Hi friends! Use this list if you’re in the market for a new camera or lens, but don’t worry if you already have something that’s not mentioned here. As long as your camera has the option to shoot in Manual mode, we’ll get you shooting in no time. When you feel like you’re limited by your equipment in the future, refer back to this list for some shopping tips.
If you’re curious, you can also take a look here to see what’s in my bag.
Things to consider before buying…
What do you plan on shooting?
If you’re not sure yet, that’s fine; most equipment will be sufficient for most types of shooting. But if you know you want to shoot mostly landscapes or sports or your family’s daily life, then there are certain features you’ll want to look out for.
What is your budget?
The next main thing to consider is obviously how much you’re able to spend. If money is no concern, then spring for the full frame option and the lens (or lenses) with the lower maximum aperture. If you need to stick to a budget, then look at the options below that will give you the most bang for your buck. Also look at used and refurbished equipment. I have bought a few used cameras over the years and have had no problems. As long as you buy from a reputable dealer, you can score some amazing deals. And don’t be afraid to get an older model. I’ve done that a few times. The technology on the 1-2 year old cameras isn’t that far off from new releases, but the price difference can be staggering.
Does camera brand matter?
Not really. The big players all produce amazing equipment. Nikon and Canon are the big DSLR brands but there is really no substantial difference between them. Nikon does somethings marginally better than Canon and visa versa. Pick whichever brand feels better in your hands. It’s important to know though that the lenses you buy to go with your camera will only work with that particular brand. If you decide to switch to Canon after shooting with Nikon, you will need to replace all of your lenses too.
There are also other brands like Fuji, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus. They have their strengths and weaknesses and deviate a bit more from what Nikon and Canon do. It’s still hard to go wrong!
Should you buy the camera and lens bundle?
Oftentimes you’ll see the option to buy a new camera body with a zoom lens as a bundle. This lens, called the kit lens, is often not that great. Save money by buying your camera without a lens. The kit lens is often one that you won’t be reaching for once you know how to make great photos and the variable aperture on those zoom lenses can make it very difficult to grasp shooting in manual mode. Instead, look at the nifty fifty, a versatile 50mm f/1.8 lens that is one of the cheapest options you’ll find.
Do you want to be able to change your lens?
Some mirrorless cameras don’t have interchangeable lenses. Is this a problem for you? You might not know until it’s too late. I tend to shoot with one lens (my 35mm f/1.4) on my DSLR 90% of the time so I knew that I would be comfortable with the Fuji x100t and its inability to change the lens. If I only had one camera, I probably would look for a camera where I could change lenses.
Do you want to shoot video in the future?
While we won’t get into shooting video in this class, I think this is important to consider. A lot of new cameras have the option to shoot video now, but some still do not. If you buy an older model or a used camera, you might have one that can’t shoot video. When I bought my first full frame DSLR, I didn’t think I’d ever want to shoot video. A couple years later that started to change and it wasn’t until another year after when I finally upgraded that I realized how much I love video too.
I’ve linked to the Amazon listings for the cameras and lenses below for simplicity, but be sure to shop around to find the best prices.
Crop Sensor Cameras
Full Frame Cameras
*If you’re buying a lens for your Nikon camera, pay attention to the type of lens. DX is for crop sensor cameras and FX is for full frame cameras.
Where to buy?