You guys wouldn’t believe how frequently I get Facebook messages from people asking what the best beginner camera they should choose. I love seeing people take an interest in photography, and I get so flattered that people trust my opinion on the right type of equipment! Photography is one of my true loves in life, and I love sharing it with others.
Stuck on which camera/lenses/computer programs to invest in first? Keep on reading for the best beginner camera! Note: I am going to recommend Canon products, but I only lean that way because Canons are what I first learned with. I truly believe that both Nikon and Canon are wonderful camera companies, so if you want to shoot Nikon, by all means do so!
I highly recommend the Canon Rebel series for beginners. They’re the perfect dive into DSLR cameras, and once you learn the basics you can upgrade to a better body (more on this later). I started on a Canon Rebel XS my freshman year of college, and eventually gave it to my parents when I had upgraded. Since this camera is discontinued, here’s a similar option.
Buying a kit is great because it comes with an 18-55mm lens, which is pretty versatile! But definitely don’t stop there.
The first thing you should know about lenses is that not all lenses are created equal. Some are plastic, some are glass. Some have zoom capabilities, some don’t (these are called prime lenses, and are what I shoot with 99% of the time). And lenses range from $150 to upwards of $10,000. Aaack, scary! Now here are the ones you should buy first and foremost:
You know how some photos just look dreamy? Where the background is blurry and soft, but the front is in focus? That’s where a “fast” lens comes in. And this isn’t referring to the shutter speed – it’s referring to how wide the aperture can possibly open. For the most part, the smaller the f-stop number, the more expensive the lens… but the prettier and “dreamier” the photo! SO, for you beginners, I highly recommend the 50mm f/1.8. It’ll run you about $150 and is a plastic lens, but it’ll get you started on prime lenses.
If you buy yourself a good 50mm lens, coupled with your kit 18-55mm lens, you’ll be good to go for a while.
I work primarily in Adobe Lightroom, and use Photoshop for the heavy editing. You can buy an Adobe Creative Cloud membership for just $9.99/month! This is instead of buying the whole creative suite from them, which gets really pricey. The Creative Cloud membership makes it so your programs update every time Adobe has an update, so you never have to buy new programs!
I make it a point to constantly keep myself learning. Not just about photography – I take classes online that range from graphic design to SEO to cooking. I do this through Skillshare!
You can get yourself an unlimited membership for $9.99/month, and it’s worth every penny. There is so much education online to be found! I also recommend trying out Lynda – this one is a little more expensive but also very good! You can also do some YouTube searches… I’m telling you, there is nothing you can’t learn!
What I Shoot With
Since I’ve been shooting for quite a few years now, I’ve upgraded my equipment a few times. I now shoot with a Canon 5dMkII, and have a Sony A6000 as my backup (read my review of the Sony a6000 here!). The Canon 5D is an older model, but it cost me a pretty penny each so I’m sticking with it for now. The Sony A6000 is newer, lighter, and is the only camera I bring on vacations.
My favorite lens is my 50mm f/1.4. For the most part, it doesn’t leave my camera! I also occasionally shoot with a 24mm f/1.4 – I pretty much only use it if I’m shooting landscape, or groups at a wedding (see below). I almost never use the lens my MkII came with, which is a 28-135.
I should also mention that I absolutely adore shooting with film. Currently I use a Canon Rebel 2000 for my film needs (which I bought on Craigslist for $30!!!). I don’t take it out much, and only get film developed about once a year. What I love most about it is that I have to trust myself – I can’t just check the back of the screen to see if I got the shot right. And since I don’t get film developed very often, it tends to bring back awesome memories when I do eventually get prints. Look how grainy and cool this film photo looks!
Have any questions? Comment below!