What type of camera to buy when starting out in photography
Photo by Christian Mackie, Unsplash
When you first start out in photography there are a million questions you can come across. DSLR or mirrorless cameras? Prime lens or a zoom lens? Canon or Nikon (or Sony)? Electronic or optical viewfinder?
We here at Meero think that as long as you’re getting out there and practicing, you’re on the right track, but we know sometimes you need a little bit more of a push. So we asked a panel of Meero experts about their personal opinions about camera bodies, lenses, and their advice for beginners. And like any other topic that people are passionate about, there’s no one right answer.
So with that in mind... what camera would they recommend to a beginner?
Editor, Blind Magazine
I would recommend a basic DSLR or a basic SLR. The idea that it is a "basic" model is important to me because to learn photography you first have to learn how to handle the different settings. So you need a simple and well-made camera. I would recommend a reflex camera for the quality of the images and the fact that you can go a lot further in customizing your images, especially when it comes to focusing. Focusing is really one of the most important and involved things to master.
Editor, Blind Magazine
Personally, I only practice film photography. I started with Nikon FA from the 1980s. I like the somewhat rudimentary and restrictive aspect of using film, which makes it necessary to adapt one's technique to one's subject. For example, when I photograph in color, I use 200 ISO film, which forces me to work at certain times of the day, specifically in the morning and at the end of the afternoon. I am forced to adapt to the light and to find the subjects that are enhanced in that light. I think that starting with film is a good way to understand what the photographic medium is all about.
There are a lot of constraints so you have to understand how the camera works: the relationship between time, light and distance, and understand what ISO is used for. It's also a way to go back a little bit to the origins of photography. I also love the fact that you have to wait before you can see the image and then compare the image you had in mind when you took the picture and the final result. It's always surprising and fascinating.
Photo by chuttersnap, Unsplash
To get straight to the point, I would recommend the Canon EOS 800D for a beginner, because it is a 24.2 megapixel APS-C or a mid-range model like the Canon EOS 6D Mark II which is a full 26.2 megapixel.
Photo Quality Expert
Typically people invest in either Canon or Nikon and then stick to that camp. For those who prefer Nikons, I would recommend the Nikon D7500 or any models of that line (7100, 7200, 7300, 7400). For those that prefer Canon, I would recommend the Canon 5D mark II.
The pros and cons are similar for both competitors. You get high-quality images at an affordable price and there is a large variety of lenses for when you are ready to start experimenting with different formats. Both cameras are flexible in the sense that they are adapted for documentary and studio photography alike. Finally, when you are ready to upgrade to a ‘pro-grade’ camera they are fairly easy to resell.
The drawbacks, on the other hand, are the APS-C format and the sensitive ISO that limits your exposure.
As a beginner, it is always better to begin with a digital camera (DSLR) that is not too professional and complicated to deal with, and not too simple or else the photographer will not learn anything. Both Nikon and Canon have a range of entry or upper-entry level DSLRs that are good for a beginner to start with and offer enough features that develop the photographer’s technique and knowledge about the basics of using a DSLR and prepare them for the professional world of photography. I would suggest a camera like the Nikon D3500 or D5600 or the Canon 800D or 90D.
Photo Quality Expert
The best advice I could give a beginner is not to buy a beginner's camera! A seemingly simpler camera, this type of camera body is a real trap. Often low quality and cheap, they are restrictive and don't allow you to really progress.
I would suggest buying a second hand ‘pro’ camera if you don’t have the means to buy a new one right away. For example, the Canon 5D Mark II is absolutely excellent, a classic. It is now on the market for about 500 euros, which is about the price of a new amateur camera!
That's what I did when I was 17. And I don't regret it, it's a worthwhile investment. In fact, I still have the same camera today!
Photo by William Bayreuther, Unsplash
Production & Editing Quality Owner
It depends on so many factors, but once you decide on the purpose and also the budget, then the choice gets easier.
I have been a Canon user from the beginning, my first DSLR was the 550D Canon with 18-55mm lens, cropped sensor but it was a good friend to me, I learned everything with it before I decided to upgrade. When I moved from a cropped sensor to a full sensor body, I chose the 6D and I’ve been using it since then.
Today, I would suggest the Canon EOS 90D as a beginner since it’s affordable and it comes with an 18-55mm or 18-135mm lens kit. But if the budget allows it, I recommend starting with a full-frame camera.
Partner Relations Manager
I have to say it's going to depend on a few things! If you're a total beginner, I would suggest starting with a manual film camera: it forces you to learn the technique, take the time to prepare and compose the shots, and adjust the settings. You can have the same thing on a DSLR, but the cost of the materials and the price of developing your film will really force you to practice discipline, and force you to not to shoot everything you see.
On the other hand, if you already have a good understanding of the subject, and you want to become more professional, I would suggest starting with a good APS-C (expert or semi-pro range). You will have good results, without needing to invest too much from the beginning. Once you're initially set up, you'll be able to take your time and spend a bigger budget on a Full Frames, or even medium format (but that gets pretty pricey, and it's not the kind of equipment that works in every situation).
However, be careful with your choice of lenses: they generally last longer than the bodies, so choose them carefully, and always focus on quality!
Finally, you need to choose between Mirrorless or Reflex: which will depend on your tastes. Mirrorless is very handy because it's generally more compact and discreet than a reflex (and some models are better in 4k video), but for my part, I prefer to aim with the mirror than through an electronic viewfinder (LCD screen), but at the end of the day, it’s a matter of taste.
Photo by laimannung, Unsplash
Choices, choices, choices
As you can see, there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s a matter of personal preference. From here, you might be curious to find out about which cameras and accessories our panel of experts are using.