Besides asking what gear I use, the second most frequently asked question I get is “what camera should I buy if I’m just starting out?” And today, I wanted to take a second to answer! If you’re just starting out and buying your first digital camera, know that all of this is a process. It’s best to start on what’s called “entry-level gear,” learn it inside and out, then work on upgrading to pro grade equipment. Trust me – every photographer who has started has been there, including me!
And, as a side note: truth be told, it’s not the camera that makes the photographer, it’s what the photographer does with the camera that really makes the photo (though, high end gear does help as you start to progress after learning your basic gear inside and out! ;) ). Even as you’re starting to learn photography, do not be discouraged. Don’t focus on comparing your images to someone else who’s been working as a pro for years. Focus on learning and growing from where you are.
I should also note that since I currently shoot in Canon, I'll be recommending all Canon gear below! There are some wonderful pieces of Nikon gear out there, too, but unfortunately, Nikon isn't in my wheel house, so I'll stay away from recommending anything I don't have any personal experience with!
For beginning photographers, I recommend an entry-level DSLR camera. “DSLR” simply means “digital single lens reflex,” which Wikepedia defines as “a digital camera that combines the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a digital imaging sensor, as opposed to photographic film.” Okay, let’s be real: that’s a little confusing, but basically that definition just has to do with how the camera makes an image. The technicalities behind how a camera works can be somewhat confusing, so today we’re just going to stick with the basics for the purposes of this blog post!
In the simplest terms, I always recommend beginners buy a camera that can:
- Switch lenses, so you can experiment with other lenses.
- Has 18+ megapixels, to create photos with higher resolution than your phone.
My very first DSLR Entry-level DSLR was a Canon Rebel T1i, which I don’t even believe they make anymore – haha! But if you’re looking for a DSLR line that is easy to learn on, I would recommend one of the newer versions in the “Rebel” lineup, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera. With the ability to change lenses, 18+ megapixels, and wifi capabilities, this is a great camera to start out on! I also recommend buying the camera as a “kit,” which simply means that a lens and different accessories are included. This will give you a lens to start with so you can start practicing right away (most cameras and lenses are sold separately).
As I mentioned above, a “kit” lens (which just means a lens that comes with a camera!) is a great way to start out. With this kit from Canon (including the Canon EOS Rebel T6), you can also get a starter lens! Most kit lenses are a shorter focal length, which means you’ll have to be really close to your subjects. If you’re looking for a zoom lens (to photograph further away subjects), I would recommend this Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 III Telephoto!
Truth be told, starter or “kit” lenses aren’t that great. They certainly get the job done and are perfect for learning, but if you’re interested in taking your photos a step further right away, I would HIGHLY recommend the Canon 50mm f/1.8, which you can purchase for just around $125 (definitely a steal for a lens)!
Now that you’ve decided on your camera body and lenses, there are a few accessories you might want to consider investing in:
A cross body strap is helpful and, trust me, your neck will thank you! Most cameras come with a strap that allows to camera to hang around your neck, but investing in a cross body strap that will sit on your shoulder is worth every penny. Your neck will thank you! There are a few on Amazon (a floral one here, a black one here, and another floral one here), and even some on Etsy that can be customized with your name and style (my camera strap has a llama on it!).
A bag or backpack to carry your gear is ESSENTIAL! Make sure you keep your gear safe by buying a bag with padding (unless your camera kit comes with one!) A few of my favorites include:
Also remember: unless you buy a camera kit, you’ll also need to make sure you have a battery for your camera, a battery charger, and a memory card. Here are a few recommendations based on the Canon 6t recommended above:
Below is a wrap up of all of the gear discussed in this blog post! Have any more gear related questions? Feel free to drop me a note in the comments below! And best of luck on your photography journey!