Each photographer fondly remembers his first camera, which “dragged” him into this difficult, but very interesting business. But what if you are just thinking about starting photography — what should be the first camera today? Given the huge selection, variety of types and classes of cameras, it can be very easy for a beginner to get confused.
We have prepared some tips for those who are about to start their journey as a photographer or just want to try shooting with something other than a smartphone (although we will also consider this option). This material complements the previously published article “The best cameras that are friendly for beginners.” In the new material, we offer more options from different classes of cameras that will suit different budgets.
As we promised, we start with mobile photography. The technologies used in smartphones are constantly improving, so the optics and computational photography capabilities of the new models make them a pretty good start if you are not yet sure about buying a full-fledged camera. There are some interesting apps that give you more control over your smartphone’s camera settings. In addition, you can attach external lenses to your smartphone to improve the quality of shooting, which can enhance macro photography, as well as allow you to use wider-angle or longer focal lengths.
Sirui Universal Lens Kit for Smartphones
“What inexpensive camera can provide better image quality than my phone?” is a fairly popular question among beginners who want to take a step forward by switching from a smartphone to a full-fledged camera. There are a number of affordable cameras on the market that meet this requirement.
The universal advantage of moving from a smartphone to a full-fledged camera is the size of the sensor. Free from the limitations of the mobile form factor, compacts (small cameras with fixed lenses) allow for better optics and sensor. There are many candidates for the role of universal starter cameras, and almost all new models provide decent image quality for everyday shooting.
Nikon COOLPIX P1000 compact super zoom
The Nikon COOLPIX P1000 is a popular super zoom camera that can reach almost any subject. And obviously you can’t call it an ordinary “soap box”. With a 24–3000mm equivalent zoom lens, it captures everything from architecture to birds flying in the sky. For even greater magnification, the P1000 provides an optional digital zoom that can go up to 500x. At the same time, the model provides high-quality optical stabilization so that photos taken at the longest focal length remain sharp.
Compact Sony DSC-RX100 VII
If you want a compact camera with more control and better picture quality, the Sony RX100 series is worth a look. Models in the series up to the DSC-RX100 VA featured 24–70mm lenses perfect for landscapes, travel and portraits. The newer DSC-RX100 VI and DSC-RX100 VII use a 24–200mm f/2.8–4.5 lens, adding a lot of zoom capability, but sacrificing a little aperture. The seventh model features (so far) the fastest autofocus of any 1‑inch compact camera, making it a great start for sports and wildlife photography.
Compact with Fujifilm X100V prime lens. Source: bhphotovideo.com
Finally, if you want a compact that can easily compete with advanced DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, check out the Fujifilm X100V. With a design inspired by classic rangefinder cameras, the X100V features a built-in 35mm equiv. f/2 lens, 26.1‑megapixel APS‑C X‑Trans BSI CMOS sensor and X‑Processor 4 processor. All this allows the camera to take pictures of excellent quality, for which it is loved not only by beginners, but also by many professional photographers.
DSLRs are a great choice for photographers who want complete control over their image, including the ability to choose different lenses. Of course, mirrorless cameras (about them below) are confidently winning more and more of the market, but SLR cameras have their own advantages. First, an advanced DSLR will cost less than a mirrorless camera of the same class. Secondly, for many new SLR cameras, older lenses are suitable, and in general the number of “glasses” available for them is greater.
Canon EOS 250D entry level DSLR
The Canon EOS 250D is a great entry-level DSLR with a 24.1 megapixel APS‑C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 processor for consistent performance in a wide range of lighting conditions. The camera allows you to shoot 4K video at 24p, as well as 4K time-lapses.
Pentax K‑70. Source: bhphotovideo.com
The Pentax K‑70 is another great candidate to start with. The model is equipped with a 24.24-megapixel APS‑C CMOS sensor and PRIME MII processor. Its ISO sensitivity expands to 204800, making it a great choice for shooting in low light. In addition, she received a case protection from adverse weather conditions, built-in image stabilization and a special high-resolution mode, which is perfect for landscape photography. The camera comes with 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 and 18–135mm f/3.5–5.6 kit lenses.
Mirrorless cameras are gradually becoming the new industry standard. One of the main benefits of shooting with a mirrorless camera for beginners is that you can see what your photos will look like in real time.
Fujifilm X‑T200 with swivel display
Fujifilm has developed a range of mirrorless cameras that not only take great photos, but also look great in their own right. The X‑T200 is one of the best cameras in the line for beginner photographers. Its 24.2‑megapixel APS‑C CMOS sensor and hybrid autofocus deliver crisp, sharp images even if you don’t feel comfortable with a traditional camera just yet. Fujifilm models also allow for film simulation modes that mimic the look and feel of film photography. The model is available with a 15–45mm f/3.5–5.6 lens.
Panasonic Lumix GX9 mirrorless camera
The Panasonic Lumix GX9 is an affordable entry option for 4:3 cameras (frame size smaller than APS‑C but larger than 1‑inch cameras). The model is equipped with a 20.3‑megapixel Digital Live MOS matrix. If you plan to shoot not only photos, but also a lot of video, the GX9 is also suitable: the camera shoots 4K at 30p. This model can also shoot full resolution bursts at up to 9 fps and provide up to 4 stops of stabilization. The GX9 comes with a 12–60mm (24–120mm equiv.) f/3.5–5.6 lens.
Sony a7C compact full-frame mirrorless camera
If you want to start right away with a full frame camera (a few years ago this would have been a rather strange decision, but times are changing and relatively affordable full frame cameras are on the market), the friendliest option is the Sony a7C. This is a very compact mirrorless camera with a 24.2‑megapixel Exmor R BSI sensor and a BIONZ X processor. The camera provides fifteen stops of dynamic range and 5‑axis built-in stabilization system, which is good for both stills and video shooting (up to 4K / 30p) . There’s a huge collection of quality lenses available for Sony’s full-frame DSLRs, and the Sony a7C is one of the easiest options to get into that system.
If you have any questions, our experts will be happy to answer them. And if you’ve been into photography for a long time, we’d love to hear about your first camera in the comments.
* when preparing the article, materials from the resources bhphotovideo.com and onfoto.ru were used.