I recently had a great conversation with someone on Instagram (shout out to @Shes-iht) regarding buying a new camera. She asked what kind of camera would I recommend for a beginner photographer.
I could write a book on this topic because the variables are almost never-ending. I’m going to attempt to address some of the most important things to address that will help narrow down the options.
The first thing you want to do is establish your budget for this purchase. The photography gear market is certainly not lacking in options and you could very easily go bankrupt trying to keep up. Decide on an amount you are willing to spend on a camera and/or accessories. Don’t just come up with a limit number. Decide on a price window that you want to stay between.
If you decide that you want to stay at or under $1500, the number of options that will be available to you will be quite overwhelming. If you decide that you want to stay between $1200 and $1500, that makes the number of options more manageable.
You may want to separate your camera body budget from your accessory budget. It’ll be very easy to spend gobs of money on a body and end up not having a lens to use with it. Decide how much you want to spend for a body and then establish a separate number for what you want to spend on accessories. I would, however, suggest that you buy the absolute best camera that you can afford. That way, you can account for both camera and accessories and have gear that will not get in the way once your skills improve.
Once you begin researching cameras, you’ll quickly feel overwhelmed by the options that are out there. Lets try to simplify this a bit. There are three basic types of cameras. There are point-and-shoot, mirrorless, and DSLR (digital single lens reflex).
Point-and-shoot cameras are the compact, convenient cameras that many people go with. The lenses are permanently attached and non-interchangeable, but usually cover a wide zoom range. Quality-wise, they go from cheap with borderline non-existent quality, to pretty sweet ones like the Canon G1.
Mirrorless systems are the new hotness and many have interchangeable lenses like the big DSLRs, but at a smaller size. They are a great compromise of quality and versatility. Some are full of bells and whistles like the Olympus OM-D and others deliver high-resolution like the Sony A7S (I’m currently eyeing up one of these).
DSLRs are the classic, professional-looking cameras, with all the buttons and big lenses (sometimes). Low end ones offer decent quality, and give the user a great amount of control and provide a solid base to learn from. There is a never-ending assortment of lenses and flashes available.
A camera really is only as good as the lens that you put in front of it. Everything has to pass through the lens to get to the sensor.
If you’re considering a point-and-shoot camera, compare the zoom range (a number in millimeters) between several cameras. There are some that cover ridiculous ranges like the Nikon Coolpix P610 which zooms from 24-1,440mm. However, don’t be fooled by big numbers as you may never need that kind of range and another camera may have other features that are more useful to you.
Be aware that there are two types of zoom: optical and digital. Optical zoom is what happens when the elements within the lens moves, while the latter digitally crops the photo and image quality is suffers substantially.
Lens options for DSLRs are practically endless. The major manufacturers all make lenses. There are also third-party companies that also produce lenses, then, to make matters even more overwhelming, there are adapters that make it possible to fit almost any lens on any camera body. Some DSLRs are offered as kits that come with the camera body and lens. The lenses aren’t pro level quality but can certainly produce great results.
This is where mirrorless market still has some catching up to do. For most consumer photographers, there are enough options to fulfill your needs, but there are slim pickins’ for professionals, or those wanting to focus on niche genres like macro or sports.
While this isn’t an in-depth guide to buying a new camera, it’s a good starting point. Make sure to enjoy the process of buying your first camera. As always, thanks for stopping by and spending a few minutes with me this week. Thanks again to @Shes-iht for the question.
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