to pick cameras for a round-up feature on the best cameras for Christmas. I pitched the article at the average consumer and their Argos catalogue. Well, not exactly, but I certainly wasn't about to recommend the Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 for little Tarquin or the Olympus E-510 for little Poppy, regardless of how superior they may be to the Kodak EasyShare M873 in photography terms.

So my choice of four cameras is aimed at those who reply to the above question with a shrug and something about wanting "to just take pictures of my mates". If that sounds like you or someone you like enough to shell out a ton or two for the festive period, then step this way for my four favourites.

Another question that tends to follow closely behind the others is "what about the Canon IXUS range? I hear they're pretty good." Well, yeah, you can't go wrong with an IXUS. They're everywhere, so you won't have to pay over the odds, they look great, and they take nice pictures of your mates. So where are they in the round-up? Maybe it's the indie snob in me, but I want to encourage people to track down less popular cameras.

I reply to the IXUS question with, "Which are you more interested in: looks or aperture priority?" If you don't know the answer, then go ahead and get an IXUS. Otherwise, go ahead and get something more interesting.

Oh, and if you are going to ask this many questions, don't forget "Fancy a drink?" To which I reply, "Don't mind if I do."

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