With how advanced technology is this topic becomes less relevant but is still one of the most asked questions. It is a common misconception that expensive gear = great pictures. It’s crazy to me to think that some of the top of the line cameras ten years ago had the same megapixel count as an iPhone today. The advance in technology makes any piece of equipment inadequate but when it comes down to it, the best camera is the one you have on you. The most important thing with photography is capturing something, everything else is secondary. With that being said, if you are looking at getting into photography and are looking where to start in terms of gear I will try to be helpful.
First, you need to determine your needs and budget. I recommend for anyone looking to get into photography to purchase a DSLR with a MASP dial. This will give you the option to use it in whichever settings makes you feel most comfortable, whether that’s fully automatic or completely manual. What’s nice about these is that older models are still great cameras and typically begin in the $300 price range which is pretty affordable. I’ll list a few of these options below focusing more on pricing and for what kind of person it would be ideal for. I am not focusing so much on precise specifications, brands or the whole full frame vs. crop and mirrorless vs. DSLR debate.
Entry Level: $200-$500
Canon T3i: This camera came out a few years ago but still floats around the market because of how revolutionary it was at the time for offering a good camera at a good price. Since then Canon has continued with this line, releasing a newer model every year or so. The Canon T-series is Canon’s flagship for entry cameras for beginners. This is because they are great, durable cameras that are affordable and typically meet the needs of most people.
Nikon d3100: Nikon and Canon typically match each other on every model they release, so for every great camera on one side, there is almost a very similar camera from the competitor. Much like Canon, Nikon also has a flagship model series which are all affordable and great for beginners. Like the Canon models, these only get better as well as pricier with each model that came out after such as: the D3200, D3300, D3400
Intermediate Level: $500 – $1000
For the most part these are very similar to the cameras above just with slightly better elements such as megapixels, frames per second, stabilization and possibly some better video options. This price range also opens the market for a lot of new options and brands. Though I won’t go into the specifics of a mirrorless camera, they are a lot more compact and still pack a heavy punch. They are great if you want to have a good camera without feeling like you’re lugging a big thing around. They also tend to be pretty quiet and discreet which makes them a favorite for people that do sneaky street or concert photography.
- Nikon d3500/d5300/d5600/d5500/d7100/
d7200 – $600-$1000
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 – $550
- Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II – $600 (mirrorless)
- Canon T6/70d – $600-$1000
- FUJIFILM X-T100 – $600 (mirrorless)
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 – $640
- Sony Alpha a6000 – $650 (mirrorless)
- Pentax K-70 DSLR – $790
- Canon EOS M6 – $800
- Canon 5d M2 – $800
- Canon EOS M5 – $900
Pro Level: $1000-4000
At this point you probably have a good idea of how to use a camera as well as exactly what you’re looking for. This is where photography becomes expensive and although I put a 4k cap on it, it really is limitless in terms of how much you can spend on gear. As someone who shoots full-time as their job, having a reliable work horse camera is crucial to being successful which is why I, after shooting for years, finally chose a higher priced camera and haven’t looked back. It’s now been two years of taking over 50,000 pictures and traveled to 3 continents with my camera and I know that what I spent on it has paid itself off. What is also great about these cameras is they are capable of taking pretty high quality videos as well and I have seen several high-end videos shot with plenty of them. Without getting too technical, the majority of these cameras handle light differently due to their sensor inside. This allows for a higher dynamic range, meaning you’re able to capture a wider array of light as well as allowing you to shoot better in dark situations. Recently, the Sony cameras have been making a big impact in the video market because of their superb video capabilities and the fact that they are mirrorless allows for a much smaller size.
- Nikon D610 – $1500
- Nikon D750/D500/D810 – $1200-1700
- Nikon D850 – $3500-$4000
- Canon 6d – $1100
- Canon 5d M3 – $1200
- Canon 5d M4 – $2500-$3000
- Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 – $1300 (mirrorless)
- Sony a6500/a6300 – $1300 (mirrorless)
- FUJIFILM X-T20 – $1300 (mirrorless)
- Sony Alpha a7s II – $2400
- Sony A7r 2 – $2000
- Sony A7r 3 -$3000
- Pentax K-1 – $1400
50mm: It is my belief that everyone should own a nice 50mm lens as they are extremely versatile. This lens is capable of doing so much for a photographer from portraits to show photography, to some wedding shots. This lens is also usually the cheapest to purchase.
35mm: This is right up there with the 50mm for the same exact reasons. These two lens are staples for any photographer. I have yet to meet a serious photographer that does not have these in their inventory. They are native to the eye, inexpensive and deliver a powerful punch.
24-70mm: This is the lens I use the most when shooting events. It allows for a massive range of perspective and options and is extremely easy and flexible to use. It’s great for anything from close ups, wide room shots, portraits, practically anything.
70-200mm: I purchased one of these last year and although it is a lot bigger than any of my other lenses, it is one of my sharpest. These are great for portraits, weddings, and events. You have to have one of these if you’re shooting any important event in a large room or area.
Wide Angle: I don’t typically use these unless I’m shooting a conference and want to really show a room full of 500 people to give the viewer the sense of scale. These are a must if you’re a real estate photographer, however.