What is the Best Camera to start your photography career with? While there is no simple answer to this question. I hope I can help you with selecting your first or second camera to start your photography career.
This post is a little lengthy, and I apologize for that. However, I think this post offers a great starting place to get you started on your journey and if possible read entirely.
Selecting your first camera for photography can be quite overwhelming. You have so many brands to choose from, within those brands they each have their ecosystems that you have to consider too. Lenses, batteries, adapters, flashes, battery packs, software, color science, menu systems, and the list goes on.
For starters, you're probably well aware of most of the big camera makers, I consider there to be six major camera companies with two rising stars. Seven out of the eight camera companies were founded in Japan and six of those companies are headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. With Panasonic being headquartered 247 miles south of Tokyo, in Osaka, Japan. The eighth? That would be Leica, located in Wetzlar, Germany. Or 5,775 miles from Tokyo, Japan.
While this information isn't necessary in your quest to choose a camera that you can grow into and keep around for a few years, I do think the information is great to introduce you to the players, so that in the future when you're looking to upgrade you know where to start.
When deciding on your first camera for photography you have to ask yourself several questions.
- What will I be using this camera for? Portraits, Sports, Wildlife, Candid, Landscape, Low light, Products, Macro? A combination of all?
- Will I be taking low light photos? Do you like taking photos of the stars? Long exposure landscape shots at night?
- Will I be printing my images? If you plan to print your images than those megapixels do matter.
- How serious am I about this? Not sure? Is it just a phase? Just want a camera to capture family moments around the house? Looking to turn this into a side gig or eventually a full-time job? If you're just wanting to capture family moments you might not want to spend $2000 or even $1000 on a camera.
- What is my budget? Luckily you don't need to spend insane amounts of money for a camera like you did in the past unless you're doing video work too and need the best of both worlds or as close to it as you can.
Thankfully, choosing a camera is not as difficult as it should be. I find it more difficult selecting the correct lens for a job than I do the camera. You only need to look at the megapixels, burst rate, and if you enjoy time-lapses or interested in them like myself, you'll need to make sure the camera has a built-in interval timer.
Here are my favorite starter or mid-range cameras for photography that you can slowly grow into and after a year or two eventually upgrade.
Disclaimer: The links are affiliate links to Amazon. Any purchase made through the links will greatly be appreciated.
My Top 5 Best Cameras for Beginners
Great for: Portraits, Sports, Wildlife, Candid, Products, Macro
This 32.5-megapixel camera was released in 2019 can nearly do it all. It has a 1.6 crop which gives whatever lens that you're using some extra reach. Using a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro Lens? Well, that lens just became a 160mm lens on the Canon 90D. With its 10 frames per second with autofocus tracking turned on you can see why it's becoming a favorite amongst wildlife photographers.
It's body price? $1,199
Great for Portraits, Landscape, Products, Time-lapses
A full-frame mirrorless camera by Canon that uses their new RF mount. However, you can buy an adapter like I did so that you can still use your EF lenses. I love this little guy, I mostly use the built-in interval timer for time-lapses. This 26.2-megapixel camera also does 24p 4k video thanks to a recent firmware update by Canon. If you're looking for a lightweight full-frame camera I would start here.
It's body price? $999
Great for portraits, products, candid, macro, sports
Where to start with this camera. This camera almost made me jump ship from Canon to Sony. It has human and animal real-time eye tracking. Up to 11fps continuous shooting, 5-axis in-body image stabilization, and real-time autofocus tracking. Also, it's a Sony camera they're well known for their low light capabilities.
It's body price? $1200
Great for portraits, products, candid, macro
I know this blog post is about photography but come on this $500 camera can do 4K video, Canon's famous dual pixel autofocus, 24 megapixels, has the flippy out screen, 4K time-lapse mode and more. This camera is almost perfect for capturing family moments, hobbyists, eBay product photography and more. I mean you can get this camera with the 18-55mm kit lens for $599 at the B&H website.
It's body price? $500 but with the 18-55mm kit lens it's only $599.
Great for landscape, portraits, products, candid, macro
Yes, this camera is older than the A7R III and the recently released A7R IV but this full-frame camera still takes 42.4-megapixels (or images at 7952 x 5304), 4K video, five-axis image stabilization, and because it's a Sony camera it has great low light capabilities. B&H is offering this camera, a lens 28-70mm, and an accessories kit for $1498. That is INSANE!.
It's body price? 1,398.00, I would honestly find the extra $100 and get the kit at B&H.
These are my top 5 best cameras for beginners to consider if you're looking to get into photography.
On to some tips & advice for new photographers.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, several camera companies not mentioned in this post are making great cameras. The five cameras that I did list here are cameras that I'm familiar with personally or have done considerable research on due to possibly making a purchase. I highly recommend you look into the other camera companies and see what they have to offer.
Remember, depending on what type of photos you're planning to take you'll want to look at the camera's MP or mega-pixels, usually the higher the number the larger the print. However, it's considered that high MP cameras have a difficult time taking great pictures in low light.
You'll also want to consider the burst rate. If you're planning on doing sports or wildlife photography you'll want a camera with a high burst rate. A camera that offers 10 fps is a good starting point. Even though 7-8 fps could work too. If you're doing portraits in a controlled environment, the burst rate of a camera may not be that important to you.
As they say, "the best camera is a camera that you have with you". Do your research, see if Best Buy or any electronic store near you has one on display or even better yet, rent one before purchasing.
After purchasing your camera here are a few things to learn or do in no particular order:
- Exposure Triangle: ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed and what they do. I'll create a blog post on this later.
- Lighting (To become a master you'll need to understand the basics of lighting and how to use it. You cannot avoid this if you take your photography serious.
- Research (Youtube will become your best friend. Use it and use it often.) we live in such a great day of age where you can self teach yourself just about anything now. FOR FREE! No longer do you have to spend thousands of dollars on a trade school or a degree. Google and Youtube is a treasure trove of knowledge that is free. Use these sites and use them often.
- Scouting (I enjoy this the most, go out scout locations, take note of the time and the lighting of the area.)
- Golden Hour (Golden Hour is the period of daytime shortly after sunrise or before sunset, during which daylight is redder and softer than when the Sun is higher in the sky. The opposite period during twilight is blue hour, just before sunrise or after sunset, when indirect sunlight is evenly diffused.)
Tools I Recommend for new photographers:
- Fluid Head Tripod, they're more expensive than the gear run tripods but they're heavy duty and will last. Don't skip out on a good heavy duty tripod. I learned my lesson after my 3rd tripod.
- Small portable LED Light, They're between $20-50. Throw it in your bag. My light has saved me so many times from small macro shots, product photography, a quick night group shot to even using it as a flashlight to get my camera on the tripod. You'll want one of these lights since they give off a soft light and not a harsh light like a flashlight.
- Variable ND Filter - These are sunglasses for your lens. All gigs can't be shot during the golden hour. Get one of these so you can open up your lenses to it's widest aperture to get that nice bokeh out background in the middle of a day. If you do any video it's a requirement to have one of these.
- Extra camera battery and memory cards - Seriously save yourself the stress. It's stressful going to a shoot with one camera battery wondering if you're going to make it through the shoot or filming session. Nothing sucks worse than having to skip a photo or video idea you had because you were concerned about battery life. Do yourself a solid get the extra battery so you can provide yourself some peace at mind on set. Your clients will love you for it to when those photos that you would have otherwise skipped out on due to battery life turned out to be bangers. Also, get the extra memory card, the UHS-i cards are super cheap now. I have 10 of these guys.
Recommended Lenses for New Photographers:
The nifty fifty or the 50mm f/1.8. A great fast prime lens for super cheap. Canon's 50mm f/1.8 is retailing for around $125 at the moment. If you team this lens up with a crop sensor camera you're essentially getting an 85mm lens.
The 85mm f/1.8 is great for portraits. You can find this lens selling between $300-$500.
Any kit lens. These lenses come packaged with a camera for a reason. They offer a great range from 18mm (for wide shots) up to 135mm or even higher for wildlife or portrait shots. They are great to learn on as you become acquainted with the different focal lengths. Use these lenses, they're cheap and in most cases durable. Take them out on those dusty gravel roads, on those cloudy misty/foggy mornings or even to the sandy beach on a hot summer day.
If you stuck around this far, thank you for reading my blog. I hope you enjoy the journey of photography. Yes, it can be an expensive hobby but it can also be rewarding too.
I wish you good luck on your exciting new adventure. The saying "Use it or lose it" really applies to photography. Take your new camera with you everywhere and take a lot of pictures.
Feel free to share any photos with me. I would love to see what you come up with.