I am going to resist giving the glib answer – ” The one you have with you.” – as it never really seems to satisfy the customer who wants to spend money. It might well be the correct reply to a real photographer, but they know it already and never ask the question in the first place.
As a professional salesman with a amateur conscience I frequently find myself steering people away from decisions that might be wrong. It might not be what the business demands, but it is what the craft demands.
I do get people to tell me what size they want their final image – literally what size in inches or centimetres -and what form it will be. This can be paper, canvas, computer or mobile phone screen. These set the mark for the camera to shoot at and I can provide a number of alternative ways to achieve it. It surprises some people to hear that they can make their art with modest equipment.
In fact, I have seen this many times. Someone uses an unpopular brand of camera – a basic model with a single lens. It might be a so-called ” kit ” lens or a single focal length prime lens. It might be a bridge or compact pocket camera. The rest of the system might be equally humble – a laptop computer or an older operating system. Some photographers have used computers purchased in garage sales…
The criteria of success for these artists is the finished product – not the fancy gear that might produce it. They uniformly have studied their equipment and have found out how to get the best from it. Really, sometimes all that is involved for them is to let the working system go and do what it is programmed to do. They then get a good result, and if they are wise enough to recognise this rather than let some internet expert convince them otherwise, they can sleep good at night.
Sometimes they look at commercial products and rather than shell out for them, they produce their own. Matte board, soda straws, gaffer tape – they can all contribute to custom-built accessories and more control of the image.
The best photographers in this class are the ones who wear their cameras out. Who shoot out the shutters and peel off the coverings. The ones whose sensors eventually fail with old age. They get to this exalted position by taking thousands of images and learning all the way. They get full value from photography!