Around this time I year, I get many people asking me “What camera should I buy?” either for themselves or a loved one for Christmas so I figured why not make a blog post!!
There are so many options that you can find when looking for cameras. It really can be overwhelming, but let’s start with the basics first. There a few different types of cameras that are common- point-and-shoot, DSLR, and Mirrorless. Let’s break that down first.
Like the name says, point-and-shoot cameras are cameras you point at the subject and press the shutter button. There is little to think about. Due to that, there is little control as well. You are at the mercy of your camera to decide what settings it thinks it should use, and may not get the results that you are looking for. Honestly, if it was up to me, I wouldn’t even consider this an option because there are SO many phones with AMAZING cameras that would take the place of this type of camera. So we’ll just end this one right here. If you are wanting a point-and-shoot camera, look into phones! iPhones have portrait mode that can mimic a higher-end DSLR camera, and Samsung also boasts its camera capabilities. Check those out!!
Like I mentioned, iPhones can mimic DSLR type cameras with their portrait mode, but the camera itself gives you much more freedom with photography. DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex cameras. Without getting into too many technical details, DSLRs have interchangeable lenses that can be helpful for different situations. Beginning DSLRs usually come with some help menus set up to help the user with shooting and help create great photos. There are lots of great options when it comes to beginner DSLR cameras with Nikon and Canon being some of the most popular. DSLRs are a great way to get into photography whether you are photographing landscapes, sports, your kids, or animals! Here are a few that I would recommend looking into first!
When it comes to DSLRs, I recommend NOT buying a camera body (seen on the left) with the “kit” lenses they come with. If you are really wanting to take great photos, kit lenses aren’t going to be the way to go. That’s not to say a kit lens won’t get you to take beautiful images, but anytime you can get a Prime lens (that means a fast one), I would go with that over a kit lens.
Lenses have different apertures. Think of the lens like your eye ball. When it is bright outside, your pupil dilates and gets smaller. This is because there is a lot of light and it would be too bright if the pupil stayed wide. Alternatively, when it is dark, your pupil gets wider to allow more light inside the eye. You lens will do this exact same thing. Inside the lens there are blades and this adjusts the aperture which lets in more or less light. With a kit lens, your aperture (also know as your F stop-notated as f/3.5) usually goes to f/3.5 but sometimes all the way to f/5. This means in darker scenarios, the camera may struggle to get enough light in and your photos make end up blurry. With a smaller aperture, the way your camera adjusts is to length your shutter speed, or how long the shutter is open to allow light into the sensor of the camera. If the shutter is open too long, and you move, your photo will be blurry every time. Because of that, anytime you can get a lens with a f/ of 2.8 or less, the better the lens and the better your photos will be!
On another tangent, the wider your aperture is like a f/1.8, the creamier and out of focus your background with be. If you want to take pretty images like this one ->
-> then you want a lens that can have a wide open aperture. This linked D7500 comes with a Nikon DX 35mm f/1.8 lens which is great for a universal lens. It would be a perfect on to start with to get all sorts of great images!
Canon’s comparable camera would be the EOS Rebel T8i. I don’t use Canon’s but I have many friends that love them. They do render colors differently than Nikons, and some people love it, but with my style and editing, Nikon has always worked for me. With this body linked, you would just want to find another non-kit lens like I mentioned in the Nikon section. I would recommend something like:
A Word of Caution
Unfortunately, many of the camera models available today aren’t truly available. Like many things in the world post-COVID, it has been difficult for camera manufacturers to get the parts their need for many of their cameras. This has meant that a lot of the cameras out now have been on back order for months if not longer. That said- be leery of things that you see online. There is a grey market out there with electronics. This means that a few of the cameras from international dealers have made their way to the US without going through the proper protocol. If you buy a grey-market camera or lens, you may get a better deal, but if anything happens to it, the US based manufacturers will not touch the camera to repair it. There is no US warranty on the camera or lens. If that doesn’t bother you, then save the money, but for me, it always made more sense to buy the US models. They are usually notated with (International Model). Just something to be aware of.
Lastly, we have my new personal favorite- the mirrorless recommendation.
In layman’s terms, mirrorless cameras differ from DSLR because it lacks a mirror in the mechanics of the camera. You have an electronic viewfinder to see what you are taking a picture of instead of the actual mirror and prism showing you what the image looks like. One awesome things about the electronic viewfinder (EVF) is that you can see exactly what the image is going to look like with (if you are shooting in manual mode) your different ISO/shutter speed/aperture. It isn’t a mystery of only looking at your light meter to see what the image will look like, but you will see it in real time. One not so awesome thing are the EVF is that your battery life is going to be less than it would be with a DSLR. If you’ve never had another camera to compare it to, you may not even notice a difference. But if you are going to be using the camera for long periods of time, you will need multiple batteries or a charger and access to power to charge it. Regardless, I love the mirrorless cameras. They are amazing pieces of art, and I would recommend this to anyone! Here’s my recommendations:
This camera is SO fun. I actually bought one just to have it. It gives me all the retro Nikon vibes (it looks like like an old Nikon EL film camera that I have), and this linked model comes with the Nikon 28mm f/2.8. I bought the FC Z with the 28 thinking that I would just keep it on my FC Z, but it has turned into one of my favorite lenses to use, ALL. THE. TIME. Without getting too nerdy, I just love the way it elongates people in wedding attire. It gives me all the editorial vibes. It definitely isn’t a portrait lens because of distortion, but full length images and landscape shots would be great for this little guy! I love it!
The FC Z also has great options for video. It’s user friendly, has a cool pop out screen that you can use for “selfie mode” and is pretty lightweight.
IF you don’t love the cute retro option, Nikon makes another camera that is identical on the inside as the FC Z- the Nikon z50. This one is catered to vloggers and you are not able to find it without the kit lenses, but I’d still recommend getting the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 with it.
Sony is a beast all it’s own. The eye-tracking focus on Sony is far better than Nikon or Canon. They pioneered that and it will ensure you get tack sharp photos of people when you shoot with it. The menus are clunky, and it’s not the most user friendly, but it’s a fun, little camera that will still get you some great shots. I would recommend, again, to get a lens that isn’t the kit lens with this one. Probably this Sony E mount 20mm f/2.8.
This next one is one of the coolest–
or the X100F -the older model
Fun to shoot- fun to edit files- small to hold- this one is great if you aren’t interested in really getting into photography but just want something with you that gives you some creative freedom while editing. Also another camera that will give you some retro-vibes, I really love the details on this little camera.
All in All
Many of the cameras today are going to give you great options. One thing to remember- Megapixels aren’t everything. Sometimes we get stuck into thinking that the more megapixels, the better. That really isn’t too important with cameras today. Chances are, you would never out-pixel anything with any current camera. As I stated, be aware of the grey-market. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
In the mean time, if you have other camera questions, reach out here! I’m happy to help!
*Please Note: When you click the links, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks again!